SAPFA Rand Airport Challenge – 30 January 2016 by Rob Jonkers
The South African Power Flying Association held the 12th Consecutive year of the Rand Airport Challenge on Saturday the 30th January 2016. It was an excellent weather day for flying, with no convection clouds brewing, although there was around a steady 15 kt easterly wind. This attracted 14 teams to participate in the rally, 5 in open class and 9 in the fun class, with 4 newbie first timer teams, which is a welcome sign that there is good interest in the sport.
Everybody had arrived by 8.30 and after a hearty breakfast at the Harvard Café, briefing started at 9.00 given by the competition director for the day Frank Eckard who explained the planned route details and with the route being close to the JHB CTR (colloquially known as the “holy land”….), explained the consequences of getting lost near that big runway… The fun teams were handed out their route details and had plenty time to carry out the plotting with the route already laid out, while the open class teams were given 45 minutes to carry out the plot before engine start and were given blank maps and a task sheet with a choice to plot in the aircraft or in the briefing room – this proved to be a no brainer… who wanted to be out in the cockpit with a hot sun beating down on them.
Then, the mission of getting started and slotting into the airport traffic pattern which was very busy this day given the good weather conditions, everybody was out flying so the controller had her hands full getting the participants to get off the ground at the take-off slot time, many got off late, including us with an 8 minute delay, thus getting to the start point in time was difficult to say the least. The route flown started south of the silver ball then further south past Kliprivier and the Sedibeng brewery (which had a leg photo that had to be recognised) then along the scenic southern perimeter of the Suikerbosrand, then up north over the marshlands of the Marievale bird sanctuary, then west past Springs with some short twisty legs all the way back to the finish point nearby Romeo Delta and with the tail wind getting the aircraft slow enough proved challenging.
With everybody back safe, some lunch with a few cold ones cracked open while Frank & Cally tallied up the scores and downloaded loggers. Prize giving was then held with the fun class being won by Ago Perreira and Chris Linakis who walked away with the Rand Trophy.
The Open class was won by veteran team Adrian Pilling and Mary de Klerk with an excellent score of 27.
Many thanks extended to Frank & Cally (Cally worked out this marvellous route) for the organising, and the sponsors Comav, Avimap & ACL for support and prizes.
The next rally is at Virginia on the 5th of March and then the Nationals competition on the 15th of April.