Virginia Fun Rally – 19 March 2011


by Mary de Klerk

Unlike the weather across most other parts of the country, Friday 18th and Saturday 19th March brought clear skies to the city of Durban. Even the slightly higher than normal wind strengths did little to dampen the spirits of the Pilots and Navigators participating in the Annual SAPFA Virginia Fun Rally and KZN Provinicial Landing Championships.

True to form, the Durban Wings Club represented by John Nielon and Stu Low, went out of their way to provide top notch hospitality to all participants and supporters. Cate Juselius, the Manager of the DWC Airracing Team arranged great prizes for all participants. The teams met at 18h00 on Friday evening around the pool and were welcomed and given a Rally briefing by Mary de Klerk. This was followed by a delicious braai provided by Durban Wings Club.

The teams all met for a hearty breakfast at the Head Office Restaurant and Safety Officer, Kevin Woolecott kick started the day with a Safety Briefing. This was supported by a very efficient Nancy representing ATC. Since the opening of the new King Shaka Intnl Airport, all GA traffic has had to reroute south to enter the GFA. These new routings were relatively new territory for a lot of the teams so the briefings had to be very detailed in terms of departures and arrivals.

The route was carefully planned by Cally Eckard, wife and navigation partner of Protea Precision and Rally Pilot, Frank Eckard. The rally started overhead the threshold of 24 of the old Durban International Airport, routed inland over Adams Mission, then zig zagged south as far as Ifafa beach before turning sharply back to head home nothwards up the scenic coastline, finishing at Isipingo Beach. A couple of the teams were flying a Fun Rally for the first time so their learning curve was already very step. Adding to the challenge level was a 25 kt SW which caused the crews to belt it on the south bound legs and test the back end of the power curve on the north bound homeward legs. Some of the more experienced crews like the Koekemoer / Koen crew used their years of experience to “snake” the north bound tracks being careful not to break the 90degree turn rule. Even then the tailwind proved far too strong and penalites increased as they neared the finish. The only crew to handle the aircraft sufficiently well and counter the strong tailwind to gain zero penalties was the highly experienced Snr SAA Capt Thys van der Merwe with his navigator Johan Juselius in a C172 Reims Rocket.

Frank Eckard was the only participant to fly the Rally in the Open Class with his young navigator, Nicola Juselius, a budding aviatrix. A total of 9 teams participated in the Rally Section and 11 pilots participated in the Landing Championships.

The last aery arrrived back from the Rally at about 13H30 and after a delicious Prego Roll provided by the Dourban Wings Club, Mary again briefed the teams on the Landing Championship requirements. With the strong SW of 15 gusting 25, Runway 23 was in use. Airport management kindly allowed John to mark the runway so that the marshals could accurately assess the touchdown points.

The pilots were briefed to fly 4 landings, 2 with power and flaps and 2 glide approaches – one with flaps and one without flaps. ATC were very accommodating in terms of traffic and spacing and 44 landings were completed in less than 2 hours.

Prize Giving was held at the Pool Bar at 17H00 and the following results were achieved:



1 Frank Eckard None OPEN PRECISION
1 Thys van der Merwe Johan Juselius FUN RALLY
2 Leon Koekemoer Andre Koen FUN RALLY
3 Caleb Watson Tyrone English FUN RALLY
4 Meryl Rahme Rodney Stops FUN RALLY
5 Peter Beckmann Peter Gilbert FUN RALLY
6 Meryl Rahme Rodney Stops FUN RALLY
7 Dave Bruce Barry Kinnear FUN RALLY
8 Alastair Matthews Nicole Matthews FUN RALLY


1 Peter Gilbert C172
2 Tyrone English C152
3 Fran Eckard C172
4 Sanuel Sidea C182
5 Stu Low C182
6 Alastair Matthews C152
7 John Marshall C182
8 Peter Beckmann C172
9 Leon Koekemoer C172
10 Rodney Stops C152
11 Caleb Watson C152