2nd FAI World Air Navigation Race Championship Santa Cruz
By Willie Bodenstein. Photos by Barbara Freibose and Jonty Esser
Air navigation racing is a relatively new aviation sport, with this year’s championship being only the second world championships. This year’s competition was organized by the Aeroclube Torres Vedras on behalf of the FAI and in cooperation with the Portuguese General Aviation Commission FPA (Portuguese Aeronautic Federation).The opening ceremony featured the F-16s of the Portuguese Air Force as well as Yaks, Pitts and others.
Santa Cruz Airfield (ICAO: LPSC) is located 60 km North of Lisbon, 15 Km of Torres Vedras City, just a few meters from the beach and village of Santa Cruz.
The World Air Navigation Race (WANR) is a knock-out competition where teams representing their respective countries fly in elimination heats against each other. Precision flying, navigation and landings define this competition. The pilots have to fly along predetermined narrow corridors with irregular shapes at a specific speed. No GPS or other navigation assistance allowed. Teams are only allowed to use a compass, clock and map. All aircraft must enter and exit the corridors at an exactly predetermined time and at the end, must land without engine thrust from downwind in a one-meter box marked on the runway, for no penalties. Crews are penalised for flying outside their corridors and for timing errors. Penalties are also awarded for the landing.
Forty-three crews from seventeen countries entered the competition that started on the 5th of September and concluded on 13the with a gala prize giving dinner held at the Quinta da Almiara Winery ten minutes from Torres Verdas.Five teams from South Africa entered.
Thys van der Merwe and Mary de Klerk
Mauritz du Plessis and Sandi Goddard
Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk
Jonty and Eugene Esser
Anthony and Pamela Russel
The weather throughout most of the championships boasted blustery winds, typical to coastal regions, but was not what the teams from South Africa were used too, as were the maps that they were issued for planning purposes. However, after the practice days, during which approximately 200 training flights were flown in which all competitors had the opportunity to practice navigation routes and precision landings, they were confident that they would do well.
Day one of the championships started with an early morning briefing as did all the other days.
Crews are handed their map with the printed corridor and are only given thirty minutes to plan their flight.
A typical daily task map.
Competitors have to fly along predetermined corridors with irregular shapes at a specific speed (normally 80 knots). The corridors are generated by sophisticated mapping software to ensure they are of equal length.
The South Africans hard at work planning their flights.
Images taken from the big screen of some of the tracks being flown.
GNSS loggers are used to log the flight track which provides accurate timing to the second. All flights could be tacked live and this brought a new dimension to the sport of air navigation races. In South Africa fellow racers and others were glued to their phones watching the races live.
The final day’s map showing the corridors in the shape of an aircraft that competitors had to fly in.