WORLD FLYING CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2006 – Part 2 – The Precision Flying Championship


Incorporating the 15th World Rally Flying Championships,
and the 17th World Precision Flying Championships

Troyes, France – 21 to 31 July 2006.

By Chris Booysen

S A Rally and Precision Team Logo

Part 2 – The Precision Flying Championship

Saturday, 22 July

After the last practice day the team attended the Official Opening last night. Once again it was very hot with a small thunderstorm forcing the opening ceremony inside.

The function was held in the Town Hall and was followed by a dinner hosted by the mayor. One of the guests was a cartoonist and drew pictures of the team. If I can find a scanner I will post them. The team gave a rendering of Shosholoza to express our thanks.

The queue of aircraft – waiting for their landing.

The landing test comprises four landings. A normal landing, two forced landings (one flapless) and a landing over a barrier. Past competitions have shown that to win in this section of the competition you need to land all four landings within a meter of the “bingo” line (The bingo line is 2 meters wide).

The landing competition was divided into two sessions. A morning session where each pilot performed landing 1 (normal landing). After the full field of 62 pilots had completed the first landing then the second landing (forced landing) was completed and then there was then a break for lunch. At lunch time the field was led by Krzysztof Wieczorek from Poland with two penalty points. As usual the top positions were held by Poles, Czechs and the Swedish. Mary de Klerk and Ron Stirk were in the top ten for South Africa with 9 and 12 points respectively. Hans Schwebel, Jan Hanekom, Barry de Groot and Frank Eckard are also in the top quarter of the results.

After lunch the second two landings were performed. The team was disappointed by the first four landings of our team as they were all short of the box incurring penalties of 150 each which put them out of the running. Things immediately picked as Ron and Mary did two fantastic landings which put Ron into a tie for second place with a total of 14 points. Mary was also well up the field in tied 4th place with 24 points. First in the landings was Kryzysztof Wieczorek with 10 points. In all the South African team members get six bingo landings.

Ron Stirk – heading for a Bingo.

At the evening briefing a petition was presented requesting that the first two landings be cancelled as the teams who signed it believed that the tail wind component during the landings exceeded the maximum allowed of 3 knots. South Africa did not support the protest as we believe that the wind was the same for all competitors so there was still a fair competition. This petition was rejected as the rules only allow for individual protests. Four competitors from different countries then lodged their protests.

The jury viewed the official recordings of the wind during the landings and found that there had been a tail wind component in excess of 3 knots in the case of a few landings and was therefore forced to cancel the two landings performed in session one. The jury left it to the discretion of the competition director to decide if the landings would be flown again. The competition director decided that no further landings would be held and that the results would be based on the second two landings only. South Africa supported this decision as the rules do not allow the re-flying a portion of an event.

Ron Stirk – World Landing Champion.

The result of the rulings was that Ron Stirk was moved up to first place in the landings on 2 points. A fantastic result for South Africa. This is the second time that Ron has been World Landing Champion. With good landings by Mary and Frank in the second session South Africa will be third in the team landing results.

The ruling on the landings has had a mixed effect on the competitors depending on their results in the first and second landing sessions. In terms of the rules the points of the two landings not cancelled are doubled. A number of our team members had two very good landings in the first (cancelled) session and not such good landings in the second session. This means that they carry the double the penalties for the bad landings though to the final result.

The two navigation exercises were difficult. Penalties for all competitors are significantly higher than the penalties incurred at the last World Championships in 2004. Both navigations included 10 ground markers and 6 ground targets, as well as ground targets at the turning points. Very few turning points were timed (only 3 per route). There were a large number of secret timing points. Secret timing points can be placed anywhere on the route and are not marked in any way. This forces competitors to fly at exactly their nominated ground speed.

Our results for the first navigation are satisfactory but are not good enough for us to be in medal contention. Mary de Klerk has performed well and is the lowest scoring team member in 26th place. She is followed by Hands Schwebel and Frank Eckard. Unfortunately Jan Hanekom missed a turning point that required a one minute timed turn which meant that he was penalised for missing the turn and for two track errors. This alone costs 600 points. Ernie has also missed some turning points and secrets.

The second day is almost a repeat of the first in format and results except this time Jan Hanekom hits all the turning points and improves his score dramatically. Mary was once again the first South African in 27th place followed by Frank Eckard (31st) and Jan Hanekom (32nd)

The Medalists – Poland.

Due to the good weather we do not need the reserve day so the team members took the day off and got a well deserved rest. The only item on the program is the final prizegiving function which was held at 4:00pm outside the terminal building. The temperature is 37 degrees with a cloudless sky. Not really the weather to be dressed in our formal Protea clothing!

The Polish team take almost all the trophies and awards. They take all the individual medals with Krzysztof Wieczorek (Gold), Janusz Darocha (Silver) and Krzysztof Skretowicz(Bronze) in the top three places. They are also awarded the Ottley Trophy a the Team Champions. In the team competition the Czech Republic team are second followed by France and South Africa. From a South African perspective our top three individuals are Mary de Klerk, Frank Eckard and Ron Stirk.

In the landing competition Ron Stirk is awarded the Canada Trophy and is the World Landing Champion. The Polish receive the New Zealand Trophy as the top team in the landings.

As a country we had set ourselves some objectives which included a landing medal, a podium position in the overall results, a top 3 in the team landing position and possibly an overall medal. We have achieved the landing medal, top 3 in the team landing and 4th in the overall team results. The team can be very satisfied with its performance.

Full results and pictures can be found at the Official Troyes Website