The South African Power Flying Association hosted the thirteenth annual Rand Airport Challenge, Frank and Callie Eckard has been the driving force behind this illustrious event every year since its inception.
Many of the current National Rally team cut their teeth on this event, including the incoming chairman of SAPFA, Jonty Esser. Jonty recently took over the position when Frank stepped down after a term of six years.
The weather was ideal for rally flying with good visibility and fortunately not too hot. Seventeen teams entered from Unlimited to Sportsman's class, depending on their level of experience, to the Fun Class.
The route for this year's event was to the south of Rand, the aircraft routed from Rand to re silver-ball then on to the start just to the west of Kiebler Park then south to the first turning point in the Nooitgedacht area. Turning point two just to East of Evaton on the R59 didn't seem to be too problematic for the teams. Turning point three near Steel Park was a bridge over the R54, and the teams then headed to the Three Rivers area for turning point four. This is where the rally took an unusual twist with the contestants now having to follow the Vaal River to turning point five at "Die Wilgers Draai" and then still following the river on to the Vaal Dam Wall. Flying along the river did pose a few timing issues for the teams as normally the legs are a straight line.
From the wall the route went directly over the Vaal Marina to turning point seven, here the route turned North again to Panvallei, then on to turning point nine at Blyvooruitsig. Turning point 10 was at Daleside then due north to the finish at Romeo Alpha. The course was definitely to the advantage of the local Rand pilots.
The level of flying this year was great with no less than ten teams scoring a perfect score in the navigation section of the competition. SAPFA host these events to try and encourage pilots to join the sport. South Africans have been a dominant force in Rally flying on the world stage for a very long time.
After all the flying and calculations the results were released with the Rand Challenge trophy going to team of Willem Greyling and Gavin Lundie with a brilliant score of 116, they flew in a beautiful Savanah S .
Willem Greyling Gavin Lundie
Milan Daniz and Caroline Koll came in second in a Sling 4, they did exceptionally well considering they flew up from Durban especially for the event and have a very limited knowledge of the area. Following them very closely were Mike Heffil and Marc Backo in their Harmony LSA .
Fourth place belonged to Jason Stimson and William Levene the first of the rotor wing entrants in a R44, followed by the team of Nick Christodoulou and Andre Kluyts.
The sixth spot belonged to Luis Ramos and Peter Bland and seventh was Roy Gregson and Collin de Privia.
Marc Krauss and Tarryn Adendorff waked away with the eighth position; ninth place went to the only married couple Alister and Nicole Matthews.
Mark Jackson and Edzard Verseput were placed tenth and the eleventh place went to another R44 crewed by Abhijit Kang and Alika Capatos.
In the advanced category there were only three entrants, the team of Karl Jensen and Mary de klerk took top honours with a very impressive score of 93. Pierre Dippenaar and Martin Meyer came a close second with 212 points. Third place belonged to Leon Boutell and Callie Eckard.
Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer once again took top position in the unlimited competition. Martin flew as a navigator in both the advanced and unlimited category in ZS-IVC, second spot was claimed by the team of Hans Schwebel and Ron Strik .
Jonty Esser and Jonathan Esser were the only entrants in the precision flying competition and flew a flawless zero pointer, a really a great feat indeed.
The next SAPFA Fun Rally will be held at Virginia Airport on the 4th March so if you in the area and feel like a great days flying please join, it will test your flying and navigation skills as well as being great fun. For more information contact: Mary de Klerk email@example.com