Like in 2016 the Swellengrebel airfield near Swellendam was again the place to be to witness the WC aerobatics. Since certain services are available for the aerobatics, it was logical to follow last year's example and combine the annual fly-in of the Swellengrebel Flying Club with the aerobatic event.
Harry de Villiers's Zlin 50, Walter Goodrich's RV 7, Eugene du Preez's Extra 300 and Nigel Hopkins's Extra 330SC
With the eye on the 29th FAI World Aerobatic Championships from 9 to 17 September in Malelane the Sport Aerobatic Club of SA used the week leading up to the weekend's competition to hold a training camp for the top guys. To help them hone their skills, the assistance of former world champion, Xavier de Laperrant was obtained.
For most of us it started out this way; with dreams
Alewyn Burger with his young navigator son in the RV 7
Fly-in fleet Saturday morning
The guys not attending the training camp had their practice sessions on Friday and all slots for the whole day was quickly filled.
David Gibbs flew in on Friday in his Citabria and camped under the wing
Gunter Klampfl in his Rutan Long-EZ
Yak 52, one of the fly-in aircraft
Mooney M20J 201
To help with air control ATNS again provided a capable ATC team, supported by their mobile ATC platform and a technician. Although the casual fly-in side of the weekend was not very well supported, a number of aviators still made an appearance on Saturday. A few even flew in on Friday and slept over Friday and Saturday night. Although the weather forecast for Sunday was rather gloomy, Saturday was a nice and warm day, and one wonder why the attendance was on the low side. When it comes to local attendance the folk of Swellendam did swell the numbers though and made for a festive mood on Saturday.
A nice size crowd came to witness the skilled flying of the masters
De Villiers Visser is giving his beloved Titan Tornado a little rest and is now doing long distance flying with his new RV 8. In the back seat is none other than ex Silver Falcon no1 for teams 66 - 70, Scott Ternent
Although not an official commentator, competitor Harry de Villiers took time between his competition flights to provide interesting information to the spectators, explaining the finer points of aerobatic flying. The program was to fly 3 sequences for the competition, two on Saturday and one on Sunday.
Andrew Blackwood-Murray keeps a close eye on the competitions performance
Jason Beamish in the Extra
Patrick Davidson playing the waiting game
As the day progressed a wary eye was held on the weather forecasts and as the day progressed it became doubtful whether Sunday's sequence could be flown. In fact the weather deteriorated to such an extent that during the sequences there was a few breaks due to cloud penetration. Patrick Davidson also elected to leave for his home base after only competing in the first sequence on account of the weather.
Harry de Villiers on his way to fly his sequence in the Zlin 50
Wally Goodrich in the RV
Competitors, Harry de Villiers and Wally Goodrich, who needed to fly east also kept an eye on the weather, but decided to stay it out till Sunday. The guys who needed to depart west to Cape Town were a bit more relaxed as the weather that side was always flyable.
Barrie Eeles with his Sbach
Neville Ferreira in the Slick 540
Eugen du Preez taking off in his Extra to fly one of his sequences
Sunday morning it was clear that the cloud base was too low for competition flying and the final positions was determined from only the known and unknown sequences. With that decision out of the way scoring director, Natalie Stark had to quickly do her stuff so that the price giving could proceed as the Gauteng folk were eager to depart.
Jurie Steyn taking off in his Zlin 50
Leigh le Gonidec in the Sbach
After the prize giving everybody started refuelling and packing aircraft to depart for home base. The now customary camping area was also a buss of activity as the campers packed up to depart for their respective destinations.
Nigel Hopkins Extra 330 SC
Martin Venn and company in his RV
The yearly Swellengrebel Club Fly in which now has the WC Aerobatics Championship piggybacking for the second year, is always a popular destination for the casual aviator and aviation enthusiast.
Eugene du Preez, Barrie Eeles, Xavier de Lapparent, Nigel Hopkins, Patrick Davidson, Jason Beamish, Leigh le Gonidec, Neville Ferreira and Martin Venn
Some of the aerobatic crowd after the prizegiving: Standing (L-R) John Gaillard, unknown, Laszlo Liszkay, Nigel Hopkins, Natalie Stark, unknown, Alan Fergus, Jason Beamish, Jurie Steyn, Martin Venn, Helm Ludwig, Quintin Hawthorne, Annie Boon, Johan Ferreira, Eugene du Preez, Neville Ferreira, and Roger Deare. Front Andrew blackwood-Murray, Leigh le Gonidec and Barrie Eeles
The 2017 event, although a bit lower in fly-in attendance was still a great success. But this does not come automatically and the club, under the leadership of Pieter Venter must be commended in their efforts. Nothing was left to chance and nothing was too small to attend to promptly. A word of mention also to "The Smarties", a group of 8 local women who kept the kitchen running and made sure there was always something delicious to eat.
Results of the competition:
Sportsman Class: Jurie Steyn - Zlin 50.
Intermediate Class: Martin Venn - RV 7.
Advanced Class: Eugene du Preez -Extra 300.
Unlimited Class: Nigel Hopkins - Extra 330SC.
RV Class: Alan Fergus - RV 8
Full results available on the Sport Aerobatic Club of SA website. www.aerobatics.co.za
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