The Africa Cup is the longest running and oldest Microlight Event in South Africa. It started on 10 June 1987 and is held each year around 24th September (Heritage Day) at the Hotel Numbi in Hazyview, a stone's throw from the world famous Kruger National Park. Pilots of all disciplines are invited to join each year from novice to seasoned veterans. There are no entry fees for the competitions and we cater specifically for the Rookies in an effort to encourage the sport of recreational flying in South Africa.
It started as a microlight competition and over the years many other different recreational aircraft have taken part. This year saw the attendance of 5 Microlights, 8 fixed wing Light Sport Aircraft and 13 Gyrocopters. The inclement weather in Gauteng and Limpopo prevented many other aircraft arriving. In the evening the traditional initiation of the new pilots took place with them having to do a barrel roll!!
The competition consisted of a navigation task in the morning and runway tasks in the afternoon. The navigation task took the form of a paperchase where the participants were given clues to their destinations and had to identify photographs from the air. The competition director, Hendrik Loots, kindly provided the first two turn points at Phabeni Gate at the Kruger National Park and Inyaka Dam Wall.
Then they had to fly to the first clue and that was that they needed to fly to where "Harry is famous on this grassy hillock". For those that know the area, this clue referred to Harry's Pancakes and Graskop where they would do a spot landing and pick up their next clue. The next 2 clues were put on the hangar door at Graskop. They had to fly to "Macdonalds X 2 water's edge" and "the town known as Ulusaba in Tsonga". Those in the know figured that out to be Mac Mac Falls and Sabie. At Sabie airfield they had to identify a giant smiley face emoji that had been drawn with flour on the Sabie runway . Their next turn point was given to them as Drome Z and the final leg was back to Numbi Hotel. I was stationed at Graskop to judge the spot landings and it was hilarious watching the pilots try and figure out where to go next. There were lots of Google searches going on and the funniest thing was that I had placed the answer to the Ulusaba clue only a few metres away on another hangar door. The jubilation of the pilots when finding the answer was something to behold!! Everyone completed the task safely, some more accurately than others!!
The runway tasks consisted of spot landings, a mini pylon race, a flour bomb drop and a ribbon cutting (bogroll) exercise. All the competitors did really well (sort of!) with only 1 pilot hitting the flour bombing target. There were also some entertaining spot landings which kept the crowd of onlookers ooohing and aaahing!! The different skills needed by the different aircraft types for the tasks was apparent with a lot of banter being bandied around about which is easier to spot land!! In my opinion it's the gyros!!
The prizegiving took place in the evening and true to Africa Cup tradition it was a fancy dress function with the theme being moon landings, airhostesses, sixties and James Bond and gadgets. There were all manners of astronauts, Inspector Gadget's, hippies and a few air hostesses present. Fines and booby prizes were handed out with Rob Mcfie presiding over the obligatory "strafdop" and smack on the backside from Michelle McFie. Great fun was had in this process!! Then came the time for the official prizegiving and I was honoured to present the trophies for the following categories to the deserved winners:
The Draadtrekker (he who comes closest to hitting the fence): Wian Lambrecht - Microlight
Airmanship: Adrian and Brian Hollenbach
Navigation: Rob McFie - Gyrocopter
Spot Landings: Rob McFie - Gyrocopter
Flour Bombing: Darryl Band - Cheetah
Ribbon Cutting (Bogroll Boss): Danie Heyns - Microlight
Pylon Race: Abrie van Vuuren - Gyrocopter
Rookie 1st: Andre Janse van Nieuwenhuizen - Microlight
Rookie 2nd : Mike Skinner - Zenair Zodiak
Rookie 3rd: Gregg Brooks - Savannah
Africa Cup 1st: Danie Heyns - Microlight
Africa Cup 2nd: Rob McFie - Gyrocopter
Africa Cup 3rd: Dawie du Toit - Savannah
Once again it was a brilliant, fun and safe Africa Cup. I'd like to thank all the competitors for taking part, displaying outstanding flying skills and keeping it safe. Thanks also to Hotel Numbi for hosting us, buying the take home trophies and supplying two free weekends to the winners. And finally a huge thanks to Misasa for providing funds, providing the ambulance and arranging all the legalities to make the event happen. Thank you.
I look forward to seeing many new faces at Africa Cup 2019.