The long weekend of 21st to 22nd of September saw the GEMS gliding club hosting the 2019 gliding nationals. With warm weather predicted it, was perfect weather for gliding. With competitors coming from across the country, it was going to be a tight competition.
Aldo Vos launching into a DLG flight
DLG glider in flight
With 25 pilots signing up for their chance of representing South Africa, this was going to be one for the record books. The first morning started with the pilots briefing before pilots got ready for the F3K. F3K is often referred to as Discus launch gliders or DLG. The competition started with the first rounds making up a total time of 5 minutes flying time. The competition in this class was close as all the pilots showed their best skills in all the challenges that were presented them throughout the 6 rounds. The common types used in this class consisted of snipe's and vortex's. Just as this was the class that started the weekend, it was the class to end the weekend as well.
launching of the gliders. The pilots closest is from BOMAC in Paarl
The judges table making sure everyone gets a fair shot
The next class was the open class, which is for thermal gliders that are either electrically launched or winched launched gliders. The objectives of this class sees pilots fly for a set time before required to do a spot landing. During day, one the thermals played along nicely and the pilots showed their top skills in a tight class. The next day the thermals were fewer than on day one which meant pilots had to select between getting more points for landing or trying to keep their planes up longer than the rest
A winch lauched glider seconds after the caller let it go
Some out field landings aren't the best. But the plane had no damage.
The 2-meter class was the next class up. In this class the planes ranged from your basic foam gliders you buy at any hobby shop to fully composite gliders. This is basically the easiest class to get into as a glider can basically be powered by a small electric motor or a winch launched glider. This class also delivered some of the saddest crashes of the weekend. The class also had a few juniors flying against the older pilots and showing they cannot be ignored. This class also works with points for flying time and points for spot landing.
Moments before a hard landing. Plane survived to fly another round.
Moments before a launch
F5k was the next class that was up. F5K is basically an electric glider with a 30 second timer before the engine cuts out. The altitude reached is measured at that moment and the pilot that is lowest scores more points. On day 2 the thermals weren't as much as we had on day 1 and it forced the pilots to be more creative when it came to staying up in the air longer then their competitors.
Plugging in the battery and getting ready to fly
And a on spot landing
With another national completed, the pilots exchanged their flying stories and settled in as prize giving commenced. Craig Goodrum and Aldo Vos were the 2 best pilots in respective senior and junior category. Michelle Goodrum also took her fair share of trophies with her husband Craig being given the Victor Ludorum trophy for his overall score.
Pilots relaxing and sharing their flight stories
Craig Goodrum with the Victor Ludorum trophy
With the prize giving done the pilots from over the country started their journeys back home and the preparations for next year's nationals in Paarl have already started.