Ace of Base 2019- ending the season with a bang

By Willie Bodenstein

The Sport Aerobatic Club ended the year with a bang with record twenty-seven entries for its ever-popular Ace of Base Competition. Held at Baragwanath Airfield that proudly claims to have the longest running permanent aerobatic box in the country, the competition was held over two days starting on 31 November and ending with a spitbraai on 1 December.

Competing pilots on Friday

During the year the club launched an initiative to grow its membership. A number of seminars and workshops were held in different locations and we are glad to report that this was successful. Proof was the number of new young and eager faces that competed
for the first time. The "feeder classes", Graduate, RV and Sportman accounted for ten of the entries.

Simon Berklejohn and his brother flew the RV4 from Underberg in KZN. He was one of the competitors in the RV class.

So did Dave Thomas, who entered his RV7. Its lovely to see ZU-JUR at SAC events. She was built by Juri Keyter, founder of Pilot's Post and we spent many hours flying her all over the country in search of stories. Juri sold her when he emigrated.

Ingmar Bezuidenhout was one of the new competitors in the Graduate Class. He flew his Yak 52 ZU-BSK

Warren Eva was another Yak 52 owner who had entered the Graduate class

Riaan Pieters was another entrant in the Graduate Class. He flew his Christian Eagle ZU-EBR in which he had finished third in the Springs Speed Rally held the previous week.

Thys Kuhn in his RV7 ZU-LGT was one of five entrants in the Sportsman Class.

So was Ivan van der Schaar. Ivan is a regular on the SAC scene and airshow scene.

Machiel du Plessis who flew his RV7 ZU-WMW was one of the new faces.

Ace of Base was Tristian Eeles' second SAC competition. He flew his Extra 200 ZS-EDB.

Gregg Clegg, well known in EAA circles, was another newcomer. Greg flew a Pitts S2 ZU-DMG at Ace of Base

I drove through on Saturday and got to the field that is the base of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club, the oldest flying club in SA and one of the oldest surviving clubs in the world. The wind was pumping but that not deter the organisers and competitors and after the briefing led by Adam and Chief Judge John Gaillard, the first aircraft took to the sky for its known sequence.

Gladwin Sekgobela and Benji Phukubje took time of from their their busy tower at Lanseria International to offer an advisory service at Bara.

Competitors during the briefing.

Adam and John during the briefing.

Four regulars competed in the Intermediate Class. Despite the wind, all except for one of the known sequences were flown on Saturday as well as some of the unknown sequences.

Conrad Botha who competed in the Intermediate Class practicing for his routine

Andrew Blackwood Murray, well known for his high energy displays in his Nashua sponsored Extra 300 at airshows, kindly offered me a lift from Rand for the Sunday part of the competition. Andrew was leading the Intermediate class. We flew in formation with Simon and his brother in their lovely RV4 and I managed to get some shots on the way.

Andrew and his Extra 300 ZS-AEC.

Conrad Botha flew his locally designed and manufactured Slick 360 ZU-JSS from Bloemfontein.

Jason Beamish, another regular on the airshow scene and part of Team Extreme in his Extra 330LX ZS-EXT is another regular at SAC competitions.

The wind was still pumping on Sunday and it was even hotter that Saturday. With most of the sequences flown the day before, the judges did not have to spend that long gazing skywards and by lunch time, when the lamb on the spit was done to perfection, the last aircraft landed.

I've known Cliff Lotter for a long time. He is one of the most passionate aviators around and is always happy to lend a hand. Cliff flies his Yak 55 ZU-EHZ in the Advanced Class.

Kyle Wool is one of the new generations of aerobatic aces. The youngest pilot in the Advance Class, Kyle, who had bought a share in an Extra 330 at Base of Base, flew in ZS-BDE, an Extra 300,while waiting for the paper work on the 330 to be finalised.

Comair Training Captain Glen Warden is another airshow pilot that regularly competes at SAC competitions. Glen flew his Slick 360 ZU-MDA at Ace of Base. He regularly flies the SAAF Museum's Vampire and is rated on a large number of other aircraft.

Elton Bondi, a previous Chairman of the SAC, flew his Extra 300l ZU-DCR in the Advance Class and is another pilot who has been not only a regular competitor, but also a airshow performer and aviation ambassador.

Lunch over, the serious business off announcing the class winners as well as the winner of the title of Ace of Base was imminent.

Barrie Eeles, who was one of the brains behind Rooivalk and the father of Tristan who had competed in the Sportman class had entered and flew his Extra 330 ZS-XBE in the Unlimited Class.

Eugene du Preez is another owner of Walter Eugene Extra's game changing 330. Eugene regularly competes in the Unlimited Class in ZS-THY.

The odd guy out at Ace of Base (and at all other competitions) is Gary Glasson who in his Pitts Falcon ZU-FTP show that despite its age, the diminutive little biplane is still a force to be reckoned with.

The title of Ace of Base is awarded to the competitor that has the highest score in the class in which he, or she, had competed.

Tristan Eeles was placed first in the Sportman Class…….

Andre Blackwood Murray won the Intermediate Class…..

Elton Bondi won the Advanced Class……..

and Barrie Eeles won the Unlimited Class

Tristan however, had the highest score and was Awarded the Title of Ace of Base.

Events 2019
Sport Aerobatics

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