We are in one of the most unusual times in recent history, the year 2020 having such a perfect ring to it, has turned into a nightmare for many, with tragic economic fallout consequences as a result. Since April, the lockdown restrictions curtailed flying operations severely as well and with concerted efforts together with the regulator, we were able to re-open to a limited extent flying, first for maintenance, then for proficiency and shortly thereafter the means to hold events.
Participants and officials
This Brakpan ANR was the first aviation sporting event held under Covid conditions, where specific Covid compliances had to be put into place to uphold social distancing and protection.
Some of the participating aircraft
Once the date was decided on and published, the competitor slots were snapped up within a day to make up 20 aircraft which we had decided on as the maximum, which would result in 40 competitors and with 10 officials and photographers would make up the 50 as the maximum count.
Nigel Musgrave and Frank Eckard
Nigel Musgrave was our Safety and Compliance officer for the day and also doubled as the landing marshal together with Derek Hopkins, with Frank & Cally Eckard as the route planners and organisers. As it turned out, there were eventually only 16 competitors as four dropped out, some with aircraft troubles and others finding the forecasted windy conditions a little challenging.
More participating aircraft
And for sure, the windy conditions proved challenging for all, with between 15 - 20 Knots on the ground and between 20 - 25 Knots, with a 10 Knot gust differential. Briefing was a little later than normal at 9 am, to give everybody an opportunity to arrive given Covid registration protocols having to be carried out and from there with Frank providing the plan for the day, which would consist of two routes to be flown. The first one fairly easy with a 0.5 nm corridor and the next one was more difficult with more acute turns and a corridor width of 0.3 nm.
Some serious route plotting
Once the briefing was over, everybody got down to plotting and the first aircraft was off at 10.15, that of Jonty & Jonathan Esser in their C150, followed by the rest of the field in 5 minute intervals, all flying at 80 Knots. The visibility was not great with lots of haze and windswept dust making the longer view ahead difficult to see, and trying to keep an even speed proved virtually impossible. As the timing is only measured at the start and finish, flying initially downwind you could allow the timing to drift, just to catch up again on the last two or so legs to be "in-time" over the finish. Headings did not feature much while flying, having to lay off due to the strong wind, it was best just to fly on map features.
In an ANR, the crew in fact are both navigators, the pilot navigating the LH corridor boundary and the navigator navigating the RH corridor boundary and it being vital that both communicate map features to match what is going on over the ground. The maps were provided at a scale of 1:200 000 and here in SA the feature updates were last done in 2015, making some parts of the route difficult to recognize where urban development has occurred since then:- nothing to make it even more challenging.
After the first route was done and most had scored well, the teams got on with plotting the 2nd route, with the first aircraft off at around 1 PM, with the wind having picked up even more, which made this route particularly tough with the twisty turns, which the scores would reflect.
Derek Hopkins at the spot landings
Participants at the spot landings
After each round, the flight was finished off with a spot landing. In gusty conditions it was tough to achieve good landing scores, but some at least would be able to bingo the line. After everyone was back, scoring started, but with some logger and software challenges, it took a bit of time, with prize giving taking place at around 3.30 PM.
The results were separated into two classes, Sportsman class and Unlimited, the Unlimited teams being Proteas.
Overall winners in the Sportsman Class were Apie & Frederik Kotzee in their Robinson R44 ZS-HRS,
in 2nd place Eugene van Staden & Munaf Mubarak in their Sling ZU-IBH,
and in 3rd place Hendrik and Jandre Loots in the sling ZU-IHK.
In the Protea class, in 1st place were Jonty & Jonathan Esser in their C150 ZU-BLL,
and in 2nd place Hans Schwebel & Ron Stirk in the C150 ZS-NBT.
and in 3rd place Mauritz du Plessis and Sandy Goddard
For the landings both landings counted towards a score, landing before the line attracting more penalties than after the line. In the Sportsman class in 1st place were Fanie Scholtz & Herman Haasbroek, in 2nd place Andrew lane & Angie Maroun and in 3rd place Apie & Frederik Kotzee. In the Unlimited class in 1st place were Nigel Hopkins and Mary de Klerk, in 2nd place Martin Meyer and Rob Jonkers and in 3rd place Mauritz du Plessis & Sandi Goddard.
Many thanks to the Brakpan club for hosting this event and to Jonty Esser for making all the logistic arrangements, Frank & Cally Eckard for all the route planning and scoring and Nigel Musgrave for carrying out the Compliance and safety duties. As a precursor event for more to come, we should be able to continue along the lines as we learnt for this event. The next event will be in Secunda as a Speed Rally and with Level 2 lockdown restrictions coming into force shortly, we will be engaging with the regulator on the requirements related to level 2.
One of the more perfect tracks of the day on the 2nd route.
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