This year, the Sports Acrobatic Club's Nationals was held at the Phalaborwa, formerly the Hendrik Van Eck Airport situated just outside Phalaborwa in Mpumalanga. The Airport shares a border fence with the Kruger National Park. In fact, so close is the airfield to the park that the judges were stationed within the boundaries of the park!
You know you are in the bushveld when the airfield looks like this.
The airport has one runway designated 01/19 with an asphalt surface measuring 1,373 by 18 metres (4,505 ft × 59 ft) and is at an elevation of 1,432 feet (436 m) above mean sea level.
Airlink purchased the Phalaborwa airport in 1999 and immediately redeveloped the facilities in anticipation of promised tourism and hospitality infrastructure development in Northern Kruger National Park and Letaba Ranch which never materialized. However, the Phalaborwa airport, according to a statement by Airlink, will remain open for general aviation traffic for the time being.
The Phalaborwa Community Policing Forum manned the entrance to the airside of the field and in order to raise funds, controlled the number of visitors to airside to comply with Covid 19 Regulations.
One of the hangars made available to the competitors.
SAC orgianisers Ingmar Bezuidenhout and wife Monica.
Commenting on the SAC Nationals, organiser and Phalaborwa resident Ingmar Bezuidenhout, who with help and support from his wife Monica, had this to say about the SAC and the Nationals: We have been living in Phalaborwa for sixteen years and I have been flying for the last two and must admit that I have been become fanatical about sport aerobatics.
The friendship and the assistance through my journey up to this point, where I can compete in Sportsman class and even hosting the Nationals, is due to the unbelievable support of the pilots, especially the Kitty Hawk guys.
Gary Glasson and Eugene du Preez and many others put so much of their time into training camps and assisting us with crit from the ground that is just unbelievable.
This was the reason for building the aerobatic box at Phalaborwa and assisting in the growing of the sport. Phalaborwa hosted the last competition in 1989 and now again in 2021. with fair weather during winter months and almost at sea level (1460 feet) it is an amazing venue for sport aerobatics.
As a committee member I am hoping to have Limpopo Regionals every year in Phalaborwa, as well as regular training camps."
Thirty-four entries were received with 31 of SA's top aerobatic aces eventually competing. Two, Roger Deere of Ecko Unl and Ryan Beaton withdrew with health problems. Ecko was still represented by Barry, Tristan and Nigel.
Two of the three Ecko sponsored aircraft.
Andrew Blackwood Murray, Extra sponsored by Nashua.
Jason Breamish's Extra, sponsored by amongst others Absolute Aviation.
Pierre du Plooy's Ultimate Aviation sponsored Giles 202.
Patrick Davidson's Red Bull sponsored Gamebird.
Aerobatics is a rather expensive sport. However, it is heartening to see that there are a number of companies that have been involved or are getting involved and are realizing that by sponsoring competitors that they will be getting value for their money.
Ricky Fouche is a man of many talents. Not only is he Pilot's Posts Free State correspondent, he is also the producer during Airshows and other events for Capital Sound's outside broadcast unit. He records videos for the SAC of each sequence flown, no mean task indeed!
On Wednesday, the first day of the competition, three sequences were flown and the day's provisional results were as follows:
Thursday morning waiting for the briefing.
Rollcall and briefing.
I arrived by road having left JHB on Thursday at 05.15 at a chilly 05° and arrived at the field just after 11.00 when it was already well into the 20's peaking at 35°, compared to Johannesburg's 23° for the day. The locals and the weather forecast were for a cold, by Phalaborwa standards, 15° to 23° cloudy day with winds at 15 to 30 km/h which was not good news.
Glenn Warden in the Slick 360 and Elton Bondi in the Extra 300 both competed in Advanced class.
Kyle Wool in the Extra 330LX competed in Intermediate and Jason Beamish in the 330 LX in Advanced.
Pierre du Plooy in the Giles 202 in Advanced.
Dustin Hughes in intermediate shared the Yak 55 with Cliff Lotter in Advanced.
When I got up land left my accommodation it looked flyable with some wispy mist like clouds to the South and left of the box and with no wind. By the time the briefing took place at 08.00, the conditions were not flyable and it seemed as if it will remain like that for the rest of the, day which it did only clearing just before 16.00 and the Advanced competitors at least were able to complete a sequence.
Nigel Hopkins and Barrie Eeles shared the Extra 330XC in Unlimited.
Gary Glasson in the Pitts in Unlimited.
Trevor Warner in the Extra 200 in Intermediate.
Dave Thomas, who with Martyn Redelinghuys shared the Vans RV7 in the Vans Class.
Patrick Davidson in the Gamebird in Unlimited.
Tristan Eeles in the Extra 330SC in Intermediate.
Only Saturday remained and the forecast was almost identical to Thursday's. Again, not good news and again unfortunately, the weather forecasters had got it right. However, by 15.00 the sun was out but the clouds remained persistently low. A ceiling of 2400 metres were required and every so often someone would go aloft and chick until, voila it was low enough and the first competitor took to the sky.
Andrew Black Wood Murray competed in Advance in the Extra 300.
Johan van Zyl flew the Vans RV 7 in the Sportsman Class.
Local boy and organizer Ingmar Bezuidenhout competed in the Yak 52 in Sportsman.
Another Limpopo resident Dickie Maritz, flew the conventional looking Decathlon in Sportsman.
Another Yak 52 was that of Warren Eva, who also competed in the Sportsman Class.
Thys Kuhn in his Vans RV 8 was another competitor in the Vans RV Class.
Time management was now vitally important to get everybody in the sky for their remaining sequences. The organization, which throughout the whole competition was super, kicked in and with minutes to spare, the last sequence of the free style discipline was flown.
Patrick Davidson flew the Gamebird in the Freestyle Class.
Nigel Hopkins in the Extra 330 XC in the Freestyle Class
Barrie Eeles in the Extra 330XC in the Freestyle Class.
The awards function was originally scheduled to be held in the Kruger Park but because the gates closed at 18.00, was moved to a hangar at the airfield where Elton Bondi, acting as MC and Cliff Lotter, the newly elected Chairman, announced the winners.
John Gaillard, the SAC's Chief Judge for 31 years received Lifetime Achievement Award.
The judges and others who worked behind the scenes without who, no event would be possible were in no particular order; Contest Director Mark Hensman, Contest Chief Judge John Gaillard, Scoring Director Natalie Stark. Judges: John Gaillard, Quintin Hawthorne, Laszlo Liskay, Helm Ludwig, Mike Stark, Johnnie Smith and Cindy Weber.
The RV Class winner was Martyn Redelinghuys, 2nd Thys Kuhn and 3rd Dave Thomas
Sports man Class, left to right, 2nd Warren Eva, 1st Quintin Tayler and 3rd Dicky Maritz.
Intermediate Class, left to right, 2nd Tristan Eeles, 1st Dustin Hughes and 3rd Trevor Warner.
Advanced Class, left to right, 2nd Pierre du Plooy, 1st Elton Bondi and 3rd Kyle Wooll.
Unlimited Class, left to right,3rd Gary Glasson,1st
Nigel Hopkins and 2nd Patrick Davidson.
Freestyle, left to right, 2nd Patrick Davidson, 1st
Nigel Hopkins and 3rd Barrie Eeles.
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