Celebrating its 80th Anniversary - PTAR at Springs 2017

edited by Frank Eckard with contributions from Willie Bodenstein, Rob Jonkers, Cheryl Smit and Athol Franz

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the PTAR and the 20th year since the last air race was held in Gauteng.

This year's PTAR held in Springs attracted 67 entrants, somewhat down on last year's 89, ascribed perhaps to the proximity to the big controlled airspace areas and the perceived difficulty in this area. Nonetheless, competitors started arriving on Thursday throughout the day, most having landed by 12 pm.

Springs Airfield Friday morning

The race is a timed handicap event where the winner is the one who has gained most against their handicap. This year saw a technological step forward in the handicapping. We have now gathered significant logger data from previous years and found that the recorded 3D speed was an accurate record of aircraft performance which separated out the navigation performance of the crew. In parallel we approach the Wits University Aeronautical Engineering department to take a fresh approach to handicapping. As Chris Linakis and the handicapping committee developed the new approach the university found that they could not devise a better formula than the one developed by the SAPFA Handicapping Committee.

Competitors


Details regarding the formula were made available well in advance to give competitors the opportunity to use it to calculate their own handicaps either before or at any time during the weekend. The article can be view here.

The following adjustment will be made by the adjudicators in terms of the PTAR Race Rules and Regulations. If a competitor exceed his or her 3D speed after a day's racing, the new 3D speed will automatically be entered into the Formula and it will calculate a revised handicap.

After the briefing on Thursday afternoon, everybody retired to complete their race plot ready for the 1st day.

Robin during Friday's briefing


Friday morning dawned with pristine weather conditions, although the wind was predicted to become a significant factor for the day blowing westerly and increasing in strength to around midday. This would be hampering the slower aircraft as they would be taking longer around the course, which was primarily a triangle in shape with the first leg to Piet Retief, the second shorter leg to Wakkerstroom and the last leg back to Springs. Although an easy navigation course, the terrain around Piet Retief and Wakkerstroom was in the berg area and needed careful flying with the Westerly wind.

 

Competitors

Start Line Marshals

As it was the flights on day one were marred with a few incidents, the worst being the Beagle Pup being caught out in a berg rotor which could not be outclimbed with impending terrain impact, fortunately the crew survived, some others had technical problems that had either to carry out precautionary landings or divert to other airfields for attention. There was one competitor however that got totally lost and given the analysis of the track shown at the briefing afterwards, was a real hoot to see, especially given the fact that fuel was running low and had to do an outlanding at Majuba power station to find fuel to uplift before finding their way back to Springs.

Last year's winners at Bethlehem, Phillip Jacobs and Nico Smith in the Piper Arrow ZU-WAP, in Race number 1 was back to defend their title. However, having almost completed the first leg they unfortunately had a complete loss of power four miles from the field.

Race 1 Piper PA-28R-235B Arrow engine failure on return after completion of Leg One.

At the end of day on we were treated to a display by the Flying Lions in there new Puma Energy livery.

Flying Lions - Scully Levin, Arnie Meneghelli, Ellis Levin and Sean Thackwray


At 10.00 Robin waved Dieter Bock and Dale de Klerk in race #10 Lancair Legacy ZU-DBC with a starting handicap of 218.56 off and the race was on. Dieter and Dale eventually finished in 17th place with an average speed of 224.78 knots.

  

Following them were Mike Howell and Gerhard van der Westhuizen in the Race # 7 Glasair III ZS-WBT at 216.28. The Glasair did not compete in the second leg. Next was the first of the twins, Race #45 the Beech BE58 ZS-KCS off 198.64 crewed by Mario Febbraio and Eric Addison handicapped 198.64 who finished 9th overall. Fourth of the starting line was Race 42 the Cirrus SR22 ZS-JIE crewed by Alex Dyason and Johan van der Hoven with a starting handicap of 186.94. They finished in third place overall.

 

Fifth was Race # 15 the Ravin 500 piloted by Calle Hedberg and navigator Mike Visagie handicapped at 182.45 who finished 36th overall.

     

      

      

      

      

     

      

On Saturday morning the slowest aircraft is first off and carrying the advantage from day 1 the take off times are calculates to achieve a simultaneous finish of the whole field at exactly 13h00. Weather conditions on day 2 were similar to day one with a Westerly wind increasing during the day. The course this time was in the figure of a bow tie with a crossover close to the airfield, with the first bow towards the south to Standerton and Villiers and the second bow to the north to the N4 and then to Kriel. While the course had no major mountainous terrain several of the turn points caused navigation challenges, with a few misses at Standerton, the N4 and Kriel.

The first take-off was around 10h40 and is an interesting spectacle to observe from the ground as some groups of competitors with similar handicaps were taking off within 15 seconds of each other, quite a sight to see more than 6 aircraft in line behind each other climbing out.

As the flights progressed a live tracking screen was set-up in the briefing hangar for some spectators to watch around 6 competitors who had their smartphones recording their flight's progress, particularly interesting was to see when they were closing in to the crossover point and then going outside to see them come past. Although the livetrack is in its infancy and very dependent on good cell reception and fast internet for the ground station, it has promise to give better spectator value.

A True Test of Our Flying Ability. Report by Mothiba Kanyane and Jody Harms

 

The President’s Trophy Air Race proved to be an exciting challenge for RAASA’s Inspector Mothiba Kanyane (pilot) and Administrative Manager Jody Harms (navigator). They entered into the race with a Cessna C172 with the slowest handicap speed of 104.88 kts, but managed to land ahead many other aircraft. As first timer contenders to the race, the team performed exceptionally well. “We learnt a lot from interacting with the other pilots in the race as well as enjoyed the thrill of flying amongst some of South Africa’s top pilots” – said Mothiba Kanyane (Pilot)

The race fleet encountered strong Westley winds and moderate turbulences. Through thorough planning and advice from other experienced racers, the team managed to find the sector points using nothing but traditional flying and navigational methods. “In the end it was a steep learning curve, and there was a lot of knowledge taken in from this experience, experience that cannot be learnt from a book and we had fun”.

As 13h00 came the first competitor across the line was a Cessna 180 ZS-NEH followed by a Cirrus ZS-PFD, although once the scoring was done, the Cirrus was declared the winner with the C180 second with only 3 seconds separating them. The first 30 aircraft were over the line within the first 10 minutes. For the second day, no incidents were reported, and overall a good race result.

  

1st Place Victor Coreia and Derek Bird Bird

2nd Place Mark Dethian and Werner Hattingh

   

3rd Place Alan Dyason and Johan van der Hoven. Photo Cheryl Smit

4th place Mike Finch and Sandy Bayne

5th Place Arthur de Kock and Freddie van Rooyen

Alex Dyason/ Johan van der Hoven/ ZS-JIE

1st Place on right Victor Coreia/ Derek Bird/ ZS-PFD
2nd place on left Mark Dethian/ Werner Hattingh/ ZS-NEH

And then the party began.

   


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