2008 SA National Landing Championships

BRITS AIRFIELD

20 – 21 June 2008

……and the 2008 South African Landing Champion is…….(drumroll….) WALTER WALLE!!!!
Walter Walle, Jacques Jacobs and Ron StirkWalter Walle, Jacques Jacobs and Ron StirkSo who is Walter Walle?
This young man hails from Germany. He started his flying career in Bloemfontein by winching gliders and soon progressed to flying gliders. He spent twenty years instructing on Glider Flying, four of which he acted as CFI and seven as Chairman of the Bloemfontein Flying Club.

It was at a Rally in Bloem sometime back in 1991 that Walter and his Navigator were first spotted on the radar when they won the event in their Superfalke Motor Glider. This was the beginning of Walter’s competitive flying career. The late, Andre Fourie, suggested that if ever he wanted to achieve his Protea colours, he would have to get his PPL. This Walter did in a heartbeat at the tender age of 60, and then set about his ambition to wear a Green Blazer. His high level of aviation, absolute commitment, and dedication to the sport earned him his first Green Blazer in 2003, when he represented South Africa at the World Rally Championships which were held in Sun City. South Africa won this event. It did not stop there – he went on to earn his Green Blazer for Precision Flying in 2004 and again in 2008 he will soon be flying the flag in Austria when South Africa competes at the World Championships in July.

About 3 years ago, SAPFA introduced a new discipline into the Sport of Aviation. This took the form of a Landing Championship. The objective here is to open the window of opportunity for pilots from around the country to achieve their Provincial Colours. Every pilot HAS to land – this is not an option, so why not get good at it? Those of you who have ever had the misfortune of running out of options in the air, and have had to put down very quickly in a field or on a road, will testify to the fact that the ability to land safely in a short space over an obstacle can be a real blessing.

At a Landing Competition you are required to do 4 basic landings being:
1. Power Approach using flaps
2. Glide Approach using flaps
3. Glide Approach without flaps
4. Obstacle Landing over a 2m barrier 50 m from the touchdown point.
These are all relatively simple and “all in a days’ work” for the average pilot…..but….the challenge does not come in HOW you land but WHERE you land. The runway has been pre-marked with a Landing Box consisting of a 2m wide Landing Line (Bingo) and 1 – 5 m Markings before and after the Bingo Line. Ascending penalties are awarded the further away from the Bingo Line that the main gear touches down.

Ideally you want to get “4 Bingos” to achieve a Zero Score. This is however not always as easy as it seems and does take a lot of practice.

This year the Championships, held in Brits, attracted nearly 30 aviators from various disciplines. The competition was a one day affair on Saturday on 21 June 2008 but arrangements had been made for the South African Protea Flying Team to be at the venue on Friday as a practice day. One of the first to arrive was CC Pocock who had decided to make a weekend of the event. CC was determined to use
his bush pilot experience to do well in the competition. Much to his dismay, every tactic he used was against the rules of the competition and was banned by the organisers. In addition, just because of his reputation he was placed in the Open Class even though it was his first competition.

The rain in the early morning did not deter the competitive spirit. The Competition is divided into following classes:
1. Open – 12 Entries. It is from this class that Provincial Colours are awarded for attaining a certain percentage in the overall Score
2. Sportsmans – 3 Entries. The is the Entry Level. Medals are awarded but not colours.
3. Microlights – 8 Entries. Medals are awarded but not Colours.
4. Virtual Aviation – 5 Entries. Medals and Provincial Colours are awarded.

Each pilot had to execute 8 landings (2 of each type) and the rules were set to allow competitors to discard the worst landing in each set. This set the stage for some very interesting results…

Provincial Colours were awarded to:
Walter Walle – Orange Free State
Mary de Klerk – Kwa Zulu Natal
Barry de Groot – Kwa Zulu Natal
Many awards were also handed out to the Marshalls who gave so tirelessly of their time. Special mention must be made of Jacques Jacobs who has been heading up the Landing Competition since its inception. He has also been awarded his Green Blazer as a Coach and International Judge for the Protea Flying Team.

Thanks must also go to the following
Competition Director: Deon van den Berg
Chief Landing Judge: Jacques Jacobs
Safety Officer: Andries Ehlers
Jury: Chris Booysen (Jury Boss)
Deon van den Berg
Jacques Jacobs
ATC: Mof van Niekerk

The event was sponsored by “Wings ‘n Tracks” so a Big Thanks goes to Barbara & Renier for their generosity.