The 2020 SA National Championships was scheduled to take place on 16-21 June at Tempe Airfield.  However due to the restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, we have decided to reschedule this contest to a later date.  The new dates will be 4-7 August 2020.

There is an airshow planned for the 8th of August in Tempe but this is dependent on the public gathering restriction being lifted.

If we are not able to have an airshow then the contest will begin a day later and will then be scheduled from 5-8 August 2020.

Elton Bondi recently sent this encouraging email to the SAC committee;
'Hi everyone on the SAC Committee,
I feel compelled to share with you my experiences with various SAC members over December.
As many of you probably know, I like to fly to the Cape in December in the Cessna 140.  It’s a bit of a mission in a slow ship, but I love it.
This time I planned to overnight in Cape St Francis.  So I called Patrick to find out about fuel there.  He said don’t hassle about it and to simply pop in to Seaview promising that he would gas me up and I could then hop across the bay to Cape St Francis
As it happened I could not leave Rand sufficiently early due to weather, so the plan changed and I was now to overnight in Bloemfontein.  So I called Conrad who said his hangar was full, and that I should try Wally.  Conrad insisted that if Wally could not help he would make a plan.   I know that he would have, because Conrad contacted me later in the day specifically to check that I was sorted.
When I arrived at Tempe, Wally was waiting and after putting the 140 to bed,  we had a few beers and he gave me a key to his hangar and car to use overnight so that I could make an early departure.
Upon reaching Morningstar, Mark and Edge arranged hangarage (with no charge) as they always do, and opened their hangar facilities to me, (with their awful coffee and warm beers)
On the way back I decided to fly via Kimberly, and whilst there I called Cliff on the off chance he was around - because and I wanted to break up my long 3.5hrs legs, so a stop in Klerksdorp would be ideal. Cliff greeted me with a complimentary cooler pack containing water and chocolate and he also topped up my fuel.
The reason that I am compelled to tell you the SAC committee about all this, is because I have no doubt that everything that Paddy, Conrad, Wally, Mark. Edge and Cliff did and promised, they would have done for any SAC member. Ours is a truly a magnificent and rare group of people.
The committee is mainly responsible for ensuring that we arrange safe and fair competitions, as well as the growth of our sport, but I hope you will agree that we also have a responsibility to preserve the extraordinary camaraderie that we are all privileged to share.  Because the SAC is more than just aerobatics, airplanes, contests, rules and trophies.
Wishing you all a brilliant 2020'.

A team from the SAC was recently invited to conduct a training camp in Swakopmund, Namibia for local RV owners. By all accounts it was a successful venture and enjoyed favourable compliments from the participants. Read the recently posted article on Flightline Weekly Online magazine, below.


Johnie Smith, Quintin Hawthorne, John Gaillard

Two SAC judges were honoured at the 2019 Aero Club Awards function held at Rand Airport. Quintin Hawthorne and Johnie Smith both received Special Recognition awards for their achievements at World Championship events during 2019 where each was ranked first at the World Aerobatic Championships (WAC) held in France, and the World Intermediate Aerobatic Championships (WIAC) held in the Czech Republic, respectively. Judges are assessed and ranked according to their ability to correctly apply the requisite judging criteria and to correctly rank the pilots overall placing.


While attending the World Aerobatic Championships in France earlier this year, I came across a newly released book that has, as it turns out, an important South African aviation connection. Written by acclaimed aviation author Annette Carson, Camel Pilot Supreme tells the story of a South African born pilot who achieved fame during the Great War.


Captain DV Armstrong, who hailed from Durban, left South Africa in 1915 to join the RFC and went on to become a legend for his feats in the little Sopwith Camel fighter plane. His superb piloting skills and mastery of the aircraft saw him earn key successes against the enemy in the aerial war and was also to put him in great demand as a flying instructor. He was considered to be the ‘finest pilot the Royal Flying Corps ever produced’. My interest was really piqued when I read of his dazzling aerobatic performances; his low-level loops from take-off and flick rolls after bouncing the little Camel on the runway before landing, were legendary and the young pilot quickly earned the reputation of being the ‘best aerobatic pilot of his day, bar none’.
Along with a pilot’s-eye-view of flying WW1 aircraft, Carson gives a wealth of detail about Armstrong’s South African roots and time in the RFC, with many asides of his friendships, his life off the airfield, too and eyewitness accounts of his extraordinary skill. It is particularly well illustrated featuring over 170 images including original photographs sourced from Armstrong’s own collection, enlivened with colour paintings by well-known artist Lynn Williams.
While some of his contemporaries, like Pierre Van Ryneveld and Quintin Brand were lauded for their later achievements, very little was known of this South African flying hero until Annette Carson published this well researched biography that now allows Captain Armstrong to take his rightful place among the heroes of pioneering flight. A ‘must-read’ for any aviation enthusiast, it looks set to appear on many a Christmas list. Published by Pen and Sword, it is available locally in hardcover from  An eBook version is available at

Quintin Hawthorne


It was with sadness that we learnt of the passing of Ian Popplewell on 6 October 2019 after an illness bravely borne. Ian was one of the longest serving members of the Sport Aerobatic Club and apart from the most recent years, he was actively involved with aerobatics for almost 40 years. Based at Baragwanath from where he flew his DH Chipmunk, Tiger Moth and Pitts S2A aircraft in local competitions, Ian served on the committee of the SAC for many years and in his quiet inimitable manner, got whatever task he accepted, done. He was Team Manager of the team that competed at the 1986 World Championships in England for which he was awarded National Colours.
Our condolences and thoughts go out to his wife Helen and their extended family.
RIP Ian Popplewell.


There’s a bunch of pilots who dedicate lot of time working behind the scenes, sharing their aerobatic knowledge and experience with those still new to the sport. These good spirited guys spend a chunk of their free time over weekends training and coaching others to become more proficient at the sport. All with the goal of achieving better scores at contests.  Because that’s what you need. Better scores. Those in the know will tell you that trying to better your skills on your own is just a waste of time and avgas. Having someone on the ground who has been there already, offering advice on the little tricks and nuances to get you those scores is a no brainer! And it’s safer!  However, not everyone is within easy flying reach of these dedicated guys, so what to do? No problem, they’ll make a plan to head over to an airfield near you.  

The 2019 World Aerobatic Championships – a judging perspective.


The pinnacle of achievement for any sport aerobatic competitor is winning the World Aerobatic Championship at Unlimited level. Beating the worlds best is no mean feat and it obviously takes an enormous amount of practice, time and money to be able to reach that level of expertise. Sport Aerobatics is still an amateur sporting discipline and unlike golf and tennis and any major achievement is limited to the respect and admiration of your peers and somewhat devoid of major media exposure. However, the aerobatic community across the globe shows a keen interest in these major achievements, and that’s what matters.

It is with sadness that we've learnt of the passing of both Mike McAuley and Val Otten in a car accident recently. Janet McAuley was injured during the accident. Our sincere condolences go to both families and we wish Janet a speedy recovery.
Mike was a long time member of the SAC based at Baragwanath and competed in contests from the 1970's to 2000. He was a close friend of Noel Otten who succumbed to illness earlier this year. Mike was also an accomplished aerobatic judge and was part of the judging team that represented South Africa at WAC in 1990.

RIP Mike and Val


At the recent AGM held during the 2019 National Championships in Klerksdorp, Gary Glasson was elected as Chairman while his wingman Eugene du Preez was elected as vice chairman. All of previous committee agreed to remain in office while Conrad Botha (Free State) and Mike Stark (KZN) were returned as provincial representatives.

In addition to the normal course of business, the AGM agreed for the CIVA representative John Gaillard to submit a bid for South Africa to organise the next World Advanced Aerobatic Championships, earmarked for Malelane in 2020.

No South African pilots will be participating at the 2019 World championships, however all the international judges will see duty; John Gaillard assisted by Cindy Weber is the Chief Judge and judge Johnie Smith assisted by Quintin Hawthorne will attend WIAC in Czech Republic. Quintin Hawthorne assisted by Laszlo Liszkay will do duty the WAC in France.