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 current chairman of the Sport Aerobatic Club SAC, Gary Glasson has made it his mission during his term of office to share the thrill of the sport with as many pilots as he can, across length and breadth of the country. Just a few months ago some pilots in the Lowveld expressed interest in aerobatics and wanted to know how they could get involved in the sport. Together with his wingman Eugene du Preez and very experienced pilot Bertus du Preez – no relation – they arranged to convene a training camp in Tzaneen. A 3-day weekend with briefings and proper tuition both on the ground and in the air saw some 10 pilots flying a variety of types like a RV8, Yak 52and Decathlon end up with an Aerobatic Rating. And they had a great deal of fun at the same time. The opportunity to share experiences, gain new knowledge, all while enjoying the camaraderie of like-minded pilots is invaluable.
There have been two more training camps in as many months; a very well attended and successful one at Wings Park airfield near East London in August and then a training day directed at RV owners was held at Kittyhawk, Gauteng in September. A long weekend training camp is scheduled for Swakopmund in Namibia during November as a result of the interest shown by the local flying club. There’s also a RV specific training camp in the pipeline for later this year, pencilled in for Tzaneen. These camps all offer ground briefings and lectures focusing on safe aircraft operation and recovery from unusual attitudes.
In addition to the training camps, training sessions are held at Vereeniging most weekends under the guidance of Barrie Eeles. Helm Ludwig co-ordinates the Western Cape region. So, for those of you who ask: “where can I learn to fly aerobatics”, the sport offers training at an airfield near you. You will need your own aircraft though.
You can contact any of these good folk by directing an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read the articles on the recent training camps published on Flightline Weekly at

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.









Noel Otten passed away on the 6 May 2019 after a long illness. Although Noel Otten may not have participated in any aerobatic competitions since the 1980's, he left a list of achievements that has had a lasting legacy for future generations of sport aviators. A consummate historian and passionate aviator, he set a new standard in aerobatics which transitioned the sport from a time when Tiger Moths were the defining aerobats to the more capable Pitts Specials. A font of knowledge, Noel was often seen mentoring younger aviators in all aspects of aviation and could be relied on for relating some of history of aviation. Noel will always be associated with Baragwanath airfield where he spent all of his flying days. Aerobatics piqued his interest early on and apart from winning local competitions, he went on to win the 1979 National Championships and actively promoted the sport. He also represented South Africa at the 1980 World Aerobatic Championships held in Oshkosh, USA.

Noel was one of the founding members of the current Sport Aerobatic Club and will always be remembered for his passionate dedication to the sport. RIP Noel.



It is with sadness that we learn of the sudden passing of Piet Nutt on 2 April 2019, aged 85.

Louis Philip "Piet" Nutt had been associated with aerobatics in South Africa since the early 1960's, firstly as a competitor and in later years as a judge. He had gained his PPL in 1959 and shortly afterwards joined up with renowned aerobatic pilots Nick Turvey and Mike Van Ginkel, competing a Zlin 226. Piet was selected to represent South Africa at the 1968 World Championships in Magdeburg, Germany but unfortunately had to withdraw due to work comittments. He was one of the founding members of the Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa and took on the role of Chief Judge, which he continued to do until 1988. Piet also judged at the 1980 World Championships in Oshkosh, USA as part of the South African team. He was chief judge of the 1985 World Masters championship held at La Mercy, KZN, and acted as CIVA judge at many international championships including in Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and China. Piet was a hugely popular person and he would always avail of his time for anyone interested in learning of his time in aerobatics.

Piet was a highly respected structural engineer by profession and was instrumental in the design and construction of some of the more eminent dams and bridges in South Africa during the 1970's and 1980's. Apart from aviation he had many other interests including travel, classical music, fishing and would stop whatever he was doing at the chance of playing a hand of bridge. Piet was an avid pet lover and always seen in the company of a rescue dog.

We will always remember Piet with affection and acknowledge his contribution to the sport in South Africa. RIP Piet.

The prescribed figures to be used in 2019 Free Known - Power sequences has been released.

2019 Free Known

Click on the the link below for the list of figures.

2019 Free Known figures


South Africa was once again represented at the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships held in Romania from 15 - 25 August 2018. Eugene du Preez and Leigh Le Gonidec competed while the judging contingent consisted of John Gaillard (Chief Judge) assisted by Roger Deare and Quintin Hawthorne assisted by Johnie Smith.

See the full article at Team SA at WAAC 2018.

Full results at


The 2018 National Aerobatic Championships were held in Bloemfontein from 1 - 4 August 2018. Despite a smaller field of competitors than in recent years, all categories had good representation and with the good flying conditions and excellent organisation it provided a perfect scenario for a succesfull championships. The competition was fierce in all categories and the eventual winners of each category was only confirmed after the final unknown programmes were concluded. Strong winds on the final competition day forced the cancellation of Programme 4 in the Unlimited category, but calmer conditions in the late afternoon allowed for the Final Freestyle programme to be completed. A total of 17 pilots came from all corners of the country to compete at this central venue this year, with 14 aerobatic aircraft on the apron. Once all the flying was completed, Patrick Davidson had retaken the title of National Aerobatic Champion from last years champion Nigel Hopkins. Winners of the other classes were; Dustin Hughes (Sportsman), Kayle Wooll (Intermediate) and Gary Glasson (Advanced). Nigel Hopkin's spectacular display earned him the Final Freestyle title, just ahead of Patrick Davidson.

Full results at SAC Contest Results

After many months of preparation, WAC 2017 became a reality on the 9th September 2017 in Malelane when the CIVA President Nick Buckenham declared the championships open. For those of us that were tasked with the preparations, it was a case of hitting the ground running and getting things done. Despite the best intentions of the planning and strategy beforehand, we were ready for the pilots and other delegates on day one. After the registration process was completed, the initial briefing set the scene for the next 10 days. And then the opening ceremony set a truly African scene for our aerobatic friends from across the globe. The stage was set for South Africa to host the 2017 World Aerobatic Championships. The skies above Malelane kept the promise of 'sunny African skies' and the noise of aerobatic aeroplanes performing overhead made everyone happy. The small team of SAC workers ensured that the competition kept running without any serious glitches throughout. Tempers were frayed on the odd occassion and later in the week, strong winds created some challenges, but by the time the last aircraft landed on the final day, all five competition programmes had been completed safely and a winner was chosen by the panel of respected judges. That was the main objective of these championships. Job done!

Congratulations to the 2017 champions;

 - Mikhail Mamistov (RUS) - First place overall
 - Team France - highest score overall
 - Rob Holland - Final Freestyle champion

Thank you to all those participants who graced us with their skills. We trust that all enjoyed our hospitality!

Full results available at



In what can only be described as a titanic duel which brought out the highest standard of aerobatic competition flying, Nigel Hopkins took top honours at the 2017 SA National Championships held in Malelane, Mpumalanga from 5 to 8 July 2017. Although Nigel took an early lead during the first programme, the defending champion Patrick Davidson displayed excellent skills during the remainder of the contest but had to settle for a close second place with Mark Hensman finishing third. Malelane will host the World Aerobatic Championships during September 2017 and proved to be a popular venue for both pilots and organisers alike. Congratulations to all the competitors who took home a medal but a great thumbs up to everyone for keeping it safe. Detailed results are published on the Contest Results page.