In what was undoubtedly a hotly contested championship, Patrick Davidson has once again been crowned the National Aerobatic Champion at the 2016 National Aerobatic Championships held this year at Tempe airfield in Bloemfontein from 13 - 16 July. Flying a Sukhoi 31, he took control of the Unlimited category after the first Free Unknown programme and led all the way to the conclusion, beating Nigel Hopkins (Extra 330SC) and Barrie Eeles (Sbach).
Perfect weather conditions prevailed for the duration of the contest hosted by the Bloemfontein Flying Club where a total of 26 pilots competed in all categories, including a sole glider sportsman competitor.
Elton Bondi (Extra 300L) led the pack from the start in the Advanced category however a single mistake could have cost him the lead, and his cool demeanor and precise flying won him a gold medal. The remaining Advanced competitors were all in with a chance for the remaining medals with scores in a narrow range but it was in the final unknown that nerves of steel got Gary Glasson, flying a Pitts S1S, into second place ahead of Eugene Du Preez in an Extra 300L.
The Intermediate category was dominated by Cliff Lotter (Zlin 50) however the remaining positions were hotly contested for by Martin Schulze (Yak 55) who eventually finished in second place, Jason Beamish (Extra 300) third and Andrew Blackwood-Murray (Zlin 50) fourth, where no more than 1.4% separated these pilots at the end. The final placings were only confirmed once the final programme was flown with the placings changing after each programme beforehand.
There was a welcome new group of pilots competing in the Sportsman category where Adam Pucjolowski won ahead of Conrad Botha and Roger Deare. Worth mentioning is the achievement by a disabled pilot Werner Nel who competed in a Yak 52 in his very first aerobatic contest. Gary Whitecross once again showed his skills at the controls of the Pilatus glider, and it's a great pity that there are no other glider aerobatic pilots to join him at contests yet.
The championship culminated with the spectacular Freestyle competition during the Saturday afternoon airshow, where Nigel Hopkins put on an awesome display, taking the gold medal ahead of Patrick Davidson and Neville Ferreira.
This years championship was once again highlighted by the excellent camaraderie and safe disciplined flying. A good time was had by all.
Detailed results are available on the Contest Results page.