Dear SAC member,
We are all still reeling from the tragic accident that took one of our more experienced aerobatic colleagues from us recently. As you can imagine, it has been a trying time and made us revisit what we do at contests, and reflect on what we could possibly do to avoid another similar situation from ever happening again. Our sport is a high risk activity and it goes without saying that it requires thorough preparation. The committee has debated many ideas and canvased opinions to make our sport safer. I’d like to share with you all some of the actions we will implement immediately to mitigate any safety risks;
1. Sequence checking. While we already require all competitors to have their sequences checked by a senior judge or pilot, it has clearly not been happening. This is in place to check the legality of the sequence only, however, the spinoff is that it offers another set of eyes that could possibly pick up a potential safety problem.
2. Buddy system. This is a process practised by many other aerobatic organisations across the globe. This ensures that any competitor is ready and prepared for his flight. Prior to a competition flight, pilots force their ‘buddy’ to walk their sequence on the ground; they check their card; ensure a proper pre flight is conducted; confirm the official wind direction; confirm frequencies; where a break is to be taken and if a weather break is permitted, etc. In a club environment, no competitor should be left to deal with this kind of preparation on his own. A checklist is being prepared for this purpose. We want the buddies to be identified at the briefing.
3. Indicating a break on sequences. Competitors will from now on be required to indicate the point in their sequence where they will take a break, for either a weather break or a compromised altitude situation. Our rules do allow a competitor to take a weather break at any point in the sequence, at their own discretion and not exactly where they’ve indicated it on the sequence sheet. Marking this point on their sequence sheet however forces a competitor to be consciously aware of the lowest point in their sequence and hopefully encourages heightened spatial awareness during their flight.
4. Density altitude. SAC contests held on the Highveld have always implemented a free break to compensate for density altitude, in the Advanced and Unlimited categories. The CIVA regulations now permit this for Intermediate class too and we will follow this regulation. It goes without saying though that any contests held a lower altitudes / sea level will consider any density altitude implications.
5. Sample Known sequences. A set of prepared known sequences for each category will be published for each year and any competitor is free to fly this sequence, however, we do encourage members to design their own sequences and of course, have someone knowledgeable check it out.
6. Assessing mental preparedness. It is a fact that we practice a high-risk sporting activity so it goes without saying that every competitor must be mentally prepared to compete. We should all recognise where a fellow competitor is distracted by personal or business matters and suggest to the competitor that he should consider stepping aside until the distraction is no longer a factor. Late arrivals at a contest should only be possible under special circumstances, and sufficient time allocated to the competitor to properly prepare for his competition flight (at least an hour). Sir Walter Raleigh said “ If one finds oneself too distracted to get to an important meeting on time, then one does not belong at that meeting!”
The above items are merely some of the options that we consider as being appropriate to further improve safety at contests. As a club, the SAC has been fortunate to have had many years of safely run contests and we will certainly strive to continue this.
It is with great sadness that we end off the year with the passing of one of our long standing members, Glen Warden. As the saying goes, Glen was an officer and a gentleman, in the true sense of the word! Every person I know agrees with me and hence the feeling of utter devastation at the untimely loss to the aviation fraternity and particularly, to the Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa. We will miss you Glen. We will miss your attitude to life. We will miss your willing advice based on your years of experience, which was worth its weight in gold! We will miss your friendly, welcome, hospitable, humble and courteous demeanor! I could go on infinitely, but suffice it to say, Glen’s passing leaves a vacuum that will take a long time to fill.
Rest in Peace my Friend!
Obviously the Ace Of Base was canned after the incident as we were all in shock and not fit to fly . The accident was totally unexpected and there are some lessons to be learnt and the committee will discuss and implement whatever is deemed necessary in an attempt to ensure that this never happens again.
So far, the first half of 2021 has been incredible!
The year started with its challenges once again brought on by a spike in Covid infections. The committee felt it prudent to postpone all competition until we were through the Covid Second Wave. Luckily this only impacted the Gauteng Regionals which was postponed to and combined with the Judges Trophy we held early in March.
Other challenges included another CAA audit in February. The audit went extremely well with no findings or observations discovered. The committee must be thanked for the ongoing maintenance and improvement of our quality system.
The committee has recently lost two of its stalwart members while two new ‘young guns’, Warren Eva and Dusty Hughes have been co-opted in their stead.
I personally did not believe that a Nationals in 2020 was going to happen. As lockdown prevented all forms of recreation aviation, we ended up cancelling both the Eastern Cape and KZN Regional competitions. We decided to postpone Nationals to August and then to end September. When we realised a comp was possible, we first decided to gauge interest from our members (no point organising a Nationals for 5 guys!). We were all amazed at the response which to be honest, was unexpected! The committee gave Conrad Botha the green light to commence with planning to host what you see here today, an incredibly well attended and organised Nationals 2020! I would like to extend my thanks to Conrad Botha for not only the hard work required in organising an event of this nature, but also the never say die, let’s make it happen attitude. I think he deserves a round of applause!
As I am sure you all know by now, all aerobatics is permitted.
Just recently, we were given additional permissions by the CAA to hold events (training days, training camps and competitions) - see CAA General Notice below this paragraph. This permission was granted based on the creation & implementation a Standard Operating Procedure that will be used at any of our events and when followed mitigate the risks associated with Covid 19. Our SOP may be found on our web- site - click on the Briefing Room tab. Details of these provisions may be found in the following CAA General Notice:
In practical terms, this is what this permission allows:
1. Allows a group of pilots to congregate at an airfield with an approved aerobatic box for the purposes of aerobatic flight i.e. training day, competition or camp.
2. Allows a group of pilots to congregate at an airfield with an approved aerobatic box for the purposes of an inter- provincial competition
Thrown into the deep end is an understatement! The Monday after a very successful 2019 Nationals, Nigel Hopkins, John Gaillard and I attended a CAA Audit of our ARO (Aviation Recreation Organisation – Aerobatics). With the dissolution of RAASA, the CAA picked up the responsibility for the ARO’s. They have for obvious reasons taken this responsibility seriously and we ended the audit with a total of 15 findings that needed attention before we could renew our certificate.
First, words of thanks to the previous committee – Nigel, Barrie, John, Q, Elton, Helm, Cliff, Bugs & last but not least, Annie. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to keep this club on the road. I didn’t fully appreciate this until I was elected to the committee. The committee put the work in because they are passionate about aerobatics, and 100% dedicated to ensuring that our club & sport continues well into the future. The 2018/ 19 committee have all been re-elected for the next year. Thank you for once again standing for election! We have included a few new members namely, Eugene du Preez, Conrad Botha and Mike Stark, thank you gentleman!
Our objective for the coming year is the very same as the years previous, which of course is to grow our club. We need to add new members. The reasons I am sure are obvious to all. So the question is how?
In the past we have pretty much left it to the committee, and I guess mainly the chairman to wave a magic wand and produce new members, which they did and we thank them for it. However, the committee is a small group of volunteers, with a limited amount of time & resources. They can’t be everywhere on every airfield all of the time canvassing for new members. So what do we do?
Another hectic year is coming to a rapid end and we have one contest left. It has been another good year with many of our members excelling Internationally. The 2019 CIVA figures have been released and it’s good to see the plans for the 2019 International events, which also include the Intermediate World Champs. http://civa-news.com
Congratulations to our members for their various awards.
Aeroclub Gold Wings:
Awarded to two dedicated members Barrie Eeles and Elton Bondi for their services to the SAC and Aeroclub. Well done Gents, well deserved recognition.
Awarded to Eugene Du Preez and Leigh Le Gonidec who represented SA at the Advanced World Aerobatic Championships in Romania. http://www.civa-results.com/2018/WAAC_18/indexpage.htm
A Review of 2017 for the Sport Aerobatic Club of South Africa
2017 was not an average year for the South African Sport Aerobatics Club. We had some significant highs, and lows too.
We very sadly said good bye to Werner Nel who was tragically lost when his engine failed shortly after take-off at Kitty Hawk. Werner was larger than life character and a rising star in aerobatics; he is, and will continue to be missed by the Sport Aerobatic Club.
One of numerous highs for the club was the Unlimited World Aerobatic Championships that we were fortunate to be able to successfully host for the first time in this country. It was also the first time in the history of international sport aerobatics that all competitors were able to fly all flight programs. We received warm thanks and sincere accolades for hosting the event from many of the competing pilots as well as the international officials.
Although we were very grateful to receive some corporate sponsorship we did not, despite a huge effort, raise as much as we had hoped to; in fact when one of the international jury members learnt how small the budget available to us was, he was truly amazed that we were able to pull it off at all.
The way that Werner lived will remain an example and inspiration to all of us who knew and flew with him.
Much like the legendary Second World War ace Douglas Bader, Werner overcame significant physical obstacles with huge courage in order to gain his wings. Not content with merely being a private pilot, Werner went on to become a highly respected commercial pilot and instructor, giving not only knowledge and skill to his students, but inspiration too.
I understand and accept that the inherent nature of aerobatic flight places demands on both equipment and aircrew that necessitate higher levels of safety vigilance than almost all other flight operations.
I understand that the two most important components of safety in aerobatics are knowledge and self-discipline. Knowledge to be able to identify hazardous conditions and circumstances, and self-discipline to proactively avoid such hazards.
I am sensitive to the reality that once the basic handling skills have been mastered, the resultant euphoria of aerobatics can often induce displays of unwarranted overconfidence and showmanship which often lead to misjudgement and other dangerous practices beyond the ability of pilots and equipment.
As a member of the aerobatics fraternity I have an obligation to inform other aerobatic pilots of any of their actions that I deem hazardous. In turn, I have an obligation to accept such critique when offered to me by fellow pilots.
I recognise that aerobatics attract significant attention, and hence I have an obligation to exhibit high levels of airmanship in order to set an example of professionalism at all times.
The opportunity to fly aerobatics is an extraordinary privilege requiring extraordinary levels of maturity, discipline and judgement.
Deserve the right to be part of aerobatics.
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