• The 22nd World Rally Flying Championships Finals 2022

    The 22nd World Rally Flying Championships Finals 2022

    By Rob Jonkers. Photos by Willie Bodenstein

    At last we had arrived at the competition week, after months of planning after Sunday the 13th of November dawned everything was in place to have the event start. After the morning briefings were concluded, preparation for the opening ceremony were carried out with podiums, sound and everybody in their National dress.

      Team SA Colours handing over ceremony Start List             Parade of Nations

    Karl Jensen was the MC for the Opening ceremony, which started promptly at 3PM with a Parade of Nations, each country with their National flag and country signboard walked past the clubhouse to gather around the podium, and as they walked past their National Anthem was played.

      MC, Captain Karl Jensen Rob Jonkers Chairman Aero Club of SA Hans Schwebel Brits Flying Club member and President of the General Aviation Commission (GAC) of the FAI The raising of the FAI Flag, signalling the official opening of the WRFC

    Once this was concluded, we had the Absolute Extras do a display as Nigel & Jason brought their aircraft over from the Coves earlier, they were able to give a stunning display against a backdrop of a passing storm cell, giving the photographers a good opportunity to get some amazing footage. Nigel and Jason are thanked for being able to give the opening ceremony the appropriate opening for such a prestigious event. It was also planned that the Puma Flying Lions would do an opening display, but the threatening weather all around us prevented them from getting through from Rand Airport.

    Nigel Hopkins and Jason Beamish aerobatic display It was fortunate that while the Opening Ceremony was underway between 3 – 4 PM the rain stayed away, as after the display the formality of the Opening continued, first with the chairman of the Brits Flying Club Lohan Otto giving a speech, then onto Rob Jonkers the Competition Director giving thanks to all the people involved in getting us to the point where we could start. Thereafter Hans Schwebel as the President of the General Aviation Commission (GAC) of the FAI declared the event open by raising the FAI flag. Cocktail snacks and drink was then enjoyed by all, and in the meantime rain had descended on the Airfield again. Some of the competing aircraft The competition week then started out on Monday, where the weather was clearing up, although windy with low cloud, it was decided to fly the bad weather route – Granite for the day. All the routes were named after minerals in keeping with the theme of the area being rich in minerals. The only way the departure sequence would work was to use runway 20, and at least for Monday the wind was southerly all day. A measured landing would be at Brits, in this case also on runway 20, where most of the previous week the prevailing wing was northerly. After day 1 in first place was Michal Wieczorek from Poland and in 2nd place Nigel Hopkins.   Competitors in quarantine The rest of the week had good weather predicted with increasing temperatures, and for day two, the Chrome route was flown, with a landing again at home base. After day 2 Nigel Hopkins took the lead, with Marek Kachaniak from Poland in 2nd, Michal Wieczorek had dropped to 3rd place. Day 3 the route was Copper, this route was flown up north with an intermediate landing to take place at Kokoriba, the idea of an away landing was to challenge crews to landing in unfamiliar territory. The runway there imminently suitable to carry out a touch and go in farm strip conditions, some found it difficult and others were able to bingo the landings. Unfortunately due to a rule technicality, the landings had to be excluded, much to the chagrin of some competitors who had done well there. After day 3, the standings were still with Nigel in the lead with 604 points and Michal Wieczorek in 2nd place with 753 points. Day 4 the route was Gold, this route was flown to the west in the Rustenburg area with another away landing planned, but as the rule technicality could not be fixed for the Silver Creek runway, only a runway inspection could be flown, and a home landing at Brits was measured. Day 4’s results had Krzysztof Wieczorek in 1st place with Nigel having dropped to 8th. Spot landing judges After all 4 days of flights, other than a few aircraft snags, all competitors could fly all the routes, we were well supported by the aircraft owners to sort out snags and issues. Thursday afternoon & evening is traditionally International day with every country taking part bring out their speciality food and drink to sample and enjoy. Germany brought Jägermeisters, the Norwegians brought their famous Norwegian salmon, the French their French wines, the South Africans with borewors and melktertjies…. Friday was set out as a reserve weather day and was fortunately not required, some teams took further scenic flights and others went to visit local game parks. The prize giving Ceremony was to be held at Fatherland Estate which is around 5km from the Brits airfield – which was scheduled for 7 PM. Everybody started to gather at the venue from 6.30 and David le Roux was the MC for the evening called everybody to take their seats at 7h30 for starters. The proceedings for the evening commenced, first with Rob Jonkers giving a speech of thanks to everybody involved in making the event successful, and despite the challenges we were able to pull this significant event off. For sure the key to make this event happen was securing Aircraft, which is many more than would be the case in Europe, here only the South Africans had their own aircraft, we had to cater for 28 teams, 14 aircraft at the end of the day. Between Martin Meyer & Ron Stirk they managed to secure these aircraft for the best part of 2022, and gave congratulations on the great work done to negotiate with the owners to rent them.  



      All the Officials were called up to the stage to have their participation certificates handed over, after giving thanks for their support during the event, as it takes many functions to make this level of event happen successfully.

    Over all standings After this the Chief Judge took over with the prize giving, first being the youngest pilot category, this going to the Czech team of Lukas Behounek & Krystof Bobek, then the Landings category going to the Polish Team of Krzysztof Wieczorek & Kamil Wieczorek. Then the main category of Individual team results with 1st place going the Polish Team of Krzysztof Wieczorek & Kamil Wieczorek, in 2nd place Michal Wieczorek & Marcin Kwiatosz, and in third place South African team of Nigel Hopkins & Mary de Klerk, the first podium finish for the South Africans since 2003. Next was the Team Trophy which went to Poland in 1st place, Czech Republic in 2nd place and France in 3rd place. The Air BP best in navigation and observation trophy went to the Polish Team of Krzysztof Wieczorek & Kamil Wieczorek. After the prize giving the GAC President Hans Schwebel officially closed the event and the FAI flag was lowered, folded where the Competition Director Rob Jonkers handed it over to Phillipe Muller of France who is the appointed Competition Director for the 23rd WRFC to be held in Macon France in 2023. With that the 22nd WRFC was closed and guests could enjoy the main course for the evening. There are so many thanks to be given, from all the Officials from far and wide that is the engine room of such a competition, everybody in their various roles were well versed in what they needed to do and did so very well, and to get to the end of competition having been concluded with safe flights throughout. A big thanks to Thanks to the Lohan Otto and the BFC team for preparing the airfield and having upgraded the clubhouse as you see today. Thanks to all the SAPFA & BFC committee members that for months of planning meetings got this event fully realised. Thanks to the CAA PEL department carrying out licence validations, also the GA department, Piet Fourie & Mothiba Kanyane on the Special Air Event application management and their daily support for the event over the last week. Thanks to the media for their support and attendance, they always support our Recreational Aviation Thanks to the sponsors, Absolute Aviation, DJA Aviation Insurance, Bill Harrop’s Balloons, Brits Auto, Century Avionics, Wings and Tracks, Puma Fuel, various local hotels & food establishments. Am sure this event will come around to South Africa sometime in the future again, and that new teams will experience the best of South Africa. I wish all of you safe skies where ever you fly, and am sure we’ll see you again soon at the next events.
  • The Arrivals and Training week for the 22nd WRFC 2022

    The Arrivals and Training week for the 22nd WRFC 2022

    By Rob Jonkers (photos Rob Jonkers & others)

      The 22nd World Rally Flying Championships has been a protracted postponed event after having planned to take place in 2020 in Stellenbosch with a 2nd attempt in 2021, and then eventually a third attempt in 2022 but this time in Brits in the height of the summer rainy season, and knowing full well that weather may be a factor here in the North-West area, however expected would normally have been afternoon thundershowers, and daily schedules were such that flying would be avoided in the afternoon. In any event, with a third season of La-Nina affecting our weather, and for a third time in 2022 where SAPFA has held events on a weekend where “cut-off” low pressure cycles over the centre of SA were present, we had to deal with rain and more rain in the first week earmarked as validation & training week, where hired aircraft would arrive (14 of them) with each international crew needing a check ride, logbook endorsement, then a foreign operators certificate. Obtaining the 14 aircraft from 6 different operators was no small feat, planning for sourcing them had already started at the beginning of 2022, and between Ron Stirk and Martin Meyer we were eventually able to get contracts in place for all of them, and many thanks go out to Fly Adventure, Sky Time (C172 Diesels), Lanseria Flight Centre, Springbok, Vulcan, Don Lucas for the use of their aircraft. Having started setting up on the weekend of the 5th November there were 2 good days, but as Monday came around 2 very bad weather days prevented aircraft being flown to Brits, with international crews waiting their arrival and good weather. Eventually, Wednesday and Thursday were good and all the aircraft arrived with check rides done, and some of the first teams were able to start flying their practice routes taking advantage of the 2 good weather days. Many thanks are extended to the CAA’s PEL department headed by Johan Niemand, with Mikhal Rosenberg carrying out the validation certificates which had turnaround times of less than an hour, giving each international crew the ability to start flying very quickly after their check rides. Friday saw the weather close in again, with some gaps to allow flights, most were able to practice their landings while the weather was dodgy further out. With Brits being around 3800 ft in altitude, everybody had to either fly higher powered C150’s or C172s to deal with the high Density Altitude conditions, so the handling and power management being significantly different to the European competitions where most occur close to sea level areas – giving these teams the additional challenge of dealing with heavier and more sluggish response. By Saturday evening the end of the Practice week was declared and all teams had had the opportunity to hone their rally skills and familiarize with the landscape of the Brits area which is quite varied, from the northern bushveld to the scenic hills and valleys of the Magaliesberg. Sunday saw the final preparations of the airfield, and with water still seeping through the ground from the adjacent hills, left much of the prepared parking and taxi-ways waterlogged, where alternative parking and taxi plans had to be put in place, which still saw feasibility of managing the movement after papers handout to be ok, albeit needing to use Runway 20 for take-off, but with a calm weather outlook for the week from Tuesday, would be operationally suitable. For the morning of Sunday, two briefings were held, first the briefing for Officials which was given by both the Competition Director Rob Jonkers and the Chief Judge Ralf Grunwald (Germany), this to ensure we had sufficient resources and that everybody was briefed on their expected functions, thereafter at 11 am was the Official competitor briefing to explain the expected daily schedule and logistics of the event. After this the Opening Ceremony would occur, and at this point everybody saw their readiness as being complete to hold the championship. To be continued………
  • Program
    PROGRAMME   (Detail Programme of Events Link)
    7th to 12th Nov 2022   Registration & Practice Week
    13th Nov (SUN)   Opening Briefing 11h00 Opening Ceremony 15h00
    14th Nov (MON)   First competition flight 
    15th Nov (TUE)   Second competition flight 
    16th Nov (WED)   Third competition flight 
    17th Nov (THU)   Fourth competition flight 
    18th Nov (FRI)   Reserve day Prize-giving and Closing Ceremony 19h00
    19th Nov (SAT)   Departures