The Aero Club of South Africa wears several hats. One is to the custodian of aviation sport in South Africa, the second is as the representational body at various forums and committees to protect the interest of sport aviation in South Africa, and the final one is to grow the membership and enable transformation and development in aviation sport.
On Saturday 5 November the Aero Club of SA, which actively protects, promotes and preserve all forms of sport and recreational aviation in South Africa, held its annual awards ceremony at Hangar 5 at AFB Zwartkop.
Doctor Mike Brown, Chairman of Chapter 322 of the Experimental Aircraft Association of South Africa, whose dry wit and perfect command of the English language did was the Master of Ceremonies. Mike opened the event and after having explained the house rules introduced Jeff Earle, the Chairman of the Aero Club.
Jeff welcomed all to the 2016 Annual Awards Dinner of the Aero Club of South Africa and extended a special welcome to the Aero Space guests. "Tonight, Ladies & Gentlemen," Jeff said "is dedicated to you, the members of the Aero Club, whom we serve. Tonight is not only to thank our members for their achievements, but more particularly to recognise and award our members for special and meritorious achievements. We are actively promoting our aviation objectives and addressing the needs of our members. We are trying to keep Sport Aviation within reach of more members."
"To you the members, we thank you for having the faith in us, and charging us with the responsibility of managing the Aero Club for this past year." Jeff concluded.
Following Jeff's address was the awarding of SASCOC Protea Colours to Aero Club members that had represented South Africa in International events during 2016.
Keith Renecle represented SA in the FAI Class F2 Control Line Model Aircraft World Championship held in Pert, Australia during May 2016. Photo compliments Athol Franz
Jan Sime, Tshepo Molefe, Ian Sime and Alan Smith represented SA in the FAI Class F3J Soaring Model Aircraft World Championship held in Vipava, Slovenia during August 2016.
Ron Stirk, Thys vd Merwe, Mary de Klerk, Rob Jonkers, Martin vd Merwe. Part of the team but not present was Frank and Cally Eckhard and Hans Schwebel. The team took part in the 20th FAI World Rally Flying Championships held during September in Portugal. South Africa won the Silver Medal.
Dirk Venter, Claire King and Dirk venter was part of the team also consisting of Paul Marcellin that competed in the 2nd FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving held in Warsaw during September.
Protea Colours were also awarded to PASA members Alex Jordaan, Amy Kirkland, Bailey Edmunds, Deborah Ann Lamsley and Warren Hitchkock who competed in the 22nd FAI World Skydiving Championships held in Chicago, USA during October 2016.
Two Soaring Society teams represented SA during August at the 34th FAI World Gliding Championships held in Lithuania. Nico Le Roux and Sven Olivier competed in the Single Seat Club Class and Daniel Rodic, Mannie MacLauchlan and Nicky Oberhofer in the Two Seater 20m Class. Both teams were on Saturday competing in the World Sailplane Grand Prix underway in Potchefstroom.
A Special Acknowledgement was awarded to Chris Dales of Parachute Systems (not present) for the free replacement of all 652 Vortex units. This has never been done by any manufacturer and shows the commitment from Chris and his company to each customer and their safety.
Other to receive Special Acknowledge Awards for their contribution to aviation was:
Jozef Jacobs and Arddyn Moolman (not present) for participating as international judges at the 20th FAI World Rally Flying Championships held in Portugal
Colin Rothman started skydiving in 1992 and won his first medal 2 years later. Five years later Colin started his 13-year winning streak, taking the gold medal in 4-way Formation Skydiving every year for the next 10 years. Colin currently serves as a PASA Non- Executive Director and continues to coach and develop skydivers.
Eric Torr received the award for his contribution to gyrocopter flying in SA. Eric has dedicated his life to gyros and has a lifetime of experience on the type. Eric is a pilot, instructor, AP and Chairman of SAGPA and once flew a gyrocopter to 19,100 feet without oxygen.
Louise Hofmeyer, an ASSA board member, has been involved in General Aviation since 1999 initially organising open days in the Western Cape. Open days escalated to an airshow. Louise realised that doing all that was not a one man operation and she soon gathered a team together to assist her spreading the 'general aviation fever'. Louise joined ASSA in 2003 and today 17-years later she still sets an inspirational example.
In July 2016 Neil Bowden arranged his 20th trip to Oshkosh for other aviation enthusiasts and has exposed more or less 1,890 Southern Africans to the greatest aviation gathering in the world. Neil has made a meaningful contribution to recreational aviation in SA in helping to achieve recognition for Chapter 322 with the EAA of the USA.
Nigel Hopkins and Roger Deare (not present) were acknowledge for their contribution to Sports Aerobatics by staging the Sky Grand Prix in Durban in 2014 and again, despite not getting any major sponsor on board, in 2016.
Daniel Ralefeta is the driving force behind the Aero Club's greatest responsibility-the introduction of South Africa's youth, mainly previously disadvantaged, to the wonders of aviation. This he does with a team of great helpers who has introduced 4,350 young enthusiasts to aviation, 21 of whom are now trainees or fully qualified pilots. Daniel later on during his speech talked about the wonders of aviation and the way forward with youth development.
Next to take the stage was Mr. Donald P Schenk whose brain child is Wonders of Aviation NPC (Reg. no: 20201607342408) is a South African non-profit organisation that uses the magic of flight to inspire and educate previously disadvantaged youth about the aviation industry, and to engender a lifelong love of learning. Wonders of Aviation supports the aviation industry's outreach programs that encourage learners to consider a career in aviation, while focusing the majority of its effort on individuals who they hope will become mentors and future aviation industry leaders.
Mr Donald P Schenk of ACA Associates Inc. and the Vice Chairman of Wonders of Aviation.
Wonders of Aviation NPC (Reg. no: 20201607342408) is a South African non-profit organisation that uses the magic of flight to inspire and educate previously disadvantaged youth about the aviation industry, and to engender a lifelong love of learning. Wonders of Aviation supports the aviation industry's outreach programs that encourage learners to consider a career in aviation, while focusing the majority of its effort on individuals who we hope will become mentors and future aviation industry leaders.
Natalie Kyd is involved in career awareness programs such as SiVulindlela, Joint Aviation Awareness Program, Southern African Women in Aviation and Aerospace, etc. where they go around the country promoting careers offered within the aviation industry. Natalie started her apprenticeship at South African Airways in June 1998 and qualified as an Aircraft Electrician in June 2000. She became the first female aircraft electrician at South African Airways Technical
Left to right: Jeff Earle, Elijah Rakoma, Bhekfa Masango, Daniel Ralefeta, Natalie Kyd, Gift Kgadima, Phemelo Kgwale, Thabang Rakoma and Joseph Lebitsa
Dy Moonsammy, Senior Manager Learning & Development Comair Ltd
The winners of sponsored gift packages judges on outstanding performance was: Buhle Dlodlo-NAC 3rd year engineering student, Monyeswele Sebola- Learner from Comair, Elijah Rakomo Aero Club of South Africa, Mahlatsi Mokonyane Donald Schenk's Award Winner. Zandile Ngobe ACA's winner
Willie Marais was the evening's guest speaker. Willie, who had a 22 year career in the SAAF is the holder of CPL and also holds a UAE GCAA ATP license and instructors rating. In 2000 he started Central Flying Academy which he later sold to a UK listed company. In 2007 he was appointed Head of Training for Dubai Aerospace Enterprise Flight Academy. In 2010 he accepted the position of CEO of AVIC International Flight Training Academy.
Following Willie Marais's speech the awards presentation continued.
Pieter de Necker took home the PSG Trophy awarded for manufacture or design in recreational aviation. Pieter started making propellers in 1983 with very few tools. During the years he has built up quite a reputation and even the military started buying his propellers. Pieter is master craftsman and to date has made more than 4,000 propellers and serviced another 4,000.
The Don Tilley Trophy awarded for safety in aviation went to Kevin Storie. Kevin was key in developing and marketing the Aero Club's Safety Campaign. With Kevin's tireless drive the campaign has grown over the years and has saved lives.
The SA Eagle Trophy for most meritorious achievement at an international event was awarded to Frank and Cally Eckard. Frank and Cally, who was not present, was nominated by the FIA to took part in the World Air Games and won the FIA Gold Medal in the Landing Competition and Bronze in the Air Navigation Race. They were also part of the team that took silver in the 20th FAI World Rally Flying Championships.
The Wonderboom Adrenaline Show won the African Pilot Airshow of the Year Award. Staged over three days the show featured almost all the disciplines of airshow acts as well as wheels in the form of superbikes, muscle cars, dragsters and all other forms of racing.
The Kishugu Lowveld Airshow took 2nd place with the AAD Airshow in 3rd place.
Mary de Klerk and Ron Stirk receiving the award on behalf of the team
The James Gilliland Trophy for the most meritorious feat at an international event went to the team consistin of Frank and Cally Eckard, Hans Schwebel, Ron Stirk and team manager Mary de Klerk that were awarded the Silver Medal at the 20th FAI World Rally Competition held in Spain.
The Dennis Jankelow Trophy for Airmanship went to Jim Davis. Jim has made it his life's work to teach people to fly safely. All Jim's articles and books have one focus and that is to inform people to be safe in their pursuit of aviation.
Gold Wings are awarded to individuals who have contributed in excess of 10 years continuously to the betterment of the activities of the Aero Club.
Annie Boon has been a regular and familiar face at contests and airshows for the past 10 years. Annie was the first woman in SA to lead a formation display team and since 2008 she has been involved in teams that competed at the various World Championships.
Athol Franz, an EAA and Aero Club member of almost 30 years, started African Pilot in 2001 and from the outset he pledge his support for the Aero Club and all its sections. Athol has made a major contribution to recreational and sport aviation in SA.
Hanke Fourie, a Chartered Accountant has been involved with the Aero Club when he obtained his Balloon pilot's license in 2000. Hanke was quickly coerced and elected as Treasurer of the Aero Club and has freely given his time and effort to the club for more than 10 years.
Juri Keyter, an active member of EAA Chapter 322 and past president of the Krugersdorp Flying Club, has made a major contribution to fostering and promoting recreational aviation in South Africa through Pilot's Post a free web based aviation publication.
The evening was drawing to a close. The ambiance was wonderful, the meal delicious and the service superb. It was time for the final awards.
Patrick Davidson, the winner of the Sky Grand Prix during which some of the world's best aerobatic pilots competed, went home with the Lewis Lang Pilot of the Year Trophy. In addition to this, Patrick took top honours at the SA National Aerobatic Championships held in Bloemfontein.
Karl Jensen- Lifetime Achievement Award
Karl Jensen started his flying career with the SAAF in 1962 and in 1968 joined SAA. Karl's achievements include co-recipient of the State President's Air Race 1st place, the SACAA Pilot of the Year Award, world record holder for speed over a commercial air route, Aero Club Gold Wings and the Dennis Jankelow Airmanship Trophy. Since retiring, Captain Jensen has dedicated his energy to uplifting piloting skills, safety awareness and good practise amongst the recreational aviation fraternity.
AFB Zwartkop, centrally situated and with secure parking, was the ideal venue for Aero Club's Awards Dinner. Superbly organised by Marie Reddy with assistance from Sandra Strydom and Chandre Steenkamp the awards evening was well attended and enjoyed by all. The event has already emerged as one of the most important occasions for the industry in South Africa.
Aero Club Chairman Jeff Earle with Sandra Strydom and Marie Reddy