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Helivate was established 11 years ago and continues to grow in their various activities in the aviation marketplace. They have other regular events throughout the year, providing flying activities for their student and pilot contingent to experience different aspects of flying while enjoying the company of like-minded people.
This was the 7th edition of Helivate's annual Heli Olypmics and did not disappoint! The objective is to improve and maintain piloting skills in confined spaces and sharpen communication skills between pilot and navigator. The teams obviously have great fun doing the events, and there is cheerful banter amongst the teams. It also gives opportunity for spectators to see helicopters operating from much closer than is typical at air shows. As there were only 4 student pilot entries out of a total of 14 entires, George Gerber made the two initial events, that depend on excellent teamwork between pilot and navigator, more difficult this year. The relatively strong wind helped make things more challenging, especially because it was quite gusty.
The weather forecast indicated stronger winds later in the day and there was a short shower around 7 o'clock, but it cleared into a great flying day, with typical Krugersdorp wind conditions.
The spotless floors of the Helivate hangar and the wet concrete outside with the coffee, drinks and food vendors setting up soon gave way to a great flying day.
The prize table, expanded and re-vamped Helivate “wall of fame” depicting first solos and the VR simulator.
There were aviation toys for the youngsters.
The set-up and organization of the event improves with every edition! There was a coffee vendor, as per last year, and now a food vendor combined with a cash bar was on site this year. There were some power challenges early on, with load shedding on stage 4, and the solar powered batteries not yet charged. Early on there were muffins and a full menu from late morning and at lunch time, catering to the hunger generating activities of flying, navigating and supporting the teams. The slope below the heli-pad has been landscaped and grassed, with gazebos and chairs available, making for an improved area for spectators to enjoy the competition. Another new addition was the “leader board”, which showed each team's scores as they completed their events and generated extra “gees”.
The scoring adds “achievement” points for each successfully completed event, and deducts points to motivate safe, well-controlled flying. Paul Cumming, Hayley's Dad, was the strict judge, applying demerits to ensure the competitiveness was tempered by demerits to ensure safety.
The pilot is, as normal for the helicopters entered, seated front right, while the navigator is either front left, or rear left, depending on the presence of a safety pilot or not.
The first event - “Grappling Sling” - involves the navigator using a grappling hook to pick up a colour-coded bucket filled with water from the start-point drum, while directing their pilot, and then traversing the corresponding colour-coded obstacles, and finally placing the bucket on the end-point drum. There are demerit “strikes” for touching the coloured poles forming each gate or the bucket touching the ground, as well as for how much water is spilled by the time the bucket is on the end-point drum. Three out of the four coloured buckets must be attempted. Some of the coloured obstacle routes are more challenging, with the so-called, “green mamba” slalem through four poles being least popular with teams.
The second event - “Brick Bash” - again requires pilot/navigator communication and teamwork: A brick on a weighted rope must first be lowered into a bucket of water on a drum, then the pilot must move away until the navigator is able to keep the rope under tension, with hands only allowed to be in a designated space on the far end of the rope. The pilot must then move with the rope under tension to line up with a mark on the drum, and then describe a half-circle around the drum, to the opposite marking. It was made 180 degrees this year to add more challenge, as going the full 360 degrees proved easier once the momentum of circling the drum got going. There are demerits for the navigator moving their hands outside the designated space on the rope, the weight on the rope touching the ground, or pulling the brick out of the bucket.
The third event - “Beer O'Clock” - was again to remove the pre-loosened cap of a bottle on a stand with a bottle-opener taped onto the right-hand skid of the helicopter, which is a pilot-only activity. A “square” is marked on the grass and the pilot needs to stay in an imaginary box above that to perform this event. Demerits are applied for moving outside this “box”.
There is no scoring advantage to a fast time through the events, but there is a limit for each event, so that the entire program does not last too long.
Hayley Cumming, the CEO the Helivate Helicopter Services, called the participants together to choose their imaginative team names and for a group photograph and while all were together, proceeded with the safety briefing. After that, everyone went down onto the grass runway for the briefing on the different events and how the scoring would be done.
Group photograph, rather formal and showing that the girls were enthusiastic about hovering.
Hayley busy with the safety briefing and down on the grass runway the briefing on the events and scoring gets underway.
Storm Haupt busy with the “Brick Bash” event, daunting for this young lady 17 years old and in Grade 11 - first Heli Olympics and first contestant of the day. Then she focusses on the bottle top!
Francois Triegaardt tackling the “Green Mamba” and the “Brick Bash”.
Team - Rotorkop: Eddie Soares, 15 years old and about 12 hours done, hovered when he was only 14 after 4 hours with a splashdown to start the “Brick Bash” and then so close to that bottle top.
Team - Squirrel B2: Gary Klare piloting with Haydon Heres navigating tackle the “Grappling Sling” pink gate and bottle top.
Team - Shake ‘n Bake: Dylan piloting and George navigating show why the “green mamba” of the “Grappling Sling” is tricky in the gusty conditions, and how Dylan was in the top six of the “Beer O’Clock” event.
Jacques Joubert and navigator, Vernon were here in the sequence, but I did not manage to get any images. Their team name was Green Sky.
Team - Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum: Genevieve King, winning student 2021, and will be doing her CPL test next week, with Luke Jacobs navigating, keeps tension on the rope as she moves around the “Brick Bash” bucket, and after a round with the only demerit being on lost water in the “Grappling Sling” event, it’s all smiles. Gen made it look like there was no wind in the gusty conditions – steady hands!
Team - Squirrel B3: Haydon Heres piloting and Gary Klare navigating the half-circle around the “Brick Bash” bucket and then also show why Haydon is in the top six for the “Beer O’Clock” event.
Team - Left Skid Low: Simoné Meyer with her Dad, Martin navigating, loses some water through the second orange gate in “Grappling Sling” and shows why she is in the top six for the “Beer O’Clock” event.
Team - The Gentlemen’s Club: Dieter Bock piloting with his son Mike navigating, work through the first pink gate of “Grappling Sling”, and then that bottle top is already GONE! Top six...
Team - Right Skid Low: This time Martin Meyer in the pilot seat with his daughter Simoné navigating, the brick precisely placed in the bucket and later the bottle-top FLIES!
Team - Die Slakke: Vernon piloting and Jacques Joubert navigating, negotiate the yellow gate and sneak up on the bottle-top.
Team - Lama Lama Lama: Rudi Marx piloting with his son, Nathan navigating.
Team – Gooseberries: Gary Marais piloting, with his son navigating and his other son “commentating”.
Hayley reflected on the seven years on running Heli Olympics and teams coming back each year. It was also Rudi’s immaculate Lama’s first Heli Olympics and the strong downwash lost him some water blown out of the buckets! The some of the student pilots are very young with Storm at 17 and Genevieve’s record of participating at 16 has now been surpassed by Eddie, who is 15! In the Student Pilot category:
First place: Eddie Soares piloting and Storm Haupt navigating for Team “Rotorkop” achieved 93 points.
Second Place: Gary Klare piloting and Haydon Heres navigating for Team “Squirrel B2” achieved 59 points.
Third Place: Storm Haupt piloting and Eddie Soares navigating for Team “Blackhawk” achieved 22 points.
Hayley remarked on the good standard of student flying by the student pilot teams.
Student pilots category runners up.
Student category pilots winners.
The Private Pilot category:
First Place: Genevieve King piloting and Luke Jacobs navigating for Team “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum” achieved 280 points.
Second Place: Gary Marais piloting and sons navigating for Team “Goosberries” achieved 264 points.
Third Place: Rudi Marx piloting and his son Nathan navigating for Team “Lama Lama Lama” achieved 260 points.
Private pilots category runners up.
Private pilots category winners.
The top six “Beer O’Clock” bottle opening times were as follows:
Martin – 6 seconds
Dieter – 9 seconds
Dylan – 11 seconds
Genevieve – 15 seconds
Haydon – 22 seconds
Simoné – 34 seconds
Bottle opening time winning team.
It was once again a pleasure for Pilots Post to report on the HeliOlympics and thanks are extended to Hayley Cumming and the Helivate Team for their hospitality.
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