PTAR 2024 - Makhado raises the bar

By Willie Bodenstein


This year, for the first time, the PTAR goes north, far north to the delightful town of Makhado, previously Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. Nestled in the in the Soutpansberg mountain range the town is located in a fertile region where litchis, bananas, mangoes and nuts are produced. Makhado is 437 kilometres from Johannesburg and one hour's drive from the Zimbabwean border at Beitbridge.

I grew up in Limpopo and many a weekend we drove from my birthplace in Potgietersrus to Louis Trichardt, a distance of 170 km, to visit distant family and to explore. My parents where great explorers of our lovely country a fact that I will forever be thankful for.

I have been honoured to have attended PTAR races at Springs, Witbank, Ermelo, Bethlehem, Bloemfontein (three times), Rustenburg, Klerksdorp (twice), Mahikeng and Saldanha Bay. Each venue pulled out all the stops for the honour of hosting this iconic race. Hosting this year's race was the Soutpansberg Flying Club and the set a new standard.

This year I drove up from Johannesburg leaving on Thursday at 0600 and after having travelled 433 kilometres arrived 4.50 hours later. A number of competitors were already there whilst more arrived during the afternoon.

There were however some minor challenges for the organisers: the first was a delay with the printing of the T-shirts and caps for this event and the second is that Louis Trichardt is not a stone's throw away from Gauteng. Fortunately, Reon Wiese and Kevin Mills from Vektor Aviation came to the organisers' rescue by acting as dedicated "air couriers" to deliver the printed T-shirts and caps, in time for the start of the event.

It has always been my contention that the smaller clubs have the most dedicated members and this year, Soutpansberg with thirteen members, proved that. The grounds were spic and span. The grass neatly mowed. Everything was in place to host a successful PTAR.

Thirty-seven entries were received. People flew from the coastal town of Mossel Bay in the south, from Hluluhwe in the east coast of KZN, From Mpumalanga, the FreeState, the Northwest Province and off course Gauteng, the heartland of general aviation in SA.

Nigel Musgrave again was the Safety Officer and he was kept busy as a steady stream of arrivals slotted in with those who went were test flights to establish a handicap speed for the race.

Present were Piet and Rowland from the CAA always helpful and always friendly they are a pleasure to have at any event.

Friday the 24th was the day when the racing officially starts and as always it was opened by an obligatory safety briefing led by Nigel Musgrave, the Safety Director. Present were Piet and Rowland from the CAA always helpful and always friendly they are a pleasure to have at any event.

Being a handicap race, theoretically, every aircraft entered have a change to win. On Friday at 10.00 the contestants took off for the first of the two legs, the fastest aircraft being the first to go. The slowest will start first in Saturday's leg. The first arrival back were excepted at 11.00

I positioned myself so that I could theoretically capture a short video as well as a photo of each contestant taking off and landing. Video wise that did not always work. The videos are featured in the YouTube videos in the links below. Pictures of the first six away and back are featured below.

A contestant on the way to start line

Kitplanes for Africa

The returning contestants as I captured them.

The fact that a competitor finished in first or any other position needs to verified by the judges with the track flown as per the logger recording. Any missed points or other infringements will obviously lead to penalties or exclusion.

More competitors backtracking after having completed race one.

Saturday morning and the weather was perfect for flying. When I arrived the first sight that caught my attention was of Max Kane Berman and Jaco Botma for Middelburg having a cup of "Boere Troos" under the wing of their Cessna 182N

Most of the competing aircraft were parked in their allocated departure slots. However, there were some changes that led to aircraft being moved which did not cause any delay and after the morning's briefing it was all set for the final leg. This time it was the chance of the slowest to take to the sky first.

I took up position as close to as what I considered as the lift of point to capture pics as the competitors got airborne. Below are the photos of the first ten away. Our video of the day shows most of the arrival.

There was the first of two incidents, one when the Cessna 210N of Coert and Duaan Erasmus returned with technical issues. The other problem was experienced by John Sayers and Adrian Barry who reportedly had issues with their undercarriage of their Piper Pa-24-400. The too landed safely.

I drove to almost the end of the runway and had lunch under a typical bushveld shady thorn tree while waiting for the first aircraft to arrive. I didn't wait long before I heard the drone as it approach and from then on, I was kept busy as at times three almost neck on neck aircraft approached.

The following is photos of the first eight back. The video report covers the majority of arrivals.

No event of this nature will ever succeed if it is not for those with a passion who will give their time and support without expectation anything in return. Organised by SAPFA and hosted by the Soutpansberg Flying Club we will need a separate report to thank all of them including the business that generously provided financial support.

All that was now to follow was the awards dinner hosted in one of the hangars at the field and it was as usual a lavish affair.

Day One 23.5.2024 Arrivals and Test Flights

Day Two 24 05 2024 Leg One Take offs and Landings

Day Three 25 05 2024 Final Leg Arrivals.

Events 2024
Power Flying

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