Another year, another league,another year,…. I kept thinking this to myself as I drove along the extremely quite, early morning road out to Benoni, a small town East of Johannesburg. The 2008 league had been fantastic – attendance had increased on average over 2007 & the format seems to be widely accepted & enjoyable. My concern was maintaining this momentum – but I needn’t have worried for the first 2009 event. The entries were enthusiastic & as usual the flying was simply fantastic.
When I arrived at ETB’s “south” field, a number of cars & lines had already been laid out. This in anticipation of the 9 x 3 pilot teams that would be attending that day. A light breeze was blowing in from a northerly direction & moderate overcast conditions seemed to be clearer than the rain storms we had experienced for the majority of the month to date. The grass was very long – in fact there were places that it exceeded the shoulder height of even the tallest pilots. Fortunately ETB had cut a swathe out for the launch corridor & also for landing spots. With the wind direction swinging during the day due to thermal activity, this did make things a little tricky on approach, but the pilots took it all in their stride.
A pilots briefing was called & general rules, safety & frequencies were discussed. During this time it was also agreed that those pilots flying with 2m models would be permitted to score both Open & 2M class by flying a single 10 minute working time & being handicapped for the 2M class. Normally the pilots competing in the 2M class are required to achieve a 6 minute task, but the eager throng agreed that there was absolutely no advantage for those individuals who elected to fly a 2M in Open class (10 minute task) & the motion was passed unanimously.
Round 4 saw Johan Bruwer clinch the max with an excellent spot landing, whilst Craig Baker was showing his excellent form with a perfect flight for the slot 2 max. Slot 3 was horrid, the sink was incredibly nasty & extended well above maximum launch height & beyond the range of even the open class models. Rudi King stepped to the fore flying an Eish! (also locally designed & built) and maxed with a 5:39 and narrowly beating Chris Adrian.
Trevor Austin flying an Ellipse (?)just pipped Paul into the max with a near perfect score for the first slot of the fifth round. Chris & Craig Baker simply dominated the remaining two slots with their excellent flights & landings, taking advantage of the available lift with their big launches.
Paul bounced back in Round 6, maxing the first slot, whilst in a repeat of round 2, Izak Theron clinched slot 2 & Chris the final slot to round off the day.
It is relatively a simple to work out who won – Chris Adrian simply dominated across all 6 rounds flown with 5 near perfect maxes. What was interesting is that Craig Baker flew into 2nd place with a stunning 4 maxes & less than 0.03% behind - especially as he only returned to flying after almost 4 years away from the competitive circuit. Third was Trevor Austin who only recorded one max, but flew extremely consistently for the entire day. It was still a close competition, with the top 11 Open pilots all within 10% of the winning score calculated as the best 5 of 6 rounds.
What made the first HTL of 2009 special was the number of 2M entrants – exactly one third of the pilots all flew these models alongside the Open class in the most trying of conditions. Only two pilots elected to fly their 2M class models in Open class – their scores have been normalised from 10 minutes to 6 minutes accordingly as agreed at the pilots briefing.
The scores below are based on the 10 minute task normalisations based on a maximum 6 minute flight and 100 point landing. Alan showed his class by taking the line honours with his Fling, Dion flew a Graupner ARF 2M model to good affect into 2nd & Derek his Sagitta 600 (normalised from his elected 10 min task) into third.