Fast track program

Keen pilots: (l-r) Jason, Bhopelo, Simon & Tsepho on a bitterly cold & wet July 2009 day at SGC
As many of you know the SAMAA (& MGA) have actively been involved in a transformation effort for some time. Our efforts have been directed mostly at the youth and I have been lucky to be part of the training of one of our Junior Proteas on the F3J (RC Thermal Gliders launch by hand tow) team, Simon Tladi. Simon actively embraced the spirit of the transformation effort and has been taking part in many of the activities, helping others with a passion for flight to meet up with others having the same or similar interests.

Herman, Tsepho, Michelle & Jason at WHRF during July 2009
2008 was the last year that Simon qualified as a junior and this left us in a sad position were we had no active junior model glider pilot to fill his shoes on the team. Never fear! Johan Coetzer had a plan and he snuck in an agenda item at the last transformation meeting...

"Fast tracking"

Joe's idea is that the transformation program has been running for a while now and a good test of how well we have done in developing our reach into the broader public is to see if we can select and train a development pilot for the 2010 junior F3J team. By strict definition all junior pilots on the next team could easily be seen as development pilots as the definition on a junior level is persons born after 1994. So in reality we need to measure our ability to bring a black pilot into the fold.

Herman, Tsepho, & Michelle at WHRF After outlining the plan and closing the meeting there was a mission. Two pilots were selected who matched the requirements for "fast tracking", Ontiretse Bophelo Phaladi a grade 10 learner at Cornerstone College and Tsepho Molefe a learner at Leeukop. Bophelo is close to solo in the Cornerstone program under the direction of Rob Hurlin and Tsepho was introduced to the BERG club where I fly by Peter Eagle. Both seem to love flying and now the competition is on. For the first time ever there are 4 known (we have not yet had our first qualification competition) junior pilots who will likely be trying out for the 3 available spots on the junior team.

Herman & Tsepho at WHRF
It will obviously not be easy for the newcomers to advance to the standard where they can compete at a high level, and many hours of intensive practice are required which requires dedication and sacrifice from them, but don't worry - our efforts will include an element of keeping it enjoyable, isn't that what it is all about?

With all this in mind please feel free to contact me if you (or someone you know) would be interested in fast tracking for the junior F3J team in future,

Craig Goodrum