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South African reigns at IWAC 2014

| Aerobatics | January 5, 2015

The 4th FAI Yak 52 (YAKWAC) and 1st Intermediate World Aerobatic Championships took place in South Africa from 26 November to 3 December 2014. 48 competing pilots from no less than 16 nations battled it out in the skies above picturesque Mossel Bay, the first venue to host these events outside of Europe.

“Mossel Bay was chosen by FAI as the venue for these competitions because of the quality of the airfield, the selection of local accommodation and attractions, and the enthusiastic support of the Mossel Bay Municipality” said John Boucher, Event Coordinator & Secretary of the Mossel Bay Aero Club.

Mossel Bay Airport boasts a paved 1200m runway, an active club house, ideal aircraft hangarage, refuelling and aircraft maintenance facilities. The airfield is also the home of Skydive Mossel Bay and the Starlight Academy – Africa’s largest commercial helicopter pilot training school.

At the Official Opening of the Aerobatics Championships, Mossel Bay’s Mayor, Alderlady Marie Ferreira thanked the world’s Aerobatics family for selecting the town to host the event. “We’re proud of our small but growing aviation sector – which includes the largest commercial helicopter pilot training academy in Africa – and we believe that the Yak-52 and Intermediate Class World Championships will provide an exciting and very valuable opportunity to showcase the town, and this part of the Garden Route coast” she said.

Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm weighed in suggesting that the Championships provides an important boost to the local tourism economy, and she thanked the Mossel Bay Aero Club for its part in making the town a premier sports tourism destination. “We trust that Mossel Bay will once again deliver the safe and lovely flying conditions for which it’s become justifiably famous,” she said.

17 pilots took part in YAKWAC whilst 31 aviators went head to head in pursuit of the Intermediate World Aerobatic Championship crown.

Unfortunately the 1st day of the Championships was affected by inclement weather conditions. Winds gusting 12.3 m/s drew the Pilots’ safety into account and the event was postponed for the day.

The roar of the Yak-52 engine thankfully returned as action commenced with New Zealand pilot, Steve Geard drawing first flight of the Intermediate Championships. 35 competitors followed, each flying an identical single set sequence or Q program. Teams were then tasked to draw their free program schedules before the next day of the contest.

The morning of the 30th brought low clouds and all flights had been postponed to mid-morning. A weather flight followed by a ‘warm up’ flight by Justus Venter in his Pitts Special preceded the Free Program but unfortunately led to a premature end of the Free program, and thus the Championships.

Final Standings
Judges recognised that although the weather played a part during the event, overall standings weren’t adversely affected.
Overall winners for 1st Intermediate World Aerobatic Championships:
1. Michel Leusch (South Africa, World Champion) – 78.997%
2. Dieter Ebeling (Australia) – 77.839%
3. Neville Ferreira (South Africa) – 77.395%
Overall winners for the 4th FAI Yak 52 (YAKWAC):
1. Vladimir Kotelnikov (Russia, World Champion) – 76.026%
2. Roman Ovchinnikov (Russia) – 75.668%
3. Igor Turik (Russia) – 75,562%

The Closing Ceremony honoured the life of Glen Dell, a prominent South African aviator who competed in the 2008 & 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championships who sadly lost his life in 2013 doing what he loved doing.
The tribute & IWAC trophy dedication brought a fitting close to a thoroughly enjoyable & successful Championships leaving no doubt that the South African Aerobatic scene is in a healthy condition.

Kelly McAuley

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