Regional Comps in Hastings

Every year Flying NZ hold regional competitions around the country.  In recent years Wellington Aero Club hasn't had too much of a presence at these, but we are making a come-back.  This year, thanks to enthusiastic members we put together a team of 12 members and 4 instructors.  It was Hawkes Bay's turn to host the comps so what better excuse to head up to the North Island Wine Country for some flying (unfortunately there was not enough time to dabble in any wine tastings at the many wineries on offer, maybe next time!).

Out of character from the changeable spring weather we are usually dealt with, the forecast for the weekend was looking pretty good.  The entire fleet of seven aircraft set off on Friday afternoon having to contend with nothing other than perfect flying conditions, it's days like these that make you fully appreciate our beautiful country!  On arrival the Hawkes Bay and East Coast Aero Club put on a fantastic BBQ which we were able to enjoy in the sunshine with a cold beverage, on their deck over-looking the airfield, a great way to kick off the weekend (and eye up the competition!).

While many of us would probably be having a well deserved sleep-in on a Saturday, it was certainly not the case this weekend.  Some of us were at the airfield at 6.30am to get in a practice flight before the comps started, showing serious commitment (or guilt for not having practiced earlier.... I can only say that because I was one of these people!)

The judges briefing kicked off at 7.30am with the competitors briefing following at 8.00am.  By 8.30am we all knew what we were doing and where we were going and the airfield launched into action, the sound of engines breaking the otherwise peaceful surroundings.  The day was spent competing, talking, watching landing and bombing attempts and enjoying the sunshine and facilities at the aero club.

After a full on day and with the competitions all wrapped up everyone was able to celebrate with a well earned drink (or two) and a fantastic dinner at the Hastings Racecourse.  

All those who competed did a great job, home advantage proved itself with Hawkes Bay taking out 1st place in most comps, although we did manage to snatch away one 1st.  However our team did very well getting a number of 2nd’s and 3rd’s, which I'd say is pretty good for city-folk in a country environment!  Final placings are below:

Airways Corporation Trophy for Flight Manoeuvers and RejoinScott Walsh2nd
Jean Batten Memorial TrophyPre-Flight, & Precision CircuitsJon Leyland2nd
Newman CupPrecision Circuits & Landings for WomenAmy Dreverman2nd
Sir Francis BoysPrecision Circuits & LandingsLawrence Field2nd
G M Spence TrophyForced LandingXingtao Liu3rd
Ivon Warmington TrophyLiferaft DroppingXingtao Liu (Pilot) & Frank Zhao (Dispatcher)3rd
Wigram Challenge CupNon Instrument CircuitsPete Lowe1st
Wigram Challenge CupInstrument FlyingTim Lewis2nd
Wigram Challenge CupSenior LandingXingtao Liu3rd
Wigram Challenge CupJunior LandingKai Furst-Jaeger2nd

The weather gods decided to get everyone’s grey matter working first thing Sunday morning, with some average looking weather enroute (generally pesky low cloud), however after reviewing the forecast and a team discussion we all headed off in convoy.  As we headed south the conditions were better than expected, but just as we were getting back into the familiar territory of the Wairarapa, the weather put us to the test presenting us with some low cloud that was loitering around the south coast and some cloud sitting over the Rimutaka Saddle.  Neither option was totally closed off so some aircraft decided to head around the south coast while others decided to cross the Rimutakas via Puffer Saddle.  We all made it safely back to home base, albeit with a test at the last hurdle.

It was a great weekend away and I encourage anyone who hasn’t been involved in competitions to give it a go, it’s all just a lot of fun. You don’t have to take it seriously!  Congrats to everyone who competed and represented the club and to the instructors for their expert judging abilities, you all did a fantastic job.


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