During the last week of November, 35 members of our club descended on Omaka Aerodrome for the 5th edition of the South Island Akro Fest. We have grown this event from two classes in 2015 and celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Pitts Special, to five in 2019 including the new ‘Vintage’ Class (Wayne Edwards Memorial Trophy) which is unique to Omaka, giving the classic aeroplanes locally around NZ an opportunity to compete on equal terms (relatively speaking!). We are also using this category to celebrate the passing of a very good friend ours in the Tiger Moth community, who was tragically lost in an overseas accident in 2018.
We had 22 pilots compete in the various classes in a wide range of aircraft. It was a thoroughly enjoyable few days of flying, and the hospitality from the Marlborough Aeroclub was again very well received, especially by those who had not been to this event before. This competition also saw 6 pilots compete for the first time, all enjoyed themselves. We had a steady stream of locals stop by the Aeroclub to view the aircraft and watch the flying.
The finale of the Event was the 4 minute Free Style, where 6 pilots contested. It was great to see Ivan Krippner back in the competition environment, having been busy running other aviation businesses and doing international airshow work (The Airshow Company). We also had a resurgence in Pitts Specials this year which looks set to continue in the years to come. It was also pleasing to see 4 pilots in the Primary class, all first time competitors.
This year we also had for the first time, a Restricted area for our Aerobatic Box and immediate surrounding airspace. While a huge amount of work to establish, it was well worth it. The local pilots also commented on the ease of operation within the area, and it was certainly handy for our members to get real-time critiquing in the knowledge that we’re not interferring with the Operations over at Woodbourne.
We are all looking forward to the Nationals next February. There was some hesitation to continue to run this Event yearly due to the rapid expansion we’re seeing off it but several members have put in a huge amount of effort in support of it so look out for the announcement of the 2020 Event.
Omaka is a great location for Competition flying or just for a weekend getaway. I must thank the Marlborough Aeroclub for being such incredible hosts, particularly Marty, Raylene, John and Pip. Along with all of our members who supported the event so enthusiastically.
Fully official scores and results available here.
See you at the Nationals!
NZ Aerobatics Club