The oldest air race in the world has come to the Southern Cape – and Mossel Bay’s tourism industry is strongly represented in the field of about 85 crews from around the country.
The 2013 President’s Trophy Air Race is hosted by the Aero Clubs of Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn, and includes two days of flying out of the Oudtshoorn Airport.
The teams from Mossel Bay are: Mario Febbraio (of Tours for South Africa) who is flying a Beachcraft Baron (ZS-KCS) with navigator Heinrich Hehr; Roger Brink (of Brink & de Bruin Optometrists) with his wife, Helen, in a Cessna 172 RG (ZS-KYK); and the all-women’s team of Tina van Wyk (pilot and co-owner of Skydive Mossel Bay) and Juanine Carstens in ZS-IDX – a Cessna 182.
Mossel Bay Aero Club’s public relations manager, Hans Potgieter – who, together with partner Sharon Malcolm spearheaded the organisation of the event on behalf of the local Aero Clubs – said that the President’s Trophy Air Race is one of the most prestigious on the world’s aviation calendar.
“It’s the handicapping system and the quality of the teams it attracts that make this so.”
This is the 77th edition of the race, which first took place in 1937 – when it was known as the Governor General’s Cup Air Race.
“It’s taken place every year except for a short while during World War II,” said Mr. Potgieter.
He said that all the teams are handicapped, and that each tries to better its speed over two set courses of 300 nautical miles each – with the fastest planes departing first today, and the slowest departing first tomorrow.
“This makes for exciting flying – and it means that every team has a good chance of winning.”
The courses include wide swaths of the Klein and Great Karoo regions.
Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm congratulated the Aero Clubs of Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn for bringing the Race to the region.
“With 350 pilots, navigators and officials in attendance, this is a significant event in terms of income for the local tourism economy – but more importantly, it serves to highlight the area as one of the finest sports aviation destinations in the country.”
She said that Mossel Bay’s airfield boasts an active and lively flying community.
“The infrastructure at Mossel Bay includes a 1,200 metre paved runway, a club house, and hangering and refueling facilities – which are used by local pilots as well as charter, aircraft maintenance, pilot training, and sports skydiving companies.”
She said that she’s backing Tina van Wyk and Juanine Carstens for the women’s division of the race.
“And we’ll be flying as hard as we can to bring the Women’s Cup home to Mossel Bay,” said Ms. van Wyk.
For a history of the President’s Trophy Air Race, please visit the South African Power Flying Association: http://www.sapfa.org.za/race/race-history