EAA of SA Convention 2015 Margate

Karl J's picture

A view of the 2015 EAA Convention and Fly-in to Margate

I will have to hold back on all I have to say about the 07-10 August weekend at our Margate Convention – here are some views in brief: This was a highly successful event, save for some constructive criticism I have mentioned below.

A budget was drawn up by Marie Reddy to stage the Convention and approved unanimously by the EAA of SA National Council.
The organisation that took place to stage the Convention was epic. Marie Reddy, a veritable human dynamo, tackled the task as convener with aplomb and nary a gripe. It is one massive task to carry out the organisation at long range from Johannesburg. Marie travelled twice to Margate during the last 2 months specifically to ensure that the myriad of commitments by so many parties was assured and that whatever might go awry was backed up by a contingency plan. A week before the event, some of the Gauteng members of the EAA Council and Mike Visagie, our National Vice President, travelled all the way from Makwassie, met to examine Marie’s 24-page planning summary with hardly any changes suggested. Marie did this all while holding down a demanding job, running her family, leading the Chapter 322 Teddy build project, and flying her own Icarus, as well as her duties as EAA of SA National and Chapter 322 secretary. The lady is a marvel and we are indeed fortunate to have a person of this calibre and energy in our association. Let us look after her and not give her cause to spend her energies elsewhere.
I must give praise to those members who went to the trouble of ensuring their participation in this all-important event on our calendar, the 2015 Convention and AGM. Those who didn’t, or couldn’t, make the weekend, missed out on a wonderful time of EAA camaraderie and hangar talk. The weekend was especially amazing, given the incredible arrangements put in place by Marie. The online pre-event registration made everyone’s lives easier and the process was seamless and simple to use, even for the technically challenged members with PC skills reminiscent of those during the Pleistocene era. There were 55 aircraft pre-registered, 21 entered for the aircraft judging, 80 members, with 121 total with family and friends.

It seems that the assumed fact that Margate is the most desirable destination for our Convention is incorrect, as many more participants had been anticipated.
A gaggle of EAA 322 members flew to Margate on Friday 07 August via our traditional stop on the way to the coast at Glenside, which is about 180 nm from JHB and 145 nm from Margate, with a smooth airstrip and the Waffle Hut a mere kilometre distant. After gastronomic excesses, we all flew off to Margate to arrive early afternoon in clear skies and light breezes only. Always a pleasure flying to the coast when the weather is so good. The Margate Light Plane Club (MLPC) members welcomed us with frosties or whatever beverages we needed, as we renewed acquaintances and friendships. There were braai packs with all the usual accompaniments.

Saturday morning saw final set-up and registration/dinner ticket/new style caps and other EAA regalia purchases from Trixie Heron and Clive King, assisted by Neil Fenton. The EAA Safety Officer function in the absence of Walter Doubell, our National Safety Officer, was carried out by Mike Visagie, who had driven all the way from Makwassie. Paul Sabatier, who had driven from Boksburg, led the aircraft marshalling contingent and both men were at the JOC briefing at the airport fire station at 08h00. At mid-morning the aircraft judges, headed by Kevin Hopper, held a thorough briefing to avoid problems that had been encountered previously.
In order for the judges to also be able to enjoy the Convention, aircraft judging was limited to pre-registered/entered aircraft only, and this took place on Saturday afternoon with the deliberations ending at sunset. A total of 21 aircraft were judged. The judges were headed by Kevin Hopper, our EAA of SA Technical Officer, and ably assisted by Alan Lorimer, Gerald Maddams, Russell Smith, Neville Dupiesanie and Derick Orford.

There were excellent forums by Dr Mike Brown on Defending your Medical, and Rob Jonkers on Precision Navigation. Neil de Lange, CEO of RAASA, who drove to Margate from Johannesburg, presented on Project 24, which will affect all of us recreational flyers. Juri Keyter presented a stunning movie on Oshkosh 2015, and the forums for Saturday were rounded off with another extremely well prepared presentation by Horace Block on Pelican 16, the Shackleton which he commanded just 21 years ago that crash landed in the Mauritanian desert at night. EAA of SA President Paul Lastrucci presented a layman's guide on the present Aero Club of South Africa Approved Person Insurance policy and negations that are underway to secure cover for APs who operate commercially.

About 50% of the members registered who said they would require catering stayed for an early braai and much camaraderie and laughter that ended around 22h00, except of course for a few diehards who stayed until the wee hours. It saddens me that many chose to support restaurants in the area, rather than enjoying the fun that takes place at the airfield. The inexpensive catering was provided by the Lions in Mike Jolly’s hangar No 2, which unfortunately did not raise much money for this great service club. The MLPC supplied braai packs and fires adjacent to their clubhouse.

The East London Chapter 1262 who arrived in 21 aircraft on Friday, resplendent in spirited red coloured t-shirts, decided that they should fly back to Wings Park on Sunday morning, with the expected threat of bad weather creeping up the coast. This effectively caused the forums to end and the coastal exploring flight to Port St Johns to be cancelled. Kevin Hopper did a one-on-one AP talk with Gerald Maddams in lieu of his forum presentation. James Pitman was warned the previous evening not to fly to Margate as there would be only a small audience for The Airplane Factory presentation. It was our suggestion and not a decision by The Airplane Factory to back out.

The AGM was held in Wayne du Plessis’ hangar and all members of the EAA of SA Council were re-elected unanimously to serve another term. EAA National President Paul Lastrucci stated that he has been heading the organisation for 5 years and, although he is not leaving the organisation, it is time for someone else to head it up after next year’s AGM. Well done to all of you, and I extend a massive thanks on behalf of Chapter 322. The Minutes will be circulated to the Chapter chairpersons and Council members.

Directly after the AGM, Marie Reddy and her team set the tables with very imaginative décor for the Awards Dinner which transformed the hangar into a banqueting hall. With 140 people having committed to the dinner, it was decided to commit the caterers for 150 persons. Including invited guests, 72 people attended a fun filled evening with excellent catering to honour those members whose aircraft topped the judges’ fancy. As for the decline in numbers at the awards dinner, the EAA donated the food that was left over to a worthy cause for distribution by the Lions Club at a retirement home.

We look forward to the EAA of SA Convention 2016.