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A Vintage Kiwi’s Enterprise Contest 2014

Late last year The Matamata Soaring Centre Celebrated its 50th Birthday as part of the Soaring Centre’s Regional Contest. Vintage Kiwi was offered the opportunity to also become involved with the celebrations. It was decided that V.K would produce a booklet of the Soaring Centres history to be written up by one of NZ’s best known aviation historians, Peter Layne. As well, Vintage Kiwi also came up with the concept of running its own very special ‘Enterprise Contest’ as part of its contribution to the celebrations. Launching from the back of the Regional grid it would be a separate self-supporting ‘contest’ flying under the control of the Regional's Contest Director but not flying under our modern contest rules but utilizing some of the old rules instead.

The ‘Contest’ rules were therefore rather unique as to keep in character with the Soaring Centre’s anniversary. We were to fly the week using a total of 28 turn points as an ‘open ended cat’s cradle concept. There were no handicaps, no GPS, everyone had to actually go around the turn points chosen and photo graph it as evidence as we all once did. The scoring was very simple. The total distance achieved on the day was divided by the amount of turn points successfully rounded. This gave a daily average, the winner being the one who achieved the highest average distance over the week. So simple and so much fun, and being an Enterprise Contest there was always a degree of flexibility on choosing a worthy daily winner. As well, an old rule from the 1960,s – 1980,s were also to be invoked on a semi daily basis depending on what help we had with in our ranks to organize a start / finish line, or even ground signals that were used in the very early days of contest flying in NZ.[ Alas That initiative never happened due to a lack of numbers on the ground on those days]

However, eight competitors quickly put their hand up to be part of this, several coming out of ‘competition retirement’ so they could re fly some of our contest history as it were.

The sailplanes involved were a Standard Libelle, KA6 br, Standard Cirrus, KA8, Slingsby Dart 17R, PW5, KA6cr/pe, KA6cr.

A digital, or even a cell phone camera was suffice to photograph the turn points which unlike the old days could be viewed by one and all straight away on one’s return. [No more waiting into the small hours for films to be developed]. Rae Kerr who flew the KA8 actually did a video clip from his cell phone of a turn point one day just to show how it was done. [Now, that would not have been possible in the 1960,s I have to say] Turn points were chosen during the flight, navigated to them by using a map,[ yep how 1960’s is that,] identified using a photographic turn point directory that everyone was given, [ 1970’s technology] actually rounding and photographing the turn point with in the required quadrant, and then onto the next chosen turn point. Photographing a turn point certainly has its own skill requirements, and everyone really enjoyed giving it a go one more time.

One advantage of this ‘open ended cat’s cradle’ format, were the competitors could actually fly using the conditions to their advantage as far as selecting the turn points as the flight progressed rather than having to try and penetrate an area of doubtful conditions because that area had changed somewhat from the perceived forecast. This allowed us to take real advantage of the day’s x country conditions with the chances of a land out being very much reduced. [Plenty of smiles as everyone got home]

Yes we did get to have a winner, who was Godfrey Larsen flying his Standard Cirrus JM. On one day he managed to fly an extra-long leg which was enough to secure a slightly higher average than the second place getter Roger Brown flying his Standard Libelle GJ. However special mention has to be made of Ray Burns, who with the ‘bit between his teeth’ flew a Regional Club class task instead and, completing it when others landed out. Not bad for a 55 year old KA6 one has to say. As the old saying goes.’ It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, it’s where you point it.’

Over all the ‘Contest’ was a success and in some ways proved that one can fly in this format of competition on a very small budget. No high value sailplane or competition equipment was required. A digital or a simple cell phone camera was all that was needed to claim your points. The scoring was simple, and the flights certainly clocked up some very good individual miles. The terrain that you flew over was of your choosing. Ideally it would have been nice to have a Tiger Moth, or an Auster tow plane to launch us so as to really keep in character. Although we did have a choice of two Tigers and a Auster, all complete with tow hooks, the owners no longer had the required tow ratings still active as they are all now flying under the Recreational Licence regime.

Is this a type of cat’s cradle format that could encourage some pilots to give x country or even competition flying a go for the first time as another option? I believe so.

Would Vintage Kiwi run another? Why not if enough interest was shown. However, time will tell as they say. But, what I do know is that we have eight pilots who took up this challenge who still smile when talking about their week at the Vintage Kiwi Enterprise ‘Contest’

Roger Brown VK Chairman


Dart 17R heading South

Dart 17R heading North

Enterprise/Competition Dinner

Enterprise Photos