University Aeronautical Challenge


Tuks vs Wits Aeronautical Clash!

Hello, Pilots!  As some of you may know, JOMAC was privileged to recently host an aeronautical clash between two of South Africa’s premier tertiary education institutions under the auspices of the Aeronautical Society of South Africa – and what a clash it was!

The Aeronautical Society of South Africa's University Aeronautical Challenge was held at JOMAC on 20 October 2019


The Aeronautical Society of South Africa's University Aeronautical Challenge was held at JOMAC on 20 October 2019


Engineering Students from Tuks and Wits congregated at JOMAC’s new facility near Northern Farms on Sunday the 20th of October, competing in time trials, testing their ability to design, build and fly their own model aircraft.  Twelve teams designed electrically powered aircraft, in an attempt to transport the greatest number of tennis balls, in an allotted amount of time, around a predefined course.


University Challenge 20 October


The flight roster alone already provided spectators with a preview of the day ahead, with teams such as the Right Brothers, the LightWeights and the Expendaballs taking to the field.

The JOMAC Social Committee and their helpers, as usual, were present from early in the morning to ensure a safe and well-organized day, with fantastic arrangements put in place to ensure that sufficient food, drink and logistical measures were ready on arrival of the masses of Students and bystanders. The usual Sunday Morning JOMAC crowd  were also present and flying in largely wind-still conditions by the time Students started arriving, setting the scene for a day  of flight and fun!


Our awesome catering stand


JOMAC’s Jon Hancock commenced proceedings in his usual charismatic style, with a safety briefing, handing over to John from the Aeronautical Society, for a last run through of the rules before commencing the day’s competition.


University Challenge 20 October


By the time competitors took to the skies, a reasonable breeze directly down the runway had come up, leaving some of the JOMAC Members wondering how well the Students would fair with their light foam and balsa constructed aircraft in less than ideal conditions.  Contrary to expectations however, most of the Teams managed to take off and complete the course with reasonably elegant flights, despite the somewhat ungainly appearance of some of their flying machines.


University Challenge 20 October


Two stations were set up, one near the pits area and one on the northerly side of the runway.  Students were then tasked with loading tennis balls onto (or into depending on the design) their airplanes, taking off, completing a full circuit, landing, emptying the tennis balls and then starting the process again, in an attempt to see how many tennis balls they could transport in this manner, before the 5-minute timer expired.


University Challenge 20 October


Notwithstanding the slightly adverse weather conditions, most of the teams managed at least one circuit and relatively few ‘crashes’ and ‘mishaps’ occurred – certainly far less than expected by the veteran pilots, if conversations in the pits area was anything to judge by!


University Challenge 20 October


Despite a few hard landings, the occasional crash and a couple of reconfigured landing gear incidents, the Tukkies Teams thrashed the Wits Teams by a 16 point lead, with a final score of 97 against Wits’ 81.   The Whispering Wings Team from Tuks, placed 1st with a total of 40 points (accounting for 41% of the total Tuks score), with Wits’ Ballsy Team a close second with 36 points.  It’s worth pointing out that, had they not touched down early on their last flight, Ballsy could easily have been the victors on the day!  The Wing It Team from Tuks came in third, sealing the win with a further 30 points.


University Challenge 20 October


During the course of the morning, spectators were also treated to an unbelievable large-scale aircraft display of 3D flying by Joshua Twomey, who wow’ed the crowd with a series of manoeuvres that seemingly completely defied the laws of nature and gravity!  Set to rock music, Joshua’s thrilling display riveted the crowd and left many bystanders and JOMAC Members standing at the side of the runway in complete and utter awe of his flying prowess (the author included!).


A magnificent display of 3D flying to music by Joshua Twomey



The South African National Blood Service gave a stunning demonstration of a drone that will be used to deliver units of blood to remote areas. The fully automated demonstration flight, saw the drone take off vertically, transition to horizontal flight, fly to several way points, then return home, before carrying out the perfect landing. Lebo and Graham, from SANBS, provided a complete run down on the future programme for remote blood delivery and answered the many questions of the Students.


Overall a fantastic day out was had by both the Students and JOMAC Members and the many family members and friends who arrived at the field, with many messages of thanks being received throughout the day expressing gratitude for the enormous effort put in by the JOMAC Social Committee and their numerous helpers for an incredibly well orchestrated event.  Enquiries were received about membership to the Club on the day, and we hope that our membership numbers will also be bolstered as a result of this terrific event!


A terrific day was had by all!


Inspired and thrilled by this wonderful day of flying, we look forward to the JOMAC year-end event as the next organized formal event hosted by the Club and would remind all RC pilots of our October free-fly initiative, which due to popular demand is being extended into November!


As always, we hope to see you at the field soon!


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