Getting ready to head off to the Worlds...
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Getting ready to head off to the Worlds...
At the request of many, I've got some pictures and videos to add, As well as some of the sights, sounds and feels of the world championships, from our perspective. Will be adding this as I get time in the next several evenings.
Back at the Lakehurst pattern contest this past spring, Joseph got a chance to fly Dave Lockhart's Contra-powered airplane and became very much interested in getting this setup in his world championships model. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Brenner Sharp and Dave Lockhart for all their help in making this happen. Dave Lockhart sent us his backup Neu motor which got us configured quickly. Temperature readings showed heating of the motor to upwards of 160 degrees, so we added ducting to cool the motor. This broght the temperature down about 30 to 50 degees, to the 120 to 130 degree range after a flight in the hot, humid Virginia air.
Last edited by Don Szczur; 08-30-2013 at 01:17 PM.
All of the U.S. team members had their issues preparing for the world championships and we were not exempt. Part of our prepartion involved two practice sessions per day. Joseph's mother would take him out during the day, and I would take him out in the evenings. This broke our routine, since I normally assemble the planes. On the first such flying session, Joseph did not latch his wing all the way and the result was Joseph being rewarded with joining the "one wing landing club"...
The repairs were made within a couple of hours, but he broke one of the contra prop blades so that set us back a couple of days of pratice. Joseph moved to his backup plane for continued practice. I made some cosmetic paint touch-ups the Saturday before we departed. You can see the before and after pictures. It was then time to pack-up and head out. We want to thank Thunder Power for sponsoring the U.S. team with batteries. They shipped Joseph's batteries along with Jason and Andrews, to South Africa. Joseph was comfortable flying the JR 11x radio so that is what we stayed with for the event.
Our adventure started with check in. It seems that our last name was not spelled correctly on our electonic tickets, and the check in desk would not allow us to check in to the flight. We got at the counter 5 hours in advance of our flight and this took 3 of the 5 hours to resolve. Thankfully, with the help of Mark Atwood and many frantic calls that Sunday afternoon between the travel agent and South African Airways, the tickets were re-issued and we were able to quickly process the airplane boxes through TSA. I spend a great deal of effort preparing for this, with carefully constructed boxes and TSA locks. I even taped a copy of the AMA letter and equipment list to the inside lid of the box to assist with inspection. We were soon off to the gate and boarding for our 16 hour flight to Johannesburg.
We found Kevin Young was also on our flight out of Dulles (he was connecting there). We met up with the remaining team members in South Africa. We processed through customs and picked up the rental vans from Avis. This is our second adventure- driving on the left side of the road and operating a stick shift with the left hand, remembering that the windshield wipers are opposite side of turn signal which is opposite of U.S vehicles... etc.). Joseph took some video to document our adventure.
Congratulations to you and Joseph!
You guys had well deserved support behind you and you all did us proud! Welcome home and hope to see you back out at the field soon.
Thanks Kevin. It reminds me that we felt very safe flying over as we shared the flight with the South African Womens Rugby team. They were returning from a tournament in Colorado. When we touched down in Johannesburg, I heard many shouts of "thank the Lord", "I love you Jesus" and several literally kissed the ground when they got off the plane. Anyway, here is the video link to our very first driving experience in the parking lot, keeping up with Jason and Kevin in their rental van... finding first gear for the first time...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPPtU...ature=youtu.be
After driving to the hotel/ bed and breakfast we found out quickly that there was no heat- at least it was turned off and heater in the room consisted of basically a small hot plate mounted to the wall. And to recall that previously Vern was concerned about air conditioning! We unloaded the planes and soon slept in our coats after our 16 hour flight and hour long drive from the airport. http://youtu.be/A6Aq9-uRTQo
The second day in-country we spent resting, assembling the airplanes and getting supplies. The rooms were somewhat sparse- they contained one small soap square. We made our way as a group to the local mall where we purchased small portable heaters for some of the rooms, shampoo, shaving cream, chairs, water and in Vern's case, diet pepsi, ice and coolers. Sorry Vern you look so fashionable with the pink shopping cart. David reminded me to take some pictures of the pink store and send since that is one of our favorite pilot's back home favorite color. We missed you chip! Took first shower and shave in four days. Happy day.
Day 3 started early. We made our way to the pratice field. This first shot, thanks to GPS, took us a little less than 2 and a half hours but it was worth it. The U.S. team had the field all to itself. I went to work with Mark and Kevin setting up and painting the flight box for practice, which was in the same orientation as the World Championships site. The wind was stiff, so it was difficult for the pilots to get a real feel for the changes in the airplane responsiveness due to the high altitude. Joseph was quick to respond that he felt no significant differences, but snaps were very easy (fast and easy to enter an exit). It was kind of like a high density altitude day (hot summer day) but the air was cold and wind was like an early March day on the east coast of the U.S. The dust- the dust was everywhere. It was a fine dust blown by the wind. That's about the best way to describe it. The only pilot that seemed to have NO adjusting was Andrew. He flew as if he did not miss a beat since his last practice session in Utah. Once affectionatly called the Pattern Animal, his consistency between flights was absolutely stunning. This is a tribute to the hundreds of flights and extensive preparation he made for the world championships over the past year. I think I counted 3 errors total (not per maneuver, but per flight!). Later in the week, I privately confided in Tim Jesky that I was very impressed with Andrews flying and that I thought he would be well positioned to win. Much more on this later..I'm getting ahead of myself.
We all finally got the hang of driving. By the end of the third day, Dave Stoddard was giving me "10"s... Here is a video clip showing our drive to the practice site... http://youtu.be/FV4WsYh4ZXo
We passed many villages which were in the process of being converted into much nicer housing solutions. The government has housing programs that convert shanty type structures to small brick (one room) houses with solar panel and small water storage container (solar heated). People seemed happy there. This reminded me of my cultural relativism class back at college. There were fires everywhere- grass fires, trash burning fires- the smell of burning brush was with us most of the time we were there. We are told they do this just prior to Spring- the rains next month that bring green to the countrly. South Africa is a pretty country and all the people I saw there are very good spirited.
It took me a while to get oriented to the sun. Since its just prior to Spring there, the field faces South, but the sun rises and sets in the northern portion (respect to east and west). This was very dis-orienting at first, but made for good flying days (since the sun was out of the pilot's field of vision the whole day). I don't think we saw our first cloud for a week. We used lots of sun block but since the sun was so low most of the day (and behind us), sunburn was not a huge issue.
Last edited by Don Szczur; 08-30-2013 at 01:59 PM.
Coaching was intense. The pilots took turns flying and getting tips from each other and their callers. I was immediately oriented to Jason, Brett and Andrew's high base. They kept a consistent altitude base on all maneuvers and their maneuvers were well positioned and in close- at 150 meters to 160 meters. Even in the high winds (some days blowing in and some days blowing out) their flights were very consistent. Joseph adjusted well and was flying good given the wind conditions. We did some sound measures with a meter that Brett had and was stunned to see how quiet the models were. We adjusted Joseph's power to top off at 94.5 db back in Virginia. That same power curve produced 86 db in South Africa. I asked Joseph if he wanted some more power and he declined. He felt that he was used to the airplane feel and was comfortable with the power. There were no power issues with the planes.
In the evenings we often worked on the planes to keep them in top condition. I had the priviledge to interview Bryan Hebert. Bryan is the brainchild behind Bretts aircraft. It is abolutely beyond words what dedication Bryan had for preparing these aircraft for Brett to compete in the World Championships. This video, I treasure and share with you, gives you a small glimpse of the efforts that went into this incredible plane. The video concludes with the story behind, and information on the amazing YS valve covers which are custom machined and available for purchase if you contact Bryan.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYXSU5WkWL4 an absolutely awesome interview with Bryan.
I'm going to take a quick break and head out to NVRC to fly before dark... talk to you later.
Last edited by Don Szczur; 08-30-2013 at 05:16 PM.
The next day of practice found us at the same practice site. The wind calmed down some which allowed some additional good quality practice. Joseph got his picture of the first lion today, along with a KFC and the tallest building we saw outside of Johannesburg. Included is a short interview with Joseph on how preparations were going for him. http://youtu.be/AacXMI-NMH4
That evening we had dinner at Spur's with the United Kingdom team. Spurs is pretty much the location where we ate at the most. Its kind of like a Red Robin hamburger and steak house. Hamburgers typically cost around $4.50 and sirloin steaks cost about $8.50. This was a tremendous value. We only topped that at one resaurant we went to, where I got a T-bone steak, baked potato and salad for $6.50. Amazing. We traded some great stories around the table. The United Kingdom team manager, Ashley Hoyland pulled out a 1979 edition of a British model airplane magazine covering the World Championships that year. The top three placers were Wolfgang Matt (1st), Dave Brown (2nd) and Mark Ratcliff (3rd). I went on to say that it was that very world championships that first got me intersted in pattern when I was Joseph's age. There was a young 12 year old pilot at the 1979 world championships (a year younger than Joseph) who is (still) the youngest competitor ever to have flown at a world championships. That pilot is Quique Somenzini.
Ashley went on to say that Christophe had visited with Hanno Prettner this past year (the current world record holder for number of wins at the world championships) and indicated that Christophe told Hanno that if he won the world championships this year that he honor Hanno by not competing again to exceed his (Hanno's) number of wins. Basically he would retire. I thought this was very interesting to hear this in South Africa, two days before the contest was to begin, but it was the talk within the European circles. This story was corroborated in the July-August SAMAA News (South African Model Aircraft Association) magazine, where a picture of Christophe and Hanno are shown together with Christophe's plane.
Last edited by Don Szczur; 09-05-2013 at 07:31 PM.
Some additional videos of the pratice sessions and the mountain of sand. This gives you a feel of what its like to be at the practice site with the team. You can listen to Mark talk about the mountain of sand across from the flying site and why it is being remediated. South Africa mines about 80 percent of the world's platnum and a lot of gold mines as well.
http://youtu.be/57EfRArQcuI practice site layout
http://youtu.be/4L7vecb8AGA huge pile of sand
http://youtu.be/vN_VJ7JXuuQ Mountain of sand interview with Mark Atwood
In processing. Experience our first steps on the contest site with this video- renewing international friendships and checking out the competition.
VIDEO of "walk around" of the U.S. team greeting, hugging and shaking hands renewing long friendships and making new ones. http://youtu.be/OIhRUG8hu9E
Last edited by Don Szczur; 09-03-2013 at 04:30 PM.
Opening ceremonies involved each country marching into the central parade field and then opening remarks from Bob Skinner and the FAI officials, offical "turn in" of the team in individual 2011 world championships trophies and official opening of the 2013 world championships. There is a rich history of this event which I'll talk about later on- and exciting discussions during and after the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the competition. For now, here are some pictures....
and short video clip of part of the opening ceremonies. You can get a glimpse of the wind speed based on the flags- and this was one of the calmer days! http://youtu.be/HpeRn7vdaTc
Last edited by Don Szczur; 09-03-2013 at 04:38 PM.
One of the things we did prior to the final practice session prior to the start of the competition was go through and check the contra unit to make sure everything was good to go. Here are a couple of videos about servicing the unit (basically just taking it apart and putting a little bit of lubricant on the bearings). The unit ran flawlessly throughout the event and many comments were made to us about the quiet and smooth operation of this unit.
Quick dissasembly... http://youtu.be/lVRtatt0i2o
Finish dissassembly and clean up... http://youtu.be/GwJ-9cAmd0Y
Lube and reassembly... We gave a shout out thank you to Kwang and all the D2 folks that helped with fundraising to get Joseph to the Worlds. Thank you! http://youtu.be/pd7qdqeCfqo and also a quick look at all the past World Champions- from Ed Karminski, Doc Brooks, Phil Kraft, etc.
and last but not least, Joseph's favorite part that evening- going through the goody bag that was given to the contestants. What is Joseph's favorite gift? http://youtu.be/Y9TJUnMutE8
We then went to bed for an early wake up and final team practice session. And bed for me as well tonight. Anyone practicing at the FARM this weekend?
Last edited by Don Szczur; 09-03-2013 at 05:31 PM.
We took a trip to the local South African Hobby Shop. Now this is probably the largest, most complete hobby shop I've ever seen!! Shop owner gave all the details- Dean from
Aerial Concepts, South Africa. They have no choice but to have a huge stock since mail orders are slow in this country and he has a very large customer base. Seba stopped by and said hello while Mark was there- many of his planes are stocked there. Enjoy the video!
Check out this "two minute tour" Incredible. http://youtu.be/ZD1V3tIPOdI
Thanks for all of the videos, Don. Incredible trip!!
Some additional videos. First is a video of some UAV / FPV flying at the practice field. http://youtu.be/NmiN86p0vFw I'm curious if he got some in flight video of Jason's practice flight.
Second video is a climb up the "castle" which was the center tower at the Midvaal Raceway. This gives a good perspective of how the site was laid out. http://youtu.be/ysu92uwtmiE Basically pilots had to take off at a 45 degree angle, or if taking off towards themselves make a quick right hand turn so as not to fly over the ready boxes. Rules were strict about fly-overs which was covered in the team managers meeting.
Third video is an interview of Joseph talking about the wind. The wind actually knocked down one of the box poles and they had to cease flying until that was repaired. While Joseph was flying that afternoon, I was actually getting blown into him. I kept bumping in to him because the wind was blowing so hard that he could not hear me calling maneuvers so I stood close and the wind was knocking me into him while he was flying. He got a round of applause when he landed because the conditions were that difficult. http://youtu.be/67mV3lOH2Fo You can tell from the video mike how it interferes with voice communications. I think Joseph got the worst of it that day, but Brett and Jason also got hit pretty hard with the wind walls as well during their flights. Kevin spent most of the day holding down backup planes while Mark would walk the planes out to the runway to assist with trouble free takeoffs. He got his exercise. Thanks Mark!
About at the end of this video I pick up some grass and you can see how quickly it just blows out of my hands. I think the wind was measured at 21 to 23 MPH, with gusts much higher.http://youtu.be/wq4_GA3cXeo
And this is probably my favorite video of the entire world championships. The trophy has names engraved around the base with each winning team since 1960. Its hard not to marvel at all the blood, sweat and tears, and glory that went into the 28 teams that won this trophy. Watch Andrew look of awe http://youtu.be/AKb51U0ApOw Joseph and I were privileged to be part of the experience and will cherish our memories of this world championships.
Last edited by Don Szczur; 09-05-2013 at 07:24 PM.