Hello again from Southern Germany,
I am happy to inform you that all planes, pilots, and helpers for Jet Team USA are present at the event.
Jason, Elizabeth, and Barbara Terrel (Elizabeth's mother) were at breakfast this morning at the hotel and seemed to have made some
headway on recovering from jet lag. Jason was raring to get to the field and get his F-15 unpacked and built.
Fortunately, Elizabeth and Barbara have been apprenticing as his crew and have been cleared to preform support tasks such as
unscrewing the lid, cross-supports, and other parts of the crate, though these tasks are, of course, performed under Jason's watchful eyes.
I'm guessing that this was part of the master plan to eliminate any risk of damaging his fingers (splinters or blisters) that and this masterful grip on
the transmitter gimbals. Good thinking!
Rod and Chad were the last to arrive having landed from stateside this morning. They drove to the hotel and checked in and had a nap.
I got a call from Rod at 4pm asking me if we were going to all be at the event site for a while (yes) and, if so, he was on his way from the hotel
and would be there in 30 minutes.
By 6:50pm, he hadn't yet arrived so I texted him to find out what was the problem. Travel tip: when travelling to a destination, it is important to actually
have the address of the destination. Rod and Chad were apparently touring the airports in the Bavarian region trying to find the correct one.
I sent them my iPhone Maps current location and they quickly arrived.
Andy spent the better part of the day finishing the assembly of his jet and repairing the cockpit which had been crushed by his airline after they insisted
that it was too big as a carry-on and needed to go into checked baggage. He had it all done by the end of the day so all is well.
Scott had the Sabre assembled and checked yesterday so it was pretty much a free day for him and Betsy so they decided to drive to Austria to do some
sledding down a snow-covered mountainside.
David also had his MiG built and joined the Harris' on the day trip. I had Scott write me a blurb on his day and I have pasted it below....
Started with early bfast at little coffee shop across from apt. Had eaten lunch days ago and met owner. Nice lady whom i asked about bfast and some scrambled eggs.
With a nice young female translators help she explained and today we had scrambled eggs and bacon!! Awesome start!! After a quick (love the autobahn )
drive to the airport site to take my charger batteries (lol another story)
We decided today would be day to sight see. David Ribbe joined us on a trip to Zugspitze. About an hour and half drive to Austria we hopped in a gondola and went
up about 9000 feet into the clouds. Probably not best weather but Betsy only had one thing on her mind. SNOW!!!! Ok maybe a little disappointed but they was some
snow left from the heatwave they have had. Walked around the overlook platform wasn't enough we risk life and limb and hiked down into the rocks to see the snow :)
walked thru museum and watched short video on construction. Brave men in 1800's for sure!
Trip back to airport seemed quick once again love the autobahn!! Met up with guys and had dinner and a beer of course! Got to apt to rest and fix Betsy some coffee.
She has discovered the perfect instant coffee. Coffee creamer,sugar all in one pouch. Perfect easy to fix. Looking foward to practice flights tomorrow!!!
Dan and Judy Bott (of Merrill Lynch - The Bott Group and major sponsors of Jet Team USA) arrived just before noon. Dan had fallen and broken and ankle a couple of
weeks ago, but there was no way he was going to miss seeing the JWM, so he got patched up with a brace and received the doctor's OK to travel. Dan is also on the
AMA Foundation and is helping Jet Team USA with some financial advice and corporate sponsorship for future JWM's.
Practice flying started today (we are scheduled to fly tomorrow) with the German team leading off the flying, followed by Switzerland, and Italy.
The Russians flew later this afternoon. I was pretty busy (doing important team manager stuff, yeah, that's my story) but I did manage to witness a few
flights and it seems that everybody brought their A-game (though all flyers also claimed to be very nervous). It's one thing to shit-slap your jet into the
ground in the relative privacy of your home field, but it is another thing to do it when there are a several hundred people standing behind you, including some
of the best pilots in the world, and the Press/Media who all have their telephoto lenses trained on you.
I did have a couple of issues that needed to be sorted out today. Team registration opened at 1pm, though the German event staff was uncharacteristically
disorganized. Frank Dorhmann, the President, Contest Director, and overall head honcho, soon had that all sorted out.
As part of the registration process, a copy of each pilot's documentation needed to be submitted. This was a new rule that was added after the 2013 JWM when
an Italian competitor faked/Photoshopped his documentation. It seems like a good idea (the new rule, not faking your docs), but Rod and his docs hadn't arrived
so we were unable to register. I'll get on that first thing tomorrow.
My other major task for the day was a shopping trip into town to buy, among other things, navy blue pants. Here's the story on that.....
During the opening ceremonies of the Jet World Masters, all competitors, helpers, and registered supporters of each country's team all march in parade style.
It's a bit like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics when all the athletes walk behind their flag. In 2013, the Swiss, were all smartly dressed in red team
shirts, white pants, and red/white hats. We were positioned beside the Swiss, and while we all wore team shirts, that was the only thing that matched and we
looked a bit like a gaggle of hillbillies.
This year we decided to up our game and dress to impress. I made the "benevolent dictator" decision that we would all wear navy blue Dockers (though the ladies
could were pants or skirts of any style they wanted as long as they were navy blue) and I had special opening ceremonies shirts made for all attendees.
Well, it did take a fair amount of arm twisting and nagging to get the guys to comply but eventually they all did. Then I left my Dockers at home.
I knew that I would never hear the end of that so I needed to find an acceptable replacement pair at a local store. Yeah, good luck. Sprechen zie Deutch? Nein!
Fortunately, Stephan Eich (of modellpilot.eu which is a European model forum and media extravaganza) suggested that his wife, Sabine, might be able to help as she
handles clothes issues for him. I spoke with Sabine and learned that she and Johnnie Andrews were planning on going into town and I could tag along.
Sabine quickly took charge of the situation, located several stores, and we were off. Johnnie was her backup.
Andy may wear the pants in his family, but Johnny buys them. I drove and did what I was told in the store. Into the change room I went with several pants and
I had to come out and show them how the pants fit. I was totally outgunned from the start and even the sales lady joined in as I wasn't doing "it" right.
I felt like I was twelve years old and shopping with my mother, except that now I had three of them.
Eventually, the women were satisfied, and I had to agree that I'd come away with a pretty nice pair of navy blue pants.
We also dropped by a pharmacy to buy sun block to replace the tube confiscated by the German TSA, and then went to the grocery store. I bought a variety of
fresh fruit and drinks for our USA pilots (and some as a breakfast gift to the Dutch for their hospitality).
The women bought wine. Imagine that. And fruit that went with the wine. We also dropped by the bank next door so I could get some Euros
(the exchange rate sucks at the currency exchanges at airports). Once I was able to select the language on the ATM, the transaction went smoothly except the
machine didn't give me a receipt. I started to question this but was told "Hurry up, Jim" as this issue seemed unimportant to some people.
The wine was waiting.
The remainder of the afternoon went well. The competitors had pretty much all arrived so there was a fair amount of socializing being done especially after
the practice flights were over.
We did have one major incident, though. Dean Kraus of Jersey Modeler had generously donated and shipped to Germany a couple of fuelers for the team to use.
This morning, I retrieved the fuelers, plugged in a 220V-110V converter into the funky European power system, and hooked up one of the fuelers for charging.
We checked on the fueler about 8 hours later and it seemed totally dead with the pump not making a sound. We tried the other fuel jug and charger cord for a
couple of hours but it didn't show any signs of life either.
Oh crap, the 220V-110V converter must be broken and it's the only one we had at the field. David had one of his company's new fancy chargers that accepts 220V
but we didn't have a "tarantula" with the correct mating connector for the fuelers. It looked like we were going to have to cut the connector off the charging
adaptor and make up a charge cable to fit David's charger.
Then Scott walked over to one of the fuelers, turned the adjustable speed knob out of the lowest setting,
and the pump sprang to life.
D-uh, we hadn't thought of that. It's the jet lag, people. Scott was immediately forgiven for blowing up Andy's 12V inverter yesterday.
We all sat and had a couple of beers and some food then headed back to the hotel(s) to work on our residual jet lag.