Greetings from the site of the 11th Jet World Masters,
When we last left our intrepid aviators, they had arrived on site and had finished reassembling and testing their models.
Today was registration and practice flight day.
The Andrews, The Bauers, Rod, Chad, and I are all staying at the same hotel about a half hour away from the field.
Chad and I, who reportedly both snore, are sharing a room in order to cut costs. Chad has a CPAP machine and he was concerned that
it might keep me up. Actually, it was the marginal hotel internet that kept me up as I was fighting to maintain a connection while uploading
photos. Eventually, I won, if you can call having to stay up until 4:30am uploading photos. I am going to McDonald’s tonight to use their WiFi.
We all had a leisurely breakfast then headed to the field. Andy found a hardware store which I found entirely unsurprising as he also managed
to find one in Meiringen (a very small Swiss town and site of the 2013 JWM). He bought some extension cords and power bars and soon all the pilots
had power at their table (rather than at the back of the pit). This made it a lot easier for everyone to charge their batteries and iPhones.
Sometimes the phone signal is momentarily strong enough to get 3G (one bar) but most of the time we are on an extended network which seems to
suck a lot of power.
I also stopped in town to take some photos. CAPTRON (makers of Bavarian Demon Cortex gyros) and DemoAero.com (their US distributor) are sponsors of Jet Team USA,
and the town of Leutkirch is filled with signs advertising Bavarian Demon and its sponsorship of the US team. Nice!
Today at noon was the deadline for registration, but fuel can only be purchased on site from 9am – 11am so fuel took the priority. 10 gallons was about 75 Euros.
The oil was being supplied free but was locked up so I had to find the very very busy CD who gave us a couple of quarts. Now that the pilots had their fuel,
I gathered up copies of their documentation and declarations (on the new form) and managed to beat the deadline by about 20 minutes.
So its official, we are in!
Scott and Betsy were headed to McDonalds and took orders for the US contingent.
16 Big Mac combos (which is apparently called a Big Mac McMenu here). They ordered via the Drive-Thru and Scott was impressed that they had it all ready
by the time he made it to the window. German efficiency!
One of the funky things we have noticed about Europe is their apparent aversion to ice in drinks. You have to ask for it.
Of course, with Scott’s good ol’ Tennessee accent, he probably didn’t need to ask. German efficiency!
Incidentally, a Royale with Cheese (for you Pulp Fiction fans, is now a veggie burger). Quinton Tarrantino would be shocked.
Our practice flight times were moved up from 4pm to 3pm, and later pushed to 3:10pm which was handy as Andy had a battery issue and needed to charge another
battery. The team moved the planes out to the grass and we waited for the Chinese team to complete their German certification flights (their planes were
over 25kg wet), then David Gladwin (the sole competitor from England), and then we were up.
Scott was our lead-off flier (with David Ribbe calling). The Sabre performed superbly and Scott did a great landing.
David was next and put in a good flight on the MiG. I overheard the one of the French pilots (who were after us) critically comment that the flight was too fast .
I understood the negative comment (thanks to my Canadian upbringing) but elected not to reply by asking if their air force Rafale fighters eject little white
flags rather than flares.
Yesterday I was over to visit with the Italian team. They were in a discussion and I patiently waited for them to finish. They noticed me, and eventually spoke
to me in English. They asked me how many American pilots are in the competition. “Cinque” (five in Italian), I said. They were surprised by my answer in their
native tongue and asked me if I spoke Italian. I replied “Si, molto bene, grazie” (yes, very well, thank you) and it was fun to watch them momentarily pause and
play back in their head the various things they had said over the last few minutes when I was standing within earshot.
Back to the flying…..
Rod was next and he put on a great show with reversals, fly-bys in both directions, and nailed the landing.
Jason did a great takeoff but had an issue with a gear door (hinge came unglued from door) so he left the gear down (good call, better safe than sorry)
and totally nailed the landing on the centerline.
Andy was up last with the big L-39. The plane looked great, and had an excellent take-off. Climbing through 50 feet though, a 3+ foot long flame came out
of the tailpipe, and the engine shut down. Andy did a great job holding it straight, dropped the flaps to full to automatically deploy the speedbrakes, and
landed several hundred yards away on the runway before the plane went to the left and into the grass.
The jet was damaged (left gear torn out and the upper wing skin was dislodged from the wing ribs). We brought the jet back into the pit area and were very
upset. I returned to the flight area to help the other team members with second flights as we had some time remaining in our allotted hour.
Scott and David got in a second flight though David’s was cut short due to an incursion by a local into the overfly zone.
We brought the jets and equipment back into the pit area and Andy already had the wing off and was examining the damage. Yves Van Cutsen (Belgium team)
and Andreas Schaer (Swiss team) were hard at work beside Andy surveying the damage and offering their expertise on the Seagate L-39 to help with the repairs.
Indeed, Stephan Volker (German team) who designed the model and is also flying a Seagate L-39 in the competition dropped by to offer his assistance along
with his crew.
Stephan took the wing, gave instructions to his crew as to what needed to be done, and the wing is being fixed overnight.
Wow, what generous and invaluable assistance. Indeed, since it will not be possible to test fly the repaired plane before the competition flights,
Stephan will take Andy and the plane to another local field to perform testing and practice flying.
Just going flying with Stephan Volker would be quite an adventure, but doing it under these circumstances is huge.
Hans Hochgemuth (Dutch team who had offered us fuel if needed), Yves, Andreas, and Stephan exemplify the friendly spirit of this international
competition and show that while we are competitors, we are all members of the jet modeling brotherhood.
Eastern view of hangar tent
Western view of hangar tent