I'm sitting in Chicago O'Hare airport waiting to board my flight on the final leg of my journey home.
As was the case in my previous two Jet World Masters, I am quite exhausted. The flight was slightly delayed leaving Munich and I had fallen asleep even before
the engines were started.
I woke up when the plane was nearing Timmins, Northern Ontario (wow, slept through an entire Atlantic crossing and more, what would Christopher Columbus think?).
I dozed off again and awoke at our pilot, clearly a retiree from the navy, slammed the 767 down onto the runway at O'Hare.
Here's a summary of what happened yesterday at the event......
The top five finalists in both the 13.5kg class and the 20kg class flew their 3rd round flights.
Pavel and Vitaly had wins in their respective classes locked up and it was mathematically impossible for them to be defeated which really took the pressure off them.
Phillip Avonds (Belgium) and Fredricco Rossini (Italy) were vying for 2nd and 3rd in the 13.5 kg class. It is hard to outfly Phillip with his Fouga as Fredricco
learned in both Dayton and Meiringen so I figured Phillip would finish second, as he did, and Fredricco was third.
In the 20 kg class, the Germans were sitting 2nd and 3rd and the Swiss were 4th and 5th so it was a bit of a gun-fight for the silver and bronze. Andy had given
Stephan a pair of Stars and Stripes boots as a thank you for repairing the wing of the L-39 after the left landing gear got torn out in the practice flight last
Saturday. Stephan wore the boots (with shorts) while flying his final round.
Thomas Geissner put in an excellent flight of his Airworld F-104 but it wasn't enough to catch Stephan.
Pascal Thoma and Adrian Senn (sons of Roger Thoma and Reto Senn who are long time competitors from Switzerland) finished 4th and 5th. I guess the mantle has been
passed from father to son. I took a photo of Pascal's mother and friends watching Pascal's flight. She was a bit nervous and seemed happy when it was over.
The static judging was the big controversy of this event and several of our pilots received scores far lower than expected especially David who was down 200-300 point
from his Meiringen score in 2013 even though he had added more details in the last two years.
We had extensive discussion with the judges and other competitors on this subject. The Thai's, who traded in their small Alpha jets for large L-39's (to be more
competitive) are totally pissed and might not return. Indeed, the top Thai competitor had flown Ralle from Tailor Made Decals (who also happens to be an expert
painter and team manager of Germany) to Thailand to paint the model. It was absolute impeccable and possibly the best model at the event.
When questioned, that standard answer given was a problem in the documentation which is all too convenient an excuse. Earlier this year, Marc Froehn and a top
German competitor flew identical L39's in the German Nationals. Marc scored 300 points below the other competitor. The judges were asked to explain the difference
and they claimed the documentation. That sounded like a good answer but, as it turns out, the documentation used was identical with the exception of the cover
sheet having the pilots' names. Gotcha!
Something needs to be done about the obvious favoritism and done quickly. I obtained photographs of all pages of the Swiss documentation as an example for the
future. The Swiss team were fortunate that they had received a seminar on documentation given by the Chief Static Judge who just happened to be Swiss.
I learned a variety of things in my review of the docs which the team had been previously unaware, and had we known, we would have done better.
We will be submitting a rule change requiring a detailed breakdown on how static points for each category are being awarded. We are tired of trying to hit a
moving and secret target.
The flying competition was over by about noon and there was a four hour wait until the flower ceremony where the top three in each class would be presented with
flowers as is the European tradition and commonly seen in ski racing. The time was filled with demonstration flying by competitors and invited demo pilots.
Jet Team USA was assigned a single time slot where only two pilots could fly at once, but Jason has arranged for him and Scott to fly during Horizon Hobby's slots
so David, Rod, and Andy drew pretzels (no straws were handy) to choose our two pilots.
Rod got the long straw and didn't fly but the consolation was that he could pack up the MiG and his pit area and just relax.
I had made deals with Edgar Bruhin of Switzerland and Peter Cmyral (team manager of Austria) to trade team shirts. We all bumped into each other at the food
venue and Evi Bruhin took a photo of the "Three Jims". John Roth (US Flight Judge) had given me his judges shirt which was really nice of him. (Incidentally,
it was found that Leutkirch is spelled incorrectly on the back of their shirts. Good thing this isn't a spelling bee.)
John would drop by the US pit area daily and give us some tips on how to improve our scores and what the judges wanted to see. Many thanks for that, John!
His wife, Christine, was present at the entire event (Christine was in Meiringen for the last three days). I must remember to ask if she plans on being at the JWM
in Italy and I'll get her a team shirt so she can walk with the team in the opening ceremonies. It's never too early so start sucking up to the judges!
The flower ceremony was held in the main aircraft parking area in front of the terminal restaurant and between the big tents. It was nice and short.
The Belgiums asked me to take photos of their team. The crowd chanted for Caroline to kiss Phillip and she finally did for the photos or, more accurately, just to
shut us up.
The team was busy packing up their jets and then had to head back to their hotels to clean up and get dressed for the award ceremony at 8pm.
I snapped some photos of the beautiful Bavarian countryside. (Notice how the car is pulled over to the side of the road, Mum.)
It was announced at the managers meeting the previous night that there would not be a dinner at the awards ceremony. This was most disappointing as we then all
had to scramble to get something to eat and be back for 8pm.
The reason for the no dinner was that "some teams were very tired and just wanted to go home". Fine, move the awards ceremony up to 5pm and let us go.
Nope, a schedule is a schedule. Even the Swiss, who likely had the shortest drive, weren't happy about the no dinner. I had dinner at McDonald's. Not impressed.
The awards ceremony went pretty much as expected.
Jet Team USA looked outstanding in our blue blazers (with team crest), kakhi pants, white shirts, and team ties. Monica Ribbe had requested a photo of David dressed
up in pants so we all posed for photos.
There were some speeches by the organizers and then the results were announced in ascending order with each competitor walking up receive a certificate with their
results. The top three pilots and callers received acrylic trophies and "metals" on black/red/gold ribbons (Germany's flag colors). The "metals" weren't metal at
all but rather clear acrylic discs that were inscribed with "Jet World Masters 2015" and the results, e.g. "1st Place 13.5 Kg".
After the gorgeous metal metals given out at Meiringen in 2013, these were a huge let down. I've seen a lot nicer awards at a local fun fly.
The winner took possession of the big trophy, which is a loaner until the next event. There were nicer trophies for the special awards (top static, highest scoring
flight, etc) that also included an Aviator watch. Nice! (Aviator is a sponsor of the Russian team).
The Russians took home most of the hardware with wins in both classes, as well as the team trophy for builder & pilot, as well as best newcomer.
The Germans got the Nations Trophy for the best team results (highest combined score of three planes), with the Russians 2nd, and the Italians 3rd. We were 6th :-(
There were a couple of extra aviator watches so two pilot numbers were drawn from a hat. Rod scored one of them!!!!
The national anthem of the winner of each class and the nations trophy are played at the end of each trophy presentation. It was fun to watch the Russians sing
along; they have a pretty good national anthem though I would have preferred hearing the Stars and Stripes. The German national anthem was played, once for the
Nations Trophy and once for the organizers.
By this time it was pretty warm in the tent (is there any air-conditioning in Europe?). We hung out a bit, said good bye to friends, and split.
I dropped by New Amsterdam, where I've been conveniently parking my car, and chatted with David Tappin, Bill Grimsley, and their wives. They'd seen the updated
judges comments video and thought it was funny and all in good sport.
They departed and Ben and I set to work processing processing photos and writing for the Dutch team website and my blog. Yet another late night for me though one
supporter commented that all I have to do is go to one meeting. LOL, yeah, right.
Back to the hotel and off to bed with an early wake up to pack. Rod/Chad and I convoyed up the autobahn to Munich Airport, dropped off the cars, and checked in.
We shared a nice good bye breakfast before heading to our flights.
The three hour flight back to Phoenix was pleasant, I suppose. I was asleep through most of it. I got my bags and stepped outside into the 100+ F temperature of
Phoenix (God's blast furnace) and grabbed a cab home.
It was an exciting vacation complete with amazing experiences in Sweden, seeing old friends, and representing the USA in Leutkirch. All in all, quite the time,
but it's good to be home.
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