Tuesday, July 28, 2009

27 July 2009

Practice / final setup continues with the awesome weather. The winches were also calibrated today to ensure that they comply with competition (FAI) standards. With the “new” winch rules, the powerful (and very, Very heavy) batteries will need to be charged after every second launch. We understand that the WC organisers will have a power cable running the length of the flight line for this purpose & using the 20 amp battery chargers this should not take too long, but we will “wait & see”.

The practice day was good, but rather tiring – we (well, "me" in particular ) were still exhausted from the day before, the heat & humidity claiming the rest. Michelle fitted our her spare model & the rest performed lots of launches to assess the winches. Craig & Dion flew a number of distance laps to assist fine setting of the models for altitude/air density. Launch settings, etc. being compared & shared to ensure each model was optimal. The highly controversial finish of the new CL's are creating a definite edge for the distance & speed tasks over the other models, improving even further after applying the tensoids.

We were invited to our hosts house (think “Grand Design meets Ikea”) for a barbecue & some “real” Weis-beer, all overlooking their own massive flying field with lush ankle-high grass. We have reached the conclusion that we are in a flying paradise: walking distance to the flying fields, green grass as far as the eye can see, & great (no, read that as "brilliant") beer. After another busy practice/setup day we closed in for the night, with the intent of flying at 07h00 tomorrow morning for “dead-air” conditions & also allow time for the trip to the famous Red Bull Hanger 9.

Parting comment for the day (from Dion "Denny" Liebenberg): “you can see the planes better in left-hand rather than right-hand thermal turns”.
Parting comment from Tigger: "damb clutch was not were I expected it to be" after parking the van into a bench

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 1, 26 July 2009

A good first day.

We started off with the makings of breakfast that our host & Wolfgang had arranged. Suitably fortified & showered, we slowly setoff for the field, the Crig & Wolfgang heading off to “The Workshop” (capitals being important) to finish Michelles’s Ceres Lift wing & other bits. The field itself was within walking distance of our accommodation & we only needed to drive the winches & batteries to it, the rest choosing to walk the short distance in the warm morning air.

At this point we started to see how pretty Austria is; all the fields are clean & green, and there are mountains in the distance in almost every direction you can look. As a Sunday, we were soon joined by some of the local hobby enthusiasts who soon had their electric powered foam models zipping around.

We set to the task of unpacking the boxes & were gratefull for all the hours of manufacture & packing when no damage emerged. Batteries needed to be charged & we slowly setup the winches on loan to us from the local club. They use massive 85A rated batteries coupled through huge welding type cables to their winches. Three of the winches were on wheeled dollies, but still require hefty lifting to remove from the van. Lines were chosen from the selection Wolfgang had had delivered, and spread across the winches. They use a “quick couple” approach for the negative terminal so that the cable can be yanked out in the event of a power lock.

The models were all soon lined up & ready to fly. Wolfgang however notified us that the wind direction was due to swing 180 degrees, so we rolled up the lines & laid them out from the opposite direction. The wind swung again, but from 15h00 onwards it was mostly cross/downwind. Everyone got a good number of launches in, models were trimmed for altitude & we started a few speedruns. Still air conditions were challenging for launch, but thermal activity was strong & widespread.

Dead tired, we left the field at around 19h00 & headed to the chalet for a shower & then out for supper at a local restaurant. The local Weisbeer supplies were dented & then off to bed!

A great first day.

Day Zero - Travel News

Flight delayed
News so far,.....

The trip started off. Well it didn't actually, as our flight was delayed for 12 hours. I was on my way to the airport, about 10 minutes out when the dreaded phonecall came informing me that we would be flyign out at 09h00 the next morning. I turned around & went home for another night with the family. Dion stayed at home, & the Goodrum's booked into a hotel near the airport with all their luggage.

The after hours contact number I was provided the night before was unanswered. However, upon arrival, the departure sign notioned that the flight had been delayed for 24 hours! What! I had to get up at 04h00 to travel all the way to OR Tambo for yet another delay! Waiting until the ticket office opened, we were informed that the flight would indeed be taking off at 09h00. Twits!

We were naturally overweight - but our new chum at the airport, Kingsely, decided that we had been stuffed around enough already & waived the costs! Yes, Karma. Our carefully packed bags & boxes were then lugged off to destinations unknown, undoubtably falling under the intense scrutiny of many eyes. I suspect though that at those wee hours of the morning, the prying hands had better things to do & thankfully our bags were untouched.

Another amazing karmic experience was that the majority of passengers the night before had booked onto alternate flights, so the flight SAA made up for us was empty - about 150 passengers on the Airbus A300'sh (a white one for those more interested in the technical details, Simon). So, once we started into the climb, everybody climbed out of their seats & spread out across the aircraft with 4 seats being used as sleepers etc.

The flight was uneventful after that, the service on SAA was excellent, food good & the leg room, even in economy was a good 20-30 cms more than the Emirates sardine can. The fact that we were able to fly direct to Munich was also a godsend, not having to wait for the connecting flight in some pit of hadesso made the flight infinitely more pleasurable.

Our accomodation

The best past was arriving in Munich (hell, the police & customs are friendly) we collected our unopened baggage, nothing to declare (except Denny (Dion) that was stopped at customs - he claims it was due to his Tx case, but we all know the real reason was his somewhat guilty look), out into arrivals & Wolfgangs friendly smile. Of course a quick round of Starbucks was called essential (such a clever marketing ploy - they have their shop next to the exit with the smell of fresh coffee wafting across). The packing of the bus was somewat challenging, but we were soon all squeezed in, radio tuned to "Bayern 3", because Wolfie claims it gives the best traffic reports, & we were soon whizzing down a virtually trafficless highway. The crossing from Germany to Austria was marred only by a frantic scramble for passports - which was not necessary as their was no border control anymore & Wolfie giggled for virtually the rest of the trip to our wooden ski-hut style accommodation in the quaint farming hamlet of Hallwang (approx 5 km's from Salzburg). Everything was unpacked (with a dash of speed), and we shot off to the Hallwang festival for a round of beers & supper.

Hallwang festival

What a brilliant day.

Lionel Brink