Sunday, April 29, 2012

F3B Qualifier 1

It is over a week ago since we had the first team qualifier for Germany 2013.

Having agreed to try and complete 6 rounds in one day, Craig, Nigel and myself arranged to be at BERG very early to set up the sites, hoping to get proceedings underway before 9h00. Having looked at the weather report on News24, it showed a 7kph SW wind. This was not a good idea, as discussions and alternate ideas pursued. In the end we had a look at "windfinder" which indicated a predominant NW wind. By this time we had to change the winch direction, leaving the sites in a westerly direction.

In the end, Evan our CD for the day, got the first round going by 10h00. The pressure was on, to get the 6 rounds flown. All 8 entered pilots were rearing to go. It was good to see Michelle and Dion back in the mix, after their one year sabbatical from F3B. Would they be a bit rusty? The question begged, how Rudi and Nigel would fair against the latter, after their 2011 WC in China. Jason our young gun, would always be someone to reckon with. Filling the other places were Wolfgang and myself. Well apart from trying our best and having fun, I think we would never have had a chance to crack it. Thanks to the great bunch of people, they made it possible for me to have a fairly competitive plane, namely the Argentinean designed and Chinese built TOBA. I had only managed to fly it the previous weekend and was very impressed, yet I hadn't enough stick-time on it. But F3b is not for 'sissies', so I just went for it, keeping in mind not to push to the limit. Tsepho was summonsed by Craig to fly the duration, since he needs all the experience he can get.

All went according to plan, until Jason had a bit of a hard landing, breaking the nose of his plane. He decided to give up during round 1. As the day progressed we were treated to a boerie roll and coolie for lunch. No, it was not a sit down affair, we had to get the rounds flown, since nobody wanted to come back the next day.

The next casualty was Wolfgang, who for some reason had picked up servo problems. Luckily there was no major damage. The wind was blowing precisely as we set up the winches, not too hard, just enough to get all the ballasted planes into the air. The speed runs were as always exciting. Evan got so excited with one of Dion's attempts that he messed up the time keeping. All he could utter was that the first two laps were done in under 8 seconds!! Needless to say, Dion had thermal setup instead of speed setup and so lost out on a good score. Michelle was also on cloud nine, and enjoyed the FOSA, but it was Craig the Cric who had the best time of  14 seconds.

Distance was a personal challenge for me, as I had great difficulty in calling, timing and counting. This is a women's job, I thought. Only they can multitask!!! The lack of experience however taught me, that a good stop watch can count the laps, provided you press for each lap completed.

Thanks to Piet, who did some changes to the light box, there were no glitches like in the passed. Even the timing device with time indicator that Herman put together for the upcoming WC, ran quite smoothly. Well, until the kids got hold of the micro phone and sang us lullabies!!!

Round four came and made me the next victim. The lack of knowledge, how long my batteries last, put the newly acquired TOBA smack bang to mother earth. Even the 2.4Mhz feedback, that the battery was going flat, did not leave me sufficient time to get the plane down in one piece. Luckily I could finish with the slightly battered TRINITY. Well there was a dispute that I was not allowed to finish the round with a different plane, but being in the bottom end, I think the other pilots opted to give me the benefit. Thanks Guys, and Nigel, sorry I pipped you in duration for that round.

After round five we all agreed that it was time to pack up. Although we didn't fly all 6 rounds, regulations permit that 5 rounds are acceptable for a qualifier. This time of year, the light seems to fade very fast, and indeed it left us in the dark scrambling for all our equipment. By 18h30, a whole 12 hours later we were all on our way home, extremely tired but satisfied. Another successful qualifier, thanks to everyone who took part, especially the helpers, giving up their time for a very demanding hobby.

Congratulations to all the pilots, especially Craig, who came first. For the full results see the MGA blog.

I hope we will see all of you in September for the next Qualifier. If there are any of you out there, who are interested in participating or helping at these events please contact anyone of us. We would greatly appreciate any addition to the pilot and helper pool.

Until next time, happy building and safe flying

P.S. my apologies for the lack of photo's, but there was not really much time to take any!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2011 Team trials

A shaky start from a first time blogger, but I hope to master this sooner than later, and that the reactivation of this blog will be a success in the near future.

Being selected together with Nigel Wilkenson to run the F3b soaring, as not the most proficient pilot, seems a daunting task. Yet I hope my passion for this adrenalin and technically challenging discipline, with the help of all the F3b junkies will see me through it. The deep end you might think, well I do! with having a WC this year there seems a lot to be organised and learnt.

Unfortunately this sport is not widely popular in South Africa. If we have 10 active or interested pilots, we consider ourselves lucky, leaving us to scratch for support in terms of helpers. So you can imagine, as a first timer, what we were up against.

The team trials should have been completed by the end of 2010, but I guess we all ran out of time. So we rescheduled to have it over the weekend of the 29/30 January 2011.

The final number of entries were 7, of which only 5 were serious of going to China.

Preparations started a week prior, sorting out score sheets, arranging sights, gazebo's and the all important buzzer system, which Nigel took upon himself to repair. I think he was seriously challenged with the time (very late nights) he afforded himself to sort it out. But in the end the buzzers all worked, and we are very thankful for his efforts.

Although the BERG flying field was selected earlier in the year, we took for granted that the grass needed to be cut. So alas, as we wanted to enter the field on Saturday morning, most of us drove passed the gate, since it has grown nearly completely closed. I was astounded that all the guys proceeded to unpack and set up their equipment. The grass was knee high and difficult to walk through and yet the only comment I got was, "we flew in worse conditions". A sigh of relief for my oversight! Luckily I packed my "panga" which was used to clear the grass around the winches.

The sights and buzzer system were set up, and our self selected ( maybe he was forced to stand in ) CD, Evan Shaw got things going at around 14h00.

My idea was to fly 6 rounds, splitting them up in duration and speed on the Saturday until 18h00, and the rest on Sunday from 9h00 to 12h00, to make it easier for our helpers, so that they only need to assist us on one day. Needless to say, I was informed that this would break the rules! Typical South African!! So we proceeded to break some more (not completing a round with the same plane)! But in the end we flew all 6 rounds with one throw away.

Everybody helped and filled in where it was necessary, for which I was very grateful. Running in the high grass had its tolls. We all suffered from cuts to the shins ( everybody wore long pants and even gum boots the following day), sore bodies ( the overnight rest was welcome) and some suffered severely with hay fever. But in the end everybody present, made it a success.

The scoring was done in the evening with a couple of hick-ups. And this is what transpired over the weekend.

In the following months we will be having practise rounds as preparation for the WC in China. I hope to see more pilots either participating or helping our guys in these events.