Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Almost midair followup

I need to relate how the story ended with the almost midair in the box. My report leaves the reader with the wrong impression. As you can tell I was not in a great mood after the incident. Understandably, the French pilots and coach were not either. World Competition is a highly emotionally charged environment, and this little “tete-a-tete” did not help that. The Chief Judge explained to the French the issues, as he did to me, indicating that neither pilot was at fault. After I landed my wife asked just to walk quietly with her. She cried. It was a touching moment for me. It made me see things a little bit different, from the eyes of someone else, not directly wrapped up in the 'heat of battle'.

A few days later I talked to the French pilot (Simon F). He was nice and made clear he had no ill feelings. Later, while the high scoring group had a no-flying day (the French and I were in that) I showed up in the French tent and offered him a USAAAT pin. Everybody was very receptive and I think appreciated the gesture, so I came back with more for everybody. We exchanged logos, comments and jokes and had a nice talk. Subsequently I had more talks with the French coach. He is a very nice person, obviously goes all out for his team and enjoys the sport very much. He has an uncanny insight into all things related to aerobatic competition.

I had bought an inflatable couch to use in our tent. We asked participants to sign it, and hopefully it will be on display in one of our future regional contests in the SouthWest. You will see there the French team humor as they signed and noted “Extra Hunters” and “Carbon Fiber Killer”. Simon asked whether I understood what he meant; oh yes, and painfully so! A wooden CAP flown by pilots like Simon and the other French pilots can do a lot of damage to carbon airplanes standings!
I gained great respect and admiration for the French Team. They flew superbly as the results testify. They behaved professionally, with dignity and showed sportsmanship. They are great exponents of the good qualities of this sport. I hope I have the opportunity to meet them again, although hopefully at not so fast a closing speed!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Hi to everyone following the contest....
We have been very busy waiting to fly because of weather and other delays associated with a World contest. This is my first post here because I didnt bring my computer so Im borrowing Mike's.

We are all doing pretty well and if we get to fly an Unknown the Q will not count as a score, so it's anyone Ball Game...and we are looking tough as a group.

Doug had a pretty good Free flight,Kelly is up next and I will fly this afternoon barring no more rain.....We will post some pictures Today so be watching for them.
Im stoked about my Free and the competition is skeer'd... it should show well, Mike and I designed it to be flown with alot of energy in front of the Judges....
blue skies everyone,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Near Miss in the Box

I see an incident at AWAC 2010 has created questions and rumors. Just to clarify, here is what happened. At AWAC the radio is to be kept only on “listening” by us pilots. Nobody was to ever talk on it except for emergencies. Release into the box is provided by starters with flags. The procedure is for the starter to write the pilot number that we all have been assigned randomly, start, taxi to the flagger who has a red flag. After he changes to a white flag we can takeoff. In this incident, after the starter wrote my number I taxied up short of runway 07 where the flagman raised the red flag. I did my run-up and saw the French yellow CAP flying in the box overhead. After a while the flagger showed the white flag. I looked at the box and did not see an airplane. I took off and turned right downwind as briefed and checked the box again visually. Polish talk on the radio, I had no idea what they were saying but since we had that chatter also the day before and other pilots had complained about it I interpreted it as a nuisance. All official communications were to be in English.

I dove in for a CIVA warm-up/safety figure. After a half roll I saw a big yellow flash on my right in opposite direction. It was the French CAP probably 2-3 wingspans away diving in from the south. He passed behind me. Trying to keep track of him I pulled vertical. He continued to do aerobatics. I heard then for the first time the call of the Chief Judge for 2 airplanes in the box. I kept the CAP in sight behind my left shoulder and sort of hammered-rolled out to the north. I circled to land on the briefed pattern. The CAP landed shortly thereafter.

Apparently the CAP pilot took a break that may have been misinterpreted by the flagger as the end of the sequence. My visual-box-check just happen to occur when the other airplane was out of the box to the south after his interruption. The radio calls from the Chief's table on my entrance to the box obviously were blanketed by the polish transmissions. The Chief Judge had no direct communication with the flagger, which of course allowed this incident to develop.

After the landing I got "a lesson" from the French manager that I did not appreciate too much. Of course he assumed it was my entire fault. I had to use a lot of self-control.

The Chief Judge came to the hangar and formally apologized to me for the mistakes that could have killed 2 pilots. He was very gracious and acknowledged I was not at any fault.

Due to this and a big thunderstorm over the field the flying stopped that afternoon. The flagging and box entry procedure were reviewed and changed, with clarification of the flag signals, direct control of the flagger by the Chief Judge and requirement of positive 2-way radio communication airplane-Chief Judge on a new silent frequency within 1 minute of departure. The Chief Judge now clears the pilot by radio into the box.

I was very lucky. I am also very lucky to be in a team as supportive and cohesive as this. Interestingly enough, after about my 4th try to fly the Q (weather postponements) I finally did fly, but not until I had to hold in the air because an airplane was in the box (again!)


Saturday, August 7, 2010

News Update August 7 2010

Ceiling is still below minimums next briefing is at 4:00PM
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

News from August 7th, 2010

The briefing for Day 2 started at 8:00am and the new starting procedures were briefed. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating and we will have a second brief at 12:00 noon.

It appears like Reinaldo will now be flying in position 87 after the incident from yesterday. We are still awaiting a final decision from the Jury.

The next US Pilot to fly will be Rob Gibbs in position 19.

News from Friday August 6, 2010

The contest has started. The main briefing was yesterday and all 85 Pilots attended. The drawing for the order of flight in the Q was held. The first pilot to draw a number also drew position number 1. The odds of that happening are extremely rare. The US Team drew there slots in alphabetical order and are as follows:
Kelly Adams 9
Reinaldo Beyer 15
Robbie Gibbs 19
Doug Sowder 28
Ben Freelove 34
Mike Gallaway 51
Bryan Taylor 77
Bob Freeman drew the last position of 85

The flying got started and Kelly Adams was the first US Pilot in the box. He had a good flight and was the only pilot to fly without an optional weather break. You can see his scores are now up and he is currently in 8th place.

Reinaldo Beyer was the next pilot up, however he was unable to complete his flight due to a problem with the starter clearing him into an occupied box. Both pilots landed safely and I am sure that Reinaldo will give you the first hand account of the experience in a later post. The flying was then suspended for the day for a review of safety and an update of procedures.

The opening ceromonies were held inside due to the rain. The Contest Organizers did a first class job with entertainment from the local military band. The mayor of the town of Radom was present as well as other local dignitaries and the commander of the airbase where the contest is being held. After the ceremonies dinner was held oustide back at the contest hotel. Due to the rain most of the celebration was cut short and most of the team went to rest for Saturday's flying.

Monday, August 2, 2010

greetings from Poland

So far , very good ! Me, Robbie Gibbs and Ben Freelove arrived Saturday evening with team manager Mike stevson. we are staying at the Marriott Warsaw - very nice place
We met our Polish connection and secured our plane Sunday morning , a very nice 2006 Extra 300/L
this plane is very good , only 300 Hrs TT and it is set up very well. We flew all day Sunday is crazy , the guy that owns the plane bascially pitched us the keys and said "have fun " ..we literally come and go as we please , very unusual for rental planes.. we could not be more fortunate

There was one hurdle we had to cross - Polish medical and license - bascially , to fly in Poland you need a Polish license we contacted Kelly adams ( he arrived Sunday night ) and all of us went to the local medical office to get our physicals ---JEEZ , you woulda thought we were trying out for the Polish Space program ---unbelievable the things we did --ever see the movie " The Right Stuff " ---well, you get the idea ...It was actually alot of fun , we were all cracking up at the crazy things we did --like blow into a tube and draw a character with our breath on this computer ---we had no idea what we were doing, but luckily we all passed !

Today ( Tuesday ) we fly all day in Warsaw , then join the rest of the team in Radom this evening - our first pratcice slot in the box is set for WED AM

wish us luck