Friday, August 21, 2009

Marc's second report on F3A World Champs – Pombal, Portugal -- Marc Wollfe

First off, we must apologize for the delay in getting this report back to you, but being in a foreign country is not all a bunch of roses, especially when the hotel we’ve booked into doesn’t have a wifi hot spot. It has taken us a while to find a nice restaurant (where they understand English) with a wifi connection and we will now frequent it on a regular basis.

Anyway, enough with the excuses, let’s get back to what’s going down in Pombal…

Practice day 1 (Monday)

After waking up at about 7 30 am we grouped for a nice continental breakfast. The cars were packed and we set off for Pombal, a distance of approximately 35km from our hotel in Leiria. This proved to be quite an experience, as the road system in Portugal is nowhere near what we are used to in SA. Over here, what looks like a free way on the road map, can best be described as a country lane! On arriving at the contest site, we found graders, digger loaders and lots of workers, still finishing off the site. The runway is about 1km long from end to end, and there is a line on each end. After we had collected our fuel and car passes, we decided to go down to the end where team USA was practicing. The contest site is in a valley surrounded by tree lined hills causing the most incredible turbulence. This is exacerbated by the heat, with thermal activity causing the models to jump up and down in flight… quite a challenge, and not something that any of us are used to! We mixed well with the American team, learning a few tricks here and there. The line was quite busy, with us getting a flight in every 1 1/2hrs. The flying was quite a huge adjustment for us, as we had to lift our base line quite a bit, both to avoid the mountainous tree line, as well as try and avoid the turbulence. Andre had brought both his A and B models with on the first day, and was happy with both of them. Andre has decided to use his new electric model and spent the rest of the day with this one. Walter was flying his Osmose, and was settling in quite nicely, when his manifold broke in flight. This required an emergency landing, but he couldn’t get the throttle to close or open as the manifold had jammed the throttle at a high’ish idle. This caused the model to run off the end of the runway, which ramps down approximately 2m at the end and finishes off with vineyards. Walter tried valiantly to nurse the sick Osmose over the vineyards and a fence and pancake down in the long grass on the other side. Incredibly there was no damage… not even a broken prop! I was using my original ‘blue’ Beryll, and trying to get used to the weather conditions. The wind was quite strong, at about 10 to 15 knots, and at about 30 degrees to the flight line. The temperature is about 35 -37 degrees and quite dry… very different from the winter wonderland we are used to! The other thing that is so strange is that the sun comes up just before 7am and only sets at 9pm! That’s a VEEEERY long day.


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