Practice, Laundry, Beer, and the Japanese

Long day today. It has been one of those days that remind you why you love the world championships. In the morning we had a long day of practice. Today was a particularly productive day. Jean Paul, a 4-time French team manager (2 WCs and 2 European Championships) and good friend of many of us on the US team was with us at the practice field today. He was able to offer some great advice both yesterday and today on how to make some small adjustments to get us more in line with what the Europeans have come to expect from the pattern for the last few years.

That is a side of the competition I don’t think a lot of people out there, specifically back in the USA, really know about. While everybody strives to make the competition as objective as possible, the truth is we have humans sitting in the judges chair. Judges focus on different aspects of the pattern in the different regions of the world. At the World Championships Europe provides more judges than any other region, so logic follows that whatever they have been looking at the hardest is going to be important for the competition. I’ll offer an example: JP offered some advice on the double Immelmann with knife edge top and bottom. He mentioned that in Europe, they have come to expect long extended knife edge flights on the maneuver. As a result I adjusted the maneuver to be wider and slowed down my 1/4 rolls in and out. After trying it out I’m liking how it presents better than before.  This sounds like a relatively benign detail, something hardly worth noting, but the truth is these little details are what separates people at the top of the pile. There are a lot of very good pilots at the World Championships these days and any way I can use to separate myself some way is valuable. This is especially true in the preliminaries pattern, where the simple maneuvers leave less room for differentiation between fliers.

At the end of the day of practice I got my sound meter out to sound test my airplanes. The rest of the team took advantage and we all made sure that our models were legal and ready for processing tomorrow. Every little detail counts. One missed point of preparation can spell disaster for the contest — if you were following the US Nationals this year you may know what I’m talking about — so assuring these things are in order has to be a top priority. The first few days of practice with the Allure we noticed that it was very loud in the air so we have spent considerable time making small adjustments to get it quieter. This wasn’t first noticed on the sound meter either, we noticed it in the air. Loud noises can be very distracting for the judges and even if the airplane is legal on the sound meter it can still be a detriment to scores. I had loud but legal airplanes at the 2011 WCs in Muncie and that as the number one critique I had from other people. One of the first things we did was change the propeller we were using and then we found the problem was in other areas, including an error in the calibrator I was using for the sound meter. Once these were remedied I was able to put my preferred propeller back on — all little details that have to come together to compete successfully.

After practice Bryan and I joined Jean Paul for a beer and dinner at a nice little italian restaurant in the alley next to the hotel. I did my laundry (picture is below; everything is nice here, from gas station bathrooms to laundry rooms at budget hotels) while we were eating and afterwards all three of us went to visit the Japanese team. Bryan and I needed to get some motor mounts that they had brought for us and JP is good friends with most of them. Mr. Yamada gave us some cool YS trucker hats with our mounts. The Japanese team are nothing if not good humored!

I think we covered it all. Practice, check; Laundry, check; Beer, check; the Japanese; check. Until next time!

P.S. – JP has some great pictures on his blog at — just another great resource to follow along. Also stay tuned for some flight videos. We are hoping to get some of practice tomorrow!

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