First Day at the contest site – Laiwu – Tue 20th

At breakfast on Tuesday we learned that we would be leaving for the new field at 10:00am with an expectation that there would be flying commencing at the site in the early afternoon. The German Team had arrived overnight along with the team from HongKong.

When we arrived at the site the first order of business was to complete the winch and battery calibration which we had begun on Monday evening. Setting up camp was also important with wooden “saw horses” and various size and height wooden tables provided to create a comfortable working environment in our area.

Roman had done everything he could to prepare the site in time even though rainy weather had made it extremely difficult and the wet areas of the field were covered in a white carpet/felt material to try and make walking over mud more possible.

The entire turnaround area was covered in this same material but it was still so soft that one would sink 6 inches in places. After an inspection and an attempt to anchor a turn around pulley it was decided to remove the carpet to allow the ground to dry more and set up for today’s practice on an area that was higher and more firm. Hopefully with the breeze and sun today the area would dry out enough for the pre-contest to begin on Wednesday morning. Todays lunch was provided onsite in small individual plastic compartmented trays with a variety of meats, rice, vegetables and cakes to choose from. Amazing hospitality has been offered constantly by the chinese people and the CIAF. About noon our line was finally delivered also which took a real load off the teams mind as it was the final missing item that was totally necessary for us to operate.

Around 12:30pm Roman gave us permission to begin setting up our winches so we carried three batteries and three winches out across the carpet to the center line and began setting up on the real contest site for the first time. The expanse of off-white felt was like being on a beach and in the sun it was quite bright almost to the point where sunscreen was required under your chin. The first walk across the site in a direct line from the winches was taken by Glauco, Tim and myself. We soon discovered that the field was not everywhere as firm as we would like. I certainly found myself in mud past my shoes to the bottom of my jeans so careful navigation was definitely required. Roman still had a team of 8 women walking the winch area picking up rocks and discarding them to the center area where they could not damage our line.

We had found that our short 12 inch stakes were insufficient to anchor the turnarounds so I took on the task of obtaining some longer stakes and possibly a wheel trolley to cart batteries to and from the field on. I needed to find a hardware store or a home building type store and for that I would need transport. Emma our chinese interpreter found me a driver and suggested that to make the trip worth while I needed to check with the other teams to be sure that if they needed any supplies they could come along with us as well. As it turned out there were others that had similar needs so by the time we were ready to roll I had in tow a German, a Frenchman and woman and an Aussie. Two guides/interpreters also came with us and a driver making a total of 8 bodies. The vehicle they had us in was a little chinese “Carry”. This tiny vehicle had fold out seats in the trunk area for 3, and three could fit in the back seat with two in the front. So fully laden with people we set off to obtain our items

Emma took us to a part of town we haven’t been before and clearly this market area had just about everything available under the sun. It was just a matter of finding it. The hardware store we went to actually had a large wheeled dolly perfectly suited to carrying our batteries. I negotiated a price of 190rmb which is about 30 US dollars. Nearby we found some little dingy shops with all kinds of pieces of old steel and rope and all kinds of stuff. We purchased some 500 mm long stakes with loops on the top and some hose and rope to make battery handles with. Everything was very reasonably priced and after a little haggling we began to load our purchases into the little “Carry”. Unfortunately the wheeled dolly wouldn’t quite fit in the carry cross ways and stuck out the roller side door. The front seat was occupied by both the girl guides so now this little van was truly loaded. I held the roller door half closed for the trip back to the field.

The flying of distance practice had been completed but timed speed was just being started. The volunteer Base B helpers apparently did a great job with no models mis-identified and some good distance flown in the 20’s. Kyle flew against Andreas Herrig in distance for a tie at 23 laps. Dave flew 22 laps for a tie in his group and Darryl Z was only 1 lap down in his group with 19 laps. The speed runs flown saw Kyle lay down a couple of fast runs in the 15’s and Andreas Herrig do the same. In all it was an extemely productive final practice day with all three pilots getting much needed launches on the contest line with legal winches on the actual contest field.

Tomorrow’s pre-contest (The Xueye Open) will be started at 9:00am so we have a very early start with the bus leaving at 7:45am. Looking forward to a fun day of F3B competition where we all get to fly.
See you all tomorrow for another day of madness and mayhem in China