The End of the Logistics
Well that was a big day. After a sleepless night of thinking about all the things that I needed to get done, Rob and I jumped in my temporary hire car and headed over to Detroit (about 1.5 hours from Battle Creek). First stop was to pick up Sean and Deano, who flew in last night, from their airport hotel.
With the team together, we drove down the road to the car hire depot, dreading having to deal with the van issue (covered in my previous post). When we got to the hire place, we were pleasantly surprised to have a very helpful girl that told us they were not allowed to remove the seats from the van, but she showed us how too should we want to do it once we were out of sight. The van is massive, it is normally a 15 seater but after removing 2 rows of seats we are able to fit the balloon and still have room for 8 people.
So with the van picked up we headed further down the road to the freight company to pick up the balloon. We were greater by a lovely, friendly girl (Pam) who kindly and sweetly informed us that the balloon had not cleared customs yet and could take between 24-48 hours! On saying that, I think she must have been completely surprised by the look of horror on our faces. She promptly told us to give her some time and she would see if she could convince them to do it faster. So we headed off to do some shopping in Super Kmart and waited for her call. Pam rang us back and told us that it was going to be done in 3 hours, so we decided to hang out in the back streets of Detroit and wait.
During this time, we embarked on removing the back 2 rows of seats from the van. After a couple of hours running around to get the right tools to properly set up the back of the van, we got a call to say that the balloon had cleared customs. The wait ended up being a blessing in disguise because we would not have been able to get the balloon into the van without those couple of hours of rearranging things in it.
Once the balloon was picked up we headed back to Battle Creek and unpacked the balloon so we could get the tanks out to get filled. By the time we had done this and got down to the gas depot it was 6pm. We then found that the gas depot shut at 5pm. Personally I think it is crazy that 3 days before the Worlds begin, when people are arriving in town with empty tanks or doing practice flights, that you cannot refuel after 5pm. Anyway, we made some calls and found out there was a hardware store across town that sold propane. Luckily they were open until 7pm, but unfortunately they were pretty expensive (by US standards but were about on par with what we pay back home).
Exhausted but satisfied that everything was organised (apart from a few odds and ends), we found a really nice Sushi restaurant and were suitably impressed with how good the food and service was. Always good to find a decent eating spot early on.
We are hoping get a flight in in the morning. They are forecasting thunderstorms and rain, but hopefully we will be able to squeeze something in. We are meeting up with some of the American team (so I can bludge a fan off them). Matt ran out of time to get fuel, so he is going to come for a flight with me so we can both get our bearings.
So with the logistics behind us, we can now focus on the flying.
Fingers crossed for good weather tomorrow.