Flight 1 – Not enough donut for me

This morning was the first competition flight of the championship. At the morning briefing David Levin called 3 tasks; a Hesitation Waltz (where we could pick one of 4 targets to fly to), a Fly On and a 3D shape task (a donut shape).

It was pretty obvious that the winds were going to be all over the place, because the common launch area was in the middle of the 4 hesitation waltz targets, allowing us to fly in any direction (at our discretion). Also, with the Fly On and the pilot declared 3D task, the task sheet really read like they were sending us out there to work it out for ourselves.

We headed out to a common launch area to the North of town. The team communication broke down a little bit and Matt ended up at the other end of the field from Pete and I. So Pete and I worked on the planning for the flight.

I made the decision to take off early because I thought we would start losing the right had turn that we had in the bottom 1000ft. This paid off because the wind did shift and also there was a lot of congestion in the rest of the pack. I know Matt didn’t particularly enjoy the flight because of the way some pilots were flying around him.

Above the launch site

When I took off I quickly realised I was not going to be able to the HWZ target that I planning to get to, so I changed to one that was more to the South. This meant that I was going to get a less desirable result for my Donut, because I would have to fly through the centre ring (which gives you no track points) to get to my Fly On.

The first target was just over a kilometre away from the launch site, so there was little time to muck about. There was a lot of steerage between 1000-2000ft and I managed to make my way to the target. I ended up having to make a high gravity marker drop (from about 1000 feet) using my clinometer and ended up with a 10.88m result. At the time of writing this looks like it was the 27th best result and should get me just over 800 points (out of 1000) which is not too bad for a first task.

Task 1 – High gravity marker drop using clinometer

The second task (Fly On) was better. I chose pretty much the only intersection that was achievable (as did most of the other 100 balloons). I had a great approach to the intersection, but unfortunately one of the Japanese pilots was below me and rocketed up under me, so I had to focus on getting out of his way rather than my throw. If you watch this video, you will see me using the double burners and throwing my marker all at once.

Task 2 – Getting blocked by an ascending Japanese balloon at the Fly On

Video: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150985352977085

The 3D donut task was a bit of a stuff up. I stupidly did not go up to 6000 feet or talk to Matt and Pete enough to find out what they had at that height. If I had I would have found out that if I went up high, I would be able to head back into the donut and get more points.

One of the interesting (not in a good way) about this morning was it was one of the first times when I have felt completely disoriented. Even standing on the launch site watching pibals, I was mentally about 90 degrees out. Even during the flight I just could get my mind around if I needed left or right. By the end of the flight I got my brain around it but it did suck at the time second guessing.

We had a short debrief with Pete, Matt, Sean and I, and sorted out the few things we did wrong. We had been working well during practice, but I think a bit of first flight jitters got to us all and now we can settle down and get into the swing of things.

You can keep an eye on the results here: http://www.balloonworlds2012.com/index.php/official-notice-board/results

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