The Flying Kangaroos

Today was the last day of practice. Tomorrow the competition begins.

The weather this morning was fantastic for flying. It was much cooler than it has been all week and the winds were light and waffly. Championship Director, David Levin, declared 3 practice tasks. A Fly In, a Fly On and a 3D Shape (wedding cake).

The 3 teams worked really well together this morning. After we had all agreed on how we would communicate and operate on the ground, everything worked like clockwork. We were one of the first teams to find the best launch sites (all ways good seeing 30 or so balloons follow you into the spot you pick). Pete, Matt and I also were communicating and helping each other out over the radios really effectively.

Our launch site became pretty popular

I flew the first task really well. I was really low over the centre of the target but screwed up my gravity marker throw. I think I got so excited I was dead centre over the cross that my brain malfunctioned and I ended up dropping just outside of the arms of the cross. To make me feel worse, the Luxemburg pilot next to me, who had flown exactly the same flight as me, nailed the centre of the cross. Lesson learnt… don’t muck up 30 minutes of good hard work in the last 2 seconds by being an idiot.

Balloons approaching the Fly In task

The Fly On was crap. As the morning warmed up we lost all the left turn we had been banking on. So being a practice flight I then focused on setting an appropriate 3D shape. I changed my declaration of the shape about 4 times in the space of 10 minutes because the wind was changing so much. This was not helped with the fact I was having slight software issues with my computer. In the end my final declaration was a good one and I started working on the 3D shape. Basically you need to fly the longest track within a virtual 3D series of cylinders stacked up on each other (shaped like a wedding cake). I was flying the shape really well, but ahead I could see I was heading towards a big lake and the centre of town. If it was a competition flight I would have continued but it wasn’t worth the stress on a practice flight, so I landed early and was content with how I had planned that task.

The afternoon was spent at the Master Briefing. This is the official start of the competition where they take the official role call and then explain the rules and operations of the event. It was one of the quickest master briefings I have been too (which is good) and not too many dumb questions.

Finally tonight we had the Opening Ceremony at the Kellogg’s Arena. It had everything from speeches, anthems, dancing girls, and even trapeze artists. It was a great night. The highlight was when some of the Great Brits started attaching the balloons from the table decorations to our Boxing Kangaroo to try and make it fly. Before we know it, all the teams from around the room started bringing their balloons over and getting their photos taken. The roo was getting close to equilibrium when we left but I think it was a little heavy.

The (nearly) flying kangaroo

So tomorrow the competition begins. I think the team is all now ready to get into it. The couple of practice flights have proven that we have worked out how to fly in the area. So hopefully once it all starts we can continue with our good form and stop making the little mistakes that will cost us points.

My blog posts may get a little shorter over the next few weeks, because it is going to get busy and no doubt the focus will be on eating and sleeping (and Facebooking) when we have any down time.

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