Day 1 of the Worlds began with the entire valley of Brasov socked in and when we reached the field visibility there was also low. After a brief delay the CD announced that we would begin and if any models launched into cloud he would call the entire flight group down.
Neal was up in Group 1 and with a great throw from Kelly the USA Worlds campaign began. It was obvious after 2 or 3 seconds on tow that the cloud base was low as the entire Group disappeared (bar 1 model who either popped off or short towed.)
A lot of yelling followed including many of us calling out pull up, pull up as two models came out of the cloud at high speed and buried themselves in the field. Others came down under flap and pilots started to identify which one was theirs. Neal was unable to sight his model for 54 seconds as he held flap and pulled elevator every time he saw a speeding model appear below the murky sky. It was a terrifying 54 seconds for Neal not knowing what was happening with his model. Suddenly he realized that the model almost overhead tracking downwind at about 100 feet was his and we all breathed a sigh of relief as he called “I got it.”
One of the models that went in was Michelle Goodrum who launched from the adjacent lane and it was a sad moment for her when she eventually realized that her model was not airborne but sticking out of the earth near the Towers end.
Obviously this method of launching the group without checking the cloud base vusibilty was a mistake and very unfortunate.
Approx 45 mins later CD Sotir relaunched Group 1 after checking the ceiling with an electric sailplane. Neal got a full 3 sec tow wishing he could take a speed tow because we had an easy read. The temptation was strong but at this point in the prelims that is not necessary. His final time was 9:54.61 with a 99.
BOB was next up and had a slightly slack line in the light conditions and went a little deep in the bucket. The result was most unfortunate as he hooked the line around the fuse and remained snagged to spiral down safely for a landing and relaunch. The resulting relaunch of his backup at 1:35 gave him a final flight time of 8:25 with a 99. Not a good start but just one of those things.
Jody was last of the seniors flying his light 4m Xplorer and took a full tow made his time in easy light conditions. During the landing phase as he turned on final the model suddenly spiked up at 45 degrees, stopped and then finally responded to Jodys input to nose over ….. but now he was late. Jody sped for the spot at 10 seconds to go and braked only a little at 2 seconds out to finally make it to the zone but short by .8 meter. His time was a 9:55.71 with a 97 landing. Subsequently he found he had a broken antenna on the fuse and quickly replaced it.
2nd round started off with Bob and he made an easy 9:57.56 with a 99 after getting the easiest of reads in sunny conditions almost windless.
Jody was next and once again flew an uneventful flight in easy conditions with his 3.5m Xplorer. The wind switched thru 180 degrees during the landing requiring a complete change of plans at 18 seconds out. I was calling his time when he asked “should I switch?” and I stopped counting for a few seconds before restarting the count at 12 and he was already turning and too close. The result was a faster model (3.5 xplorer), too close and Jody was unable to slow it sufficiently to use up the clock finishing 3 seconds early for a 9:52.53 and a 99.
Neal flew his Light 4m Xplorer in the final senior group to fly before the juniors. Jody forgot to kick momentarily and we did lose a second at the start. This culminated in a 9:55.6 and a good 100. This was the completion of 2 full senior rounds
Juniors started with Luke flying his Big Red 4m xplorer making a great 9:53 and a 97 landing to get us under way.
Stoil flew next with his Red 3.8 Xplorer and executed a perfect flight but landed conservatively 2.5 seconds early for a 9:52 and a 98.
Charleston started his Worlds experience with a gem launching beautifully and specking out in a giant thermal to cone back from the heavens and fly a perfect 30 second pattern to the landing zone to stick it in at the spot.
His first score was a 9:50.2 with a fabulous 98 landing like a pro. For those that dont know Charlestons story this is only 5 weeks since he joined the Team and 5 weeks since his 1st F3J training session. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a young man go from knowing nothing about the task to executing it almost perfectly so quickly . We are very proud of his effort.
After a 50 minute break for lunch we began the junior round 2 with Stoil leading off with his Red 3.8. He flew east searching for lift and then turned South and found lift over the Corner of the field and specked out. His landing was a good one for a 98 and a time of 9:54.
Luke was up in the 2nd group but they were called back before launching due to the proximity of a storm. We covered all the models with plastic and stacked them under the tents while we waited out the rain