Back Home…

I really meant to post from Paris and when I got back, but in the end I was too tired and jet lagged to bother until now…

Paris was great… Lots of walking, as we went from our hotel to the Louvre, then to Notre Dame, then down the Seine river to the Eiffel Tower and then up to the Arc de Triomphe… Seems that someone told me that it was a nice walk, which it was, but it must have been about 3 or 4 miles… We had a great dinner in a bistro down an alley, and everything I had been told about food in Paris was right… After we got to the Arc de Triomphe, I really didn’t feel like walking back to the hotel, so we caught a cab back… Even though the air conditioner in the room pretty much didn’t work, it was pretty nice outside, so I just opened the windows and went to sleep… I had multiple alarms set for the morning, since I really didn’t want to miss my flight out… Our arranged driver picked me up right on time at 7 am, and off to the airport…

Checking in at the airport was pretty easy, although I got hosed again by Air France and had to check my carry on bag (which I had been carrying on the whole time…) which cost me 100 euros… Pretty much the last time that I will be flying Air France if I can help it… But I got to the gate, and after a few hours waiting, I finally got on the plane to home… One nice thing was that a stewardess asked if I wanted to change seats so that a newly engaged couple could sit together, and I got one of the bulkhead seats that I could stretch out in… so at least I wasn’t cramped on the way over… We left late (of course…) and got to JFK late (of course…) but fortunately I got a pass to go to the front of the customs line since I had a connecting flight inside of two hours… But then I had to pick up all the checked through luggage, put it on a cart, walk it outside to another terminal, and then check it back in… Fortunately, the a girl at the Delta terminal helped me bypass the line and get my boarding pass… Then off to the gate to wait… in the worst airport I have ever flown out of in the US… One would think that JFK would be at least a decent airport… nope… Crowded, dirty, unorganized, and whatever else negative you can think of… I really have to remember not to fly out of JFK anymore… But I did get on the flight to BWI (which left late… of course… we spent forever changing runways and waiting… but then it was JFK…) and I ended up getting into BWI with enough time to make the flight to Lancaster… The girl at the Cape Air counter was very nice, and even offered to call my bags through so I didn’t have to go outside security to get them and do the whole check through thing again… Then a short wait, and a nice flight to Lancaster… Of course some of the bags didn’t make it, but by then I really didn’t expect them to… and I didn’t really care… They called the next day that they were at the Lancaster airport, so I just had to run up and pick them up…

All in all it was a great trip… Long, hot, and tiring, but the US got the team gold, and I got to see a bunch of new places… but no more traveling for a while…

Catching Up…

Wow… The last few days were a combination of busy and relaxing… On Sunday, the day went from 8 in the morning until around midnight… We got to the hall around 8, got ready, and started putting flights up early… It was pretty obvious that Brett and John would be fighting over 3rd place, as Schram with his 39+ flight was in a very solid 1st, and Treger had consistently been doing times better than us… I’m going to shorten it up, and just get to the end which was that Brett bettered his times and moved into 3rd place in the individuals, and both Brett and John worked with Nick both flights and he bettered his time to put the US into the gold medal position… So after three long days of flying, the US took the top spot in the team, and Brett took third place in the individual… Not a bad week… And both John and Brett are already thinking of what they can do the next cycle to improve… Those two never give up, and will be at the top of F1D for a long, long time…

After the flying was done, we packed up and talked to the others… There were few reflights that didn’t end until pretty late (the last round was shorter, 3 hours, and supposed to end at 5:30…) and even though the award ceremony was supposed to start at 7, it was after 8 when it started… All of the awards were given out, and Team USA got to take the podium with our national anthem playing… After that, we packed up the vans and headed quickly back to the hotel to get cleaned up before going right back to the banquet… We got there and had a nice meal and then most either started leaving or migrated outside where it was a nice evening by the river… I left with Dennis and the kids a bit before midnight, and John and Brett decided to go out for the rest of the night, and apparently got in around daylight…

On Monday, I slept in (as good as I can… seems without the right cold medicines, I can only get a few hours of good sleep without clogging up… ok during the day, but nights are still pretty miserable…) and around noon finally got up and walked around the city around the hotel for a bit… nothing much, but did get to see around, and it was a beautiful morning… Got a cup of expresso and headed back to the hotel, and got lunch… After lunch, Dennis and the kids were coming into the hotel and we talked a bit about trying to figure out how to get the monster box with the perpetual team trophy in it back home, but finally gave up and decided to go downtown (in the new section of Belgrade…) and walk around… I’m really glad that I did that, because that part of Belgrade is beautiful… Shops, restaurants, large walking streets, and lots to see… We got some coffee and sat and talked and watched people going by, and then took a walk to the old fort… Then back to where the cabs were, and got a cab back to the hotel… We were meeting Nicola (who organized and ran the Dorcol Cup…) and his wife with everyone for dinner… We got back and hung out in the lobby until everyone got there, and headed back downtown to a beautiful little restaurant that had an outside area where we had a wonderful dinner… Nicola ordered for us a little of everything to try, which was a great idea since it was great… Lots of pork, beef, chicken, and sausage… After dinner, we walked through one of the large parks (which was full of people…) and said goodbye and caught cabs back to the hotel…

So now it is 8 in the morning again, and we are going to leave this morning around 10 to catch our 12:40 flight to Paris… It’s been a great time in Belgrade, but I’m ready to head back, and don’t want to chance being late for the flight…

World Championships – Second Day…

This is probably going to be short… It’s been a long week, and a few of us got back early after the flying, and I basically want to clean up, watch a bit of the Olympics (in German, but better than nothing…) and get to bed…

Same routine as yesterday… Up at 7, quick breakfast, into the vans, and off to the hall… Everything was on time today, and the 3rd round started at 9… Brett had the same thing happen on a steer as the first two rounds, prop tucked under the wing and down… Nick didn’t have a great time (BTW, I’m posting all of the times and semi-live updates on @jeffreyhood on Twitter, so I won’t go into detail on here…) and John had a 34:25… Some of the other fliers put up good flights (35+), so the US team was still in 5th or 6th place… Since we got done a bit early in the round (rounds are 4 hours, with 3 fliers during that time…) we got to lunch early and had some time to relax… Round 4 started at 3, and Brett went first and put up a nice 34:27 with one nice steer… Finally Brett got a good time on the board, and Nick went soon after since there was almost no drift, and put up a 25:08 to get him two times over 25… John launched right after that, and almost hung up at the top, but it slid off and dropped about 15 feet and he then did some nice steering to get it back on track… He landed at 34:29, which was another good time… On the junior side, Parker didn’t improve in the 3rd round, but did improve in the 4th round with 26:43… Spencer improved in the 3rd round with a 25:17, and Parker is leading his brother by about 2 minutes…

After everyone finished, it was nice to be able to watch some of the other fliers, and I got a chance to post the scores that they had on the board… I was talking to some of the GB team, and getting ready to go to dinner when Kagan told me to watch Schram’s flight… He was currently in 2nd place with a 35:11 and 37:01, but in the fourth round he was at around 50 feet at 32 minutes… So we all watched him finish with a world record flight of 39:10, which ended with loud applause from those who got to watch…

Tomorrow should be very interesting… Team USA was (by what was available at the time…) a few minutes behind the top team… If Brett can get another 34-35 minute flight, and Nick improves, the US will have a great chance of getting the top team spot… and John and Brett both have good chances to get on the podium for the individual medals…

It’s now 9 pm, the earliest that I have been back for I think the whole week… Time to get relax and get ready for the final day tomorrow…

World Championships – First Day…

Up at 7ish, off to a quick breakfast, and into the vans at 8 to go over to the hall to get ready for the first round… Round 1 was supposed to start at 9am, but not too surprisingly, things were running behind schedule… And the whole day got pushed back an hour… Round 1 from 10 to 2, lunch from 2 to 4, and Round 2 from 4 to 8… The flying order for the first round was set to Ray, Kagan, and Sanborn…

Nick launched and went up fast, getting to the ceiling in around 6 minutes, and started getting close to one of the vents, and put his balloon up to keep it from going in… Unfortunately, he did prevent that, but his flight hung up around 7 minutes when it got wedged between two of the girders… John launched his flight, and had to steer a few times, but never got much more than 3/4 of the way up… Flight ended at 32:35, with a lot of winds left… Other flights were not getting very high, so it was looking like the conditions were different from the other practice days… Brett launched, and wasn’t getting high enough either, but then had a collision at around 14 minutes… So he relaunched with more turns, and it was looking like a great flight until he got to the top and started bumping, and had to keep his plane away from a string hanging down from the GB team balloon that the line broke on and had lodged close to the top… He kept it from the string, but then he had to try to steer away with the plane close to the balloon, and the prop tucked in under the wing to end the flight at 19:03… Meanwhile, the juniors had some bad luck also, as Spencer didn’t get an official flight, but Parker put up a nice 26:31…

After taking a break from lunch, the flying order was set to Sanborn, Kagan, and Ray… Brett launched, and the flight looked even better than the first… Nice climb to the top, and circling nicely… Then he started to drift, and needed to steer to the other side of the dome… Nice steer across the floor, but when releasing the line the prop tucked just like the previous flight, and came down around 20 minutes… John was up next, and on the launch the plane was having trouble climbing, and didn’t get as high as it should have… He didn’t have to steer, and ended up with a 33:50 for his second flight… After, he found a broken piece of boron on the rear post, and started repairing it to fix the catewampusness in the launches… Nick got ready, launched, and had a midair before I got to the other side of the floor with his box… No damage, so he rewound and launched again, with a strong climb to the top… After a bit of tense steering to keep out of trouble, he got it positioned nicely and ended up with a 27:16… Meanwhile on the junior side, Spencer had a personal best of 25:59, and Parker had a slightly lower flight of 24:39…

So the first two rounds were not the greatest, but everyone seemed to be getting things sorted out… Everyone decided to either relax or go to dinner and then come back for practice between 8 and 10… (Another long day… but these guys are determined to get things worked out…)

I’ll probably post a pic of the first day results later on… Another night relaxing watching some Olympics before going to bed for as much rest as I can get before tomorrow…

End of Practice…

Well, the practice rounds are over… All of the US team seem to be ready for the start of the World Championship tomorrow morning… Round 1 is from 9-1, and Round 2 is from 3-7… The US team looks pretty good, and although the reigning World Champ Treger has been putting up some very good practice flights, so have our guys… Kagan is a former World Champion, and Sanborn holds quite a few records, and both have been putting up some very good practice flights… Nick seemed to be getting things sorted out today, and I’m expecting him to put up good flights in the next few days… The Tyson team also has been getting ready, and it is going to be fun to watch them against the other juniors…

We had the team managers meeting today, and took care of a few details, and then back to practice until the opening ceremony that started around 6… Since my bag finally got in, everyone had their shirts to wear… Thanks again to Cooper Tire for helping sponsor the team, and the shirts looked great with the US flag with an F1D over it, and the AMA, FAI, and Cooper logos on the back and Lakehurst Hanger #1 and ECIM on the sleeves… Had a few comments on how nice the shirts were, and a few noticed the sponsor logo…

The opening ceremony consisted of a few speeches from local officials welcoming the participants, and then the country signs were brought out and then local dancers performed Serbian dances in costume… Then everyone got a few pictures taken, and back in for a bit more practice before we got pushed out to dinner…

It was probably the longest day so far (other than the mess during my trip over…) but since it wasn’t as hot outside (only high 80’s today… much better than 100+ the past few days… our driver told us today that Tuesday was 41C… 105…) and inside it was almost tolerable… Still pretty bad, and you sweat constantly, but either I’m just getting used to it or don’t care anymore… My cold seems to be under control with the help of the Coldrex (stuff works pretty well…) and since I really didn’t want to take another excursion into the wilderness of Belgrade back to what they call a pharmacy to get enough to last the rest of the week, I got one of the drivers to pick some up for me during the day… 12 capsules per pack, which would be over $10 in the US, was 250 dinar here… Currency conversion is really easy… move the decimal two places to the left… yeah, everything in Belgrade is cheap… but then again I don’t think there are too many knocking down the doors to move here…

Now time to clean up and watch a bit of Olympic coverage on what I think is a German channel… they actually have great coverage, and you get to see all kinds of events as opposed to just the few that either the US should do good in or events that get good ratings… Last night they had field events on and it was the first time that I ever saw the women’s hammer throw and shot put along with the men… It runs all day long on one of the channels… and what do you know, I just got to see Bolt’s 200M win… saw the 100M win the other day… guess I didn’t miss as much as I thought I would…

I’ll be trying to post on Twitter the next few days as much as I can on the results… There are only a few WiFi connections in the hall, and since my international data plan doesn’t work in Belgrade (surprise there…) sometimes it takes a while to get one of the connections… But at the least I’ll be able to summarize things when I get back to the hotel…

Practice Day…

Well, the Dorcol Cup is over… Brett took first place in the senior division, and Parker took first in the Junior division… John took third in the senior division also… Looks pretty good for team USA for the world championships, as the better models were kept in so they would not get damaged… The other teams started showing up on Wednesday for practice, and some good partial motor flights were put up…

Things look like they will get interesting for the rest of the week, but the US team looks really strong for the team title, and also for spots on the individual podiums… The heat has subsided somewhat, and even inside the hall it is not nearly as bad as the first few days… (that being said, it is still hotter than any other place that I have flown… And still pretty miserable…) Lots of broken motors, even a minute or more into the flights… Our team wasn’t affected too much, as most of the broken motors were during winding, or when the blast shields were still on… The Tyson team was busy yesterday trimming and trying to get into the 30 minute range, and Brett, John, and Nick were working hard to sort out their props… This is definitely a hard place to fly, since the time of day can make a huge difference in the conditions and trim… But if persistence is a necessary part of success, we have that covered…

On the personal front, my cold is still hanging around, but I found a pharmacy (if you can call it that…) yesterday, and got some Coldrex which seems to be making life tolerable… Not getting much sleep, since with the cold and changing from the extreme heat to cool air conditioning at night tends to mess up the sinuses even more, but at least it was just a cold and not a stomach flu… Oh, I also got the luggage last night (finally…) So now all of the team has their shirts, and I have the rest of my stuff…

So today is the first official practice day for the World Championships, and I’ll try to post what I can on the times for the day… Team managers meeting is later in the day, and then the opening ceremonies in the evening…

Belgrade – Day 2

Well, it’s the middle of the second day here in good old Belgrade… Yesterday ended okay, and Sanborn was on top of the leader board for the Dorcol Cup, and Kagan had a good flight also… The flying ended at 7 (extended an hour since there was a lack of timers…) and after that we packed up and went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and then to dinner… Kagan and Sanborn decided to stay at the hall to practice until 10 instead of going back…

We walked a few blocks to a restaurant close to the hotel, and it was really nice… Air conditioning felt good after the hellish day in the hall, and the food was very, very good and rather inexpensive for what we had… would have been at least double in the US for the same thing… I had hard goat cheese (new for me there…) with bread before dinner, a bowl of some kind of chicken and something else soup, and then a filet for the main course… Wine was a local burgundy, and it was a bit different, but good…

The part that sucked was that at dinner I started to feel like I was getting a sore throat… and it kept on getting worse until we got back to the hotel… I went to bed, but was up in a few hours hacking and generally feeling awful… I think that I must have caught something, probably on the plane, and it is either a bad, bad cold or a moderate flu… probably the latter, since I ached pretty badly all night and even so far this day… Of all the things that I packed to make sure I had what I needed, cold and flu medicine wasn’t on the list… I slept on and off until around 11 and then decided that I might as well go in, as it wasn’t really getting much better… So I got a cup of coffee, and caught a cab to the hall… I must have looked like hell, since everyone seemed to notice, even the guys from other teams that didn’t know I was sick…

Fortunately, Nick’s girlfriend had some cold and flu meds, and I took two and felt a little bit better… and as the day went on, the sore throat diminished, and after walking to get some pizza for lunch I actually started to feel about halfway decent… not good by a long shot, but at least not hacking and sore like a few hours ago… Hopefully it only lasts today… Maybe one of the benefits of sitting around sweating continuously in 100+ temperatures is it sweats things out of your system… This is the hottest place that I have ever flown in… I thought that it sometimes got hot in Johnson City at USIC, or Lakehurst in the summer, but this isn’t even close… everyone is pretty much soaked all of the time, and the only relief is every once in a while walking outside where at least there is a breeze… But everyone is flying, mostly test flights, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the most difficult places to fly… lots of broken motors, and in certain areas it is very drifty… Nothing really to get hung up on, but the planes do tend to get sucked into the walls quickly in a few circles, ruining the flights…

Well, a few more hours to go here, and then I’m going to skip dinner and see if I can sleep this off until tomorrow… One more day of the Dorcol Cup, and then the World Championships start on Friday… Don’t want to be a hinderance running around sick… and I’m keeping myself pretty much quarantined and away from our team today so no one else gets sick…

(side note: I couldn’t post earlier since I couldn’t get on the wifi, but I’m not feeling too horrible right now, and I have some Serbian TheraFlu to try tonight… God knows what is in it (even the chemicals are spelled in whatever language it is…) but it can’t hurt… Just feel a bit tired and sore right now, but the coughing is less… Now to see if the bag is at the desk (said it would be there at 4…) with all the stuff we need in two days…

Finally here…

Okay, so I should have known better to write early on how good the trip was going… After the flight out of BWI to JFK, it pretty much went straight downhill for the rest of a very, very long day… The flight from JFK to CDG (Paris) left over an hour late… and I was thinking at the time that my connecting flight to Belgrade would be close, since it was 1.5 hours after we landed… It was a nice plane (Airbus 380, two levels, largest plane that I was ever on…) and the seats were plenty big enough, but the individual to my left had breath that would peel off paint, and the guy on my right obviously wasn’t used to bathing properly or at the least, covering it up… (europeans and our version of hygiene don’t seem to go hand in hand…) So the 9 hour flight was tolerable (barely…) but got even worse as we were approaching Paris, and it became apparent that I was going to miss the flight to Belgrade… Then the fun really started…

After about a half hour with a Air France desk lady, I had a flight booked to Zurich that was leaving in about 5 hours… so then she tells me that the train to the terminal that I have to go to was out, so I have to take a long walk to the other side of the airport, go out of customs (another half hour wasted there..) and then back on a train to virtually the same place that I was previously… At least I had plenty of time to waste, but I wasn’t thinking how testy I would be getting after having been traveling for about 18 hours, and only a few hours of sleep on the plane…

So I made the trek (which took about 1.5 hours to do almost nothing…) and then set in the terminal waiting for the plane… got a few minutes here and there of sleep, but not much since I was pretty paranoid at that point about not missing my next flight… Flight to Zurich left on time, and got in on time… Nicest airport I have ever seen… I got a very nice lunch (food was better than any airport also…) and then waited for the flight to Belgrade… It left on time and other than being in an ancient 737 that was all beat up, the flight went well and we landed in Belgrade around 9 or so… Then I sat around waiting for luggage (met a nice lady that was waiting for her luggage also… and it turned out that she had been on the exact same flights as I had been on, from JFK to Belgrade… poor girl…) which of course never came, and then just got some of the local Serbian currency (100 to 1, but all different sized bills like Euros…) and got a cab… Should have remembered where the other guys mentioned to pick up a “legit” cab, since I got a gypsy, who hosed me for about 2x the fare… but I really didn’t care much, since now I had been traveling through airports for the last 30 hours on little sleep… But he did get me to the hotel okay, and I got checked in… After freaking out when the air was not working in the room (they did get it working pretty quickly…) I went downstairs waiting for the room to cool off… Met the other guys in the lobby and watched a bit of the Olympics and talked a bit, and then off to bed…

This morning when I got up I went down and ate a little for breakfast, but then went back and slept for a few more hours before getting ready and taking a cab over to the hall for the first day of the Dorcal Cup… Just so happens that even the locals are saying that this is the hottest it has been this summer, and it is about 100 outside today… and a few degrees higher than that inside… So I guess for the rest of the week, it’s resigning yourself to just be sweaty all the time… good thing that I brought a handkerchief to wipe my face off and keep my hands dry…

I did get to meet Nick Aikman today, and we had a nice conversation about cutting balsa and things indoor… The guys are all flying, and I’ll compile a list of times and get them posted somewhere… It is fun seeing all of the guys from the other countries that I have either heard about or emailed over the years…

It’s going to be a long and hot, but fun week…

JH

On the way…

On the way to Belgrade… Hopefully the rest of the flights will work out as well as the first hop… Lancaster airport puddle jumper to BWI (which is always fun…) and even better, the Delta gates are in the same concourse so no security check (until JFK… since it is international…)

I think everyone else is already there, and I’m really looking forward to meeting so many fliers that I have emailed but never talked to… Should be a really fun week…

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