2016 U.S. Team Manager’s Report

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2016 by nicholasandrewray

2016 U.S. Team Manager’s Report


2016 U.S. F1D Team Manager’s Report

The 2016 cycle saw the largest American presence at a World Championship in more than a decade. The United States fielded a full Junior Team for the first time since 2006 as well as both the junior and the senior returning World Champions. The team, coupled with our supporters, and our Canadian friend Dmytro Silin numbered 14 people. The group arrived in Slanic prior to the start of the Otto Hints Memorial (with the exception of Wyatt Wear and Joseph Szczur, who arrived on the 9th to minimize their time away from school). Almost everyone’s trip over went smoothly, but Yuan Kang Lee and Jake Palmer missed their connecting flight out of Istanbul, and did not arrive in Slanic until 4am on the first day of the Otto Hints.

Aurel Popa graciously helped arrange the Otto Hints and our accommodations during the pre-contest. Having the time to acclimate and practice before the World Championships goes a long way to level the playing field for the countries that do not get to regularly fly in the mine. The majority of the U.S. fliers used the Otto Hints to practice and experiment with new models, but John Kagan managed to fly every round of the Otto Hints and posted a high time of 24:32. His approach left him well prepared for the start of the World Championships.

The team had a day off between the Otto Hints and the start of the World Championships. However, in case anyone had any doubts about using the time to tie motors, and make repairs, a constant light rain kept the team from venturing too far from the Hotel Roberto.

The official practice day was scheduled to be short, from 7:30am to 2pm, and everyone I talked with had a plan in place to maximize what little flying time they had. Unfortunately, the air was much more turbulent than it had been during the Otto Hints. We noticed that organizers had allowed minibuses to drive across the mine to the flying area, and to do so, had opened a series of double doors. It was thought that this is what had disturbed the air. The officials agreed to delay the opening ceremonies in favor of more flying time.

After a short opening ceremony, the teams were instructed to move their tables out of the flying area and into a small preparation area. The official diagram indicating which countries were supposed to go where was contradicted by verbal instructions from the organizers. Thus, some two hours later, the tables were outside of the flying area, but neither the competitors nor the organizers were quite satisfied with where all the tables had ended up.

At the technical meeting later that night, it was agreed that doors to the mine would be shut, except for when vehicles needed to enter or exit the mine to transport disabled persons. Controlling the doors helped to keep the air flyable. Nevertheless, the turbulence definitely influenced the results of the contest.

In order to help the rounds run as smoothly as possible, Jake Palmer served as Kang’s assistant and the seniors gave up their practice time to caddy for one another, while I managed the junior flights. All involved felt that this was the least disruptive option. We needed to make 8 official flights in a three-hour window and only the returning world champions could fly at the same time as the other team members.

Joshua Finn started off round one with a 20:48 for the seniors. John Kagan followed up with a round one high time of 25:43, while Brett Sanborn posted a 24:02. Kang’s first round flight proved that out climbing the site would still be an issue with the new rules. He hung on the catwalks at 7:05. Wyatt started off for the juniors, and even though he was still working on trimming his model, he was able to put up a 10:33. David Yang landed a solid 20:20 and Joseph did a 12:23 to finish out the round for the team. Evan Guyett’s flight struggled to get the altitude it needed and landed at 15:07.

Round two was largely about getting a good backup time on the board before attempting more aggressive flying. To that end, John up a 24:52, and Brett posted a 22:51. Joshua landed a 20:14, which put the team in first place after day one. Kang suffered a damaged boom and struggled to get the model retrimmed in time for the end of round two. Evan and David improved their first round times with an 18:18 and a 20:58 respectively. Wyatt posted an 8:08 and Joseph closed out the round with an 11:29. The U.S. juniors needed to improve by 16 minutes in order to catch up to the French in 3rd place.

After a strong start the previous day, the third round saw many in the American contingent struggle to better their previous times. The air was still quite turbulent, perhaps even more turbulent than the previous day. John and Brett posted a 23:07 and 21:06 respectively. Joshua flew a 20:20 that bettered his backup time by 6 seconds. Kang finally managed to break 20 minutes with a 22:33, but the time was still too low to move him into the top ten.

The juniors also had mixed results in round three. David improved his best time by 2 seconds with a 21:00. Wyatt made a 4 minute and fifteen second leap over his round one flight, while Evan and Joseph were unable to surpass their times from the previous day.

After a quick lunch, round four began. John flew first for the seniors and landed a 23:32. Brett followed up with a 24:36 that was good enough to move him into second place momentarily. Joshua landed a 21:43, which helped to raise the team score to 141:44. Kang finally cracked the top ten with a 23:20. The juniors improved significantly as well. Evan posted a 20:28, which was a 2 minute and ten second improvement over his previous high time. Wyatt landed a 16:30 and improved the junior team score by 5 minutes and 47 seconds. Joseph and David both posted round four flights that were slightly under their back-up times.

At the end of the day, 2 the U.S. seniors were sitting on top, but everyone was aware of how quickly that could change. Calin Bulai rose to the top of the juniors with an incredible 25:45, and surpassed John’s 25:43 for the high time of the contest. If Zoltan Sukosd was able to land the big times he previously had shown he was capable of, the U.S. was going to need to improve to keep up.

The final day of the World Championships feature special kind of anything can happen tension and optimism. It was Brett’s turn to fly first for the seniors. Despite having slid down the wall onto the invisible ledge during Otto Hints when he had climbed above the catwalks, Brett decided to use the full height of the mine once again. After flying between the catwalks he landed at 24:11. While the risk had not been rewarded, he did get the model back in one piece. Joshua’s flight did not climb as expected and only got about three fourths of the way up. John’s round five flight hit the wall, but he was able to get the model off with a balloon before it stuck. Evan after losing significant altitude, the model landed at 25:18, which increased his backup time by 26 seconds. In case we had any doubts that the air might have improved, as John was landing, we heard clapping from across the mine. Zoltan had just landed a massive 26:37, thus establishing a new high time for the contest.

Kang launched at the end of the round and his model climbed quickly to the roof. He spent a few minutes flying between the catwalks and bumping the ceiling. It felt like the entire mine was watching his flight. Miraculously, the model descended below the catwalks. It was clear that it was going to be a big flight, but we had to wait for the model to land to see just how big. The model touched down to applause at 27:59.

The juniors all improved in the fifth round. David lost the model he had been flying during the morning practice session to the invisible ledge. He was able to get the majority of the model back, but the wing was beyond repair. He switched to his backup model, and did a 23:04. Evan flew a 21:12 that bettered his previous high time by 44 seconds. Joseph increased his previous high time by a minute and 33 seconds with a 14:06. Wyatt increased his backup time by 30 seconds with a 15.18.

The Hungarians moved into the top team spot after round five, and the field of contenders for the individual world championship title appeared wider than it had since the start of the contest.

The contest came down to the final round, with mere seconds separating first and second place. Brett flew first for the U.S. seniors. He tried a different model, but it did not fly as long as the one he had been using. John changed to a slightly longer loop and put up a 26:56. Joshua also switched models and the new model dove into the ground shortly after launch. Even after a relaunch, the model continued to dive. David and Evan both strove to pack in more turns and torque for their final flights, but their models stalled badly on launch. They were not able to recover their models in time to relaunch. Joseph increased his by 59 seconds with a 15:05. Wyatt’s last flight did not climb as high as the previous flight, and landed at 12:37. Kang decided to take a more conservative approach and flew below the catwalks. He still posted an impressive time of 26:55, which was enough to secure him the World Championship Title. Zoltan flew valiantly, and his final flight was 27:57. Only 30 seconds separated Kang from Zoltan. John finished out in third.

Tony Hebb put up an impressive 26:42 in the last round and moved the British into 3rd behind the U.S. The Hungarians came out on top. Interestingly, the last time the U.S. won the individual title, but not the team title, the Hungarians were in first.

It was a privilege to return the mine, especially in the company of the U.S. team. I enjoyed to getting to see old friends and make some new ones. It was also great to see how Slanic, and the mine have changed in the ten years I have been away. I want to thank our supporters who weathered the week underground with us, and Bud Layne of Spantech for his generous support of the team. I am looking forward to seeing everyone in two years at West Baden

Nick Ray – U.S. Team Manager



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