Herewith the first part of my report of the 1998 World Championships for Control Line models held in Kyiv, Ukraine. This report is my personal summarized view from Day 1 of the South African team's departure until our arrival back in S.A. Part two, which I will put out in the next few days, will be of a more technical nature, with regards F2B and contain only data relevant to the stunt fraternity. [See link at the bottom of this page!]
We went through to the International departure lounge and spent R90.00 or $15 US on 4 toasted sandwiches and 4 juices.
Austrian Airlines Flight OS352, on an Airbus 340/300 is now 3 hours toward Vienna and we've had dinner and drinks. Good food and a very modern aircraft. All 5 of us are in a row, with Keith next to a pretty girl on the left-hand side. Keith seemed to do most of the talking, but it must be said we overheard him bragging about his girlfriend's muffins! The rest of us were in the middle 4 seats, with Loren and I next to each other. I feel that Loren and I are becoming better and better friends. Service seems very good on the airline and an interesting innovation, which I have never seen before, is a C.C.T.V. screen with 18 audio channels and showing E.T.A, lapsed time, air speed, temperature and distance travelled every so often. We are currently travelling at 880 km/hr with an outside temperature of -41 degrees centigrade at 35000 feet.
Peter Lott followed our aircraft boxes right up to the actual loading onto the Airbus and assured us that all was well. Peter can go anywhere he pleases at Johannesburg International Airport. Department of Civil Aviation you know!
It's now 11h:30 - time to sleep. Good night .............. ha ha ha!! No sleep. Watched a movie called The Man in the Iron Mask until 00h45.
We arrive Kyiv at 14h37 local time and finally got through customs at 16h59 after much hallibaloo! All our luggage arrived safely with the boxes intact, but our flying boxes were nowhere in sight initially and Sue happened to see them through the rubber flaps of the conveyor belt. When we asked officials to please hand us our boxes the answer was an emphatic no with the universal sign of index finger and thumb rubbing together, indicating we were to bribe them with U.S. dollars. Eventually Loren climbed through the rubber flaps and we just took our boxes to customs. To get through customs turned out to be an absolute nightmare, but eventually the Customs official who had a smattering of English, asked me if anyone was meeting us. My affirmative reply got him to take me through customs into the airport, where I saw a young boy holding the FAI sign aloft. His mother, Natasha, was our official interpreter and the young boy, named Ivan, had a good command of the English language and proved to be invaluable. Once Natasha and Ivan came through to the customs hall, things speeded up considerably and we eventually made it through.
Five people, 153 kgs. of luggage, including 3 enormous flight boxes were then forced into the equivalent of a Ford Custom van, which left Loren crammed in and perched on top of all the luggage and the rest of us holding on for dear lives. I forgot to mention by the way, that we were not just five, but 10 people, as the taxi driver, the 2 interpreters and the Argentinian racing team, Mario and Carlos, were also shoved into the same van. Eventually they decided that perhaps a 2nd taxi was in order and one duly arrived, split us up (luggage and people) and we were on our way. My wife Sue and I had just the month before spent a week on the tropical island Mauritius, and had had what we believed to be the most frightening, hairraising ride in any vehicle imaginable. Well we were dead wrong! The taxi drivers in Kyiv have got to be seen to be believed. They have no indicators (turn signals), travel at 140 km/hr and don't slow down for anything except police. If they have any inkling of police they slow down to a few kilometres an hour, apart from that it's arm out the window, heaven help anyone in their way and off they go. This was truly terrifying. We eventually get to our hotel at 19h16. WOW - what a dump. Middle of nowhere, delapidated building, inside and out (this was one of the recently renovated hotels). A brief description of our room? Well - a shower, toilet with seat broken off and basin all in one room, with no dividers and no curtains on the clear glass windows, which overlook a truckers carpark. Fascinating to shower and do other ablutions. Don't touch the door, the yellow paint comes off on your hands, the beds are noisier than the 18 trucks parking outside, cupboard consists of 1 tiny shelf and a bent pine twig to hang your clothes on. The beds are lumpy, with two sheets, one blanket and a square block of a pillow. Keith is in the "lounge", with Sue and I in the bedroom, complete with black and white T.V. with a piece of wire to the surface mount 2-inch water pipes.
Supper is across the road in what we eventually gathered to be a truckers diner. Leina, our waitress, seems very helpful, but speaks absolutely no English. The food was okay and sufficient. This is going to be a fascinating 2 weeks. Our saving grace so far is the young interpreter, Ivan. He is meeting us tomorrow to take us on the State bus for lunch in Kyiv. Finally went to sleep at 23h50.
Quite disconcerting to fly F2B with a heavy steel fence all around the circle (painted green, which never dries). Lots of building and poles all around the circle. We watched some fascinating preparations for Ukraines Independence Day celebrations, with Yaks, Antonovs, Sukois, MIG 21 and 29's, MI 8's, parachute drops, gliders and a Sukoi SU27 fighter bomber. We only had 2 flights each today with Keith and I doubling our shims to 1.2 mm and putting Loren's spare klunk tank in Keith's plane. Bingo! Keith is suddenly having excellent runs (this continued permanently). I have not got my fuel consumption right however, but will sort it out tomorrow.
Watched a little bit of speed and some F2D and C. Very efficient F2C teams, with nice boxes for their planes. The speed is actually ridiculously fast, 1.2 to 1.3 seconds a lap. F2C 1.8 second a lap is what we've seen so far.
We went to Kyiv today with our little magician Ivan (the interpreter), which turned out to be a 6 hour sojourn, starting with a State bus, then onto the Metro to town. Had lunch at a nice pavement cafe and eventually caught a taxi back to Chaika, the flying site. This was one of the most interesting trips of my entire life. The buses are collapsing, very overcrowded, but cheap (30 kopec one way/.96c or 15c US). At the Metro station every available inch of walkway was crammed with people selling anything and everything in utter desperation. This seems to be a very poor city, with very poor people.
Japan, Russia, Brazil, R.S.A. and Ukraine all in the practice circle. Very good Brazilian junior. Keith is buying a Retro Discovery 60 for 180 U.S.D. and has obtained the agency for S.A. Combat motors are going to 180 U.S.D. as well. Windy conditions, but we are still flying better and better. Keith's motor is definitely sorted out. I need to take out 15ml of fuel instead of the 25ml at home. Has 6 flights today from 08h00 to 20h00, a very long day - too long in fact. Poland, Canada and Slovakia also arrived during the day to join us on the circle and the wind got stronger and stronger as the day progressed. I am now using a new KR wide blade, undercambered prop - very nice. Loren is flying well. Kaz Minato and the other Japanese are very nice. They are all flying Retro Discovery Jatcenko planes and motors. Two of the Canadian F2B Pilots and F2D flyers planes have not arrived, and the same fate has befallen the New Zealand combat team.
The organisation at Kyiv is shocking. No ether and found it very difficult to get the fuel I had pre-ordered and would never have got it without the help of our little magician friend.
I had an enormous temper tantrum tonight at the hotel due to lack of service (totally non-existent). All we wanted to do was use the phone, which we were going to pay for. My ranting and raving however did get us a lift to the Prolisok Hotel (a better class of Hotel and where most of the teams were staying) where we were able to phone.
Britain, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia and USA arrived today. The wind and rain got worse and most people went home. We however had no transport till !9h30 and at 18h20 the weather cleared up, and we each got in 3 good flights. Keith's plane is really working well now, and he was finally able to trim it.
Finally got back to the dump (Hotel) and Sue's eye is very swollen and puffy. The drops she has are not working, and we may have to find a Ukranian quack to help us.
Arrived at the field at 08h00 - chaos! 54 F2B pilots all trying to share the same practice circle at the same time. We find ourselves next to the U.S.A. team. Billy Werwage is flying really well, but then so is Loren. I went off to register the team, more chaos. No decent system. These guys are not that well organised. Language is also a major problem. If we ever run a world champs in S.A, fuel, practice circles, registration, transport and language are major concerns. Buses to and from hotels would be required regularly and lunches must be provided at the flying site, either hot or cold. We had 3 flights today, saw Han Xin Ping fly in awful conditions. WOW! This guy is good. He and Billy Werwage have similar styles (flowing and rounded pattern) as opposed to Paul Walkers sharp and tight style. Started raining hard at 17h50. Organisation leaves much to be desired. Lack of forethought and planning. Buses not running to schedule. I sat in a queue to register and then got told I had to first go somewhere else to get a piece of paper and then come back and sit in a queue again. Got a nice goodie bag however. The Americans seem to be nice people. Dave Fitzgerald and Bob Hunt are especially nice. Dave helped Loren with all sorts of trimming tips on his plane. I have never before seen 10 hours of non-stop control line flying, with no less than 7 planes in the air at any given time across the flying site. Centrifugal noise with no break for 10 hours, with no break. Added to this the sounds of real aircraft practising non-stop for the Independence Day Airshow. I made the Americans, Canadians and Germans sit up and take note with a 2-inch inverted pullout on outside squares. It rattled me for my triangles and they were very jerky, with very high pullouts. Rushed back to the hotel at 19h30 and back to Chayka at 20h00 for the team managers meeting. On arrival I found Max Bishop (General Secretary of the FAI), Sandy Pimenoff from Finland (The President of CIAM), Laird Jackson from U.S.A. (The Chairman of Control Line Flying), Paul Rietbergen from the Netherlands (The F2C Jury member), Carlis Plocins from Latvia (also F2C) and Valentin Mozyrsky (The Contest Director) all present. At 20h30 Sandy Pimenoff apologised for the delay in starting the meeting, as the Ukrainian organisers had not yet arrived.
The U.S.A. Team Manager, Joe McKinzie and Bob Hunt, Assistant Team Manager, expressed their concern about the fact that their 60 litres of fuel that they had shipped to Kyiv at a cost of 4 612 U.S.D, was now being held and would not be released unless they paid an additional 1 254 U.S.D. Something which the American team decided they were not in a position to do. Sandy Pimenoff pulled no punches in confirming that he felt that this was blatant extortion, a sentiment echoed by many other Team Managers. I expressed concern as to why Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia and Czech Republic were not included in the technical processing schedule. I was told that to save time they had been processed earlier - a feat I found remarkable, as some of the teams had not even arrived when this so-called processing had taken place.
Nothing much for sale except some balsa, R/C stuff and good combat motors and props at 180 U.S.D. and 5 U.S.D. respectively. Combat planes at 27 to 30 U.S.D. Loren bought 3 new 12 x 3,75 3-bladed props at 20 U.S.D. each. Brian Eather look-alikes. Loren also bought a 3-bladed needle nosed spinner from Bene for 60 U.S.D. Everywhere we go we are being ripped off by the Ukrainians.
There is great comeraderie between R.S.A., U.S.A, Canada, Brazil, England, Argentina and Germany. The F2B fliers are all great. Met and chatted to Italy, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Poland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Russia. Met the Chinese team, very nice people.
My nerves are raw and jangled. I can't help pacing. Keith and Loren are both assisting me on the flight line. Into the readybox 30 minutes before time. Pull test successful. My turn arrives. I greet Big Art and the other judges. Keith is holding my handle, Loren is launching. I choke the engine, attach the glow plug battery, set my stop watch, signal the judges and whack - first flick my ST purrs to life. I leave the setting as it is, walk out to the handle and Keith says "Good luck mate". Good take-off. I'm shaking so much that I'm amazed the plane isn't jumping up and down. I concentrate very hard and the flight feels good. I'm finished all the manoeuvres and I didn't leave anything out. Why won't the plane stop flying? The engine won't quit. Finally after an eternity it does. I roll to a stop - 6 minutes 49 seconds is a touch close. I let out an audible whoop of joy - I did it! I flew well. Cheers from the S.A. team and the Chief Judge himself. I suddenly start shaking so badly I can't roll my lines up properly. I feel incredible. The tears of joy and pride trickle down my beaming face. My dear Sue hugs me so hard. I run to the scoreboard - 2721 is posted next to my name. This is a moment I will always remember. Thank you everyone for helping me achieve this moment.
Later in the day the rain stops and it's Keith's turn. The wind is not bad, but the turbulence is shocking and Keith has a really bad flight - 2600,5. Keith is visibly angry and distraught - but he'll be okay. Amilton Magri of Brazil loses his beautiful plane on the top of the hourglass and it plummets straight into the unforgiving tar circle. There is nothing left - not even the tank or engine survive. The team watches combat - 6 bouts. Very fast exciting stuff and Sue and I watched 3 rounds of F2C. First flick starts and 3 minutes 28 seconds is not a good time at all, say the teams competing. Loren is on tomorrow in the morning and me around 2 in the afternoon. Loren is hoping for 2900 for his first round. Interesting that the Japanese team are all flying Retro Discoveries and 2 of them are flying Jatcenko planes. These planes have massive throws and very forward C.G.'s.
I threw my toys out of the cot twice today. The first time about food and the second time about our E-Mails, or lack thereof. I feel I've been a good T.M. to the lads and have kept things on track. I bought a Stels 049 today, Keith got his Retro and he and Loren bought Typhon 15's and 2 diesel 09's. Loren also bought a Prism 7 radio for 280 U.S.D.
The undoubted character of combat is Bryce Gibson of New Zealand - what legs he has! We also saw "Lionel Smith" (a look-a-like of one of South Africa's team race mechanics). pitting in team race. Ron Peters of Canada is definitely the F2A character.
We watched a bit of speed, combat and team race today. Team race is definitely Sue's favourite, after stunt. Tomorrow is the finals day and should be really exciting, with final rounds in every event. Bob Hunt will fly Wind Dancer and Keith will video the flight. I'm thrilled!
Received E-Mails from Percy and the Smith boys (control line friends from USA and South Africa). Thanks guys. Sue phoned J.J. today (my 5 year old son). I thanked my team and expressed my pride in them and felt that we as a team of 5, did ourselves and our country proud.
Sleeping in this place is very difficult, as they party until the early hours outside the hotel and the beds make the surface of Mars seem like a bed of mercury. Keith and I have very sore backs - I'm going to sleep on the floor from tomorrow night.
Loren and I flew in formation in 2 Yak 52 aerobatic planes and each had a great full-on aerobatic flight. My pilot, Nicolei, was an ex triple World Champion and multiple Ukranian Champion.
Watched the final of F2C Junior and Senior. Really exciting stuff and unbelievably efficient.
Watched 4 combat bouts and 2 F2A runs. One F2A plane broke it's lines, left the circle at 280 km/hr and the engine pod and part of the fuzz landed in the F2B circle during the flight by one of the Japanese. No-one hurt - thank God. There were also 2 combat fly-aways. Again no injuries. I bought 4 ready to fly combat planes for 20 U.S.D. With all the protest etc. going on, Bob Hunt never got to fly my plane. Combat not finished due to rain. We'll find out the final results tomorrow.
Cashed our travellers cheques today in a beautiful hotel in Kyiv and bought gifts for the family.
Keith, Loren and I flew finalist's, Yuri Jatcenko's plane today. Very, very sensitive, but interesting to fly. Forward C.G. and a lot of throw, but 110mm bell crank and 100mm handle spacing. Retro 60 with a 13 x 6,3 prop. I also bought a Retro from Yuri and 2 13 x 6,3 props. We have never flown such a sensitive aircraft, but it really tracks well and is surprisingly good.
We're all dolled up now and looking very, very smart. We looked good in our tracksuits and we look really good in our colours blazers and the girls look stunning.
The Banquet was okay but very little food and very squashed into our seats. Prize-giving produced more surprises as the results published and the announced winners did not match. Little Ivan and a young girl put on a dance for the assembled gathering.
Said most of our goodbyes to new friends and a special goodbye to Big Art who in turn gave special greetings to Roston and Nic (South African C/L fliers). Went down to the pub with the English team and left at 00h45 but only got a bus back to the hotel at 02h00.
Final goodbyes to all and this is probably the most special thing about this event, the Friends one makes. Richard Barlow, the Canadian Team Manager is a very special guy and we will miss him very much.
Supper, the same gruel and then bed.
Arrived in Vienna at 16h00 and left again at 23h25. I treated the team to cheeseburgers and fries, a coke and a tart. R450.00. $75 US. We met Gary Player (a world famous Professional Golfer) and had a good half hour chat to him.
This has certainly been an "interesting" sojourn. It was certainly not without it's little adventures and was seldom boring. Would we do it again? Yes, but not to Ukraine. Are we glad we went? Yes.
06h46 and the entire plane is awake. Another sleepless night. Very stuffy on the plane and cramped. I think next time we will fly 1st class. Any sponsors out there?
Arrived Johannesburg at 10h12 and finally got our flight boxes at 11h07. Customs and passport control was a breeze. Finally reached home at 12h00 with only very minor damage to the rudder of my plane.
It has been a very long haul but I will always remember it.