2009 World Air GamesLeading up to the World's Aerial Olympics
Quick setup sticks have been made, the 65 cm ball inflated, course laid out and practice finally gets underway in earnest at the Batavia Polo Field. I'm indebted to this landowner who lets us use his property for these things. It would be tough to find another place to set this stuff up.
There are less than 3 weeks before the big event and the three U.S. competitors, Stan Kasica, Chad Bastian and myself (Jeff Goin) have been only able to practice a few times but will hopefully have more opportunity. The schedule of events is here and now includes a practice session on Saturday morning from 0900 to 0950 which is our slot for actual competition the next morning.
The final rules have been published for the WAG 2009 competition. Here is the FAI website link, and here is a local copy as of May 16, 2009 in case the FAI site is down. Beware that the real rules are what the FAI has and our local copy may be different.
There are a few differences here we've noticed.
1. The use of 12 meter tall inflatable pylons. We knew these would be used but didn't know how big they'd be. They're huge! For us metrically-challenged types, that's 40 feet!
I suspect that if your wing hits one, under the right circumstances, it could collapse. So don't hit them. This means a different technique for practicing since we must now plan turns with our bodies and wings outside the pylons. More significant is the basketball slalom. The previous most effective technique was essentially swinging your body left and right around the pylons. That obviously won't work as you'll have to get the entire wing outside the pylons.
This will be interesting!
2. The basketball slalom is slightly different in that you take off and immediately go for the ball instead of start by hitting a stick. This is better because it gives less advantage to fast wings.
3. The ribbon catch (dragon tail chase) now has a penalty for catching the ribbon in your lines. You can catch it with any part of your body as long as you grab it with your hands. But if it goes into the lines then you grab it, you get a 60 second penalty (i.e. you lose).
They may use paper cash register ribbon instead of plastic. That might be good. I still have melted ribbon visible on my Miniplane's and Blackhawk's exhaust.
4. If you have motor problems when it's time to launch, you lose. There is no getting back in line. This is probably due to the tight schedule which seems enormously optimistic. Hopefully by virtue of running two at a time the schedule is possible.
5. This is not, as originally considered, going to be in a stadium. It's at the wide-open airport (good) with nothing more than low bleachers set up for spectators. That means mechanical turbulence shouldn't be much of a problem for our low level tasks.
6. Note that there is a requirement to be able to transmit and receive using an aviation radio! This is significant as many paramotor pilots don't use them.
2009-Jan-21 Qualfiers are complete and the official invitations have been sent. The U.S. is fielding a team! Only 22 invitations are sent out and three of us qualified. Chad Bastian and Stan Kasica will be joining me along with hopefully two other reserve pilots, Greg Hagg and Dave Fore.
What appears to have been a slow start, in terms of fielding qualifying events, ended up as an avalanche of last minute efforts. Consequently, many countries were represented and the field will be diverse. The competition is set to run June 7 in Turin, Italy.
2008-Dec-08 Results are in from the Czech Repupblic and a new world standing has been established. The Czechs did well, taking over spots one and two. Stan Kasica and I moved down, I'm number 3 and he's number 4. Not that we're complaining, but 2 and 3 did sound better. Where they really did well was on the basketball slalom. It's a long task so small improvements percentage-wise makes a big difference.
The pressure is on.
We didn't do so bad, it seems, when pitted against the world's top internationally recognized pilots, flying the same same tasks. And our conditions sure seemed less than ideal but they were probably no worse than what other countries had. But the real proof will be flying in the same location, and the same conditions against the world's top pilots.
This was our first time flying an internationally recognized event.
With probably the last qualifier completed we can now directly compare scores with all the pilots participating although Germany has yet to report officially. Some of the scores, especially those of Frenchman Mathieu Ruanet, are impressive. A 40 second cloverleaf is no small feat. But it appears that several U.S. pilots will be invited to compete in the 2009 World Air Games.
Needless to say, I'm thrilled to be number two among the entire field. I've got some work to do, though, if I'm to have a chance at a 40 second cloverleaf and I doubt Mathieu or any of the others will be standing still. The idea of competing in the same arena with so many world-class pilots is daunting at best. Exciting, and a bit nerve wracking, too.
There's a good chance that the top three pilots from our 2008 qualifier and maybe a couple more will be invited to Turin, Italy to represent the U.S. in our first internationally recognized competition.
Here is a current spreadsheet of World Air Games standings. These are different than other paramotor competitions where pilots fly cross country flights along with the precision tasks. The world air games employ a diverse cross section of precision flying skills although it appears the dragon tail chase may be dropped since so many pilots did so poorly at it.
David Rogers pointed out that, after results from Italy are tabulated, the new world standings put Mathieu Ruanet at the top, Jeff Goin at number 2 and Polish pilot Krzyanowlki at number 3. Canadian David Sigier, who has competed at several U.S. events is number 4.
I suppose I'll have to break down and start practicing in the cold.
© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!