Reflections on WAAC 2014 – Mark Fullerton

For those wishing to compete in a world championship, you have to think of it as a marathon type of event.  The planning starts 6 months in advance and finishes at the end of your last 10 minutes of unknown flight.
The psycological pressures were something that never developed anywhere in my previous experience with the IAC. Nationals was intense; but nothing compared to a 6 month preparation for 4 x 10 minutes of flight time.
Around the 6 to 7th day being together, our coach said everything was good because we were still talking and joking with each other.  I thought this would be normal.  Around the 25th day, I understood. We were still talking, but the negative pressures applied had everyone wired.  I understand now that there have been some teams and members who have had some real turmoil.
You really dont understand the stress your body and mind has endured until the very end.  There is a distinct memory when I pulled the mixture after the final unknown, “it’s over!” The last night was the best I slept in a month.
All in all, it has to be considered a grand adventure.  You know at multiple points its not going to go as planned, but how you handle those “difficulties” determines your final outlook on the whole thing.
Sincerely,
Mark Fullerton
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The Journey Home

Yellow submarine cruise hit by torpedo! Marty and Mark Fullerton’s flight into  Amsterdam was delayed due to high winds so luggage didn’t make the exchange! No luggage no boarding!

Having a copy of my picture and passport info proved invaluable when negotiating immigration and customs here in Amsterdam, guessing original is in Slovakia somewhere after contest registration ! P.S. We already miss you guys! Not yet! Complimentary stay in Holland courtesy of KLM! Great dark beer! Maybe They should have contest here!

Whadya mean I ain’t going to get home today?!

Aint going home

Dutch security checking Marty’s credentials. Not sure they are going to let me out of the EU! (Only Marty could talk his way out of the country without his passport – and take a picture of them discussing it.)

Checking Marty credentials

Day 32 and counting. Cheers!

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A few more pics from WAAC 2014…

Yes I know ! These glasses make me look like the flying Nerd.

Fullerton's Glasses

Marty getting pointers from another former Russian world champ Elena Klimovich coaching the Russian team.

Marty and Elena

From the closing ceremony.

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Amazing rainbow.

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Relaxing in the shade.

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Dismantling and Departing Dubnica

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PPPs ready for loading.

Once the flying was over, it was time to take the planes apart and load them in the trucks for the trip home.  Many hands make light work (or maybe too many cooks in the kitchen.) Either way, the planes were successfully dismantled and trucks loaded.

PPPs made the journey to Emden and the ship will depart later this week.

More on the journey home to follow.

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Loading the MX.

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Marty’s MX in the truck.

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Gotta love that lift gate!

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Loading the wing.

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Securing the wing.

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Loadmaster Chris securing a few items in the truck.

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PPPs departing Dubnica.

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Taking down the flags and tents. We weren’t the only ones in tear down mode.

 

 

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Saturday, August 16 – Final Day of Competition

After a delayed start, the second Unknown flight was completed. Due to some flying mistakes (Marty received the FSFM Medal from South Africa) and bad luck (the judges had the wrong sequence in their paperwork for Craig) Team USA was not able to overtake Ukraine.    Team USA did make an appearance on the podium during the closing ceremony as Craig Gifford finished third in the Known flight.

The results:

1st Place – France

2nd Place – Russia

3rd Place – Ukraine

Sunday the team was busy taking apart and loading airplanes for the journey home. (Look for that post with pics soon.)

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Friday, August 15 – Day 9

Delayed start again this morning due to low clouds. Started flying about 11am and finished the first Unknown flight. Team USA is currently in fourth place and will need to fly well tomorrow to beat Ukraine to take third.

Second Unknown flights began this evening, but due to all of the delays this week, the field of pilots had to be whittled down. Unfortunately Matt did not make the cut. Craig, Mark, Mark, and Marty will fly tomorrow.

So as Nowosielski said, “It’s on like Donkey Kong!”

Mark Fullerton’s overalls finally make World debut.

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Bill watches to make sure Gary stays within the box.

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More potatoes for lunch tomorrow.

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Marty and Craig preparing for today’s flights.

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Watching and visiting.

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Shopping anyone?  Too bad it isn’t WAAC merchandise.  Or cool boots.

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P.S. Happy Birthday Mom!

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Thursday, August 14 – Day 8

More sitting around this morning due to low clouds.  Finally started flying after lunch – made it through flight number 45.  Matt Lane and Mark Nowosielski both flew today.  Craig (54) and Marty (62) will fly tomorrow.  Hopefully the weather will be much improved.

A couple of pics from today…

Waiting is exhausting.

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Mark Fullerton and Mike Heuer have a bird’s eye view.

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Sitting around is maddening!

Dubnica nad Vahom sits in a valley between two ridgelines of hills about 800 ft high.  Valleys in the US tend to be the foggiest – here it’s very interesting because the hills seem to produce a wind tunnel down the valley and even when there are clouds on the hills it can be clear skies over the airport in the middle of the valley.  And the sky condition seems to change very quickly – again, largely dependent on how the hills influence whatever weather system is passing.   Hence the reason the Contest Director didn’t just call the contest yesterday and let us all play tourist.  We sat here all day and watched the clouds thicken, then thin, then rain, then thin, then thicken again.  Finally at 5:30 it was clear we wouldn’t fly before the self-imposed noise time limit of 7pm so we dispersed.  Guess what – at 6:30pm it was flyable!  Oh well, four of us enjoyed a good round of tennis before heading to the hotel – a few of us needed it to take out our pent up energy on a poor tennis ball!

Unfortunately today (Thursday) appears to have the same weather in store for us.  World contests are certainly an exercise in patience!

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The castle in Trencin is well-lit at night.  We haven’t visited it yet.

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Wednesday, August 13 – Day 7

Low clouds. No flying today. Hoping for better weather tomorrow.

A few pics of how we spent the day…

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Chief Judge takes a nap

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Russian team manager and world champion Elena Klimovich comes over to talk about the Lycoming engines in the Extra 330′s some of the Russian team are flying:

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FSFM Medal Awarded to Team USA Pilot

In 2012, the US team made good friends with the South African team – mostly because they drink a lot of beer, but also because they’re genuinely nice folks.  The South Africans must make a lot of mistakes because they have a daily medal for the team member with the worst goof.  This evening they gathered up with the US team and said that they really couldn’t give the award to any of their team members because they were mistake free today.  So instead, they awarded Craig Gifford the Feel Sorry for Myself Medal for his  very costly low call yesterday.

FSFM FSFM Medal Award

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Tuesday, August 12 – Day 6

Rain Rain Go Away!

Rain delay this morning. Only 20 pilots made it through the first Unknown flight today. Mark Fullerton was the only US pilot to fly. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and maybe, just maybe the remaining 46 pilots will fly, but most likely will have to finish Thursday morning.

Second Unknown sequences were submitted this morning.

The one good thing I can say about the rain is that it did cool down substantially from yesterday.

Gary DeBaun helps keep all in order when the MX2 is not in the air. Gary maintenence

Chris DeBaun watching the flights.

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Mark Fullerton preparing to fly the Unknown.

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A few more pics from earlier this week…

Qualify of aircraft continues to get better, make that more expensive as we have numerous teams sporting the Latest 330sc Extras! 

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Ukrainian pilot Tamara – her yellow hair is brighter than Marty remembers :-)

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Vladimir Machula shows us the fueling area and registration and hangar layout.

Vladimir showing us around

Elton From Lithuanian Team, an Old friend from 2012 WAAC And judge in Texas last year. Flying Sukoi 26.

Elton Lituanian Team

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