Swamping the airport’s check-in desk with 9 pilots, a mountain of luggage & model boxes, with reams of documentation supporting the excess baggage definitely worked – we got through check-in without a hitch, the poor clerk was completely flustered by our en-masse efficiency!
Our first morning was interesting – seems that watermelon, boiled eggs, olives & bread are the staple breakfast diet in Turkey. Not a drop of milk in sight! Still we tucked in & were soon whizzing down the motorway again towards the flying field. On the way the architecture was commented upon – all houses were typically square 2 – 3 stories, with seemingly very little attempt at gardening. I estimated that 1 out of three buildings were in the process of being built – often one floor already being occupied even without walls on the remaining floor(s). Chris mentioned that this might have something to do with migrant labour, but we also suspected that a construction boom may have come & gone. Most buildings are plain concrete/plaster finish, but a few were painted (typically yellow or some form of mosaic pattern). One or two buildings appeared a little worse for wear.
The trip from our hotel to the field took approx 15 minutes, with the final stretch a 2 km dirt road along a small & very straight river. The farmlands on either side appeared to be sod-farm & nut trees, but I was never sure of this. We also encountered a few bumps in the dirt road, much to the delight of the forward seated bus passengers – the rear suspension, wasn’t as nearly effective & the rear most seat was quickly distrusted with all racing for the most forward seats during the remainder of the event. By 07h00, the temp’s were already in the mid 20’s (celcius) and humidity was well above 50%! We finally arrived at the gap in the hedge & turned right into the field. I admit that I paused when I saw the spectacle that faced us – a massive expanse of mowed lawn, surrounded by trees on two sides & a huge white tent running down one side of the trees. The parking area was clearly marked off & we had to convince the parking guards that we wished to drop off equipment, instead of having to carry it over 300 metres from cars to tent. Our spot in the tent was already marked – a section measuring approx 5 x 10 metres was made available to each team, ‘cept the USA, Germany, & Slovakia who were given bigger areas due to the tent construction, & naturally Turkey who boasted an air-conditioned tent too. We always knew that the organisation would be good, but this was impressive.
We unpacked models – nothing was broken notwithstanding the baggage handlers obvious attempts to scramble or crush the contents of every box. We soon had the bungies & tow-lines out & practice sessions commenced until around 17h00 when Tx control was called by the organisers. The Tx control initially raised a number of eyebrows – simply because the organisers requested antennas only (admittedly, storing 170 Rx’s may have been viewed as a bit of a logistical problem - even for the supremely organised Turkish). Unfortunately after loosing a second junior’s model during the pre-cup to obvious interference & complaining that this was “simply unacceptable”, our organisers agreed to delay the flying by approx. 30 minutes whilst the Tx's were collected. To my knowledge, no more interference issues occured.
Part #2/..... follows