Tuesday Morning Flight
Again on Tuesday morning pilots and crews in Monroe were greeted with fairly windy but flyable conditions. The forecast was for the winds to stay low enough for flying/landing up until 8am. With Sunrise at 520 there wasn't much question on whether flying would happen but how many tasks Event Director Maury Petrehn call.
While waiting for the briefing to start pilots were told to pick up their baggies in the back of the room, there were seven to pick up. Soon thereafter the task sheets rolled out and after looking on the front and back there were 10 total tasks called for the morning.
Task 4 was a Multiple Judge Declared Goal with the two targets being virtual. One was to a road and the other was to a driveway/yard. This second target also had a PZ to contend with just a couple hundred meters to the north. Pilots were to chose whichever task they felt lined them up best for the rest of the flight. This task had a requirement to be 1500 meters from it for takeoff.
Tasks 5, 6, and 7 were all grouped together in a large common area just on the west side of town. The first was an X on the northwest side of the field followed by a Memorial Task where pilots had to put their baggies on the fabric of the X or on the outside of a large tarp. The last task in this area was a MAX distance task being measured from the center point on the X in task 5. This grouping of tasks was unique in that the way they were laid out there was no way a pilot could expect to win all three of these targets as the wind line would not allow you to maneuver between all the target especially with the speeds being well in excess of 15 kilometers an hour as pilots approached.
Tasks 8 and 9 we also grouped together with 8 being an X on an island. Pilots could put their baggies on the island or on land within the confines of the field around the lake/pond. Task 9 was virtually undetectable as a virtual target in the lake to the south of the X on task 8. These two targets were not situated in such a way for a pilot to get a close score on each. If you went for the island and the X you were well to the north of the virtual target in this area.
Tasks 10, 11, and 12 were all individual targets pretty much in line with the wind. With the winds being very quick and the second of these two targets on roads themselves that required baggies on the road or in the short grass beside the road, these were going to be very difficult to hit. After task 10 the winds started to become what can only be described as a variably windy condition. Several pilots were able to mostly get close to all three of these but the earlier you were the easier it was to get to these targets.
Task 13 was a Pilot Declared Goal to be declared before you left the briefing and then could be changed via text before 730 or your closest point to the target in task 12, whichever occurred first. You could also write the coordinates for the PDG down on the baggie tails of any of the previous three tasks. Scores were pretty good on this task considering pilots were in some cases more than 20 miles from where they had taken off.
All in all the morning was very difficult considering the flying conditions in combination with the tasks that were called. A more competitive flight would have involved far fewer tasks given the windy conditions at flight time. One of the other things we hope to see in the future is tasks that are combined in the same fields together either be lined up or taken off the task sheet. When approaching a target a pilot should not have to choose to go for one X and sacrifice his score on a different X just for the sake of having more tasks. Pilots want to have the most competitive flying available, this does not mean flying more or less tasks. Virtual targets are also good at times but to have them also have an altitude restriction above an obstruction is dangerous as the BFA Nationals saw with a virtual target in Anderson, SC a few years back.
There are some great things and some bad things to take away from this new style of competition ballooning. With all things new come growing pains and this is certainly what happened in Monroe. Pressure to fly might have gotten beyond the big picture of what might be best for actual competition. Wind speed aside, Tuesday morning should have had easily two less targets to help with aligning approaches to targets.
One of the biggest talks of the day though was Gary Heavin coming on strong and having the lowest points totaled for the morning followed closely by Kinnie Gibson and Scott Armstrong. Gary was able to get scores with all of his baggies and Kinnie really zeroed in on his virtual tasks. Scott closed better than anyone winning a couple of the Judge Declared tasks at the end of the flight. In the end though it was Nick Donner who held on to his lead even with making a mistake on task 13 and texting the wrong coordinates and getting a poor result there and at the two previous tasks.
Pilots will now have the opportunity to fly in Chillicothe, IL July 19-21 to take the title in the overall part of the Open Championship that Event Director Maury Petrehn will again call the tasks for.
Complaint submitted by Nick Donner for Task 7
Complaint in response to Task 7
Back Ground: Competitor 6 initially received a second (or third) place score for his distance on the MAX task. This was published as final and the director agreed this was an accurate score and measurement. The baggie had landed on the hood of a vehicle that was sitting in the scoring area.
Score Change: Came in response to the director stating “We can/will correct officials’ mistakes at any time we become aware of them” which is straight from the rulebook.
The mistake in question was known at the time the baggie was measured and when the scores were published as final unless there was a question by 5pm on June 15th.
When asking Google what the definition of a roof is, a response to Wikipedia.com comes up with: A roof is the covering on the uppermost part of a building. A roof protects the building and its contents from the effects of weather.
Also when asking google “what is the front part of a car specifically called’’ the response from yahoo answers is if it's the part w/ the engine, in the US it's called the hood (the part you lift)…
Conclusion: I would like to respectfully ask that the original score be reinstated based on definitions and the intentions of the definition as written in common English (US) language.
Thank you –
E-mail received from Maury Petrehn
Nick, (All Competing Pilots)
In response to your Pong tweet and wanna be article...
Here you go again! Let me set the record straight and offer an opposing viewpoint - The TRUTH!
1) The BalloonPong Balloon Banner flew for Free/No Corporate Entry Fee! (Never going to Happen again!) Nor Pong Cameras)
2) You were hours Late for master briefing! (we personally delivered your pilot pack and gave you a briefing to get you checked in/ready to go)
3) You did not pay any entry fee ! (Never mind the crew I got for you as well)
4) Before you launched on Sunday AM you told me I made a "Good Call" the forecast winds were 20, 30 to 40 mph - surface under/at 10 knots
5) 18 out of 22 balloons launch/fly Sunday AM - 4 did not fly!
Tuesday am -
6) The forecast winds - 10, 20, 30 as low as 6 on the deck - (Less than SUN AM!)
7) 20 out of 20 balloons launch/fly - including 3 of the pilots who did not fly on SUN AM!
8) No one forecast, knew or expected the winds to pick up the way they did! NO ONE!
9) It was PERFECT conditions (better than the Sun AM flight) with 90 degrees of steering for competition for the entire 1st part of the flight!
10) Pilots scored on all 10 tasks! (scored Well) We did find an error - that I made - which I am now correcting! -
Rule# 5.2.1 states clearly - "We can/will correct officials' mistakes at any time we become aware of them" - On task #7 MAX - Nick Donner pilot #6 baggie was on the "roof" of a car
The task sheet clearly says "No roofs" Pilot #6 receives a 7.5 score this will change the results! Congratulations to 1st Place - Scott Armstrong, 2nd Place - Rhett Heartsill, & 3rd Place Kinnie Gibson!
11) SO -If it was so - questionable or bad why did you say nothing at the briefing?
12) If it was so bad - why did you launch?
13) Why didn't you and ALL the other pilots call and discuss it with me?
14) Why did ALL of the pilots launch!?
16) Because it was PERFECT!
17) Was I 100% consistent in my call(s) - As Always - YES!
18) You chose to fly - no one forced you!
19) You could have landed at anytime - you chose not to.
20) Why did you not say anything to my face afterwards? - Why didn't you file a protest? Why days later on your own guarded blog, do you babble away?
21) Winds/weather change at every balloon event, during every flight!
(I called good tasks on a perfect wind line - All of the goals/targets were scored on - even with the wind increase - I am not in charge of creating the winds/weather - Higher power at work there!)
22) Task 4 Was Multiple Judge Declared Goals - to test a pilots ability to make a good choice - Almost every pilot chose not to fly to the goal close to the PZ - You chose that 1!?
Both tasks at the island also involved making choices to get the best score on both goals/targets! No task at any event is ever designed for winds that increase the way they did that morning...
Yet - Again all the goals/targets were attainable and were scored on by every pilot! Another - more fair way my points system works! A little clue for you - the closest baggie/track won every target/goal! Amazing!
23) Having 10 tasks had nothing to do with any outcome of the Morning or of the flight. ZERO!
24) If you would like to put up $20,000+ of your money - 6 months plus of your life - 1000's of hours of labor to put on your perfect little balloon race - GO FOR IT!
This is My Race - My Rules - if you don't want to participate - Don't! As if I care at all! Don't come! Really - go ahead and be a closed minded following sheep. I could care less - its Your choice!
Have you ever been to a balloon event and not complained about something - EVERYTHING! (NO) - Will you ever... I feel sorry for you Nick!
25) But to sit behind the safety of your computer screen and voice an unchallenged Opinion - with no facts or safety net is a personal attack on me & my family is a mistake - (Something I have avoided with you - Until now!)
26) If I called 1 task & it was only the second to last goal and you got 7.5 points would it have been the wrong call? Or if you texted the wrong coordinates on your PDG - oh you did that!
27) If I called only 5 parts - farther apart - are you saying things/winds/weather would have all somehow been different? (FYI - there were only 5 scoring teams sent out during that flight)
28) Oh Yes - part of the whole picture - the event is not over! Part 1! part 2 to go
29) This is the reason I got out of competition ballooning - Idiots! If you can't handle the - "Pressure to Fly" - perhaps you ought to hang it up!
30) Are you still mad because I beat you by 2500 points for the real rookie of the year in 2001? (Was that before or after you knocked yourself unconscious landing?)
31) Are you upset that I am respected and trusted? - & you will never be!
32) Or is it - because while you were crashing into an apartment complex - because you did not have ANY strikers on board your aircraft as required by law,
That I won the National Championship and then retired to do bigger better things?
33) Oh wait as usual - that was all someone else fault! - I forgot !
34) Seems to me the only constant thing in your life - with all of your issues and problems - the common denominator - It Is YOU Nick! Someday you need to look in the mirror!
35) A personal attack on the Balloon Event Director is grounds for you getting thrown right the hell out of my event! You are messing with my family/livelihood/reputation without any ammo.
36) You showed up at this event looking for trouble - well you found it!
You can "Win" all of the titles in the world Nick - but, if nobody cares about or likes you - then they mean nothing - then you are truly the - "Loser"
Why don't you grow some & post this on your precious little website - (That I have never & will never visit!)
You have 24 hours to apologize publically and write a retraction or new article or you will be expelled and not invited to any event(s) I am ever involved with! (Scores are Now Final!)
I Am All for constructive critism that acheives postitive results & improves things - I am a Man - I can take it! However, I don't need - nor will I tolarate a negative attack campaign against me or my family.
You should know me better than that by now -
No one else has stated any issues with anything that I did as Balloon event director of the event in Monroe? Just you Nick!?
Any further comment?
Maury's response to the Complaint.