Sun, 1 May 2016 07:30 07:30

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Light breeze

700e A
6 flights
Avg. flight time 00:05:00

Arrived at about 7 after having a clear drive through to Heathrow. Paul and Ethan Williams arrived next, so we had some warm-up flights together. Watching Ethan fly didn't help the nerves, and Paul won Grassroots last year so my expectations started dropping.

Pilot's briefing was at 9:45 and I was picked to do a calibration flight for the judges. I'm not sure if it helped or not, I think my calibration flight of SM and first SM flight were about the same.

The first SM round was reasonably good, no screw-ups and I didn't score zero for anything. My biggest fear was I'd been practising the moves incorrectly, but they all seemed on the money. The VTT8 was pretty bad in the last quarter, but everyone seemed to get it wrong, and they didn't zero me, so not bad at all. The feedback from the judges was mostly general stuff, which essentially means more practice.Jamie gave me some advice on how the practice the VTT8,

After the SMs my nerves settled a bit and I was happy to sit and watch the flying. Gary and Clare from CMHC and David from MK came along to watch, so I had someone to talk to. Also met aussie Dennis from Helifreak, and had a chat to him about the centre-sprung throttle I tried a few months ago.

The FS is where everyone else excelled. Steven Gerrard's opening flight was incredible. It had some sort of pirouetting flower which I just have to try. John Nobb's flight was right on the deck, and everyone seemed at a very high level, even those who struggled with the SM. My flight was much more sedate, and short. My routine normally takes 3:30, but in the moment I rushed the whole thing and landed after 2:55, which resulted in a time penalty.

The FTM round was the usual mishmash of top pilots getting an amazing mix of music and flight styles, and some that didn't seem to make sense. I really didn't know how my Waltz went down, and even my caller said it might be my Achilles Heel 😃 I also changed one of the moves trying to bring the heli back after a drift downwind, which resulted in me repeating a move instead of using the variation.
Fortunately the judges liked it, and it was my highest scoring round at a normalised 803.

Then there was a final round of SM. This didn't go very well, as the wind had picked up and I was trying to implement the feedback I received in round 1. Dave calmed me down a bit mid-routine and it ended well enough.

All in all a day that surpassed my expectations. 789 Out of 1000 puts me straight into the Pro category with a decent margin. Huge thanks to Dave Fisher and Rachel Plant for being my callers.

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