Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Preparations - scouting fields in the rain ...

by Bob Fletcher, Pilot "90"
It has been a rather mellow period for the US team arriving early in Finland. Garret went sightseeing with his daughters in Lapland. John Good, Fernando Silva and I have been occupied with exciting tasks like scoping the landing fields within 10km of the airport, getting our US water ballast kit converted to match local taps, and acquiring local cell phones.
Fortunately our local airport accommodation has proven to be waterproof – just as well because it has rained most of the last 3 days. Some canvas campers have been bailing out their tents and shopping for industrial strength tent sealer.
As the weather dries we will be assigning the crews to climb the local trees and suspend the US flag at a worthy altitude.

This afternoon John Good and I spent a happy few hours getting all our communications devices to talk to each other. Just before leaving for Finland Phil Gaisford and I purchased DeLorme InReach tracking devices, largely because John Good wanted to keep close tabs on us (and who can blame him). The device has a couple of advantages over the Spots that we have been using in the US for years: it provides altitude information and has a satellite-based messaging system that connects to both e-mail and SMS devices.
Some devices and communications providers understand and accommodate variations of the international dialing plan and some don’t. The DeLorme does not like the leading zero of a local Finnish number in its SMS addresses so after an hour of waiting we tried John’s SMS address without the zero and finally retired for beer.

This field, 4km out of Rayskala (and 1 km from the finish) with only 4 sets of wires has caused much debate about the best direction to approach it.
Unfortunately it and its adjacent sister field both have a John Good usability rating of just 2 out of 10 in our custom turnpoint/landpoint database, which is a pity because on the way from here to the airfield is little but trees and lakes.


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