Dateline Serpukhov, Russia - July 31, 2006
After one long day of driving and one long night of repacking suitcases, and another day of flying we are at Drakino airfield south of Moscow. I will add longer notes and photos later, but here is the scoop: Tomorrow is the first day of this all-Jantar Grand Prix competition. The facilities at this arifield are wonderful. We are staying a short walk from the flightline in a great suite(!) yes, a suite, not a tent, I know, it is not our usual style!
There are 15 pilots, and 14 are Russian. The other is Tim. It is interesting to see the grand prix concept in action, because we were part of the first Worlds in GP last September. It is an evolving thing, rules-wise. Last night we saw a lively discussion in Russian about the rules. Interesting to see that the same topics come up now as in St. Auban last year: how to keep pilots from diving toward the start line, how to contorl speed at the finish, what about bonus points for a pre-determined turn point, etc. It is this mindset of collaboration that makes this kind of comp interesting for me, anyway.
Today it is raining and cool (I am happy not to be sweating for the first time in a month!), but earlier we got to meet our Jantar - contest ID 66 (registered as CCCP-1666 - I know - CCCP!) and take a look at the cockpit, which is huge compared with the Libelle. I will approach cleaning the plane either later or early tomorrow. It does need a good bath and maybe some polishing and taping.
The culture shock is immense. You feel like a 5 year old having to ask what every word means. Thank goodness for Iakov Shrage and his daughter Anna who speak excellent English and are looking after us very well. We went to get russian cell phone numbers, to the bank, to the grocery store, etc. this afternoon. Now we are provisioned and set for tomorrow...just hope the weather clears.
FYI, the time in Russia is 2 hours ahead of central europe, so 9 hours ahead of Central US time. Just thought you would like to know...