No word on which one of us is Tyler Durden.
Today we have to do something unusual. We have to prevent our plane from taking off! The mission is to roll along a corrugated sheet analogous to a dirt runway. We have to maneuver around a few obstacles, but the plane has to remain grounded! This is trickier than it sounds, as the plane is driven by the propeller and must have the wings attached for this test. We had to balance a short take off distance (there is a minimum requirement for later missions) with the ability to taxi without liftoff.
We should be called for the mission soon after the competition managers finish setting up. It’s a little chilly out here but it will only get hotter as the day goes on.
The plane has no issues (nothing has gone wrong because nothing has happened yet) so we are anticipating a good run. Our wheels fit almost exactly between the corrugated sheet ridges, which does make it difficult to accelerate over them. However, there is a plywood “on ramp” we start on, to gain up speed. We have easily cleared the sheet in practice runs using a similar tactic.
Since the taxi mission has little chance of damaging the plane (except now I’ve cursed us by saying that) we should ideally get to fly today as well.
I will provide updates here until we start flying, then link to the next post! (Three guesses what the next title is.)
0930: Did we complete our taxi mission? It’s vitally important, as it acts as a multiplier for the rest if our score. Read on, out loud and in your best dramatic voice.
It was a chilly, overcast, and blustery morning at Cessna Field. Sustained 20 MPH winds buffeted planes and flight crews on the ground, and gusts swatted unlucky planes from the air during their flights. Our task was simple, roll along a corrugated sheet, around two barriers made from lumber.
In calm conditions, our plane had been more than up to the challenge. But when our number came up, we were allotted five minutes. Three hundred seconds, breeze or gale.
On each attempt, the wind howled across our wings, driving the plane back or sweeping it out of bounds. We didn’t dare keep the propeller on full throttle for fear of taking off and failing the mission.
Tick. Two minutes.
Success? The plane navigated both obstacles, but a gust kicked the rear landing gear just off the edge of the track as it crossed the finish line. We looked to the judge. “Sorry.” He said simply.
Tock. One minute.
A scramble to recover the plane and reset it at the beginning again. A reckless drive for the finish, like something from the Dukes of Hazzard, during a lull.
One last gust, throwing the rear wheel into a collision with the final obstacle. It bent, now useless, but the plane would not be denied. A desperate lunge for the finish before time out or the wind returned, the propeller screaming as it dragged its mangled landing gear…
…over the line! A successful end to a nerve wracking ordeal.
Summary: They see us rollin’, they hatin’.