Suggestions to Preston Briggs
This site was last updated on February 15, 2008.
The Mushroom of France
Landres, May 2003, F2D Combat
A personal view by Mike Whillance
I should start by saying that this is not a competition report. I did not take notes on the individual bouts or who had to fly whom in each round. These are just my personal recollections and thoughts.
Me, Pete and Merve set off from Manchester at 6 am. We had loaded the car the night before and found that we could fit exactly 9 models each in the boot. I took 3 practice models so I could only could only have 6 competition models. Merve drove the 5 hours to Dover and I curled up in the back with my pillow and blanket. This was not quite as great as it sounds as I had to share the back seat with all the toolboxes, fuel, pitboxes, holdalls, helmets etc. In an effort to get more room on my side, I pilled the gear as high as possible on the other side. This works fine on motorways but less than fine when roundabouts are taken at 50 mph. I suspect that when he was a child, he used to pull the wings off butterflys. . At Dover we met up with the two Geordies, Dave Riley and Graham Ives. Lunch on the boat and then drive the 4 hours across the top of France to Landes, which is a small village near the city of Metz. We actually stayed in a hotel in a small town nearby called Briey. We arrived at 6.00. We were unpacked and sat outside the local bar by 6.15. We were fairly drunk by 8.15. I only just made the tricky 300-meter walk back to my hotel room at 10.15. Fast asleep by 10.16, until being awoken by pounding in the head, dehydration and bursting for the toilet. I'm never going to drink that beer again!
It was about 10.30am before we made it onto the flying site. It is a good site with clubhouse, bar, campsite and all the flying circles. They know how to run comps. They had the World Champs there only a few years ago. We had arrived a day before the comp started. This was for 3 reasons:
We test flew the gear which seemed to work fine. Some of us put shims in; some took them out and some just left them alone. After lunch we did some training. I was trying to practice following and defending. Graham and Dave were practicing hitting my models and to be fair, they got very good at it. I kept repairing them but by 6pm, my 3 practice models were dead so we packed up for the day.
The comp had 33 entries. The Dutch had a strong team. Loet, Monique, Rick, Tom and Stefan. The Ukrainians were the most impressive in practice. Very fast, tight and well controlled. Their special Fora motors were the fastest there. They were confident after their victory in Germany the previous week. When you watched them practice, you just wanted to just give them the cup and go home!
The first round went fairly well for the Brits. Only Pete lost and he had the most difficult bout as he was flying the big Ukrainian T34 Tank (Myagkov). He is a very good flyer and he is massive. Actually Pete should have got a special prize as he did manage to push him over.
Loet had a difficult draw against Chorny. Loet then made it even more difficult by taking all the streamer in one. Chorny looked good as he soon got 2 cuts to win.
I flew the German Henchels in a messy bout of one cuts each with me winning because I came best off in a mid air collision.
In the next round I had to fly Loet. The last 2 times we had flown he has broken both of my models. So I had some payback to do. I attacked hard and greedy. About 30 seconds and all his streamer gone in just 2 cuts. I really should learn to be more patient. I kept attacking and Loet kept defending. He was trying to avoid any mid air collisions. But I had already been practicing with Henchels and soon we were in a mess on the floor. Unfortunately for Loet, his lines also got broken and his No 2 model would not start. Loet said that there was something wrong with the motor but I think it just had good survival instincts. It was wise to stay on the floor. Loet was out. Revenge is sweet.
Graham had to fly Monique, It was a good bout. She was flying well, low inverted. Graham could not get that low but kept high and dived onto the streamer. We all saw 2 cuts to one for Graham but one of his cuts was very small and the scorers missed it. So Graham lost and was not a happy bunny.
We started the third round at about 7 o'clock at night and Graham had to fly the T34 Tank. Now Graham is big too so this looked like the battle of the giants. T34 flew well but Graham was great and we all saw him clearly win buy 2 cuts to one and loads of ground time. But the scorers still had it in for Graham. This time they saw 4 cuts for the Ukrainian. This was impossible as Graham's streamer was full length. In fact it measured longer than a new one. Graham is not known for his tolerance and we were treated to some choice swear words at full volume.
I then had to fly Cloude from France. Cloude must have been eating a lot of red meat. He went ape. He really took me by surprise. We got in a tangle and he was pulling and jerking. The lines were a mess and we both came down. It took ages to sort them out and I just won by 2 cuts to 1.
We packed up for the day. We were tired, hungry, dirty and sunburnt. A quick shower back at the hotel and out for something to eat. We found a good Chinese restaurant. We then proved beyond any dought that the English are not good at foreign languages! It was great fun but it took ages ordering Chinese food in a France. And it was here that we learned that the French word for mushrooms is champignons. I think this is probably a good place to apologize to all those French people that went to their local Chinese restaurant for a quiet evening meal... Err, sorry.
The next day was even hotter and hardly any wind at all. We finished the 3rd round and we had lost one of our flyers, the unhappy bunny Graham.
Now some cruel people have commented that my most impressive performance was in the 4th round. My opponent was an Italian and for reasons that only he can explain, he left before our bout as he had rush to the airport and catch his plane home! Monique, Mervin and Pete all went out in this round. Monique and Mervin were both upset as they were both casualties of poor scoring.
Round 5 and the officials had obviously decided to make up for my free win in the last round by drawing me against Chorny. He had beat me last time out so he was on my black list! I attacked hard from the start. It was a fairly fast and furious bout. 2 cuts to 1 for me and then a hit. My model was down to the inboard wing only, but it stayed up . Chorny hit the dust. He came up with his number 2 model and went straight onto the attack.. I still had a long streamer. Unfortunately for Chorny we got into one hell of a line tangle and both models came down. He never got up again. More revenge for me, this was getting to be great fun!
We were then treated to a very memorable bout. Henchels against T34. This looked a mismatch from the start as T34 is massive and Henchels is very thin. T34 soon got a cut ahead and he started defending by flying low inverted and running around the edge of the circle. Henchels decided to block him by standing on the edge of the circle. T34 came running around and simply pushed him out of the way. Henchels complained to Vernon the circle marshall, and then stood back on the edge of the circle again. T34 came around again and pushed him out of the way again. Henchels was now getting very excited and as he stood back on the circle's edge, he had a look of steely defiance in his eye. And to be fair to Henchels, he did stand his ground this time. But the T34 went straight over him. Vernon disqualified T34 for being a tank. He had lost his first life. We had lots of shouting and swearing in a variety of languages. Don't you just love this combat!
In rounds 6 and 7, I got two sick Dutchmen. Steffan Teubel and Rik Olijve were both unwell and both flew below par.
Dave Riley had been flying well but he finally came unstuck when he took all the T34's streamer in the semi-final. He then also lost the flyoff for 3rd place to Rik. Dave had a good weekend and was happy with his 4th place.
So the final was me against T34 and I was down to my last 2 models. All the Ukrainians had been flying careful combat. They would start by flying at a safe distance and if their opponent got anywhere near them, they would break away until it was safe again. They would wait until the last minute before they would attack hard to get cuts. When they did attack hard, they looked frighteningly good. But they only did it if necessary and only in the last minute. They were trying to fly careful combat. So I decided to do the opposite.
I attacked hard and stood in front of T34 on the edge of the circle. T34 is no mug and he pushed me behind him. Now I understand a little of how Henchels felt - when T34 pushes, you stay pushed! I walked to the back (upwind) side of the circle and flew defensive. T34 walked across so that he could attack. I quickly rushed back to my favourite position at the front of the circle. We repeated this waking exercise one more time and then T34 settled for standing behind me at the front of the circle. That suited me just fine and I then attacked hard. I soon got 2 cuts to 1 ahead and then went into chaos mode. We had a tangle and a hit, and both models looked dead to me. My pitmen were great and I got up first. T34 now needed 2 cuts to win. Still in chaos mode, I attacked hard and wild, and still keeping outside of him. Then there was another hit. I didn't even see it but I did see his model fall with no tail. Mine was badly damaged but still flew on. This confirmed what I had been thinking all weekend. God was an Englishman and he liked me. I was the mushroom of France.
I would like to say that my flying was great. That I was Awesome. But that was not the case. I only flew to about 80 percent of my best. I have flown better than this and lost! A lot of things did work well for me. My models were good, tight enough and stable enough. My motors worked well with no problems. Dave and Graham were perfect in their pitting. My flying was fairly good and I think the training on the day before the comp helped that. The standard of scoring was worse than normal but fortunately I had no bad scoring in my bouts. My tactics worked a treat, everything I tried seemed to just work like a charm. It just seemed like I was bullet proof. When I needed a bit of luck, I got it. Thank you God!
And if I did not fly great, neither did the other competitors. Loet is still not back to his best. Monique has flown faster and lower. Merve never really got into it. Dave flew good but he has also flown better. The Ukrainian tank regiment looked awesome in practice but when it came to the bouts, the wheels seemed to come off. Sometimes it is a good tactic to fly careful combat and go for the cuts in the last minute if you need them. But sometimes the bout can be won in the first minute. The Ukrainians had spent the last minutes of their bouts sat on the floor, looking at their broken models.
Pete had shown great confidence in me because prior to the final he had gone to the clubhouse and filled the car with beer.
Picture the scene: A hot afternoon in France, you have been running around all day flying combat, you have just won the comp, and you have loads of cool beer. It doesn't get much better than this!