Rule 1 was "Have fun!"
Rule 2 was "Don't get hurt!"
Rule 3 was "Dumb as you look"
I worked much harder than I ever expected to, but I had fun. In fact, everyone seemed to have fun. Nobody got hurt. It's hard to explain how happy that made me. All of the planning focused on fun, but it REALLY focused on doing it safely. It worked. What a relief!
The "dumb as you look" rule is a reference to radio silence. That mostly worked.
However, we did hear some pretty dumb radio calls. We had a squadron called "Bum(b)". (The "b" is silent.) Just use your imagination.....
I vividly recall landing at Clinton in 2001. I remember Jeff Davis sticking out his hand and welcoming me. I tried to do the same this in 2002. For many folks, flying to Clinton was their longest cross-country flight ever. I saw the joy in their eyes. I saw the "I did it!! I actually did it!!" What a thrill.
The drop events (the bottle, the paratrooper, and the message) were designed to befuddle the contestants and I'm proud to say that's exactly what happened. Each item had different flight characteristics. Statistically, the safest spots on the airport were the center of the 3 target zones. And there was no practice. How devilishly unfair. I was surprised by the carrier landing contest. Only 8 out of 28 snagged a simulated wire. That means 20 aircraft went into the water. Almost all of the 20 landed short. Interesting. Have you ever landed short on a real runway? I never have.
The carrier contest was a real test of skill. The touchdown zone was a short 80' long. At 50 knots, that zips by in less than a second. Expect this contest to reappear in 2003. Folks had a ball watching the contests. Next year, expect a dedicated viewing area to be called "Vulture's Row". It'll feature a tent, tables, chairs, and cold drinks. The "pressure" was high in 2002. It'll be brutal in 2003! 2002 marked my debut as a rookie air traffic controller. Some of you fly out of quiet strips and aren't used to a lot of airplanes in the sky all at once. My home base (Nashua, NH) is one of the busiest GA airports in New England. We have to talk really fast and we have an accent to boot! I have a new respect for the boys that live in the tower cab. You guys did what I asked without complaining. Thank you.
We had some interesting moments. One plane's radio could receive but wasn't transmitting voice. I could hear a carrier, so I ended up asking for "2 clicks". We had a couple of spacing problems. I asked one aircraft to fly the pattern wide. Another got a right 360. During the contests, we had some departures and arrivals. Somebody from the Dog squadron got sent around twice. Was it "Dog 2"? You called "at the silos" and I looked up and thought "Oh no. This isn't going to work." I asked a departing Duchess to "taxi at best speed". He did, and then helped out even more by not using the entire runway. I was using a handheld radio. That limited my range to about 5 miles. Several of you helped out by relaying messages for me. Frequency change approved. Have a safe flight.
This gig was a lot of hard work-- no question. If I had only known what I was getting myself into........ We made a lot of improvements from 2001. The food, transportation, parking, and flying were all dramatically improved. I personally parked almost everyone. I spent 8 full days in Clinton. Here's what I learned: "It's usually calm (and HOT). But when it's not calm; it's WINDY!!"
Many of you heard of about our shower tent ending up on top of Rex's hangar. If it wasn't for the garden hose holding it down, it would have gone MUCH further and higher. What a lesson. It was an honor and a privilege to be your CAG. But boy, it was work. I have a new respect for the guys in the cab at my home airport. Before Saturday night's banquet, as I was tallying the results, I had a chance to reflect on the day's events. Rule number 1 was accomplished. Everyone had fun. More importantly, rule 2 (don't get hurt) happened too. If you think I took my role lightly, you'd be mistaken. The old phrase, "Heavy the head that wears the crown" was true. On Saturday evening, I handed out the 3 "Clyde" awards and at last, I was able to relax.
So what about next year????? We're going to make it more "watch able" from the ground-- that's a definite. We'll drop stuff-- that's a definite too. What? Can't say. I can tell you that "Muppet Labs" is involved. Expect more skill to be required. I drove around last night and found more interesting checkpoints. Pay attention in next year's briefing-- that's all I can tell you.
As I told everyone at the banquet, it was a pleasure flying with you. Folks paid attention during the briefings and did what I asked of them. 28 aircraft and 56 crew launched, and all returned safely. Do you guys realize that CWI sees less than 10 operations on an average day? For 3 days, Clinton was a happening place!
Tom and I left Clinton for home at 0600 on Monday July 22 just as a thunderstorm was about to overtake the airport. Even my slow 150 was able to out run them! The flight back was really hot, but the wind was with us.
Steve Mayotte CAG