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AUVSI SUAS Competition Day 2 - The Long Wait

Another early morning and another long wait. Today we got up at 7 am, slightly later than yesterday. Breakfast would be served at the competition, so we mainly didn’t concentrate on eating breakfast in the hotel. We left and managed to arrive at the gate at 8:25 am and started to setup for our flight.

It took only a few hours to set up and we waited to be called to the flight line. Initially the competition hosts had a list of 12 teams with flight slots; we weren’t on the list but there was a possibility that they would call us to the flight line.

The competition had a queue of 5 teams on the flight line ready to fly at all times. The next few teams that would soon be called out to the flight line would be notified to prepare to head out; the teams would be chosen at random. If any of the teams called a time out, they would move to the back of the line of all the teams that had not flown. The next team after would then be up to fly. So because of this, each team on the flight line had to be ready to fly just in case the team before them decided to call a time out.

In any case, we set up our plane to be ready to pack up and take to the flight line at a moment’s notice. As we waited around, we worked more on the competition flight plan and our ground station imaging software. Eventually the 12 team list dwindled down and other teams began getting notices that they would be soon taken out to the flight line. We continued to wait with the UAV assembled and equipment ready to be packed and loaded.

Eventually lunch came around and we got our lunches. Today it was either pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches with potato chips and a cookie. Then back to our waiting. Eventually we started to explore and talk with some of the sponsors and other teams. Google, MathWorks, Airware, Garmin, and many other sponsors had set up tents there. Each of us took our turns to explore the area and talk with sponsors about what they did and what cool new projects they were working on.

Time continued to tick on and eventually it got to 5 pm; and there were still flights going on. We were somewhat hungry so we munched on some snakes we had bought on the first day from Walmart. The judges didn’t know if we would be called up. Once the list of 12 teams had been exhausted, teams would be called to the flight line randomly with sufficient notice, so until our time came, we would know when we were up. We discussed our options with Brendan, our Navy liaison, and continued to wait to make sure we were not called up for the day. Eventually we were called and told we were the second last team on the list. It was around 6pm and there were 5 teams on the flight line and around 4 team ahead of us who still had to go the flight line. It was unlikely that we would be called to the flight line. The flying had to stop before 8 pm and each team had 40 minutes of flight time. A little math said that there would still be quite a few teams ahead of us before flying ended. So we started to pack up for the day nice and slowly. Brandon offered to store some of the boxes that we weren’t using overnight for us, which was a great help since we wouldn’t have to pack as much into the van.

We then headed for dinner which, this time, was at The Noodle Company. The food was really good and fairly well priced. We each enjoyed our own noodle blow that we ordered. After we finished eating we returned to the hotel and did a bit more testing, blog writing and programming. Today however, we managed to go to bed at 11 pm.

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UAARG Safety Officer. Planning student in the Faculty of Arts focusing mainly on Transportational Planning in cities.