The normal day of a driver
Before the Task:
You should expect to use a vehicle provided by the team. If you use your own vehicle, the team should pay extra for your mileage. Your team should also provide you with a radio and maps and/or GPS. You should expect to use your own mobile phone.
You should agree with your team in advance whether and under what circumstances they will pay for your meals (for example on long retrieves when you stop for dinner on the way back). Plan to bring your own lunch and drinks to put in the esky, or food and drinks will be available for sale at the airport, you will also need a note pad and pen.
Plan to meet your team at the HQ; briefing is usually at 10 am. There you take note of the day’s task and check the course on a map. We hope to have a drivers’ briefing as well, with some points on what you might expect for the day.
Your preparations for the day may include filling the team’s car with petrol, buying drinks, water, ice, filling the esky. Discuss with your team when they would like this done (i.e in the morning or after they launch). You should not have any out of pocket expenses; the team will take care of all of that, put money in a kitty for you, or they will reimburse you after (be sure to discuss this in advance).
At the launch airport:
You and your team will arrive at the airport about 11 am. You drive onto the airfield and the pilots take their gliders off the car and they set up. We sound an air horn when the cars have to leave the airfield, just before the towing starts.
It’s a good idea to go over the day’s course with your team before they launch. It takes about an hour to get all the pilots into the air. They normally leave the area to start the course about 2 pm, and then you start driving the course. During the task you will be in contact with your team by radio and (after they land) by mobile phone.
During the course of the flight your team will individually update you on their position on the course.
For example “ Hi Driver, Dave here, I’m 10 kms from the 1st turn point” at that time you should note the time, pilot name and position on your note book.
It’s a good idea to take notes in case needed for future reference. When the pilots land they may not have phone coverage so it’s good to know where you last heard from them!
The team will also give you instructions for example “ driver go to the 2nd turn point and wait” or “driver I’m going on final glide, go to goal”
Or “driver I’m landing 5 kms short of the 2nd turnpoint on the south side of the road” then when he lands he will phone you his GPS coordinates, at that time you enter the GPS coordinates into your GPS and go find him!
Sometimes the competition organization may send you an SMS message or phone you during the course of the flight if there are any dangerous change in weather conditions which warrants a “stopped” task, at this time you need to radio your team and let them know of the “stopped” task.
It’s best to only speak when you are spoken to, as they will be busy. After they land, the pilots will let you know where they are and how to find them.
An average competition task at Forbes is about 150 kilometers (straight line), but can be up to 250 kilometers, and involves three to four hours in the air. You will hear your team on the radio; they will update their position on the course.
There will probably be some long tasks when you arrive back at Forbes well after 10 pm. But some tasks will have the goal back at Forbes, and could be finished by about 6 pm. Since you won’t know the task until that day’s pilots’ briefing, you should plan on late nights during the competition.
There will most likely be three or four pilots in a team. They usually pay the driver a total of A$100 per day, shared among the pilots. You should agree with your team in advance whether / how they will pay in the unlikely event that a day is cancelled before the start. If you have to travel to the competition (i.e. if you don’t live in or near Forbes it is recommended that the pilots pay you even when they don’t fly) You will normally have to pay for accommodation yourself.
Organise with your team how you would like to be paid. For example you may wish to be paid at the end of the comp, or in 2 instalments.