15 April 2014

Wings for Life World Run May 4th


I go running every day, either outside or on board (when I work) to train for the Wings for Life World Run. It will start at 10 GMT on May 4th in locations all around the world! I will start in Darmstadt, Germany, the city where I studied Graphic Design and where I also started my flying career.
Take off is in Kranichsteiner Str, and I used to live just around the corner - I hope to see many of my friends around on that day, let´s all run together, have a good time and support spinal cord research, so all our friends will be able to walk and fly no matter what!

14 April 2014

Malabo, equatorial Guinea, Timezone UTC +1

After the pilots went on strike for three full days, all our schedules changed dramatically. Instead of visiting Gin and his factory in Seoul, I ended up in Malabo. Equatorial Guinea is on the west coast of Africa, and the capital Malabo is on Bioko island. I had to be a bit careful with my photos, as it is forbidden to take pictures of official buildings, and the presidential palace was right next to our crew hotel...
From the cockpit I could see the big volcano in the middle of the island, about 3000m high. The next day, the top of the mountain stayed covered in clouds, as humidity is quite high, but temperatures were pleasant, around 30 C. Guess I was lucky that it didn´t start raining while I was at the beach.
For sure the timing isn´t quite German, but people are happy and friendly, and you can get far with Spanish and French. Except for two fishermen and three other hotel guests, I didnt meet anybody else on the beach. It was a "natural beach", rather dark volcanic sand than the white carribbean feeling, and it wasn´t cleaned. Quite a lot of plastic items were there, but also an incredible variety of almost perfect shells! Jamie, I have to take you here one day, with lots of empty suitcases ;))) much better than anywhere else Ive been to before, because here nobody seems to be interested.
I was aware that Malaria is around, so I checked my room and wore a long sleeve white shirt and sprayed myself with "Anti-Brumm" - so far I seem to be well, seems to have worked alright.

31 März 2014

In Orlando with Sherry and Joe

When I arrived in Orlando tonight, I was welcomed by my friends Sherry and Joe Kittinger. It was great to be able to spend some time with them before they are leaving for Washington DC tomorrow.
The capsule and suit of the Stratos project will go on permanent display at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, where the team will have a celebration. How I would have loved to go there with Sherry and Joe, to meet Felix, his team and some Red Bull friends again! Always great to hear the first hand stories of these legendary aviators!

29 März 2014

Hello Mexico!

It was great to browse through the latest adidas collection in Herzogenaurauch at the adidas headquarter yesterday - I was reminded of the great trip to Mexico for the pre worlds, as the colourful patterns seem to portray south american culture - full of life! Perfect that the weather turned spring very early this year, with warm sunshine today :)
Just in time for this weather, my new adidas sunglasses, "Tycane", arrived - co-designed by sailors, these sunnies feature a new wrap around lense that allows an amazing peripheral vision - a vital bonus for every pilot as well! If you want to have a look at this brandnew sunglass development in Mexico, ask Rudy Gotes, he has a pair of these exclusive new "Tycane pro" sunglasses!

27 März 2014

The other side of Rio

I don´t know how many times Ive soared above the rock you see in the picture, looking down, catching the thermal rising from the hot air above one of Rio´s biggest slums. This time the weather was not flyable at all, first a strong, turbulent west wind which made launching impossible, the next day just rain.
In the morning, Konrad told me they are flying in Sao Conrado, so I jumped into a taxi with the Captain of my crew who wanted to try a tandem flight, packed my harness, and it took us about 20 minutes to get to Praia do Pepino. Unfortunately, the wind direction had changed already, and it was obvious that we would not fly for a while. At midday, I met a journalist from one of Germany´s biggest newspapers who also wanted to experience hang gliding in Rio. I took the guys up to the ramp at take off and explained the area and the normal launch procedure.
It is a beautiful view and a magical place even if it is not flyable, so we had a good time anyway, went back down to the beach and sat down at Carlinhos´ Cabana for more coconut water. Luizinho had already said hello, Mosquito, Rui and Konrad also stopped to say hi - and "no flying today, come back on Monday!"
Suddenly a Brazilian guy talked to us in German, saying that his father (who had emigrated to Brazil from Germany) had helped to install the Zeppelin connection between Europe and Brazil in the 1930´s. The three of us were listening with open mouths and big, fascinated eyes. Was this guy aware of having met the most appreciative audience in the whole of Brazil for his story about aviation history?
Turned out that he is working as a tour guide in Rio, and when he asked us if we wanted to see Roçinha, we all nodded quietly and got into his car, as he really seemed to know the area well and seemed to know what he was doing. After many years of travelling in Brazil, I finally went through one of the biggest favelas of the country, that I only knew from the air so far! It was impressive to see the density of the 150.000 people nestled on the pass between Sao Conrado and Ipanema.
Sure it is just normal everyday life there, with shops, kids in the streets, intense smells here and there, yet we all had a lot of respect, as there are many stories about crime and drugs. As there was a traffic jam on the road through Roçinha, we had a chance to have a close look at it, before our tour guide invited us for a drink to the German Club of Rio on the other side - what a huge contrast of surrounding, just within barely a kilometer of range. Sure the waiter who works in the club lives next door in Roçinha!
Thanks to Dieter the tour guide, we had a great day even without the flying, but I sure hope that I will be back soon and visit Roçinha from above again!

08 März 2014

Pre Worlds Valle de Bravo Awards

Christian Ciech (IT) won the pre worlds by a great margin over Zac (US) and Antoine (FR). I was the 1st woman, just managed to sneak up into top spot on the last but one day, as Françoise did really well over here in the strong conditions.
We were presented with the "Tree of Life", very interesting trophies, looking a bit fragile.
It was a great meeting with loads of flights and kilometers, I think Valle has never seen more hang glider pilots in this spot before! Thanks to the organizers, specially Claudia and Miguel, for turning their vision of organizing the hang gliding worlds into reality - I know it is a huge amount of work behind the scenes!

Pre-Worlds last day: 112km around 5 turnpoints

Yesterday Gerd, I and a few other pilots took the second startgate, cause it looked as if the conditions for our 112km task would be stronger a bit later. Most people went with the first gate and were faster than us, but we still had a very enjoyable flight. Around the 1st turnpoint, the wind got really strong (it was at 3300m of altitude), but luckily I got up again, while quite a few guys were flushed down there.
I was happy to get to goal in Amanalco, probably the biggest, flattest field in the whole area, at 2300m of altitude, but with a good wind to land. 33 people made goal, our whole German team got in, so did all the girls of the comp! A very nice finish, flying with beautiful clouds. Now Im about to go to the awards. You can find the results here, but the cumulative has not been published yet.

07 März 2014

Pre-worlds Day 6: 125km around 3 turnpoints

Six consecutive days of flying, mostly over 100km which is quite far for the area and conditions - we have to land by 17.30 or earlier to be retrieved before sunset, like in Turkey. Francoise had to wait a while at a road, and sure enough some cops turned up and asked her (not in a friendly way) what she is doing on the side of the road in the dark. Lucky that they retrieve drivers picked her up soon after!
It was blue yesterday, and as I missed the start gaggle, I was too slow to finish the whole task in time before the end, so I cut off the last turnpoint and landed directly in goal at Piano.
I talked to Zippy about the task setting and he was open for changes. I very much liked the idea to fly over to the high flatlands south of Toluca, and when they announced goal at Rudy's father's airstrip, I was happy as. 125 km around 3 turnpoints, with a difficult crossing after about 45 km. Once we flew to the east, we reached clouds and got up to 4300m, just south of the volcano Nevado de Toluca.
After the 2nd waypoint, I entered the highway to goal - a beautiful cloud street formed right in front of me. Dolphin style flying for 30 km was the reward for all the hard work the days before! The safe height also allowed some sightseeing, cause the area looks spectacular, lots of big cliffs, rugged mountains and little towns.
About 40 pilots made goal today, with Zippy winning the task. We were greeted by the officials from the local town Cuatepec, and everybody got a big serve of fruit salad that was freshly prepared in front of our stunned eyes. What a treat! The Mexicans are really the most hospitable people I've ever mat!
I'm writing this as I'm driving home in Rudy's car. It takes 2,5 hours to get from goal back to Valle, as we have to go around the volcano. Unless you get lost like Jamie, then it can take 4 hours as well.
Tomorrow is the last day, looks like Christian Ciech is still in a comfortable lead over all. I was 2nd woman behind Francoise, but today I might have gone back into lead. Let's see what kind of day we get for the final.