18 Juli 2018

Saving Jörg!

It was an adventure to pick up Jörg on the 6th competition day. I had landed early and helped Carlo navigating to Jörg´s landing location. We were about 200m away, in a tiny village, surrounded by trees and high corn fields, wondering where it was possible to land.
We arrived at a farm house, to the left was a huge puddle of water and mud, to our right a very rugged looking dirt track. Maybe drivable in a tractor, not in a van. The old, traditionally dressed farm ladies closed the gate in front of us, we must have looked very sus. Thankfully a younger woman came out and asked us in English what we were looking for. I could pick immediately that she must have lived in Australia for a while (Melbourne, she said, and she´s just on a holiday home in Macedonia).
We had Jörg on the phone, sounding totally exhausted and desperate, "I´m surrounded by water, I can´t get out! Help me!"
They could not quite grasp what we meant by "flying in a hang glider from Krusevo and landing in a field behind their property", so we started wading through the mud and water currents. The farmer had a look at the location on my Iphone and immediately turned around, opening the gates for us. First thing he did - finding his rubber boots and putting them on! I was glad that Carlo and I wore just flip flops...
Then the farmer took us through some fields - onions, beans, potatoes, capsicum... then through a some water streams. We yelled out for Jörg and were happy when he finally answered.
The farmer helped carrying that huge thing out and took us back through the veggies - capsicum, potatoes, beans and onions. Then we happily presented our rescued team mate to the farm family and took some photos with them. Sure we were invited for coffee, but some storms were on the way, and we had to pick up Manni, one more guy about 45 minutes away, so we waved good-bye.

17 Juli 2018

Day 3, 4 and 5: 124km, 123km and 160km

Conditions got a bit windier and made flying more interesting. Tasks went across the valley with goals at some huge airfields - best goal fields I have seen in a while!
While we are still trying to resolve some radio and communication problems in our team, Primoz totally recovered from his shock of having started half an hour early on the first day, flying on his own to goal - and scoring bombout points. He is back on track and took the last two day wins!
But Primoz is not just flying well, he also regularly updates us on the best climbs and tactics he can see out in front, so we have a better chance for our flights too. Plus he has his whole family including his cute, new baby boy here who waited for him at goal, greeting him for his day win! So amazing to have such an accomplished pilot as Primoz on the team!
He has written a great day report for our German Homepage on DHV.DE as well, you find a lot more photos and day reports there!
I was never the fastest one, but if there is any way to fly far, I can be quite tenacious and will keep trying until I run out of options. I flew five and a half hours on the 5th day, trying different ways to get to goal, before I finally ran out of thermal time. What a bonus to be able to score for our team a few times as well, I´m really happy if I can support the guys, no matter if in the air or on the ground, like helping to pick up Jörg on day 5. But that´s another whole fun story!

Day 6: Turbulence

The 6th task of the comp got more than exciting. I had a good start and approached the fist turn point radius when a glider tumbled twice and fell down in the lead gaggle I was heading towards. I stayed back and watched the parachute opening, but something didn´t quite look right. Thankfully Marco, the youngest and very talented pilot of the Italian team, is flying with two parachutes and had been able to open the second one. After that he slowly drifted for quite a while back towards the ridge.
I decided to stay with him until he lands, as I had experienced a deployment myself before. I informed our Team Leader Regina and told her I would wait and send her coordinates as soon as Marco lands.
My team mate Kajo was lower to the ridge than me and saw that Marco landed on a tree. First he was not moving, and Kajo said he would land in the closest place possible, which seemed a village at the bottom of the hill.
I relayed this message to Regina and she said that the organizers called for a helicopter. I stated that in the initial safety briefing they said it can take up to 1,5 hours for the helicopter to arrive and said it´s much faster if Kajo lands and hikes up - Regina totally agreed. At that stage Marco was moving, but still he could be injured or have a shock, in which case help is needed quicker. The Italian team had no contact to him for quite a while. I didn´t dare landing with Kajo because it looked like a lee side, and I am currently not fit enough for exciting landings, but I kept telling him the best and closest routes he could walk up to get to Marco.
I checked again for other possibilities to help, but when I had contributed all I could, I started to look around and head on. Sure everyone else was gone already, impossible to see them in the front, as it wasn´t a very clear day. I was heading out towards the second turnpoint, crossing the valley in a blue sky, still being quiet shaken of what I just witnessed.
I saw a couple of gliders and tried to climb with them, but I wasn´t in the state that I had been in all the days before. It´s weird that once you turn into emergency and helping mode, you´re in a totally different mindset than competition mode.
Soon after that, I landed close to Austrian Christian Preininger. I was still so out of it that I didn´t even realize that the wheat field I landed in had not been harvested yet, and I stood about 25 meters from the road in over a meter high wheat. Mind you, it was a very soft landing.
When Christian and I met on the road, he said that Marco tumbled just next to him, and Christian was shaking just as much as me. It took me well over another hour to calm down again. Thankfully my retrieve driver Reinhard Pöppl carried my packed up glider out of the field and drove to goal with me. Marco had been rescued and taken to goal as well, and I was so happy to see him almost unharmed except for some scratches and bruises that I almost cried. Sure I didn´t perform well in terms of points or distance, but I did what I had to do to help my flying friends in need.

14 Juli 2018

Task 2: 131km around 3 turnpoints

A long, interesting task with great weather conditions let us fly fast. I was very happy to get to goal and score for my team the first time in this competition.
And again, a push, this time a real one, pushed me out on take off. It´s quite stressful and I am always happy when I enter the first lift and climb out.
The area is very picturesque and seems like a century ago. Beautiful huge storchnests on every other powerline post, with young ones testing their flight abilities, are always a highlight when we drive back up the mountain to our hotel in Krusevo.

European Championship Macedonia, opening and day 1

 Finally I get to write a few line to catch up on my blog. It´s been a rush to get from a work flight to the US back through Frankfurt, Munich, then to Ljubljana where I met Matjaz, then to Skopje where we got a taxi for the 2 hour ride to Krusevo. Thankfully our teams had already taken our gliders and harnesses.
I was in time for our big first team meeting, then registration in the evening. The next day I wanted to testfly my gear and check the place out, since I have never flown here before. But after the briefing, we heard thunder, and soon we raced to pack up our gliders before we were dumped with heavy rain. No test flight, oh well.
The first comp day started with low clouds. Almost no wind on take off made launch slow, a push was on but stopped before me. They didn´t realize that and hassled me out with counting down the 30 seconds anyhow.
The 102km task was won by Christian Ciech. I landed in a huge field and got picked up very quickly by our team assistant Luise! It was a great first impression of the mountains and flats in this area. A bit like Canungra.

01 Juli 2018

And Junkers wins!

Thanks to all the teams and brave pilots who "flewcrashed" their objects into the river Weser today, it was an honour being allowed to judge you!
50000 spectators gathered for a great event, major logistics well done! Sorry for no earlier updates, but the phone network was at it´s limits I think! Hope you watched some of the show on the livestream.
My favourite wing, the Junkers plane, was the only one that covered some distance, won the event and the team got flights with Red Bull Air Race Champion Matthias Dolderer. Some wild g´s for them ;)
Due to cross wind gusts up to 40km/h, it was really difficult for some teams to even get to the front of the ramp!
Here you can see some of the teams. It was a pleasure to have you all in Bremen!

Red Bull Flugtag Bremen - preparations

Join us at the Red Bull Flugtag in Bremen today! I´m excited to be in the jury, together with some excellent athletes like Air Race world champion Matthias Dolderer, free skier Bene Mayr, formula e driver Daniel Abt, model and pilot Betty Taube, and base jumpers Jokke Sommer and Dani Roman. It will be fun to watch all those brave teams jumping into the river Weser! 
My hometown Bremen has always been hatching lots and lots of pilots, as the Lufthansa flight training has a big part of the pilots´ school here - I guess a lot of new candidates will join in tomorrow!

04 Mai 2018

My world records ratified!

What a nice notice - today FAI ratified all of my 3 world record flight claims :)))

To get a 405,8 km to a declared goal (previous Yoko Sano 367,6km),
a 407,2km free distance (previous Kari Castle 403,5km),
and 411,0km free distance around up to 3 turnpoints, it was a huge effort. One month travelling in the northeastern outback of Brazil, quite impressive take off and flying conditions with very challenging landing options, a great team of friends who were superchilled (as opposed to the stressed German girl...), and then, on the very last day possible, doing it, going all the way!!! Big thanks for all support from Red Bull, Moyes, Icebreaker and adidas sport eyewear!
Of course during the Forbes competition, Sasha might have beaten all three of my records, so I will go back for the 500km I guess...?! Yes, I miss my Brazilian family and wouldn´t mind to go back to Araruna and Tacima for a while!

01 April 2018

Training in California

After freezing at a brief stop in the snow at the ski flying world cup in Planica/Slovenia, checking out the guys tactics on speed, low drag and flying with minimal "wings" (their skis!!!), I decided to shortpack my glider again and take off to the sun for some training before the season starts.
I was warmly welcomed by the Californian pilots and started with an incredible flight from scenic Mount Tamalpais, landing on the beach. After all the traveling from Brazil to Germany to the US, I was really happy to see my glider unharmed by all the short-and longpacking and transports! Big thanks to all Lufthansa colleagues for having been so careful trainsporting my glider around the world! Felt good to get some air under my wings again!
Just a bit more time, and I will be on my way (working) to Argentina for a brief visit, before going to the Quest comp in Florida, which is very booked out this year. I´m happy that Jörg from our German national team will accompany me and train with me before returning to Germany and hopefully seeing no snow on our mountain take offs anymore - the German Open, this year in the black forest, is coming up in the end of May!