05 März 2015

Day 3: 95km around 2 turnpoints

Today should have been an easier task than yesterday, but unfortunately the wind was stronger than in the organizers´ prediction. Lift was very rough and broken, I barely managed to fly one full circle in climb in many places.
Take off was south of the piano landing again, but 1 km less radius than yesterday. I made a mistake right at the beginning, flying back to take off and not finding lift again. While the others were already at the Divisadero turnpoint, I just started into the task. Coming back, I was almost on my own and made another mistake, flying to far south. When you fly outside of the convergence line, which I could not find as it was all blue and seemed blown out, you go down pretty quickly. My maximum height today was only 3400m, so not really high above the ground anyway.
At some stage, I just decided to land at the Peñitas goal field, just behind take off. All other choices didn´t look promising. I was the only one in that field and had a fantastic landing, but I was very lucky that the wind blew perfectly strong and smooth, and I was pleased with my elegant finish. I didn´t go far at all, but at least I finished in style! Easy to say, as not a single soul was anywhere near me, not even kids were around today.
I packed up and was happy that Uli came to pick me up and took me to Valle. Uli had informed the team that Andre had a crash landing and is looked after by the ambulance, but no major injury luckily. Still it was going through my head all the time that maybe I should better be there to translate if Andre needs to go to hospital. I met Andre when we got home, and his arms and nose look bruised, also his glider got damaged in his cross-/downwind landing just after Tres Reyes.
Roland was the hero of the day for making it all the way to goal, but the drive back takes about 3 hours. The rest of the team couldn´t quite make the jump on the high plains today. Broken lift, too much wind, no constant thermals made this task difficult.
When I got home, I decided to cook Andre´s favourite dish that I made at the Euros in Turkey - Moong Dhal Curry and rice - to cheer him up a bit. And also to feed my hungry team with energy for the days to come. It can only get better!

04 März 2015

Day 1 and 2 World Championships

Sorry for the delay in reporting from the worlds, but my days start at 6.30 and don´t finish until 11pm, with quite a bit of flying excitement inbetween!
I have been voted into the safety committee, and Gerd is in the tasksetting, so we need to be at the meeting every morning at 8am already. Then we race back to go up to take off with our team at 9, rig the gliders, usually the pilots´ briefing is around 11.
Yesterday´s task, 109 km around 4 turnpoints, was quite difficult and took us close to the volcano. I was lucky three times when I got low and a friendly bird showed me the good lift. I was stoked to make goal and had a good landing at the nice Amanalco field. Even more stoked to hear that Gerd got to goal 2nd overall, and also Roland and Andre were already there!
Today the task was even longer, and harder too, with a stronger wind and not exactly many clouds. Still 18 pilots made it to goal. I gave up just before the last turnpoint in the north, as my option would have been to land at the turnpoint, the place furthest away from Valle, and not being picked up till after dark. Instead I landed at Amanalco together with Andre and Achim (they made the turnpoint!). Still we were only picked up after dark, because our driver concentrated on retrieving many other pilots in places that were harder to find than our field. After 3,5 hours of waiting and temperatures falling down below 10C, I was really glad when the French team offered us two spaces in their team car and took Andre and me back to Valle, while Achim and Trent were still waiting for a car to pick them up. It´s not just about the flying here, also the organization around the competition is quite a bit of an adventure!
Like I already did today (unsuccessfully) I will try again tomorrow to get a shorter task for the pilots, because I prefer to see more pilots happy and healthy in goal, rather than getting exhausted from long retrieve actions. Im not scared, but I also don´t fancy to be on my own in a place that is difficult to find after dark.

01 März 2015

Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony led us from the main square, the "zocalo" of Valle de Bravo, to a place close to the lake, accompanied by a school orchestra and the cheering of the whole village. After official speeches, some traditional dance groups were performing on stage. This year, the Aztec dancers were nor as scary as last year (no human sacrifice...), and Jörg was allowed to try one of their feather helmets on.
In the evening, we met for an organized dinner downtown, right after we had a team leader briefing for about two and a half hours - I had assisted Uli, our team leader, as he is doing this job for the first time.
Today there is a training task, but I prefer to rest, charge my instruments, and my own batteries too, because from tomorrow on, we will have at least 6 consecutive days of flying. About half of the field decided to rest today.

28 Februar 2015


Yesterday I landed at the Amanalco goal when a football game had just started. A band was playing interesting mariachi style music, and we were welcomed by loads of friendly kids. My whole team and lots of others decided to land there, because it is the smoothest, easiest landing field of the whole competition I think :)
Today we went through the long process of registration for the worlds. Licenses, insurances, certifications, gps downloads, ... all the really exciting paperwork happened this morning. It was a pleasant surprise to meet Kari Castle who will work in the organization team.
One of the FAI officials already had a mishap - he fell down some stairs and broke his leg, he is on the way to hospital in Mexico.

26 Februar 2015

Nice flying and visiting the Monarcas

 After visiting the Monarch butterflies from the air the day before, we went up the mountain yesterday to see this natural wonder of bezillions of bright orange butterflies. They are about to migrate back north to Canada, because they don´t like the rainy season in Mexico, but they will come back every november to stay here over winter.
After the trip to the mariposas, we went looking for possible landing fields. Long driving, and not many fields at all found, but very important to know where the few good ones are!
Today we might fly towards the north, to Amanalco, which is the nicest goal field in this area I think.

23 Februar 2015

Big thanks!!!

I just finished my preparations and will take a first test flight tomorrow. Time to send a big thanks to a lot of people around the world for all their help on our way to get here. With all our gear, it is a major logistic event to move as much as we have to, from Germany to Mexico.
My glider in the box weighs almost 40kg, and I would not have been able to shift it around on my own, let alone to put it on or take it down from the bus that picked us up - lucky that I have really strong team mates who did not hesitate a second to jump in!
Achim´s friend Brenda who lives in Valle helped us to find phone cards, she prepared a huge fruit basket as a welcome and translates for us where needed. It is great to have such a good help, I think specially our team leader is very glad that he has such an organized, friendly girl at his side to help out!
 It is certainly a privilege to be part of our German national team for me, but it is a huge effort in terms of time, money and energy for every one of us too. If there were bezillions of money in our sport like in others, we would not have to worry and just have one hang glider in every country, personal assistants, physiotherapists, chef and all. But it is not - and so we are really dependant on others to help us when we travel, which is a humbling experience. So I thought it is time to send out a big Dankeschön, thanks, gracias, obrigada, merci, spassiba, takk, grazie, teshek kür, arrigato into all directions of the world - let´s have a great comp here together and remember - it is all for the mere fun and joy of flying!

22 Februar 2015

Arriving in Valle - finally!

After a lot of help from great people on the way over to the hang gliding worlds at Valle de Bravo, we finally arrived after a neverending odyssee at 1.30 pm local time in the morning, which is 8.30 am our time... the guys managed to stay up and talk a bit more, I just collapsed into bed, waking up to birds and dogs - and, most of all, sunshine this morning in beautiful Mexico!
For some reason, in Mexico city at the airport, our seven gliders had to be inspected by who knows, so we waited about two extra hours after the long flight for our luggage. In the meantime, the guys who were supposed to pick us up had gone to get some food, so it got really late when we finally left Mexico City. At least the traffic was smooth at this time of night, and I was glad that our team leader Uli drove the rental car, and we also had another driver for the bus with the gliders, so we could just sit and rest.
Now we are starting to set up the gliders and check if they made it ok. Looking good! Off to work now, more pictures later.