26 August 2010

My friend the camel and me - Cairo, Timezone UTC +2

I had a great flight from Oslo to Frankfurt with Scandinavian Airlines. I was allowed to sit in the cockpit of the 737-600 and had a look down on Bremen, my home, which looks very similar to Oslo, except beer is a lot cheaper ;)
In Cairo I always have to go to the pyramids and find a friendly camel to ride. We had great fun with those beautiful animals. Finally somebody who understands and appreciates my jokes.

23 August 2010

Meeting Morten

The reason for my trip to Oslo - Im writing an article for the Red Bulletin, talking to Morten Harket, a conversation between artist and athlete. Not so much about music in particular, but about life, opinions, experiences, attitudes - it was fantastic and very inspiring, and a little difficult to keep my brain switched on when he started smiling at me ;) I could write a book now, trying to catch at least a few of all the topics we were talking about, God and the world, I could go on soaring around the philosophical skies with him forever.


Today Georgia and Oyvind took me to Holmenkollen - some time ago, they had been able to fly from a hill around the corner from the big ski jump ramp, but now there are too many buildings everywhere. What a great view of the Oslo Fjord though!
We also went to the beach at the old airport of Oslo, there is still a small, visible part of the runway, now used for roller hockey. Oyvind said they used to aerotow there, but now they built too many obstacles. Too bad, it looks like a great place to find seabreeze convergence. Except it must be very difficult with the airspace restrictions of Oslo.
This is one of the most beautiful big cities in the world, as it feels very small and comfortable, with a lot of trees and nature. And forests full of chanterelle and porcini mushrooms! I would love to live here in summer, but summer really is too short, and winter too long and dark. It is nice to sit in front of the fire place in winter, but I am always glad to escape to the south for some flying in warmer climates ;) yet I really want to go to Vaga and Voss - maybe they could organize the next Women´s and Rigid Worlds in Vaga?

22 August 2010

Oslo, Vigeland Sculpture Park

Early on Saturday, I flew up to Oslo. The first surprise was the purser of my flight - Britta is a friend from my first flight attendant training, and she is also a fan of a-ha and Morten and was thrilled to hear where I was going...
In Oslo, I took the bus to get to Helsfyr where Georgia picked me up and brought me to her and Oyvinds flat. She spoilt me with some pao de queijo, my favourite Brazilian delicacy - and confused me completely with that, because I was still in Caracas jetlag and with the familiar smell of those little crispy cheese rolls, I thought I was in Brazil, not in Norway.
Georgia and Oyvind took me to Vigeland Sculpture Park in the afternoon, as I had never been there before. Amazing to see so many sculptures in a park!
In the evening, Oyvind took me to Ulleval Stadium for the a-ha concert. The first time ever that I heard them in Norway. Pål seemed more ecstatic than ever on stage, it was fun watching him, as he obviously enjoyed playing and being on stage. Mags entertained the audience and I was happy that I got some subtitles every now and then from the people around me, as my Norwegian is not quite that fluent anymore.
The light show had advanced a great deal from the Buenos Aires stage, but the absolute highlight of the evening was Morten´s heavenly voice, crystal clear, absolutely on top of every key! It was the best performance of him that I have heard so far. And I guess also the other 30000 people in the stadium appreciated it, even if they did not express their enthusiasm as openly as the South Americans. Audience wise it looked very much like a concert in Germany. Well I guess German fans are a bit more hysteric than the people in Norway.
Sunny but very windy in Oslo today. I will meet Bjørn and his Italian mountaineer friends tonight for dinner and then have an interview for the Red Bulletin magazine tomorrow. Can´t wait!

19 August 2010

Caracas, Timezone UTC - 4:30

As short as the stay in Venezuela is, it is still always very relaxing. It is hot, about 35 degrees, and a little overcast in the mountains behind us. I have been training this morning in the pool, fantastic to have such a big pool on my own, while the others are having breakfast.
In one hour, we will go back to the airport to fly home, aout a 9 hour trip on an airbus 340-600 with about 300 passengers.

18 August 2010

Early morning in Frankfurt

This morning I got up at 3.50 am to catch the first flight to Frankfurt. I have to work and go to Caracas today, looking forward to that very much! At the moment Im waiting in Frankfurt for my briefing. I was a bit tired, but luckily it is possible to take the small Red Bull Shot through the passenger security control now! That one saved me from falling asleep here at the Lufthansa base ;) Now the passengers can come, I have wings and will run fast for them.
Weather forecast is for rain in Venezuela today at the coast, but nice and warm, and sun for tomorrow. If Im lucky I will briefly meet Patrick, a pilot friend of mine who will work on the flight back today.

15 August 2010

Best friends

This photo was taken in Spain at the European Championship in Ager. My father found these two beautiful sunflowers close to the goal at Vilamitjana for Regina and me, and when I looked at the photo, I thought I should introduce you to my best friend in hang gliding for many years.
Regina Glas has been the team leader for our "open" team at the Euro´s and Worlds, and she is a member of our women´s team when we are flying the women´s worlds. Also she is probably the one who put the biggest effort into organizing the Women´s World Championships at Tegelberg this year. She is one of the most patient and good hearted people I know. And one of the most dedicated to our sport of hang gliding and paragliding. Regina is working for the DHV, the German hang- and paragliding association, where she helps to promote a positive public image of our sport.
Many people have confused her and me, even though our "dialects" are extremely different: I am from Bremen, from the very north of Germany, and Regina is from the southern part of Bavaria close to Tegernsee. Even pre-world Champion Manfred Ruhmer can´t always tell us apart ;)
This year, Regina had trouble with the discs of her back and had been in big pain for a while. I hope all is good again and she can fly very soon. I know that Regina went to Slovenia for the Kobala Open, and even though she might not, as planned, be able to participate, Im sure she will take some great photos and write updates for us on the DHV home page. I wish I could be there as well, but I have to work on a flight to Caracas this week. Too early to take Claudia back home I guess, Jamie and her are in Tolmin as well.

13 August 2010

Luanda, Timezone GMT + 1

People are friendly and helpful, and after asking a few times, I understand their Portuguese. Food in the supermarkets is expensive, as almost everything is imported. About twice the price of the same goods in Germany. Even fruit and vegetables that I thought were local produce are extremely high priced. Apparently the land is still full of mines from the civil war, so it cannot be used extensively for agriculture. But I found no coconuts, no big yams, nothing that I would expect here. There are women on the streets with big baskets full of bananas, plantains, oranges and (small) avocados. I have seen goiabada and feijoada in the shops and restaurants, the food definitely has a Brazilian influence .
So how does the average Angolan survive here? I have no idea how they can afford all these goods. Even rice, pasta and bread are twice as much, and a can of Red Bull in the supermarket is around 2,30 €!
Well the average flight attendant survives by bringing some of her own cans of Red Bull, and enjoys the ready made organic vegetarian curries bought in india a while ago, as it is too difficult to find some food without meat or fish in some of these countries that still regard meat in the food as a status symbol. I read a great article in the "Zeit" newspaper yesterday about vegetarianism these days, that people become more aware of what killing an animal means (and the torture of animals in mass production) when it is unneccessary in our times and western European countries. It was the leading article on the cover! Quite impressive for a German newspaper.

Luanda, Angola

So I am in Luanda for the first time. All I knew is that it used to be a Portuguese colony and that they had a long collaboration with East Germany, it was one of the Interflug destinations, connecting East Berlin and Luanda directly.
Also, it is the most expensive city and our most expensive crew hotel in the world. Don´t expect luxury - it is just clean, has power, and is airconditioned, but not exactly quiet or anything posh. Because we arrive in the morning and leave in the evening, they charge for two nights, which is 800 US $ per room per stay!!!
I have not walked around this place yet, but it is supposed to be very expensive in the shops as well. I have no idea how a "normal" person can survive here. Probably by cleaning out a plane ;)
On the photos the views from my hotel room.

12 August 2010

Cairo, then Luanda

After coming back from Monte Cucco, I had a day trip to Cairo and back, just enough to see the Pyramids in the haze. Coming back, they already called me for the next work trip to Luanda (Angola). Washing, ironing, packing the suitcase again, flying up to Franky and now off to Luanda.
Ive never been there, but I know that they speak Portuguese in Angola, and maybe some German with and East German dialect? Lucky I had a bit of language training last week during the pre-worlds with my friends from the Brazilian team...
More pictures once I am there, tomorrow early morning. I brought my mozzie net and I hope I can keep the Malaria guys out!

09 August 2010

Where are the Russians???

First of all, the teams got their trophies yesterday at the award ceremony of the pre-worlds. The Italian team won again (like in Ager at the Europeans), ahead of the Austrians and the French, followed by Britain and Brazil. The Brazilians won the Cucco Worlds in 1999 and are keen to do that again next year. My team (Roland, Gerd, Christian, Markus and me) was in 7th place, the second German team ("Teambuktu" with Monique, Stefan Boller, Uli Eysel, Jörg Bajewski, Stefan Kohlmeistern, Konrad Schwab and Stephan Mangelsdorf) ended in 17th and team "Bavaria" in 21st out of 38 teams.
After the teams they tried to call us women on stage, but where were the Russian women? No Yulia, no Natalia in sight! So Flavio called the top ten guys instead. Roland Wöhrle was the best German pilot in 10th place! Manfred won, followed by Jonny and Mario.
We were about to leave when I saw Natalia and sent her to Flavio to get her trophy and to take a photo. When I arrived there, she was gone, but Yulia was there... Finally we found Natalia again too and managed to take a photo with the top 3 women of the comp: Yulia in 1st, me in 2nd and Natalia in 3rd. I am sorry that Yulia has to go back to Moscow now to try and get a new visa. The fires around Moscow are still burning and are turning the air in and around the city into a very unhealthy fog.
The next days I have to work standby for Lufthansa and I have no idea yet where they will send me to.

08 August 2010

Pre-Worlds Premiazione

At 10 am, we will have the award ceremony of the pre worlds at Monte Cucco in the centre square of Sigillo where we had the awards for the world championships two years ago.
Manfred won the comp, Jonny came 2nd and Mario 3rd. Roland is the top ranked German pilot in 10th place, a very good result! Then it is Hans in 25th, me in 36th, Gerd 37th, Markus 65th. Yulia won the women´s ranking with a great overall result of 21st! Natalia is 3rd in 61st, tehn Carole, Monique and Christa.
More later after the awards.

07 August 2010

Monte Cucco Task 4: 80 km around 4 turnpoints

It rained and stormed all night, and it was very wet in the morning, with a cloudbase way below take off. We went to Cucco South take off anyway, but we had a late briefing and start of the day. Slowly base was rising, but then it looked a bit like the top of the clouds was rising too fast... By 15.20 when our startgate opened, it already rained behind take off.
Yet the task of 81 km around 4 turnpoints was not stopped or cancelled. Lift was strong and reliable, but here and there we saw some showers. Luckily no lightening or thunder. When we came back along take off, the rain had gone and the last part or our task up to Scheggia looked sunny again.
Jeff O´Brien (US) won the day with a very low and marginal final glide into goal at Vila Scirca. Overall Manfred stays in the lead, but Primoz will have dropped out of the top 3 today, and Jonny moved probably up. Great effort – Jonny´s carbon leading edge was broken on take off so he had to fly a different glider, then he had forgotten his shoes and hopped off in thongs. Maybe the pilots´party was a bit intense last night?

06 August 2010

Pre-Worlds Day 7: cancelled for rain

We went to Gubbio yesterday for a tourist day, to look at some of our turnpoints of two years ago. It is a nice ridge that usually works fine, with really good landing fields around, but now it is in the restricted airspace, so we can´t use it this year.
there were spectacular storms in the afternoon and this morning, with some beautiful rainbows inbetween, and now it is one wave of rain moving through after the other. with low clouds and and cold air. It feels a bit like autumn already. The day was cancelled at the first briefing this morning and gives us more time to explore this unique area. Tomorrow, the day after the frontal zone, looks like the best day of the whole week, so we will have a last, big task to fly which makes the end of the comp interesting.

05 August 2010

Monte Cucco Day 6: cancelled for cold front

Today a cold front will pass us, the clouds are getting lower and lower and it looks like we will see some rain or even storms soon. People left for Assisi, Rome, Urbino, Gubbio,... there is plenty to see in this part of Italy, loads of frescoes in the old churches of grand masters like Giotto, Raffael was born in Urbino which is half an hour drive from here. Definitely not boring, and the food is great too, with the fresh pasta and pizza and a lot of truffels!

04 August 2010

Task 3: 90 km around 5 turnpoints

Today we went to Cucco North for take off, as we experienced quite strong northerly wind and a low cloudbase. I didn´t get higher than 1550m msl the whole day, and we had still a 90 km task around 5 turnpoints. Not easy to fly, as the lift was quite rough and small, not too strong. At least there were clouds, and sometimes I chose the right ones that worked.
After the last turnpoint, I started heading out towards goal in Esanatolia, but goal was quite high and as I didnt know if I could make it or not and the last few kilometers were just hills and a lot of powerlines, I turned around and landed in the last field before goal that seemed safe to me, about 3km away.
Zippy won the day today, after having partied till very late last night very exceptional. I heard that Yulia made it to goal, but just, she was ground skimming in with a side wind.
Predictions for the next two days vary between rain and overdevelopment or higher clouds with a late chance of rain, so I guess we will just wait and see and try again tomorrow.

03 August 2010

Day 4: cancelled for rain and storms

Today we went up to take off, but a dark mass of clouds moved in pretty fast and shut our day off. When the curtain of rain reached us, the day was cancelled. Nevertheless, Antoine had fun playing around with his small speed glider and Laurent Thevenot had a great little flight and toplanding with his quiet electric trike that was fun to watch!

02 August 2010

Task 2 Cucco: 100km around 2 turnpoints

Today the forecast was for wsw wind with a base around 1800m and blue on our course with weaker lift than yesterday. Nevertheless, they set another big task of 100 km around two turnpoints. At briefing, there was quite a bit of amazement about the penalties. 7 pilots were zeroed for various airspace infringements, Shedsy and Luiz Rizo and Dustin amongst them! Then there was a list of 15 other pilots who got a warning for just one light step over the limit of less than 100 m, next time they will also be zeroed. It is very difficult to get exact coordinates and the airspace boarder while flying, also the difference between barometric and gps height is quite big... it can happen to anybody anytime I guess and I really hope they get rid of this problem for the worlds next year. With just two scheduled flights into Perugia airport every week, they should be able to find a better solution, more freedom for the flying world!
Anyway, the course led us right along the Perugia CTR, and I hope my track is ok again. It is very unpleasant to dive low into some of these hills that are very unlandable, also the 2nd turnpoint, Monte Catria, was impressive for the non-existence of any kind of slopes. With so many pilots in the air, at least we can see more lift than usual.
My driver Tim gave me a tracking device today that updates every 10 minutes. It is not as detailed as the one we had in Ager, but at least you can follow me on course now!
Manfred won the day again ahead of Alex Ploner an Elio Cataldi! I was the best woman (at the moment on 24th) and 3rd best German pilot after Roland and Gerd, Im quite happy about that as it was a day with quite a bit of headwind again in some places. Monique made goal today as well, and Christa landed at goal, just without the last difficult turnpoint (missing about 25 km).

01 August 2010

Monte Cucco Pre-Worlds Task 1: 104 km around 5 turnpoints

Today the wind dropped down and we went to Cucco North for take off. It was impressive to see 150 competitors and various free flyers set up on the ground, but in the air it was scary... very crowded gaggles almost all the way along the course. The fact that made our flight even harder is the restricted Perugia airspace that cut us down to 1800 m MSL or 6000 ft MSL almost everywhere on course! Luckily there were a few nice clouds around today and the lift was reliable and started quite low. Most of the landscape here are scenic rolling hills, just not exactly ideal for landing, as there are many small powerlines and the wind directions on the ground keep changing.
Looks like Manfred won the day just ahead of Jonny, and there were about 80 in goal. Christian, Hans and Roland were in goal way ahead of me, also Gerd and Uli Eysel did well of the German team. Monique flew really well, just before the last turnpoint she got stuck and didnt quite make it into goal. Yulia and Natalia were in goal ahead of me, I don´t know if Carole made it.
A big thanks to our driver Tim – he is the most dedicated supporter of competition pilots I know, Ive met him in almost every comp I flew over the past few years, and he has been a very competent , friendly and extremely helpful travel companion. I hope we always get to goal this week to make his life easy, but it is a good feeling to know that he is there to rescue us if we get low in the middle of Umbria´s nowhere!