26 Dezember 2010

Los Angeles from the sky

When I had to shift my december schedule around a little, I was sad that I had to give away the flight to Bogota. I got Los Angeles instead - and was surprised to see Bram as our co-pilot on the crew list. A true enthusiast when it comes to flying and planes. Also our captain Juergen has more than just a 747 type rating. He used to fly hang gliders, and now he supports his son in glider competitions.
Seconds after I knew I was going to fly with Bram, he already asked if I was interested in a flight around L.A. in a cessna he was going to rent at Torrance airport. Juergen and another colleague went as well, and we had a lot of fun cruising through "the shortcut" LAX to Santa Monica, then into the Hollywood hills, climbing out and checking out San Bernadino take off. Nobody was there, the wind was pretty strong and we saw amazing lenticular clouds later on.
Bram landed the plane up in Big Bear. People were skiing already, even though it was 20 C at the beach down below in L.A.! We had some lunch, talked to the cool navy guys who flew the shark plane, and then went back. In the lee with that kind of strong wind (whitecaps on the lake) I expected a kind of rough take off, but Bram pulled it off very smoothly. Then I was in charge and sure enough, I steered our plane over to Lake Elsinore to see if anybody was out there. Still nobody in the air without a motor. Flying back along the coastline was fun, and my passengers didnt get too sick I hope ;)
Later we talked to the guy who owns the rental business, Bram knows him quite well, and I asked about one of the posters on the wall which included Michael Goulian - he had co-sponsored Michael Goulian on air shows, I had met Mike at the Red Bull Air Race, he was the young and upcoming American pilot who always reminded me of "Ross" from the series "Friends". Sometimes this flying world is small!
I had also tried to contact Felix Baumgartner, as he often is in L.A. to fly and prepare for his Stratosphere record jump. He was not in the US this time, but finishing his rating on the Bell 47... good reason, still it would have been great to meet again. I hope next time at Hangar 7 probably.
Anyway, it was a pleasant flight and a great day with friends, never boring, actually not really enough time, so many things to talk about. Thanks Bram and Juergen, I hope we will have another work trip again soon!

20 Dezember 2010

Learning to ski!

After not having been too well for a couple of days, I was a bit nervous to go to the Dolomites with some of my best friends for a skiing trip. One little difficulty - I don´t know how to ski. At all. It took a little while for my instructor to believe me ;) Alex Ploner really had to start from scratch. But what can you do when you spend childhood and youth in the German flatlands in Bremen, far away from the mountains, and when you really always preferred to run away to Australia in winter...?
Anyway, I felt fit enough on Saturday and we started on the training hill. Alex is a great teacher, it was a lot of fun and really easy to run down the slopes with him. I had been a little scared of the cold (we had minus 15...), but with the right gear, you will stay warm, dry and comfortable.
Of course I could not keep up with the "pros" - Regina, Bob, Tim, Andi and Alex are real racers! - but it was fun to see the progress and eventually be able to kind of control the runs at faster speeds as well. And then - we were in the most spectacular scenery, the Dolomites! I must admit that Ive never seen these mountains covered in snow before ;) It was great to try something new, to start as a real beginner, and to see my friends look after me well, with a lot of fun and patience. Thanks guys for a really really great time! And also thanks to Andrea (also a hang glider pilot and friend of Alex) for the great pizza in his restaurant Rifugio Piz Sorega and "mille grazie" to Alex´family - we stayed in their beautiful hotel Gran Paradiso! If you ever want to go skiing in the most beautiful mountains in the world, stay in San Cassiano at their place, it is magical!

07 Dezember 2010

Christmas with Timezone!

I forgot to write about last Friday - my friend Rebekka visited me, we had dinner and then she took me to the Shakira concert here in Munich. I don´t know how many people´s nerves I stepped on by constantly singing "waka waka eh eh... - this time for España!" while we were at the European Championships in Ager/Spain (they started on the final day of the soccer world cup).
It was a great concert and good to have somebody who knows much more about Shakira and her songs than I do, Rebi gave me a lot of background information, so it was not boring while we were waiting. No group before Shakira, and because of an "electrical problem" she only went on stage at 21.30. But then the show was really cool. I liked it that she was dancing around barefoot on stage, and her belly dancing samba style is just amazing!
Yesterday I went to Regina. She had a Christmas packet from Timezone for me, and of course we had fun doing a fashion show with the nice things from the winter collection. On the photo our favourite new dresses - they are so comfortable and warm and look great. You find the dresses here in the Timezone Online Shop - but Jamie, I don´t know if they already deliver to the US, you might have to mail order it to my place ;)

06 Dezember 2010

Mount St. Elias

Before going skiing in the Dolomites with Regina and friends, I better do some research, as my skiing skills are not yet quite convincing. There is an amazing film out in German cinemas at the moment, it is called Mount St. Elias and I will definitely check it out before my trip to the the snow covered Dolomites. Mind you, these guys went to Alaska, they mastered a 5500m mountain and went down the longest vertical snow covered slope in the world. Makes my planned trip to the beautiful Italian cliffs (that I only know from the air) sound really comfy and cozy... ;) all a question of the right perspective I guess.