17 Juli 2018

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.

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