24 Juni 2008


After coming back from Greifenburg, I had to pack my suitcase again and leave at 4.15 am the next morning to go to work. The moment I picked up my gear, it started pouring outside. My flight to Frankfurt was overbooked due to a cancellation of a later flight. I got lucky though and was allowed one of the cockpit jumpseats. Amazing huge clouds after take off!
Our A330 to Calgary was nearly booked out. The flight took us about 9 hours. Calgary is growing, building places everywhere. Once I arrived at the hotel downtown, I contacted Vincene Müller, Chris Müller´s mum, and we met in the city, catching up on a lot of hanggliding and paragliding stuff, anything between Canada, Australia and Europe. I felt like Im connecting the continents!
Even more so when Bernie Winkelmann came over from work and mentioned Jeff O´Brien and I said that I just did some Yoga with the Jeffs yesterday in Greifenburg on the lawn in front of Bettina´s house, overlooking the Drautal! Sometimes the world is small.
Anyway, I have to return soon, the flight will be nearly booked out, a lot of work. But I will be back here soon, it is a nice place with a good feel – and always great to be able to meet friends during the layover time.
On the photo Vincene, me, Bernie and his wife Moon.

22 Juni 2008

The Awards - European Champions 2008

On the photo next to me you see Elio Cataldi from Italy, Michi Friesenbichler from Austria and Christa Aichner from Germany. We were honoured yesterday at the big award ceremony of the European Championships in hanggliding.
I had a flight in the morning to get some good film footage with Charlie and his professional cameras. Oli Barthelmes flew around and above me as close as I usually dont allow anybody ;) the air was clear and we had a beautiful light, so watch out for some nice videos out on my sponsors pages soon!
I got one of those nice trophy´s that Elio is holding as well. It weighs about 25 kg, so you can imagine how people were laughing when I tried to hold the trophy up high above my head...
Today it seems like a great day for flying, maybe even crossing the alps once more. I will see what the wind does, if it slows down a little bit, it might be possible.
Tomorrow I have to work and fly to Calgary for a day, I hope I can visit Vincene Müller and Bernie Winkelmann there.

20 Juni 2008

European Champions: Elio Cataldi and me!

The last day of the Championships is usually the most exciting one, especially when you only moved up to the third place in team ranking on the day before. I was lucky to have accumulated an comfortable 450 points on Natalia behind me, so I was quite relaxed today and looked forward to a last round here in Greifenburg. Three tasks is not exactly a lot. At least I had nearly 5 hours of airtime yesterday, Christa even more than 6!
We set up the gliders, but already during the briefing dark clouds moved in. The task was 92km around 3 turnpoints. I took off in the early launch, but it didnt look more inviting from the air, with showers going down north of the first turnpoint, also to our west and south. I reported that on the radio while our teamleader Regina stood next to organizer Wolfgang. A few minutes later, after having talked to the meteorolist, the task was cancelled.
Most people were relieved, and our team was superexcited to be on third place, the best ranking for a long time, with 5 pilots amongst the top 20. For the women, it is the first official European title ever, and Im very happy to have earned it here in my favourite place, Greifenburg.
The new European Champion is Elio Cataldi - his daughter Lisa will start hanggliding this year! Second is Tom Weissenberger and third Michi Friesenbichler. The top 3 guys and me all on Moyes gliders, all Litespeeds! A great success for our manufacturer!
When I met my favourite French pilot today, the Colombian Luiz Rizo, he looked quite sad - he had broken his nose on his landing yesterday. Where are your brothers when you need them? Carlos is a doctor, but currently in Toronto. I guess Luiz was happy too not to have to fly today. He was the top French pilot until the last task.
We are happy to have been able to fly here, together with an amazing force of strong pilots. Yet it is difficult to celebrate after the loss of our Swiss friend Richi Meier. Our whole team thought of him today while we were gliding to the landing field.

Der letzte Tag einer Meisterschaft ist immer der Spannendste, speziell wenn man sich am Vortag auf Platz 3 in der Teamwertung vorarbeiten konnte. Zum Glück hatte ich durch den letzten Durchgang ein bequemes Polster von 450 Punkten erflogen, sodaß ich dem Tag ganz locker entgegenblickte. Gerne wollte ich noch einen schönen Durchgang fliegen, denn nur drei gewertete Tage sind nicht besonders erfüllend für einen zweiwöchigen Wettbewerb. Auch wenn ich gestern mit fünf Stunden Flugzeit voll ausgekostet hatte – Christa flog sogar über sechs Stunden!
Wir bauten auf, doch schon während des Briefings ließen uns die schwarzen Wolken südlich überm Reißkofel und westlich Richtung Lienz erahnen, daß es kein langer Flugtag werden würde. Die Aufgabe ging dann auch nur über 92 km und drei Wenden.
Ich startete im Frühstartfenster, weil ich dann mehr Ruhe habe, um gemütlich an die Wolke hochzusteigen. Aus der Luft sah die Situation nicht besser aus, in Spittal ging schon Regen runter, der auf unsere erste Wende loszog, überall auf der Strecke schossen die Blumenkohle in die Höhe. Über Funk gab ich die Infos aus der Luft weiter an Regina, die gerade neben Organisator Wolfgang Sattlegger stand. Er erbat sich zwei Minuten für eine Entscheidung. Kurz darauf wurde der Tag abgesagt.
Ein Jauchzer der Erleichterung und ein Jubel über das hier Erreichte ging über unsere Frequenz.. Teambronze für die Männer, die beste Leistung seit Ewigkeiten mit fünf deutschen Piloten unter den Top 20.
Christa flog in der Damenwertung auf den Bronzeplatz hinter Natalia Petrova aus Rußland. Für mich gibt es nun den ersten offiziellen Europameisterinnen-Titel aller Zeiten. Bislang nahmen nie genug Frauen an einer EM teil, um auch hier eine Wertung zu erzielen. Erst Greifenburg hat dieses möglich gemacht.
Die Österreicher sind unangefochtene Team-Europameister, aber der Einzeltitel geht an den Italiener Elio Cataldi. Auf Platz zwei Tom Weissenberger aus Salzburg, auf dem Dritten der vorherige Europameister Michi Friesenbichler.
Trotz aller Erleichterung, allen Erfolges fällt uns das Feiern schwer angesichts des unfaßbaren Verlustes unseres Schweizer Freundes Richi Meier.

19 Juni 2008

154 km!

Finally another task! Today clouds were low, but everybody was positive to see the best day of the meet, so they set an interesting triangle down towards Matrei, over across Gailtal, towards Goldeck and back home. The usual places were a bit rough, Anna Schutzhaus and also into Gailtal was not easy. The big crossings cost us quite some height, because the base for the crossings was at about 2700 m with a cross head wind.
Alex Ploner was first in goal, the Italians had many pilots in with the first gaggle. I guess I was the first (and maybe only) woman - I havent seen Natalia around. About 35 made goal today. Will be interesting to see the results later. Andre Djamarani from our team was in 10th, the fastest German today, followed by Roland, Lukas, Hans, Gerald and me.

18 Juni 2008

Nearly a task

Today we went up the mountain again even though cloudbase was nearly on the ground. Yet the forecast was for big improvement - instead we saw altocumulus fields spreading out at the inversion layer above us, with low clouds not quite willing to dissolve below us.
Anyway, I was delighted to meet an old friend at take off: Guido Gehrmann visited us! Good to see him around, fun as ever! He works for Lufthansa from Munich, me from Frankfurt, so unfortunately we dont get to fly to work together. But now Guido will fly with us for a few days. He arrived in time, it looks like the best day of this comp for tomorrow!
Our teamleader Regina decided to fly today as well, taking photos together with Jörg, and on the last picture you see Christa´s take off today.

17 Juni 2008

Pitch discussions

Today we still have low clouds, rain and storms are forecasted for the afternoon, so we had a few hours of discussion after Dennis Pagen had published his pitch measurements, leaving the more detailed explanations to Gerolf.
Looks like tomorrow we might get another task in if the trough moves through fast enough. For sure we will fly on Thursday, Friday looks iffy at this time.

16 Juni 2008


The day started with sun and blue skies, we went up Emberger Alm really early because the forecast was for a warm front moving in during the afternoon. A task was set around 3 turnpoints with goal in Villach, 60km east of us.
I took off in the alternate launch at 11.15 already, climbing out easily and flying towards the east. Our startgate had a height limit of 2200m to avoid cloud flying. Lukas, Jörg and a few more of my team decided to try a different way than the obvious one, trying to stay away from the big gaggle and the clouds moving into Drautal.
We were lucky not to have witnessed what happened at Stagor. Richi Meier tumbled just after the task had started. Having been low above ground, his reserve chute didnt have enough height to deploy. Richi died when he hit the ground. I was devastated when Regina told me the sad news after I had landed. I had known Richi for many years, one of the strongest pilots ever.
We just returned from a service for Richi. My thoughts are with his love Vanessa and their young daughter Solea - and of course with the whole Swiss team, his family and friends.
Difficult to talk about scoring and points when there are other things on our minds. Today it was grey and raining, same prediction for tomorrow, so we will have a rest and some time to recover.
Im not sure if the Swiss team will continue the competition.

14 Juni 2008

More soccer...

...than flying! What can we do? Today we went up the mountain even though the sky was overcast, but we had our hopes up that it would clear from the west. Instead some more rain moved in from the southeast, so we finally had to give up the day and pack up in the rain.
It is quite chilly now, even at the campsite. Tomorrow we need to be up really early because we want to try to get a round in before we are hit by a warm front tomorrow afternoon.
It was Franz Mandl´s 50th birthday this week, he is the Mayor of Greifenburg and set up the infrastructure for all pilots. On the picture you see the Greifenburg costume band playing a birthday tune for Franz.

13 Juni 2008

Rainrainrain - snow!

Last night another front went through and left us with constant, merciless rain. Today there will be a pilots meeting to discuss Lukas´ and Gerolf´s proposal to try a height restricted startgate in order to avoid cloud flying. We expect low cloudbases for the next few days, so it might add to everybody´s safety if a sensible rule is agreed on today.
That hot stone massage really worked for my back, I slept like a baby and my muscles are all relaxed. I wish we always had the luxury of a physio or massage therapist at comps. The French know their secrets, they had a physio and doctor with them at big competitions for many years.
What to do on a rainy day? There are several hot springs in the vicinity, maybe we will go to Bad Kleinkirchheim later on and soak in hot water at the side of a mountain. And tonight Primoz might teach us a bit more about his healthy ayurvedic cooking – be sure it is superdelicious too!

12 Juni 2008

4th day: More rain!

Just what happened to the great weather from a few weeks ago? The weather changed completely, until Sunday about 3 more cold fronts are supposed to move through. Lucky I brought warm clothes!
Today was cancelled in the morning, because grey clouds covered the sky and rain showers moved through. At the moment we have steady rain. Time for a rest, for some work, and for a wonderful hot stone massage by our team assistant Conny!
On the photo you see Andre, the highest ranked German in the comp at the moment. He is new on the team and scored straight away! Good on him!
On the other picture, my friend Carole from the Swiss team, and Antoine from France. As if they already knew about the weather at the opening briefing...

11 Juni 2008

3rd day: cancelled due to storms

It looked incredible this morning, blue skies, no wind, just pristine! We went up the Emberger Alm, set up, and then - the clouds started forming. Too early for us. Now, at 14.10, there is heavy thunder, lightening and a lot of rain at the camp. The task was cancelled before it started, the overdevelopment was too fast and obvious. Some people had a quick flight, I took pictures and decided to pack up, because the rain was moving in and I get nervous when I see cb´s (well, in a hangglider, not when Im in a jet ;)).
FAI-Steward Dennis Pagen lost his bet today that the weather would stay flyable at least until 2.30 pm - it started raining at about 1.15 pm... sometimes the weather moves in fast over here.
Tomorrow and the following days look pretty sad weatherwise, luckily there is a lot to do and we will enjoy the "holiday" here as well!
On the photos you see Lukas at take off and Gerolf doing some nice wing overs in front of the bis clouds.

10 Juni 2008

1. Task European Championships

Today we flew a 100km task around 4 turnpoints, out to Zwickenberg, over to Windische Höhe, then Gerlamoos, Lindner Alm and to Goal in Bruggen - finally a larger field without powerlines or other hazards! Except for this little Piper or what the plane on the picture is. It crossed the goal line quite low while people were coming in...
It was a tough day because cloud base was low for big crossings, I nearly went down in Hermagor/Gailtal. Looks like Gerolf won the day, ahead of Martin Härri and Christian Voiblet. The Swiss seem to lead the comp in the team scores! Roland was the fastest of our team, but unfortunately he didnt get the last turnpoint scored! Andre was the second fastest, then Lukas and Hans, Gerald and me. Except, I was too slow to be in goal. The task was stopped after I was in, but the 30 minutes that they deduct circled me back to about 90 km. Reminded me of the Womens Worlds, haha! Furthest woman today anyway, followed by Natalia Petrova and Uschi Broich from Austria is on third, then Swiss Carole and Monique from our team.
The other picture is a tribute to my Swiss friends and to the Swiss team - it will be an interesting race against a strong Italian and French team over here, also the Austrians have a lot of top pilots here.

09 Juni 2008

First Day cancelled due to rain

Yesterday we went to Berg for the big opening ceremony of the European Championships in hanggliding. The hall was full of people when the teams of pilots were led onto the stage by boys of the Greifenburg soccer team in their team dress. Afterwards we had dinner together, a great group played the drums and they had even created a song for the Championships!

Today the sky was bluish, so we had our hopes up for a task. When it was time for briefing, the rain started to be harder and shortly after, the day was cancelled. Anyway, forecasts for tomorrow are better, Im positive that we will get in the first points tomorrow.

08 Juni 2008

Team Timezone in the sun!

After everybody had arrived, we had our first team meeting yesterday. Regina handed out the Adidas team jackets – and I think Andre Djamarani looks best. I will take a photo for you tonight of our new team hunk – mind you, he doesnt just look very attractive, he was also the best placed German pilot here in Greifenburg at the Austrian Nationals.
I had a short test flight today. Oli had put new wires on my glider, and it flies straight and sweet, finding me the thermals. I didnt intend to thermal too much today though, because the rain was already on the way again, on both sides.
I landed in Thaler’s big field, much easier with changing wind directions. Only minutes after I landed, Jörg drove towards me and stopped. He had identified me from kilometers away by my Timezone wings and helped me to pack up the glider – big rain was on the way, and we just managed to put the glider into the den before it started pouring again.
At 5pm, we have a mandatory pilots briefing, and tonight at 8pm we will go to Berg to the opening ceremony. As you see on the photo with Jörg, it is quite dark in the background, we will need luck to stay dry tonight.

07 Juni 2008

Greifenburg European Championships

Last night I arrived with my parents in Greifenburg to prepare for the European Championships. For the first time ever we are enough women to have an official title in women´s class as well!
With Monique and Christa we have two more strong women who know this area very well on our German team, the guys are Hans, Jörg, Andre Djamarani, Gerald Woll, Roland and Lukas. Unfortunately Oli pulled out, but he will be here at least a few days with Carol and Luca.
Together with Regina, I checked the weather - rain and storms, iffy conditions for this week. And then, of course, we checked the results of the East Coast Championships, where our team mate Jamie Shelden is in first place in the womens ranking at the moment! We are very happy for her and keep our fingers crossed! She enjoys her new Litesport very much, and fun is the most important thing, performance follows;) All the best to Jamie from Greifenburg! We cant wait to see you here on the 21st, our award night.
Today and tomorrow we can inscribe for the Euros, a few people are flying (sometimes through rain), tomorrow night is the big opening. I guess it will be small, because it is at the same time as the first game of the soccer Europeans in Austria - Austria plays against Croatia, and later Germany against Poland, just an hour drive from here in Klagenfurt... how can we compete?