31 Dezember 2009

December adventures

I was lucky in December - a change of schedule usually means flights like Ashgabad or Teheran. This time, they sent me to Bangkok. Great place to find beautiful flowers for my mother and other friends. Usually I never get there, so I was happy to be able to explore a new place - and to eat loads of superspicy Thai curry ;)
Coming back, I was again lucky that I had Christmas off for the first time since I started working for Lufthansa - my parents had water in the cellar of their house, as a pipe had frozen and then burst. They needed my help straight away, so this year Christmas was a great workout of carrying buckets full of water out of the house.
On the 1st of January, I have another long flight, and then I start preparing for Australia again. I could make enough time to go to the Australian Alps and fly the Bogong Cup. Im not too sad to leave rain and snow behind for a couple of weeks.

10 Dezember 2009

China again: Nanjing, Timezone: UTC + 8

And again, no chance to update my blog while I was in Nanjing, China. This city is not as big and not as modern as the well known metropoles of China, but it is nice to see some history and traditional places. Even if they are re-built like the Konfuzius temple on the photos, as it was completely destroyed before.
Nanjing has a dark history of destruction, not only by Japanese, but also by British and American bombing. About 400000 Chinese people dwere killed in the Nanjing massacre.
I was surprised to meet extremely friendly and helpful people - who were even lining up in front of the subway ticket machine! No elbowing in this city, I was even offered a seat on the train. Looking on my map, a girl stopped and asked if she could help me, as she spoke English, which not many people in Nanjing do.
A highlight for me - 20 different sorts of Tofu in the supermarket, and great tasty dragon fruit! But horror just a few meters away - I felt very sorry for the poor frogs and cute turtles sitting in tanks and waiting to become dinner :( one turtle nearly climbed on my arm, I so wish I could have taken all of them and set them free somewhere.
Another speciality in Nanjing is "soup of duck intestines". The smell made me hold my breath and run for fresh air several times. Duck liver, bowels, kidney, stomach and a lot of msg really create a smell that I cannot cope with...
While it was end of the world weather in Germany, we enjoyed some bright sunny days in Nanjing, but it was not far from freezing temperatures and I was superhappy that we had just got our Adidas team clothes for winter in Herzogenaurach. It was quite chilly when I collected some of the famous agates "Rain flower stones" at Yu Hua Tai, the rain flower terrace.
It was great to discover new places, a new culture and meet new people. Just foodwise it was quite difficult for a vegetarian, even the noodles tasted as if they were cooked in animal fat. When I go to Australia in January, I hope I can assist Molly Moyes again, her Chinese cooking is legendary (as are the numbers of people she feeds - family, friends and visiting foreign pilots ). And I definitely need to learn more about Chinese cooking to find some edible vegetarian dishes next time I get there.

Shanghai Surprise - Timezone: UTC + 8

After returning from Mexico, I went to China for the first time. It was a lot of fun on board when my colleagues taught me the basics of Chinese - the right intonation! I was surprised to see that the structure of the language is quite basic and I could communicate drinks and food successfully to the Chinese speaking passengers who seemed to have a lot of fun with my efforts.
The city of Shanghai is stunning - so many modern sky scrapers with really interesting architecture, so many people everywhere. The pushing and pulling is amazing, a bit of a cultural shock. If you try just to cue up in front of a ticket machine for the metro, you will never get a ticket ;) same in the supermarket, same in noodle bars - you need to use your elbows to survive.
Going around the city in the subway train is fast, but be prepared for a lot of pushing and pulling and also some pickpockets.
The famous Bund is a large constuction place at the moment, as the city is preparing for next year´s Expo 2010 in Shanghai - sorry that I can´t get you the picture with the Pudong view.
By the way, it took a while for me to update my blog, because my blog is censored in China. Seems like all blogspot addresses are forbidden, for whatever reason. I could read the Ozreport at least ;) And sure, my next trip took me to China again.

22 November 2009

More pictures from Playa

Actually these photos were taken in Tulum. We saw the Papantly flyers there - they keep turning around the pole while the ropes on their feet get longer and they eventually get down to the ground.
The highlight at the pyramids of Tulum weren´t actually the buildings for me, but the Iguanas, lots of little dragons were sitting everywhere and smiling at us. If you ever go to visit Tulum, go early - bezillions of large tourist groups are being moved through from about 10 am! And also be prepared for lots of large mosquitos...

17 November 2009


I had wanted to write about my current trip to Playa del Carmen, my Spanish course, meeting adorable Mexican people, learning how to cook tortillas and snorkelling, but but these everyday tidbits sound so unimportant compared to the sad news I learnt last Friday. Another lovely guy joined the heavenly league. I have known Ueli Gegenschatz for many years, I adored his acro team and base jump actions, and I loved his modest, straightforward Swiss temperament, his witty jokes, his enthusiasm about being in the air. Ueli together with Hannes, Guido and other Red Bull athletes - we had so much fun, it was always living life to the fullest, making the best of every minute and every situation. From my selfish point of view, you left this world way too early, Ueli! Not fair. We will dearly miss you. My thoughts are with Ueli´s family and friends.
And please guys, whereever you go, whatever you do, please be thourough and careful, as this year has really been marked with freak accidents.

22 Oktober 2009

More pics from Sao Paulo Grand Prix

More photos for you to share that incredible event, the race of the year, as Matt predicted, where everything was decided. An incredible privilege for me to have been able to participate "backstage", to meet the athletes and their fantastic teams. Im still over the moon that Sebastian´s team mate, Aussie Mark Webber, won the race, and I was allowed to hold his trophy and what was left of the champagne. Who do I have to bribe that we get these magnum bottles for our worlds as well?

19 Oktober 2009

I am dreaming.... (Sao Paulo, Timezone UTC – 2)

... and I won´t open my eyes so this incredible dream can continue. I had a Lufthansa work trip to Sao Paulo yesterday, and since we arrived early on Sunday morning, I had wondered if there was a tiny chance to get to Interlagos to see my first Formula 1 Grand Prix live. Matt, my friend from the Red Bull Air Race, is also working at F1 and had informed the Red Bull organizing crew here about my intention.
When we arrived at our crew hotel in the morning, it was obvious that a lot of the F1 teams are staying at the same hotel, as a lot of them were in their official gear, ready to go to the race course. I spotted two guys in Red Bull shirts and introduced myself – sure enough, it was Dominik who already knew I was coming over, and he pulled out a pass for me! Big smile, and my heart started beating faster. Unreal.
I changed, got down to the lobby and tried to find a lift to the race, when I met two Lufthansa pilots and Irmi, a colleague from Munich. They were also going to the race and let me join their group, patiently answering my bezillion questions, as they were big fans of F1 with a great knowledge.
Arriving at Interlagos, we were embraced by the Red Bull family. I found out that my pass took me right to the center of action, pit lane and all... Matt gave me a tour around the „paddock“ (I like that expression, reminds me of flying in Australia ;)) and had the next big surprise – I was allowed to meet and talk to Sebastian Vettel. I must be in humungous jet lag, still dreaming away...
I drank a can of Red Bull to get the energy to strengthen my wiggly knees, took a deep breath – and was overwhelmed by Sebastian´s modesty and openness. He told me that he had been out flying the helicopter with Guido, and the ice was broken immediately. I can´t give away all we talked about now, but I can tell you that it let my dream continue...
One hour before the race. To make it superspecial for me, the Red Bull guys take me to the box where the race cars are prepared. Tyres, spare parts, carbon elements – and a team of about 40 suprerorganized busy technicians who – despite of the stress and suspense – seem to share Sebastian´s friendly spirit. Suddenly Niki Lauda walks past. He is co-moderating the race for RTL German television.
Time for the ear plugs – Sebastian is in his machine and the engine is about to being started. An amazing sound, and a little earthquake. The vibration of the floor tickles my feet, and off he goes. Im not the only one convinced to have met a truely grand champion.
Please forgive me my lack of appropriate vocabulary, but I only just got back from the big Red Bull after race party at 5 am this morning... What a privilege to be part of the Red Bull family!
Time for training now, the big pool is waiting for some brave laps. I hope the 16 degrees of water temperature won´t wake me up from my dream ;) if they do, I might be awake enough to upload more photos for you later.

04 Oktober 2009

Jonny flies the Morning Glory in Australia

This incredible rolling cloud is very difficult to catch, and after a long time of preparation, Jonny and his team created some amazing flying footage, you can watch some of it here:
Also for more fantastic photos and the report have a look at Jonny´s blog
Currently our "flying video reporter" had just flown his first task in the Canungra Classic comp up in Queensland, from his home site Beechmont out to Lake Moogerah. I love that place because it offers a huge variety of different task types and conditions, but also because the people of the Canungra Club always make it a really special event. It is always a bit like coming back to family for me, and I hope I can join in again next year!

28 September 2009

Orlando, Timezone GMT -4

25 minutes until briefing starts... this time my standby call was really with very short notice and I had to race to the airport to make it on the flight to – Orlando! What a lucky choice, two nights in Florida. Jamie is still in Arizona at the Santa Cruz flats comp (Kraig won, with Robin Hamilton in 2nd place), so I couldnt meet her.
But our captain is an aviation enthusiast and already mentioned going to „Fantasy of flight“ in the briefing, and sure I was interested in going there. Our two co-pilots joined in, one of them had been in Guido´s flight training course, so I was outed pretty quickly. I told them about Quest Air and Wallaby in the vicinity of where we were going, the chance of maybe taking a tandem flight in the afternoon. Not enough time – so many stories in one day.
Too late now to write all of it, I will do that later. Just this much: I was introduced to the pilot who has been holding the height record for parachuting, more than 100000 feet (right, outer space!) for the past 40 years! Patiently Joe Kittinger answered my bezillion questions, as it was difficult for me to imagine how a jump like that is possible. Oxygen, pressure, weight, heat and cold, speed, stability – all spinning in my head. He made it, having gone up in a balloon above New Mexico. On the group photo he is to my right.

22 September 2009

Mysterious Castle flights

Today I went to Tegelberg, the place of the next Women´s World Championships in May 2010. Together with Mini from Red Bull Germany we checked out some locations for special flights to create an exciting flying movie before the worlds start so we can get the media interested in the event. The scenery is amazing and there are lots of possibilities of pictures that have never been seen before, so it was a very creative day. Just imagine flying across the castle yard between the towers of Neuschwanstein!
I just hope that the scaffolding of the castle will have disappeared in six months ;)

13 September 2009

Cover of USHPA Magazine!

I am currently on the cover of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association´s magazine, flying above Greifenburg and Emberger Alm! They sent me a few copies to Germany and I am very honoured to be on the US magazine, as 3x world champion Kari Castle from the US used to be my major competitor! To me, this is not just about a high quality photograph, but it shows sportsmanships and an open mind to present the German world champion on the cover of a US magazine, specially as I´ve never managed to get a flying photo of me on our German DHV hanggliding magazine;) Thanks to the USHPA, and I hope your readers enjoy their September edition cover girl!
I had hoped to be able to surprise my parents with this cover, but hangglider pilot Konrad Kurp, a school friend of my father´s and now living in the USA, was faster and already told them about the magazine... they are very proud!
We are very busy at the moment organizing the next Women´s World Championship at Tegelberg for May 2010, there are lots of unique ideas and I can´t wait to see all the girls going on final glide from the last turnpoint which will always be the famous castle Neuschwanstein.

28 August 2009

New projects

Most comps of the summer season are over, congrats to Jonny Durand who won the Brasilia Race, and to Natalia Petrova who is Russian Championette again. At the moment, some young pilots are finishing a comp for new xc pilots in Greifenburg in Austria, but the next comp to watch out for will be the Canungra Classic in Australia. Wish I could go!
At the same time, beginning October, the Free Flight Hang- and Paragliding Exhibition takes place at Tegelberg in the south of Germany. Depending on my working schedule, I might be there to check out the new gear and gadgets for the next "big season". Meanwhile, there is a portrait about me in the german magazine "Myself" and in September, there will be a report on Salzburg TV where Regina joined me and we went flying at Hochries.

23 August 2009

Results Red Bull Air Race, Slovenian / Italian Open

US-pilot Mike Goulian (photo) won his first Red Bull Air Race in Budapest after a stunning finish, with Paul Bohnhomme 2nd, Kirby Chambliss 3rd, Hannes Arch 4th and a great success for newcomer Matthias Dolderer in 5th place. Have a look at my video-interviews with Hannes and Matthias here! Hannes is in 2nd place now and Paul in 1st, but there are two races to come, in Porto and Barcelona. With only 1 point behind Paul, Hannes has a great chance to overtake the British pilot again- let´s keep our fingers crossed for him!
In Slovenia, after 4 tasks Primoz Gricar won the Nationals ahead of Tom Weissenberger and German newcomer Gerd Dönhuber. Best woman of the 9 was Ukrainian Julia Burlachenko (19th place overall), Christa Aichner from my team was in 3rd place. On the picture, you see the girls playing with a Moyes Malibu on Tolmin take off.
In Italy, they also flew 4 tasks. World Champion Alex Ploner won the competition in Parma, ahead of his team mates Elio Cataldi and Christian Ciech. Also congrats to Carol Tobler from Switzerland - as 1st woman she ranks 15th overall, followed by my team mate Monique Werner on 20th overall.

20 August 2009

Slovenian Open, Italian Nationals and Red Bull Air Race

After two tasks in Tolmin, Slovenia, Primoz Gricar leads the comp ahead of Tom and Gerolf. In Italy, of course the National Team takes all top places, Christian, Alex, Elio, Davide! They already flew 3 tasks in Parma.
Meanwhile, in Budapest Hannes Arch is still leading the Red Bull Air Race Worldchampionship. Today will be an important day for Hannes to earn more points to keep his title - by the way, he is also the organizer of the Red Bull XAlps and one of the top pg acro guys in the world. Great to see him do so well will those fast little high powered racing planes!
The only German competitor, Matthias Dolderer, came 4th yesterday in the qualifiyng and surprised everybody with doing extremely well in his first year of participation.

16 August 2009

Flights from Tegelberg!

This is my friend Rebi, I taught her hanggliding in April at Wasserkuppe. She already flies paragliders so it was easy to convert her. And now she did her first high flights from Tegelberg and nearly finished all of them to get the licence for hanggliding too! Im very proud of her!
Also, they had a great comp at Monte Cucco and Alex Ploner won in the end, just a few points ahead of Primoz Gricar from Slovenia/Germany. The organizer made sure that down to 10th place, pilots got prizemoney and thus their entry fee back. Well done, Flavio!
In the Dutch nationals in Laragne, Malcolm Brown won and Koos de Kejzer is new Dutch Champion. In the US nationals in Big Spring, it looks like Glen Volk won after six rounds and quite a lot of kilometers.
Today the Italian nationals start in Parma and the Slovenian nationals start in Tolmin. I will keep you updated about tasks and results and wish I could be with my friends in either place. All the best to them, good weather and great flights!

07 August 2009

Loops above Munich

Standing on the balcony, I couldnt believe what I just saw. Two gliders in the center, a few hundred meters away from my flat, just around the German Museum area, which is pretty much Munich downtown! Then one of them pulled a couple of beautiful loops before they headed off towards Englischer Garten. I wonder who that was - and Im sorry that I cant pick them up ;) so nice to see some flying again!
While they flew 118 km task in Laragne (results), the guys in Italy had a 100km task. Primoz was first in goal, followed by Alex Ploner. Team Adidas - Regina and Christa - landed at 36 and 32 km, a good result for a difficult day. My Swiss friend Carole was best woman, she made goal and leads the women´s ranking. Scores here
The photo was made at Cucco South goal last year at the worlds with nearly our whole team at goal and everybody really happy about the performance.
The Austrian "Best of Diedams" competition is postponed to next weekend, as the prediction is for strong storms tomorrow and sunday in the Swiss, Austrian and Bavarian alps. So guys, enjoy France and Italy while you are still there, up here it is a mix like in April, one or two nice days and then a few days of storms with a lot of rain and hail.

06 August 2009

Results from Cucco and Laragne

This photo was taken at Cucco North take off, but the guys went to Monte Gemmo at Tre Pizzi for take off yesterday. Many people landed around the first turnpoint already, after only 15 km, that is why the day wasnt worth too many points, even though 7 people made it to goal, with Alex winning the day, Gerd 2nd, Davide Guiducci 3rd and Primoz 4th. Carole Tobler and Christa shared the first place in womens ranking. Results of task 1 here.
In Laragne, three pilots made goal, Koos winning and German pilot Markus Ebenfeld in 2nd place! He had flown quite a few kms for the xc cup last week from St. Andre, and now he can use his knowledge of the area for the Dutch Open. Best woman was Russian pilot Evigeniya Laritskaya, she was 12th of the day! Task 1 resuts Dutch Open
Malcolm Brown won task 2 of the Dutch Open, best woman was Hadewych, Koos is still in the lead overall. Dutch Open after 2 tasks
Both Gerd and Markus are my XC mates from Chiemgau here in Bavaria, on a good xc day we always meet on the same take offs and fly similar distances. This year we didnt have as many great days as last year, so they are off for more flying in the comps. Good luck!

05 August 2009

1. Task in Laragne, 1. task at Cucco

Seems like they flew a 70km task in Laragne yesterday with Dutch pilot Koos probably having won the day. Also they had a first task at Monte Cucco, 82 km with world champion Alex and German pilot Gerd Dönhuber first in goal, as Curt Warren reports on Twitter. Curt could not compete, as his team Tom and Jörg have already headed off to Austria to compete at "Best of Diedams" which starts on Friday (Curt is leaving for Australia on Sunday so he had to send his flying gear back to Austria with Tom and Jörg). Too many comps at the same time! Unfortunately, the weather will only be nice for Friday and then turn into a mix of rain and storms again in the west of Austria where the Diedams comp takes place.
As soon as I find a link to results to these competitions I will let you know the exact results. Seems like I dont miss too many great big flights at the comps in the moment, but the flatland skies of Germany look epic these days, Dirk Ripkens flew a 209km FAI triangle in the northwest German flats on his Atos yesterday. Well done Dirk!

04 August 2009

Monte Cucco Trophy

No task yet at the Monte Cucco Trophy, the pre pre worlds. First day was cancelled due to strong wind, yesterday a front rushed through, today it is still raining. Hopefully tomorrow they can fly a first task. The last day will be Saturday, so they have 4 possible tasks. From our German team, Regina, Christa, Nikola, Jörg and "German newcomer of the year" Gerd Dönhuber are in the comp - he finished 3rd in the French Nationals in St Hilaire! Also nearly the whole Italian nationalteam including world champion Alex Ploner are in Umbria. One of the top Aussie pilots, Curt Warren, joined the comp as well as Austrian nationalteammember Tom Weissenberger.
It will be a hot race between such historical sites as Assisi, Gubbio and Perugia. There is a take off at Monte Subasio right behind the amazing Basilica of St Francis of Assisi facing west, but even if it is not flyable, there is a lot to see. Most of the frescoes in the Assisi Basilica have been restored after the last big earthquake, grand masters like Giotto and Cimabue painted the ceilings and walls with incredible detail. I definitely want to come back, compete in the Monte Cucco pre worlds next year and do more sightseeing.
Good luck to all my friends at Monte Cucco, and I will keep the world posted about flying and results.
Thanks to Flavios Blog for the photos!
The other half of the pack is again at the place of the world championship in Laragne, flying the Dutch Nationals. Or not flying too much yet, also here the first four days had to be cancelled due to poor weather, storms and strong wind. Only my Ager neighbour Malcolm Brown apparently had quite a long flight in wave. Have a look at the blog of British pilot Rich Lovelace here