22 Mai 2009

Late at Hessische in Greifenburg

I arrived a few days late at Hessische in my all time favourite Greifenburg, but I was rewarded with a fantastic flying day! It must have been around 160km out into Italy towards Pfalzen and back, and it was great after a week of having been grounded to be back in the air with all my friends. Oli Barthelmes is here with a group of xc students, my hero Walter Schurr, a Lufthansa captain, is leading the comp in flex class at the moment, it is a great atmosphere!
I put some photos and a report in German on the DHV website
Maybe you feel like joining in this comp next year? The organizers really take good care about everybody´s safety, fun and learning to fly cross country in competitions safely are the main aspects.

16 Mai 2009

German Open Day 6 - we finally give up.

The cold front was held back by the strong southerly yesterday that unfortunately made it impossible to take off for us (so did the low clouds that surrounded take off most of the day). Later the Föhn stopped and it started to rain and didnt stop until 11 the next morning, with very low cloudbase around the Allgäu area. At 10.30 the meet was cancelled at at last briefing where a few presents were given to the pilots who had come from furthest away - the two Japanese rigid wing pilots, Claudia from Colombia and Julia and Natalia from Russia.
I went back home and at the moment Im preparing for my first flight this week, probably from the fantastic Hochfelln tomorrow, as it looks like a southeasterly wind direction.
Sad that we did not manage a single flight at Tegelberg, but we were able to see and discuss quite a lot of aspects that can be improved for next year.

14 Mai 2009

Day 4 no news - rain, hail and thunder

We set up gliders at take off as there was the chance of a flight today. The task should be small (46km), as there were lots of clouds and not much sun. Women should take off before rigid class today. As a dark, long cloud moved closer that looked at least like rain, if not more to me, just before they wanted to start the task, I asked them to postpone it until that dark cloud has moved past us. As Rosi and Kathleen are in the task committee as well (the officials said that it is our decision to fly now or later), Rosi also said she wanted to wait (which meant letting rigid class go first), and Kathleen didnt mind either way.
When they wanted to send the rigid guys out, they didnt look too happy at the dark stuff moving towards us. 10 minutes after our "waiting decision" it started raining, 20 minutes after the decision, we heard loud thunder and got hailed on for quite some time. Even though the hail stones were about 10mm in diameter, they did not hurt our sails (or us hiding under the sails). It poured down for a while and then the task was cancelled. We tried to dry our sails and packed up again, leaving the gliders on the mountain.
The forecast for tomorrow looks like a better chance to get a flight in.

Women´s Pre Worlds Day 3 - rain, storms, hail

Quite a few people left yesterday when the day was cancelled for more bad weather. Instead I went to check out the thermal bath in Schwangau - it was great to float on salty, saturated water and look at take off and the two castles at the same time!
In the evening, nearly the whole competition met at the little Asian shop "Wok-In" in Füssen where we had great Thai curries for very reasonable prices. While we were waiting for the others, it started hailing outside like crazy - I thought Rebi won´t make it... she and her father arrived soaking wet a few minutes after the hail had stopped and turned into pouring rain.
Today we are sent up to the mountain, we have a bit of sun at the moment. The southerly is quite significant, that is why it blows away the clouds from us. We call it "Föhn" in the alpine area. There is still a lot of moisture in the air, with low clouds forming. So it will be a day to watch wind speed, direction and turbulence to make sure it is safe to fly, if we fly.
Good to get up and going again, as it was obvious that various DHV people tried to put quite a lot of pressure on me for my report on the measuring process.

12 Mai 2009

Women´s Pre Worlds Day 2

Same procedure today - we went up to the Tegelberg take off, at around 11 am we were rained on, with more rain moving in, then the prediction for storms in the afternoon. There was a very brief window around 1 pm when a few pilots took off, but now half an hour later they are all landing before as it is already raining again. Take off has been in the clouds for quite some time now.
By the way, if you like to see German TVs report about the German Open with my nice little "whack" in the end, it is on Youtube
Thanks for your comments Davis and Gordon, over here Im kind of in a minority at the moment ;)

11 Mai 2009

Women´s Pre Worlds day 1

First day of the women´s, swift and rigid wing pre worlds. The rigids started first, and also a few of the women took off, but after about 15 minutes in the air were rained on, with a dark sqall of clouds moving towards us. We radioed that to the officials and the task was cancelled. In time to land and pack before the strong rain and a storm arrived at Tegelberg.
An early day, so I can give you an update on yesterdays post that apparently started some discussions.
The measurements of my glider were taken by a thin rope and ruler, because other data (degrees) does not exist in the papers. My glider was found ok one day before the German Open (the inside sprogs just inside the limit with 40 mm and 37 mm, the outside ones higher above). Both sprogs on the right hand side were sealed with a sticker.
My glider was measured again, but in degrees when I set it up for a TV team to show the measuring process – now Andreas measured with a gauge in degrees, so he has the numbers to compare to the mm version.
I got to goal late on the last day of the German open and whacked in, so when I asked them if they want to measure my glider, they said not now. But the next day, before the pre worlds start.
Now they measured 44 mm on the left inside sprog, the others were still in the limit. I set the inside sprogs up quarter of a turn, and Andreas looked at me in a strange way, because now he even measured less! I put them up another three holes (and yes, always in the same direction), which is a full turn, before Andreas and Hannes were happy with the result.
Today I talked to Klaus Tänzler about the problem, but also about the difficulty that we can´t testfly the glider after this change and before the comp and might risk a turn this way. In „real life“ when we tune our gliders, we have a testflight after every adjustment and definitely before a comp task.
I never fly my glider with full VG (they put it superextremely tight at the measurements), as I can´t steer it then, that is why Gerolf had adjusted my settings to 3/4 VG. But I do fly my glider a lot, and in very different, also turbulent conditions. And yes, I experienced weightlessness, my feet against the keel, dives down more than once - hey many of you know Drautal on Northwind days. So far, with the settings of my VG and sprogs as Gerolf set them, the glider always recovered, and that pretty fast. So far I can only "prove" my several Litespeeds safety by about 1600 hours of airtime altogether. To get real numbers, Klaus Tänzler agreed to put my glider on the DHV test truck with my settings of pitch at 3/4 VG and put in a limit so I definitely can´t pull more – my glider was never checked for pitch safety at my settings so far, as apparently there is no data yet, so for me and probably for many light competition pilots this would be a great way to keep handling, performance and safety. I will need Gerolfs help to find these perfect settings again, as I was stopped to fly with them two years ago at the German Open in Ruhpolding.
Hopefully my case can help to sort problems out before Laragne starts. I have no idea why 4 mm need an adjustment of a full turn, but I did not get the measured numbers in the end when it was agreed to let me start with the settings.
By the way, if you send comments to my blog publishings, sign them with your name or I can´t be bothered to publish them ;)

10 Mai 2009

German Open finishes

So today they measured my glider again, „because it was a hard landing yesterday“ (I was asked by one official to go and have it measured again). The inside sprogs were 4 mm off and pitch police made me set the sprogs up another full turn. The seals from the first day of measuring were still on, so I definitely didnt touch anything. I nosed in yesterday, but no upright was bent, no part of the glider or me harmed, not even a bruise – does a nose in change the sprog settings so much?
When my tracklog was downloaded yesterday, I said that they could watch how slow I was and they could see that my bar pressure is way too high for me to keep up, as I cant fly with VG full on like it is measured by the pitch police. Charlie Joest, DHV president and one of the main persons who pushes the measurement process,turned around and just said to me „Maybe it is time to change the glider“ – I was speachless!!! I had just come into goal on a really difficult day with only 3 people in goal, I had my best German Open result ever, and that is the advice of the head of my own hanggliding association. Shocking.
And today I was taught by Andreas and Hannes (the guys who take the pitch measures) that the seals are meaningless – if the settings were measured correctly and the sprogs sealed, then in a next measurement the numbers changed and are below the allowance, even if the seals are still on and prove that I didnt change anyting (which I thought was the sense of all this measuring and sealing process), they would still deduct points or disqualify or whatever is the punishment. So for Laragne, there won´t be seals, as this concept doesn´t seem to be working.
I will keep you up to date – maybe the measures change miraculously again, by whatever factor that is not in (or through) my hands, maybe I will be fun flying around here soon.
Moyes and Gerolf created my small glider that has a great handling, performance and safety. Many different Litespeeds have taken me safely and successfully through about 200 hours of airtime every year. With this glider, my results improved a lot over the past few years, I even qualified for the open German national team as I am ranked 3rd or 4th in our national ladder. Now there are people who just know without testing what is safe and what isn´t, regardless my personal experiences and needs as a very light pilot. How safe is it if my glider pitches up extremely when entering a strong thermal now? How safe is it to fly a long time with a lot of bar pressure and getting tired?

09 Mai 2009

German Open Task 2

Today started late, as the wind was over the back for a long time. Good for me, because I was 6th off and I knew that with all the rain from the night it would be better to wait. Not possible in an ordered launch.
We set the task fairly small, 89 km around 5 turnpoints, all not further than 30 km away from the goal field, because the forecast was for overdevelopment. But the high cirrus stopped od and we could enjoy a slow and difficult day. The strangest thing is that you thermal up right in front of the castles... and they usually work pretty well too! I had a close look at the yard of Neuschwanstein and decided it is impossible to land in there as they did in the movie "chitti chitti bang bang" with a flying car.
Only 3 pilots made goal, and I was the third after Alex Ploner and Bob Baier! Bob is the new German Champion, and Alex wins the German Open overall. Natalia did well again and was 8th for the day, but I was able to overtake her, even though the day was only worth about 380 points. Took me 3 hours, because I got low regularly and you had to be very patient to get back up again and away. The overall results are not out yet, but I guess I might be 4th or 5th of the German Open. In a field with so many top class pilots my best result ever.
Tomorrow at 11 am we have the award ceremony, then registering for the womens pre worlds. I will have more pictures tomorrow. On this one you see our young stars Tim Grabowski and Christian Zehetmaier with their new glider, the purple people eater!

08 Mai 2009

German Open Day 3 - cancelled

Today was cancelled again - some rain moved through in the morning, a cold front is predicted for the early afternoon, and the wind speed picked up to 40 km/h in 2000m. Yesterdays winners got nice Timezone presents, Natalia had 6 kms on me and won the women´s score yesterday. Some 30 points ahead - I hope we get another chance to fly tomorrow, it looks a bit iffy, Michi and Seppi have left already.
A day to relax, get the glider up the mountain (the cable car always takes only 3 gliders, so it takes a while to get everybody up there.

07 Mai 2009

German Open Task 1

We had to stop Rudl today from setting a 200 km task. The weather forcast was good, but a 30 km/h west wind makes a big, closed task much harder. Bob Baier is the local hero here, and he managed to cut Rudls proposition down to 126 km. Only five guys made goal, so it was definitely not too easy. I nearly bombed out and grovelled my way out of way low. Also Manfred Ruhmer had a tough time, it took him an hour to get above launch again.
The first crossing was difficult, and we were careful heading to the first turnpoint towards the west at Sonthofen. Nice climb up to 3000 m on the way back, but quite rough air at times.
Then we had to fly northeast out into the flatlands, quite low. That´s where I lost Bob – I was so proud that I managed to fly with him for about 70 km, he is such a gentleman, and his calm flying style is adorable.
Anyway, I got low and had to slow down, flying out into the flatlands against a strong headwind towards the 3rd turnpoint. All hills below and around me, very difficult to tell the sloping sides, so once I saw a safe field, I decided to not take a risk at the last 3 km to the 3rd turnpoint and had quite an enjoyable, safe landing. Packing up, I was watching three more gliders just going for it as far as possible, getting thrashed from the lee turbulences ahead. I hope everybody is ok!
Five guys made it in, Alex won the day, Robert Reisinger got in and three Germans, also Bob made it. Wish I had managed to stay with him ;)
Tomorrow looks iffy because the wind will pick up and some rain and storms are in the forecast. We will see.

06 Mai 2009

No flight today, but a great one last Sunday...

Today was cancelled due to rain and strong wind. German television station BR visited us and filmed a short portrait about me at the German Open and Pre Worlds, they filmed the pitch measurements and the show will be on air tomorrow night at 7.20 pm on BR3.
As Charlie didn´t arrive in time to provide the team with some aerial shots, I had to go home to Munich to get great on board film footage from me flying at Greifenburg during the Europeans and Oli filming me from above, flying around me. Lot´s of driving for some three minutes of tv time, I hope it is a good advertisement for our sport and for Tegelberg and the next two weeks. Would be great to have some visitors during the weekends.

A short look back at the weekend – I arrived home from Buenos Aires late Saturday night, and the forecast for Sunday was for a nice flying day. We decided to go to Rauschberg and set up in the snow. I met good old friends up there, and soon I needed their help. When I wanted to put in the battens, I saw that five tips had been broken, and I remembered that I had had help packing up my glider after the course at Wasserkuppe a week ago... and I hadn´t checked the battens before I went to Rauschberg... first I thought that I have to pack up and take the cable car down again, but then Dieter Kamml asked every Moyes pilot for spare parts – four guys offered help, and I found three tips that fit! So I left the inner two batten ends open and took off quite late, around 3pm.
A good time to fly, the day had been overcast until then and only just opened up. Flying over to Hochfelln, I could easily try and make a crossing to Hochplatte. With base at around 2300m, it was possible to fly to Hochries – so good to see lots of paragliders and hanggliders there, since that cable car had nearly closed down some months ago. Later I heard that Guido and Steffen had started their xc flight from Hochries, so we must have met briefly.
It still looked good past the Inn valley and since Yves had offered to drive the car home, I could go on trying to head home. I had never crossed that big valley and gone on into the Bavarian flatlands along the autobahn towards Munich before, so I gave it a try. Got really low but found a save and had a few more cu´s that took me past Gmund where the DHV resides, past Regina´s place and finally I decided to land about 800m away from my friend Peter Achmuellers place. It would have been about 15km to go to my home (with nowhere to land), and 17km to go and land at Englischer Garden in the center of Munich, but I didnt want to hurt any air spaces, so I decided better to turn around at Neubiberg and land next to the Autobahn. Only about 100km, but a flight that hardly anybody had ever tried before ;)
Many thanks again to Dieter, Thomas and Achim for finding spareparts for me, and to Wolfi Genghammer from Skyline for providing me with new batten tips! And most of all to Yves for bringing the car and picking me up on the way home.

05 Mai 2009

Tegelberg German Open

Today the pitch police measured and sealed most of the gliders who are going to compete in the German Open, starting tomorrow. My Litespeed 3,5s had the same settings as requested and measured by Christof Kratzner during the German Open and was approved straight away. There are lots of international pilots here, the French national team, I saw Kathleen Rigg and the Russians, quite a lot of Austrians are participating, it will be a colourful crowd of about 67 pilots.
Tomorrow the weather looks iffy, probably rain and strong westerly wind, but from Thursday to Sunday we might get some good tasks. On the photo you see the "good souls", the girls who organize everything behind the scenes, at registration.
Im staying right below the famous castle Neuschwanstein and I can see it when I look out of my window. Time to watch "chittychitty bangbang" again ;)