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.

28 November 2010

DHV annual meeting in Leipzig

Yesterday I joined the annual meeting of the DHV. This year, it was quite unspectacular - unfortunately, as I had hoped for some good stories about the World Championships at Tegelberg. But as you all know, they drowned in rain and snow and did not take place, so the only topic briefly discussed was the monetary loss that we had with this competition. The DHV covered it by saving on costs in some other places.
A new head of the board of training was elected - Peter Cröniger is a pg and hg instructor and wants to push the concept of training by tandem flying with an instructor. He is also a Lufthansa Captain of the 747, but I only know Peter from my own training as a hang gliding instructor.
Today I was asked by the DHV to do a presentation about how to find and keep sponsorship. I did my best to help the pilots and I hope I could motivate a few to just go and try. It is a lot of work, but then it can be really rewarding too!
After the presentation, the winners of this years XC competition were honoured. Markus Ebenfeld is the new German Champion, I am the women´s German Champion and 12th overall, Tim is the junior Champion. And together with some other pilots of my club, DFC Achental, we came 2nd and 3rd in the club ranking and German Bundesliga. Most successful clubs were DFC Ruhpolding and DFC Südschwarzwald.
Now Im on my way to Sao Paulo on another work flight. Can´t wait to see the sun, even though I saw a prediction of rain for my free day in Brazil. Anything is better than the freezing cold dark days in Germany at the moment!

27 November 2010

Trip to Leipzig

It was cold and snowing when we arrived in Frankfurt, so I knew that my flight to Leipzig would be delayed. Only two hours after schedule, our little Embraer Citiliner was allowed to start dancing Samba. In the take off line in Frankfurt, we overtook "big mama" the A380, must have been the Tokyo flight.
Now I will join the annual DHV meeting, the awards for the German XC competition and talk about how to get more sponsorship into our sport. It´s all white in Leipzig, perfect weather for the romantic Christmas markets.

26 November 2010

Tehran, Iran, Timezone UTC +3,5

For the first time, I just had a work trip to Tehran. Before getting off the plane, all the women, including all female crew members, put on scarves and coats. We also have to wear them as soon as we leave our hotel room. At least it was not summer and superhot, but just around 10 degrees. Sunny in the morning and the view from our hotel was spectacular - a mountain range with peaks up to 4000m, a bit further up to 5600m before descending rapidly to the Caspian Sea... and yes there are some take offs not too far from the hotel, but I learnt that I have to contact the local school/club before and get a permission to go flying with them. In

coat and scarf, I will consider that for next time.
The day started clear and beautiful, but soon a thick smog fogged up the mountains and they turned invisible. Must have been a thick inversion that kept the fumes from the big city down. Instead of flying, I went to see the Golestan Palace in the city. Great painted tiles and millions of mirror tiles in all the grand rooms, Baroque looks modest in comparison ;) unfortunately it was a public holiday, so I could not venture the big bazaar.
Going back to the plane, we also had to wear scarf and long coat again - I had quite a fight to keep the scarf on my hair, as it kept slipping down. Sometimes to the front so I coulnd´t see properly, also the hearing isn´t as good if there is something on my ears. I usually never wear scarves, so it was an interesting experience. It was a strange feeling of somebody else controlling personal matters. I was never treated disrespectful, and I also respect the Persian law and culture, yet I remembered a great old song about the freedom of the thoughts, of the internal life regardless of the external conditions:
1. Die Gedanken sind frei
wer kann sie erraten?
Sie fliehen vorbei
wie nächtliche Schatten.
Kein Mensch kann sie wissen,
kein Jäger erschießen
mit Pulver und Blei:
Die Gedanken sind frei!
2. Ich denke, was ich will
und was mich beglücket,
doch alles in der Still’
und wie es sich schicket.
Mein Wunsch und Begehren
kann niemand verwehren,
es bleibet dabei:
Die Gedanken sind frei!

3. Und sperrt man mich ein
im finsteren Kerker,
das alles sind rein
vergebliche Werke.
Denn meine Gedanken
zerreißen die Schranken
und Mauern entzwei:
Die Gedanken sind frei!
And for sure, next time I will find a way to fly those beautiful mountains of Tehran!

19 November 2010

Sebastian Superhero!

Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for winning the F1 World Champion Title! Since I met Sebastian a year ago in Sao Paulo, I kept watching the F1 races and kept my fingers crossed for him! It was a tough season with him being either in 1st place on the podium, or with a broken down motor not in goal... he managed to keep suspense up until the very last race in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.
Four guys had been close enough to win the title, and Sebastian started with quite a lot of points behind the leading guy, Alonso. Keep up the dream, stay calm and go for it! I thought and hoped and kept my fingers crossed for this young guy who is so amazingly down to earth.
I saw the start of the race while I was in Saigon airport at the gate, but then I had to go on board of our 747 for working on the shuttle flight back to Bangkok. When our co-pilot made the announcement during our flight that Sebastian Vettel just won the world championship, I screamed with joy and excitement - he let the dream come true, against all odds he won the race, while Alonso, Webber and Hamilton fell back! I adore this "never give up" - spirit, it is so inspiring, so energizing!
The week before, Team Red Bull Racing already won the World Constructors´Championship title, and I was sad that I could not party with the crew in Hangar 7 on Monday, as I was still on work in Asia. But Im sure I will be able to go and see them racing again next season. And definitely the finals in Sao Paulo!
It is interesting to see the side effects of Sebastian winning such a big title - suddenly I also get a lot of interviews with German high profile magazines and newspapers, because they want to find out more about "Red Bull" as a company in extreme sport sponsoring. Who are they? Who are we? Why are they so successful? You can read one story next Monday in "Spiegel" magazine.

18 November 2010

Fit for Fun

Im flying around the world a lot at the moment, to destinations Ive rarely been to like Singapore and Bangkok, so it is difficult to find some time to update my blog. Just wanted to let you know that if you live in Germany, have a look into the sports magazine "Fit for Fun". In the current edition you will find some great photos from the Dolomites and a really good article - five pages long, I hope we will see more hang gliding students soon!
Regina and Alex Ploner helped me big time to organize this very short trip. We only had one day to get everything, and apparently the editors liked the photos so much that they decided to give the article more space than planned ;)
On the flight to Bangkok last weekend, the sky above the Himalaya was really clear and we could see all the high beautiful mountains. Breathtaking! Some cu´s were above what I think could have been Nanga Parbat, base must have been at 9000 m at least... so difficult to imagine walking up Makalu, K2 or the other high peaks, but flying along the "roof of the world" would be incredible.

03 November 2010


It is amazing how many places you can visit in just one week. A bit of a race, and I was happy to have a short rest of one complete day in the heat of Singapore. And you have no idea how energizing it is to drink a Red Bull for breakfast if you are in the wrong timezone! Otherwise I wouldn´t have been able to get up until the afternoon, as we were 6 hours ahead of German time.
In the Indian quarter of Singapore, it looked like they have Diwali coming up soon? All nicely decorated. And the best vegetarian food in the city!
Just one more month of full on work-flying, then I will be back to my part-time contract, more time and hopefully a trip to Oz and NZ in January... I envy you guys down under and in Florida, our Euro flying season is over, storm is on, snow not too far away. Maybe I am a goose, as I feel the urge to migrate south whenever it gets cold and dark up here.

24 Oktober 2010

Sao Paulo

And while Konrad Heilmann is up north chasing records in Ceara, I had plenty of work with me on my short trip to Sao Paulo, really interesting new projects. I was preparing a presentation for our annual DHV meeting in November, when suddenly Guido stood next to me - he had a longer stay as he is flying from Munich, so he had brouhgt his girl-friend along for a holiday. We both left on Saturday, but our flight was about 1,5 hrs later than Guidos, and even though he was in an A340 and we were in the faster 747, we could not catch up with them ;) good to meet friends far away from home.
I wish I could come back to Sao Paulo in a few weeks for the F1 Grand Prix - they had a race today in South Korea with a lot of rain, and it was looking good for Sebastian Vettel in pole position at first. It broke my heart to see Sebastians motor bust in the 45th round, he fell back to 4th rank overall. Still a chance for the title, don´t give up, magic happens, I keep my fingers crossed!

19 Oktober 2010

Seize the day!

Every day is special and a gift, just sometimes we forget about it. I am thankful for the privilege to be alive, for great family and friends, incredible opportunities and a maximum of freedom. Today is a special day, so enjoy life to the fullest, breathe every second of it, live your dreams, do it today, not tomorrow!

18 Oktober 2010

a-ha concert in Munich tonight

After having come back from Arizona, I went to the Dolomites, just for a day, with my friend Regina. This time, we had a professional outdoor photographer, Florian Wagner, with us. As the weather was dreadful on the northern side of the alps (too much wind and fog), we decided to go south and were rewarded with a perfect day. We met Alex Ploner in the morning, picked up his friend Alex who supported Florian as a tandem paraglider pilot to take photos from us in the air, and set up at Sella Pass. Tough for hang glider pilots to carry up and set up on the steep hill, but then I started right into a thermal, the crystal clear air took us up to about 3400m, and we kept attacking the photographer in the tandem glider until his memory card was full. Just one picture for a first taste here ;)
You will see the result in the "Fit for Fun" magazine in a few months!
Different world on the next day - a training day in Frankfurt airport, then on Thursday I flew to Bangalore (working). Our Captain was Thilo Wendel who had been flying paragliders in the German league a while ago and had been the Hessenmeister in sport class several times too. Unfortunately, the wind in Bangalore was up to 30 knots in 1500m, so way too windy for us to go flying the Nandi hills. Maybe next time?
Back in Munich for a couple of days, I will go to the first of the last a-ha concerts in Germany tonight. Time is rushing at the moment, tomorrow I already have to work again - at least it will take me out of the rain and cold.

08 Oktober 2010


We had a great last day yesterday, preparing the BD-5 for the long trip over to Europe. Guido enjoyed the last flight in Arizona very much, his smile stayed in the air long time after he left. Check out the first film about the BD-5 flights here.
When I was checking out the area, I thought of Dustin Martin, one of the best US hang glider pilots. He always puzzled me because he was wearing big knee pads when flying, like what you would wear for inline skating. His answer was, "Where I come from, everything has THORNS." I knodded, not really understanding what he meant. Now that Ive seen his home turf Arizona, I know EXACTLY what he was talking about. Even the smallest bush has prickles, the huge cactuses are everywhere, sporting big thorns... how can you ever go cross country here? Even Guido said he never dared to try (hang or paragliding). So Dustin, years later I finally get your point ;)

06 Oktober 2010

Flying in Marana, Arizona, Timezone GMT - 7

Sometimes dreams become true. For Guido a big dream came true with this little fast bullet, the BD-5 plane. Only 3 of them exist in flying condition in the world, and Red Bull had been lucky to be able to get one of them. For me a dream came true to go flying with Guido again and work with him, filming and photographing in an amazing scenery in Arizona. We are off to the airfield again soon, so more pics later when the storms are out..

03 Oktober 2010

Going to Tucson

I could not make enough time to fly to Australia and compete in Canungra this year - their weather forecast looks pretty grim, the first day yesterday was cancelled due to rain, and there is more on the weather chart... they are thinking about postponing it to March - I would love that idea, maybe a chance to get back to my friends in Canungra and fly with them?
Instead I will go to the dry desert. No cloud in sight in Tucson/Arizona for the next few days, just sun and heat. Beautiful! I will meet Guido and watch him fly the new little toy - the James Bond BD-5 jet. After some introduction flights, they are going to disassemble it and send it over to Salzburg, where it will be set up again in the Hangar 7. This cute jet is so fast and small that you barely see it! When you hear it, it has already gone past you.
Maybe also a chance to meet Felix and see how his Stratosphere-project is working out? Or briefly see Kraig for an interview? So many things to do...

21 September 2010

The perfect wing

If the wind is too strong for hang-or paragliding, there are other toys, and Ecki quickly got them up the mountain. It was fun trying to fly this wing - Ecki has already mastered it, while it looked like wild, uncontrollable aerobatics when I tried to steer it ;)
The northerly was howling first, and it didn´t look too promising for flying, but then the wind died down and we were finally able to take off from Kronplatz. It had rained a lot on Saturday, the lift was very weak, so I could not fly over to Sand to join Alex, Guido and Regina at the flying day.
No more comps here in northern Europe this year, but they just finished the Santa Cruz Flats in Arizona. Congratulations to Kraig Coomber for winning that great comp after 7 tasks, Jonny Durand came 2nd and Carl Wallbank 3rd. Moyes rules!

16 September 2010

Italian Breakfast

It was the greatest joy this morning when Alex taught me how to use the big pro cappuccino machine here in the hotel "Gran Paradiso". I managed the coffee, just the milk did not quite turn into the perfect "Bauschaum"-froth. I think I have to try again... ;) Oli, you would marry me for this cappuccino, best one I ever made!

15 September 2010

Flying with Regina and Alex

Yesterday Regina and I went to St Cassian to visit Alex Ploner and go flying in the Dolomites together. His friend Roman went up the mountain with us, so we were four hang gliders in the air. Even though the forecast was marginal, we had a beautiful flight from Kronplatz. We filmed a lot, Im just reading everything into the computer, and we will edit a nice short movie soon. This weekend there will be a big party of flight at Sand in Taufers, but the weather looks quite dreadful. We will see. Tomorrow we might have a chance to fly again, and then Saturday. It is like a holiday here, just great scenery, friendly people and a secret language called "Ladinisch". More tomorrow.

10 September 2010

Sao Paulo, Brazil

And the heli-taxis are still buzzing the city of Sao Paulo. I just arrived this morning and will only be back on Monday, so if I don´t answer telephone calls, might be because we are 5 hours back in time here in Brazil. The sun is out, but when we landed this morning, it was quite gusty. Up to 48 km/h at only 1000m... the clouds look a little blown apart, so I will just go training in the gym and if I am brave enough, in the cold pool too (it gets below 10 degrees these winter nights, and the water is not heated...)

06 September 2010

Somewhere in Bavaria

Back in Germany, up to adidas to Herzogenaurach where I met a few of the other outdoor athletes today. Amazing people doing incredible stuff, I am so lucky to have this chance. There are journalists from the international press interviewing us for outdoor magazines, and we got to see the center of the shoe development, superinteresting! Now I know why the adidas gear works so well... ;)
Tomorrow we will go climbing with some of the best, like Thomas Huber and Beat Kammerlander. We had a blast when those guys were trying to show us the way to the hotel with their gps and got really lost ;) ;) at least they find their way in the mountains!

02 September 2010

Kolkata, India

After a brief stay in Munich with a lot of rain and cold, I am glad to be back in summer. Stinking hot and humid here, it is not yet midday, and you see the clouds already overdeveloping... won´t be long before the first rain of the day!
Im in Kolkata for the first time and now Im curious to explore this vast place of 11 million inhabitants. Behind the hotel, there is a soccer field (the one you see on the photo), so it is amazingly quiet - the most quiet night I ever had in India, usually you hear the cars and tuk tuks honking all night.

26 August 2010

My friend the camel and me - Cairo, Timezone UTC +2

I had a great flight from Oslo to Frankfurt with Scandinavian Airlines. I was allowed to sit in the cockpit of the 737-600 and had a look down on Bremen, my home, which looks very similar to Oslo, except beer is a lot cheaper ;)
In Cairo I always have to go to the pyramids and find a friendly camel to ride. We had great fun with those beautiful animals. Finally somebody who understands and appreciates my jokes.