19 Februar 2010

6:1 vote for teamsize of 6!

We just discussed the issue of team size for the women´s world championships at the CIVL meeting in Lausanne (CH) in the hanggliding working group, and Im very happy that the vote of 6:1 showed a great support for our idea of having a team size of 6 women at the worlds and the top 2 women of every day scoring for the team score. That way it is fair for countries who only send a minimum number of competitors to the worlds, but it also encourages all the nations to promote the sport for women to enlarge their teams! Now our proposal will go into the plenary meeting to have them vote on this topic, make a final decision and then we can apply it for the worlds at Tegelberg!
Thanks to all the women and team leaders world wide who got back to let us know that they support the team size of 6 (as it used to be before the worlds at Monte Cucco) - your overwhelming positive reaction helped us to show the CIVL/FAI the need to adjust the rules.

18 Februar 2010

Hyderabad-Frankfurt-Geneva-Lausanne-CIVL meeting

Big effort to get to the CIVL meeting in time, and thanks to my friends Helene and Patrick, I arrived in Lausanne, tired but fine. We already had interesting discussions about new comp formats, then the SaFly real time tracking device, now dicussions about the sprog measurement at comps. Manfred is here as he had been confronted by Gerolf about measurements at the last worlds, too bad that there are not more designers/manufacturers here to discuss the points.
Looks like a long day, and our proposal of the size of the women´s team at the worlds might come up tomorrow- so girls, keep your fingers crossed to maintain numbers at our sport high. More later...

Hyderabad, Timezone: 1001 nights

Ive never learnt as much about Indian culture, customs and especially hospitality as on this trip to Hyderabad. When we returned from dinner, fireworks had started at our hotel, a party crowd outside invited us to dance with them, everybody dressed up in vibrant colours for the party of a lifetime – a wedding! About 1000 people were invited, and they seriously asked me to join in as well to experience the hindu marriage ceremony.
What a chance! I thought I could be just a quiet admirer, taking some photos of Indian princesses, but soon I found myself inside, shyly hoping not to impose on anybody. No chance to shy out here – soon they introduced me to the parents in law, and let me take a photo of the wedding couple at the reception. In India, the reception takes 4 hours, as there are 1000 guests to be greeted! And the brides beautifully embroidered red wedding gown weighs about 20 kg...
I met friends and sisters of the bride, and they patiently explained the wedding customs to me. And were quite pleased to see how much I enjoy the Indian food. All vegetarian, no alcohol and no smoking at all, this comes close to paradise! The most heavenly food you can imagine (Just the rose water perfume of the „mouth freshener“ was a bit alien to me, and everybody carefully watched my face when I tried it. I bravely ate the second one as well, a small sacrifice for a big experience), I wish I had fasted for the day – which is what the wedding couple does until they finish their ceremony. After the reception, a lot of mantras are spoken – I wish I could understand the sanskit, I like the sound of it very much. The parents bond to their children is slowly loosend until they let them go a new path as a newly wedded couple. The highlight is the walking around the fire for seven times, which finalizes the new bond and symbolizes that the couple stays together for the next seven lives.
At about 4am, they finish the ceremony, but really it goes on for another week, where the brides goes back to her parents house, the groom will pick her up, and they go on to different events like these for a week before they may finally leave and get a rest on their honeymoon.
What a privilege to have met such generous, welcoming people!

10 Februar 2010

Felix goes Stratosphere

When I went to Salzburg to Hangar 7 for an interview with Hannes Arch last September, base jump legend Felix Baumgartner walked past, saw me and turned around. So good to see him again - we have partied in Rio after his Christo jump, usually I meet him at Red Bull events, I was pleasantly surprised to meet him at the Ball of Sport in Cologne. Im always curious about Felix´ incredible projects, and it didnt take too much persuasion to get to know about his latest secret: Red Bull Stratos!
Top secret, he said. He wants to beat speed and height records, going up to the stratosphere with a balloon and jumping off, going supersonic. Heat, cold, friction, stability, weather, .... I must have had a million question marks in my face that made Felix laugh. Yes, another really big, difficult project.
A week later, I had standby at work. They sent me to Orlando, with a day off - choice! Our captain said he was going to visit the Fantasy of Flight museum (quite close to Quest Air and Wallaby Ranch), I reported on that trip earlier on. What I didnt tell you was that we got to know Kermit Weeks, the owner of Fantasy of Flight, and he introduced us to Captain Joseph Kittinger, the man who holds the record that Felix tries to break!!! I was speachless for a moment about this coincidence and then enjoyed the company of these extraordinary guys of aviation history.
Im happy that Felix and Joseph Kittinger work together on the new record, and I wonder if Felix gets the Captain to tell him some Roswell secrets that I couldn´t find out about... guess I have to get a flight to Los Angeles soon to interview Felix. And go for a heli flight ;)

09 Februar 2010

Munich: ISPO and Red Bull Athlete´s dinner

Another big day for me today. Most my sponsors are at the biggest sports exhibition of Europe, the Ispo in Munich. Regina and I went around to see them, trying various new gadgets on the way to the different locations. Always a good place to see innovations, but also to meet old friends.
In the evening, Red Bull invited their sponsored athletes for dinner - a fantastic occasion to meet extreme artists of various sports. Snowboarding, mountain biking, free skiing, skateboarding, marathon running, motorbike racing, and even one of Germany´s best soccer players is part of the colourful Red Bull family. Luckily he didnt mind that I support Werder Bremen as I am from Bremen... too bad that Werder can´t afford a player like Mario Gomez, he is a great guy. Makes me very happy to see that somebody who has everything - big success, money, youth, breathtaking looks, most beautiful girlfriend you can imagine, respect of other players - is still so down to earth, so much fun to talk to and so interested in other sports too. He said that Guido offered to take him flying, and I reassured Mario that he can´t find a more talented, enthusiastic and trustworthy pilot than Guido. I hope I can work on the flight to Johannesburg when the national team flies down to the worlds, would be fun to be running for the guys who usually have to do the running ;)
Ah yes, this day nearly had 24 hours now, no time to celebrate jet lag.

06 Februar 2010

Back in summer: Caracas, Timezone UTC -4.30

So nice to be back in a warm climate, even if only for 22 hours! The work trip to Caracas meant a lot of running up and down the A340-600, but it is very rewarding to be in this "pais rico". Makes me think of my south american hanggliding friends - I really hope I will meet a lot of them at Monte Cucco at the preworlds in Italy this summer.
I went swimming this morning and had the whole big pool on my own, great training for the flying muscles. The beaches are packed today, as the families are out on Saturday. It is humid and about 30 degrees, not much wind yet, but the clouds definitely too low for much flying action. Thermals were looking nice though, watching the fregate birds circling up together I was a bit jealous ;)
They have new currency here, the new Bolivares have less "000" on them. I guess my old ones are still worth some few cents ;) And President Chavez also changed the timezone - it used to be UTC - 5 hours last time I was here, but to not run on the same time as the east of the USA, he had it changed to - 4.30.
Now I better iron my uniform and prepare for the flight back, back to winter, boots ´n´coat ´n´all.

02 Februar 2010

Castle Kaltenberg: How the Prince won our hearts

Today our national team was invited by the honorary patron of the World Hang Gliding Championship 2010 at Tegelberg, Prince Luitpold of Bavaria. He is a direct descendant of the last king of Bavaria, Ludwig III. Regina and Ute picked me up in Munich and together we drove to Geltendorf, about 40 minutes west of Munich. At 10 o clock we met Monique and Benno at the castle Kaltenberg, home of the royal family and also the king Ludwig castle brewery. We were a little nervous, as none of us has ever met a real Prince.
Prince Luitpold broke the ice straight away - he told us he still has an ancient hangglider in the garage that he had bought in 1973! He flew it successfully and even went for skiing take offs. He said it appealed a lot to him that there were no rules but total freedom, you just got the glider and tried. We were stunned and in awe, the Prince had conquered our hearts within seconds. We are all very happy that the pilots who compete at the Tegelberg worlds will be able to meet this charismatic man, our great honorary patron, who´s ancestor has built the wonderful castle Neuschwanstein.

01 Februar 2010

Back in ice age, Timezone UTC + 1

Hey I just found my car again! Not so easy when you were away for nearly four weeks and they all look the same - white! You lucky basterds down under, we have huge amounts of snow here, in case you are too hot, you can have buckets full of ice from us... the roads are really icy too and Im glad that my friend Regina will come to pick me up tomorrow to go to an audience with His Royal Highness Prince Luitpold of Bavaria - yes, we even won a real Prince as a supporter for the World Hanggliding Championship at Tegelberg, and our team is invited to castle Kaltenberg tomorrow. I will take lots of pictures for you. If Im not frozen to death before I get there. Kaltenberg means "cold mountain"...