31 Oktober 2011

Must be Halloween!

Despite the Qantas strike, I managed to fly from Brisbane to Auckland with Emirates. The flight was packed, but the crew was great - Brazilians, a Paraguayan, a Korean and a Maltese were working in economy where I was sitting. I like these international crews.
It only took 2.30 hrs to fly over, then I went to my friends James´s place and arrived just when they were preparing the Halloween costumes for the kids. Archie the ghost was scary, specially since he did not quite always manage to walk around all tables... and Annabelle as a bat was great too!
Rain over here today, spring just started - many friends to visit and catch up with, it has been 4 years since I saw them. New Zealand is just too far away!

29 Oktober 2011

Jonny the Legend!

Looks like Rohan won the day, but Jonny came in 3rd, and with 300 points ahead of the next pilot, he will clearly win this years Canungra Classic. What a legend! He really inspired me with his take off. Since he had his crucial ligement operated only 3 weeks ago, he hopped off one legged today from Tamborine mountain! In a place where other pilots have to do a really hard and long run today, he just graciously pretended to be a bird! Everybody was really impressed to see Jonny taking off like it was nothing special. My "young brother" has surely earned to win this comp.

More later, prize giving will start soon. I got 7 kms short of the 2nd turnpoint at Rathdowney and I think I didnt do too bad with that, might have made a few places back up. But the most important thing for me - I just had a fantastic time in the air, felt really good to be up with the eagles who joined my thermal every now and then! Canungra is a great place to fly, not just because of weather and flying conditions, it is mainly the great people of the club and of this comp who make it so special.

Big thanks to Tony and Michelle, best driver in the world. I had landed on a big field, but it was not easy to find the way to the property. And again, they did really well and got right to me on the paddock.

28 Oktober 2011

Canungra Day 7: cancelled

So apparently the guys didn´t drink enough last night at the Red Faces to improve the weather enough for a taskable day. yet the acts were classic. I was in the jury and it was well worth it - Big Jon offered me a Canungra Classic Mug as a bribe! I love those trophies, I think Jonny´s mugs are the nicest and most useful trophies of all the comps Ive flown so far. It just adds to the value that they are handmade by one of the greatest guys Ive met in hang gliding so far - but you only get them if you make the top ten. For me out of reach this year, as I had to pause a few days and be careful about my knee. Yet I got one mug today and Im the happiest girl in the comp!
We were keen and set up our gliders at beechmont, but the drizzle kept moving in and cloud base was superlow. Davo was keen anyway and went for a flight to show us the conditions. He climbed up to probably 80 m above launch and maintained. After a while of watching the dark clouds moving past us, no sun to be seen anywhere, the day was canned.
A few guys flew and toplanded, others went to the bombout and had a long retrieve. It looks like it will be flyable again tomorrow, on the last day of this years Canungra Classic, so let´s hope for a last epic flight to finish the comp with style!

27 Oktober 2011

Canungra Day 6: cancelled

Today we were again hang waiting on Beechmont launch. The wind was howling, seemed like 50 km/h in gusts. A task was set, but the safety committee decided to can the day. Only Jonny flew, and it did not look too inspiring. Quite turbulent air and really low cloud base. Not appealing if the first thing you have to do is dive over the back and cross a few no landing valleys...
Yesterday I had gone to the Gold Coast and saw a physiotherapist and chiropractor who did Atlas Therapy. Have a look at Dr Darren Scheuners
link, it really helped me immediately to straighten up my spine and my walk! It also seems to make my knee feel a lot better. I can warmly recommend that practice.
Tonight we will have the famous Red Faces Night in Canungra, and a lot of acts are lined up, as there will be a prize money of 750 $! Jonas and Wolfi are very keen to win it... I will have my camera ready ;)

26 Oktober 2011

Canungra Day 4: 88 km, day 5 cancelled

88 km around 3 turnpoints yesterday with about 10 people in goal, Jonny won it with a big lead of 7 minutes on Rohan. Pilots experienced quite a lot of aggressive eagles in the area of the first turnpoint and had to fix their torn sails today. Both Jonas and his father Hagen had severe cuts in the upper surface of their gliders.
Wolfi Siess is here and really likes the fun atmosphere of the comp. Until yesterday, he only had an internet stick to call retrieve via skype, but it dit not have reception yesterday, so he ended up with the police - they were trying to help him get to his driver. He borrowed some money, called the driver, went to the pub, got some beer, was told by the police guys that he can´t drink it on the road, so he had it in their car ;) Now he´s got a phone card as well. Wolfi is ranked 10th at the moment.
Some Red Bull sampling girls were up on the mountain yesterday and provided the pilots with wings, thanks to Jonny.
Today we went up to Beechmont launch, but the sky is overcast, the prediction is for rain and storms, as a trough moves through today and tomorrow. The day was cancelled at 11am. Looks like we will get two more good days on Friday and Saturday though.
Jonny is still in first place, followed by Blenky and Dave May. Amazing result for Jonny who had a severe knee operation (replacement of his crucial legaments) just three weeks ago and is now flying with wheels on his speedbar! David Newton in 9th is the top ranked guy of the large group of Kiwis who compete in Canungra this year. Results here.

24 Oktober 2011

Canungra Day 3: Tambo - no, Flying Fox!

Today we were asked to be on Beechmont launch at 8, but it was changed to briefing at the pub at 8.30 with short notice, as the wind direction has swung north. We went up to Tamborine launch, but it was not coming in. So we went to Flying Fox instead.
I decided not to fly, as the bomb out there is a quite dodgy slope landing, and I want to take it easy over here. I survived a tick attack on launch - hey and those creepy blood sucking things are way larger than in Europe, they are called paralysis ticks because the venom can paralise the muscles... I freaked out when I felt something crawling up my neck and jumped and asked my team mate Tony if it was a tick - and so it was! He took it off, it had just started to bite so it was easy to get out, but I had goosebumps for about an hour... what do you do when they bite you and you are in the air? It is really a plague here at the moment. I guess Queenslanders are used to that problem, but for a naive European it is a horror to see a tick of 5 mm in diameter before it even started feeding on blood...
It was dogleg task with the goal at Boonah T along Rathdowney. Quite a few pilots had to land in the bombout, even top pilots like Scott Barrett and Adam Parer had to come up again for a relaunch.
Curt Warren was first in goal, followed by Nick Purcell (he is having his best comp up here ever as far as I remember, doing really well) and Glen McFarlane, but Rohan Holtkamp might have won the day, having had the fastest time to goal.
The days are really starting superearly here and we have long retrieves, because the seabreeze doesnt allow an out and return back to Canungra, so Im happy that I had a rest today and could catch up with photos and reports on the comp. It might stay north tomorrow, so if it is Flying Fox launch again, I will take another day off and just enjoy the wonderful climate and nature up here in Canungra, centre of the universe, according to Davo. "It´s pumpiiiiiing", as he puts it ;)
There is a great bunch of Kiwi pilots over here as well, and it is nice to see Hagen Brueggemann flying with his son Jonas, Matt Barlow is the top Kiwi pilot at the moment, just Conrad is missing. I´ve always admired John Smith´s flying skills - he looks healthier than ever! But he had to borrow a glider for the comp - he tried to ship his glider over to Oz, but very unfortunately it ended up on the ship that is stuck on a reef in front of the north island of NZ, creating an oil spill and catastrophe for the nature of that area... and apparently the container with his glider already went overboard. Lucky he hasn´t lost his humour and enjoys the flying anyway!
Results here!

23 Oktober 2011

Canungra Classic day 2

Another early day at Beechmont, with a really early briefing and take off. Cloud base was higher than the day before, but it was difficult to get up fast, as there were long breaks between the cycles. When I finally started out on course, I was with about 5 other pilots and we managed to stay together nearly the whole course.
From the hills we went out to the flats up to Beaudesert, and just after the first turnpoint I got one of the real Aussie experiences - big bush fire, and the related really strong, smokey thermal. Smoked turkey ;)
Then back into the hills and towads the higher mountains along the border to NSW. Very scenic and great flying. About 20 guys made goal. Jonny, Dave May and Big Jon in the lead overall now.
I made it in as well and could move up 10 places in the overall rankings!

22 Oktober 2011

Canungra Classic Day 1: 92kms around

Today we had a south easter and went up to Beechmont launch - and had briefing at 8.30 in the morning. Task Briefing and all!!! Probably the earliest competition in the world ;) The Queenslanders don´t have daylight saving, so the sun rises at around 5 am.
We had to go around 2 turnpoints and then back to goal in Laravale. 62 pilots are in the comp, and quite a few chose the alternate early launch window before ordered launch started. Not too many pilots climbed out and could take the first window - the clouds covered most of the valley and it even started raining a few times...
Anyway, eventually we got up and going. I managed to cross the flying fox and Canungra valley, but got low in the Kerry and landed. Yet I was happy to be up in the air again! It felt wonderful, and the Moyes Mojo prototype has a sweet handling, it was easy on take off and landing, so perfect for a first flight after a long break.
The hard training paid off now, I could do a strong, hard run on take off. Thanks to the guys from Sportschule Puch, you have done a great job looking after my recovery!
I had to walk out a fair way from where I landed to get to the road - it was a huge property. Luckily the farmer came over on a motorbike and took me up to the road. Very rarely Ive found such a helpful and friendly farmer like Rob - apparently he is used to people landing on his fields because they are so big and inviting. It is a dairy farm with a beautiful landscape that totally reminded me of the movie "Australia". Joel, a young local pilot, landed with me and he was stoked when I returned just half an hour later with our driver Michelle! She had already anticipated where I might be before the farmer gave her directions on the phone...
Our team mate Tony got to goal and was one of about 12 happy pilots there. First in was Jonny Durand, followed by Dave May and Big Jon.
It took quite a while to set up the scoring program, so no results are up yet, but I will post the link as soon as they are.
The farmer and also people on launch warned us about the tick plague here - they have paralysis ticks that put a venom into their victim that numbs the muscles... Im paranoied about these little critters anyway. So far I was lucky, but I will watch out for that stuff.
Tomorrow it looks like we will go up to Beechmont again, another really early day. It was quite humid today with a base of barely 1000 m, but the lift in the flatlands turned on well I heard.

21 Oktober 2011

Canungra Classic

After a short work stop in Caracas, I took off for the big journey to Sydney. I arrived at the Moyes Factory in Botany early in the morning, catching up with Vicky and Steve, Jen and Matt. Then Vicky took me to the Central train station and I went north to Woy Woy to meet Glen McFarlane and drive up to Canungra with him the next day.
A long 9 hour trip later, and we arrived at the Gold Coast. Feels like coming home in a way. Today at take off, I met many good old friends - Both Jonny´s were there, Curt and Scott, Kathryn and Curtis, Matt and even Wolfi from Tyrol! A great bunch of pilots, so it is going to be a good comp this year! The weather looks promising. Im off to registration now, tomorrow will be the first comp day. more pics later!

19 Oktober 2011

October 19

"Come, gentle night.
Come loving, black-browed night.
Give me my Romeo.
And when he shall die,
Take him, and cut him out
in little stars,
And he will make the face
of heaven so fine
That all the world
will be in love
with night
And pay no worship
to the garish sun."

You touched many people´s lives, Nick, and we will never forget you.

18 Oktober 2011

Abu Dhabi

For the first time, I flew into Abu Dhabi in the morning and I could see the vast desert. For some reason I always think of Hannes Arch when Im here - he had a nice "Abu Dhabi" logo on his Red Bull Air Race plane ;)
While on other flights you hear babies screaming or dogs barking, on this Airbus 330 we kept hearing the car alarm of a Ferrari in the cargo department. A flight attendant kept turning it off with a key, but it started over and over again.
The new airport here is huge, just imagine you land at gate A42 in Frankfurt and you have to transfer to B30... it is a good workout of more than a mile and might end in airport jogging. I had enough time to catch the connection to Sydney, but unlike before, now the stand-bys have to sit and wait in front of the transfer desk. No cafe, no water. At least a few seats and internet for the waiting time. It used to be a really nice mosque like waiting lounge in the old airport here.
At least they show a movie on the overhead monitor. An old film where a passenger jet got in trouble with a bomb on board... they have a good humour here, I hope my fellow travellers can also appreciate that ;)
More when I get to the Moyes factory in Botany in about 18 hours. Long day.

17 Oktober 2011

On the road: South!

Australia? - Yeah!

On the way to Canungra, centre of the universe (in Davo´s words), with a brief stop at Moyes HQ in Sydney to check out new gear and gadgets. The Classic starts on Saturday, I can´t wait to fly with my Aussie and Kiwi friends up there, it has been a while.

And even if I get stranded in Abu Dhabi or Dubai - at least it will be warmer than in Munich ;)

16 Oktober 2011

World Record Choir

Yesterday I went to see a concert at the Olympic hall of Munich. Mano Ezoh, a Nigerian man who lives and works in Germany, always had the dream to create the world´s largest gospel choir in the world.
When he had been for a radio interview at Antenne Bayern, he met Florian Weiss who was fascinated by Mano´s energy and the idea, so Antenne Bayern kept assisting this world record trial and Florian Weiss was presenting the event last night.
Mano had been working hard the past four years, training many choirs in Germany and Austria, he saved every cent he could afford to make his dream come true.
He rented the Olympic hall of Munich, invited all participants of all his choirs and sold tickets for the audience. He needed at least 1000 people in the choir, and you can see about half of them in the background on my photo, all dressed in white. They were checked by 13 "officials" if they were all singing for at least 5 minutes - the count was for 1134 people, so Mano set the new world record and will be mentioned in the next Guinness book.
It was a fun event and it shows that if you work hard to achieve your dreams and believe that they can come true, one day they will!

15 Oktober 2011

Hyderabad, one last time!

Before Lufthansa stops the Hyderabad-Destination (India), I had to catch a flight there one last time. You find the spiciest Samosas there, but also very friendly, welcoming people with a great humour. Again, the flight was already a joy to work on, because the Hyderabadis like to laugh and are very laid back.
I went to see the Fortress Golconda, it was a nice work out to walk up the granite mountain to the very top. A great view of the city and the fortress was the reward.
But my highlight there were the cute little chip munks who ran around the fortress. They reminded me of driving up Chelan Butte in Lake Chelan.
The spicy curries were very tasty and I hope we return to fly to Hyderabad soon!

09 Oktober 2011

Sebastian - World Champion!

He did it again, together with the Red Bull F1 team! With his 3rd place in Suzuka, Japan, today, Sebastian Vettel is already now, 5 races before the end of the season, the old and new and youngest ever F1 double world champion of all times. And to me, the most likable one too! I hope this time I can make it to the party at Hangar 7 in Salzburg...
All the best of course also to the Suzuka winner, Jenson Button.
Enjoy your great success, Sebastian, I am proud to be a small part of the big family of extraordinary Red Bull athletes! Also big congrats to all the people who helped in the "background" - Ive met quite a few of them in Sao Paulo, and it was obvious immediately that there is not just dedication and knowledge, but a lot of heart, curiosity and really good vibes "behind the scenes"!

06 Oktober 2011

Dear Steve Jobs...

... thank you for having contributed some of the greatest toys of my generation! I fell in love years ago with my first Mac and always stayed truthful, having convinced many friends of the advantages and the mere beauty of the Apple system. A sad day to hear about your death. To me, you made earth a better place with your inventions!