23 September 2012

Dolomites Movie

Today you can watch the movie "Hang Gliding is not a crime" on vimeo or youtube (if you are not in Germany). Enjoy! Fantastic footage with Guido Gehrmann and Alex Ploner, German with English subtitles. You get the best sound on the new retina display MacBookPro, if you use older MacBooks, it is better to use headphones or connect stereo speakers!
Also remarkable today, congratulations to Scottish pilot Robin Hamilton for becoming US national Champion in Santa Cruz after 7 tasks! He has been living in the states with his family for a long time now and decided to fly for the US - and won in his first year! I hope I will see him at the worlds in Forbes, he is one of those very fair "gentleman pilots" in the air, always smart, safe and helpful.
Also congrats to the 2nd in the comp, Jeff O´Brien - mate, how can you fly so well and at the same time take photos of such a high quality! Thanks a lot for all those amazing aerial shots of the comp!
And well done, Ben Dunn on 3rd place! Two pilots who have fled the Islands of Her Majesty to help the US team get stronger... will be a tough competition at the worlds with you.
In the Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel won the race in Singapore today and went up to 2nd place overall behind Fernando Alonso, who is 29 points ahead with 7 more races to go. I hope Guido´s and my plans work out and we can meet in Interlagos for the final race and cheer for Seb!

20 September 2012

Today in Toronto

After many years, I met an old friend from hang gliding and his beautiful family too - Carlos Rizo and his wife Paula, originally from Colombia, live with their two daughters and their son in Toronto. His brother Luiz has been living in France and is one of the top ranked pilots of the French national team who will go to Forbes.
I didn´t get to Toronto for about 8 years, and I thoroughly enjoyed their invitation for breakfast at their home this morning. Even though it is a long time ago that we met last, there are still many common grounds that wipe away a few years immediately. The passion of flying, the travelling, good times and hard times - and definitely always trying to make the best of every day and every situation.
I hope I can come back soon and meet the Rizos again!

18 September 2012

Abendzeitung München today

Today I was surprised to see a full page of a very nice article in the Abendzeitung München - very well written by Sebastian Schulke and a nice choice of photos. Good advertisement for our sport!

16 September 2012

Adventure travels

After the Europeans, I went straight to work and just came back home after an interesting week.
The work trip took me to Cairo where the protests about that bad American film had already started. On board we just experienced the usual end of school holiday craze - more kids than adults on board, trying to take everything apart ;)

Im happy to be home today finally, but only after two days I will be on standby again and who knows where they send me next...

08 September 2012

The winners: Italy, Slovenia, Spain!

 1st: Alessandro Ploner ITA
2nd: Dan Vhynalik CZE
3rd: Primoz Gricar SLO

1st: Italy
2nd: Slovenia
3rd: Spain

Congratulations to all the great pilots I had the honour of flying with during these two weeks - I miss you already! Thanks to all the people involved in the organization, you did an amazing job! 9 days full on - I will miss Turkey and come back!

07 September 2012

Task 9: 72km around 1tp

We were sitting at the briefing, the weather man said his daily sentence: "There will be only sun today" and we were laughing, when suddenly a dust devil on launch flipped some gliders over and broke battens, even one keel. I was lucky that Mischu´s glider did not hit mine too hard, but everybody was tense after that.
A long time of NE cross wind let us sit down and wait. Finally the wind turned around, but it looked like a lot of people had already tuned into the "after show" - TV-Interviews, photos... I frantically looked for Hakan but just found Adem and told him we need to prepare a new task and start now if we wanted to get into the air today. And I wanted to, as top of the lift was predicted for over 4000m! The best day of the two weeks.
After an hour of discussing, finally a new task briefing. From 110km they scaled it down to 72km, as we could not go earlier than 3.35pm with the first start window. Great views from up high, it was quite cold. I turned away from the thermal below 4100m, as I did not want to risk a penalty. Many pilots went higher, the scores are not out, it will be interesting to see how the local rules will be applied.
I landed 14km short, as I tried the direct way, but the flatlands didnt work at all today. About 18 made goal, and Alex Ploner is the new European Champion, also the Italian team is on 1st place in the team ranking. Slovenia on 2nd place, and probably Spain on 3rd, we made the "potato medal" on 4th place - even though Gerd and Christian got to goal today, the Spanish also had 2 pilots in goal and one very close.
When I got to the turnpoint, I was maybe 150m above ground. I turned around and started a glide of more than 10 km in nearly no height, just soaring the hills like a bird. It was a lot of fun, even though I didn´t make it. I flew 3 hours and Im really exhausted now, but more because it was quite challenging to get the organizers to start a last task today.
Tomorrow we will have the award ceremony in the morning, and then maybe go for one last flight above the vulcano.

06 September 2012

Task 8: 135km around 4tp

A long task today, a long retrieve too. It gets dark here early, so we had quite a hike to find Stefan in the hills. I was 7 km short of goal and landed at the main road to goal, but even I waited for a while and it was sunset when they came to pick me up.
Primoz was first in goal today, Gerd was the fastest (and only) German, so I think we lost the 3rd place to team Spain who had two pilots in goal (Blay and Eko). Top score again for the Italians and the Slovenians with 5 pilots in goal! How do they do it?
I made a huge mistake by not going with Gerd to goal. I was very close, but when I left, I was on my own and missed the last thermal. I should have waited for the gaggle behind me to catch up and make it to goal with them - Alex, Mischu, Matjaz, Dan... why was I so silly to leave on my own?
Im tired after 5 hours of flying and 3,5 hours of driving back, pictures tomorrow, just one more detail - today I met really nice and friendly kids and a very friendly farmer. They all wanted to help and in the end carried my glider and harness up to the main road, they were all smiles and very polite. It was such a nice experience to see that there are really nice and friendly families around in the countryside too! I think I had even been invited to dinner or to wait in their house for my driver, but I had to turn the offer down as I already expected a long day of retrieves and wanted to hop into the car as fast as possible.
Tomorrow we will have the 9th task and we have one more chance to do well and maybe catch up. Keep your fingers crossed for our team!

For Jörg!

Yesterday we were invited for an official dinner in Kayseri with the minister of sports of Turkey. Actually there were lots of officials, but thankfully no long speaches ;) Nearly all the pilots went there, so I took the competition poster and collected everybody´s wishes for Jörg who had been staying in hospital for nearly 4 weeks now. We all hope our wishes make you feel better, Jörg! Everybody here misses you, the nicest guy of the German Team! And all the pilots hope you will be fit again to fly in Australia with all of us!
By the way, Flip already thought I was preparing a petition of some kind, running around the pilots and asking if they would like to write something. He was relieved when I got to him and told him that this is for our Jörg, so he will recover soon! All the best to you, Jörg - you should have seen most people´s reaction, they were really worried about you and send you strength and health!

05 September 2012


I was stunned when I saw that I got 4th place yesterday, as Nikola "jumped the gun" and had some penalty points (I tried that with Regina at Hessische already and it didnt work for us;)). But where would I be without the help of my team mates Gerd Dönhuber and Roland Wöhrle who helped me fix my jammed VG rope two nights ago? For hours we tried to figure out the problem, finishing the glider at 10pm! They are great!
Also a big thanks to Tobi - he carries my glider up to launch every single day, so I can save my energy for the flight. Regina is always there to help before launch, and then Uli is the best cross country retrieve driver (except for my father;). Thankfully there are no fences or gates here in Anatolia, so we can easily be picked up out of the middle of nowhere.
The organizers gave us candies and balloons to give to the kids in case we land and there is an upset group of little terrorists again - I hope it will work.

04 September 2012

Team Germany is all in

GOAL!!! Yes, our whole team made it to goal, and I still can´t believe that I was first of our team and aobout 6th overall. On a race day?!? Today we flew 87km around 3tp with less wind. No clouds, but a higher base around 3000m and nice climbs made it a fast day. I managed to stay with the big gaggle and eventually caught up with the top guys as I had some very strong lucky lifts up to the sky.
Needless to mention that the glides from one lift to the next were huge again, getting low is never a good idea in this area. Amazing that the flatlands worked better than the hills today - Primoz tried the mountains and unfortunately didn´t get to goal, so Alex is quite safe now in 1st position of the comp.
After so many days of struggling and not getting to goal or anywhere, it is still hard to believe for us that there are also the "good" days over here, and most pilots still didn´t put a gear up, I guess that was my chance today. Nice to arrive in goal and Christian Ciech remarks with respect, "You were leading out to the last turnpoint!" to me ;)
Andre and Gerd arrived a few minutes after me, then Christian, Roland, Stefan and Konrad. Lots of happy faces in goal, and bitter for some people who just didn´t make it, like Antoine - he would have won the day, when I flew over his head, he was 1,2 km away from goal, on the ground, and today we had a speed radius of 1km and a goal radius of 400m... and with so many people in goal, time and goal points can hurt.
I hope this was a 1000 points day today. The organizers set up some music and tables outside again, this is the second evening that we are invited for dinner. The accomodations here are great - and free! Clean, hot water, and a kitchen. After my lunch in a restaurant in Cappadokia I felt sick for the rest of the day and decided to just eat my own food, which I luckily brought over. So far, I have cooked 4 dinners for the whole team, so far nobody complained. For Gerd without Tofu, for Andre without dairy products ;)

5th task: 84km around 2 tp

20 in goal with Christian Ciech winning the day, followed by Stanislav Galovec and Elio Cataldi. Roland was the only German in goal on 7th place, Andre and I landed pretty close to the last turnpoint where we experienced the strong wind again that grounded us very fast. I wish I could have gone with the first group, but I was in no position to do that. Quite a few guys tried to go a different way than the big gaggle and landed on course too soon.
The new meteorologist forecasted "kümülüs clouds" that we didnt see in our flying area unfortunately. Looks like a similar day today, again blue and gaggle flying. Patience.

03 September 2012

Cool landscapes

... when we went to Göreme yesterday, we had a look at a lot of houses and churches built directly into the soft rocks. Amazingly well preserved, considering the fragile material. Many christians had fled and hidden in the vast area of Cappadokia when they were persecuted. Today it is just a tourist attraction.
Gerd is the climber in our team, he felt very much at home and easily ran up and down kind of vertical cliffs, always looking for the best view.

01 September 2012

Lucky or unlucky, that is the question...

...as we have an ordered launch, and a push on every day, we have to go when it´s our 30sec to start, or queue up in the back of everybody. This means, no influence on a good or bad cycle, and 300m working height meant a lot of bombouts again today.
For our team, it was painful. Christian was sick probably from some food they had last night and couldn´t even fly. Roland and Gerd bombed out, packed, went up, set up, started - and bombed out again! I nearly ended in the bombout too, Primoz and I just scratched away on the side of it. On course, it was quite similar like the days before. Broken lift very far apart with big sink inbetween, not a lot of height, too much wind everywhere on course.
Many really good pilots landed early again, none of the Italian team got to goal today! At least Elio landed on my field just after the last turnpoint - I was already attacked by about 25 wild and crazy children, and the three grannys who also came over just wanted money from me?!? Even though I told the kids in Turkish not to touch my glider, of course it was a joke for them to touch it as often as possible, and when they started jumping over the wingtips and running underneath it, I was really worried they might break it. I was really happy when Uli and Tobi pulled up after more than one hour of pure terror! I will never land close to any houses again here, I rather land on a very remote field where I have to carry the glider out, but I can´t handle those aggressive kids who just keep yelling at me louder and louder. The flight in all those tight gaggles and difficult lift was already nervewrecking, but what happens after the flight is way beyond what I can bear with a smile...
Looks like I got furthest from our team today, with Andre and Stefan just behind me. I tried to call out the few good thermals that I found, and hoped they could get higher and further than me, but again the day worked in cycles and sometimes we just had the wrong timing.
Tomorrow might be a rest day, as the forecast for the wind is very high, but after that we will be flying until the end.
Tonight the organization prepared a big barbecue outside at headquarter. Not exactly a vegetarian fair;)