31 März 2013

Bassano Day 4

 Two different air masses were moving around our area, a cold front in the west and a warm front in the east, we are in the occlusion. We could see blue sky and sunshine in the west at Schio, and dark low clouds and rain two our east at Crespano. Again they sent all (remaining 30) paraglider and hangglider (10) pilots up to Rubbio launch because they saw a possibility for some lift around 2pm. This morning Didier Mathurin told me the same, his XC Skies saw a chance to fly between 3 and 5pm, but there was also the possibility of rain or even storms later during the day in the mountain area. Out in the flatlands in front of us to the south it looked better.
No one except two Aeros pilots who had to do some measurements on their gliders with Primoz set up their wings. As soon as there was some sun in the plains, all the rain from the last three days started to evaporate and formed low clouds. Base moved up, so we were waiting in the cloud most of the time until they decided to cancel the day at 1.20pm. There will be an information at 3pm what they expect for tomorrow and if there will be a task or not. At the moment it is raining again at the goal field at Garden Relais.
I went to Murano yesterday and had a look at the colourful glass works that this Venetian island is famous for. Also I found a church where I didn´t have to pay for having a look around. A nice painting of Tintoretto and one Bellini, several huge frescoes and other paintings, and we were the only people in the church. I always liked the idea to see the art in the place it had been created for, but lately they adapted the concept of Florence to just charge for every little bit you want to see.
In the evening, the organizers offered live music and free pasta in the exhibition tent. Just around the tent you had to cross quite some pools and mud wholes ;)

30 März 2013

Bassano Day 3 - here comes the rain again

As usual, the day started with sunshine and a clear view of the mountains. But you could only see this beautiful picture if you got up at 6am, after that, the fog rises, the clouds thicken and hide the mountains. The prediction is for rain again today, let´s see what the organizers think of the forecast - Right, they just cancelled today as they expect the rain to start in a couple of hours, going on for the whole day. They see a slight chance for tomorrow and for sure a task on Monday. 

Bassano Day 2 - in the clouds

The positive news of the day first: There was no rain until 4.30pm. We went up to launch, this time only to the ramp which is lower than the campeggia take off. We set up the gliders in the thick clouds and waited for them to rise. They didn´t, they rather got thicker and lowered their base, so the day was cancelled around 1pm. Sightseeing in Venice instead.
The pizzas with French fries are still a strange sight for me ;) I preferred gnocchi with porcini mushrooms in a creamy sauce, very recommendable at Antica Abbazzia!

28 März 2013

Bassano day 1 - cancelled at 12.30pm

Looks like there were still about 33 pilots desperate and faithful enough to drive to Bassano. The forecast had changed to the better two days ago, there was a possibility of some sun, and in fact we saw it this morning. Not for too long - when I finished setting up my glider, it started snowing, and you could barely see the bombout field. As it didn´t get better and was raining in the valley already, the day was cancelled. Some pilots took off anyway, but just to try and glide out to the goal field in Semonzo. Suan said he got here with 88m of height above the goal field, but it was raining almost half of the 10 km.
It is raining at the Garden Relais Goal in Semonzo now and it is very dark outside. We might get a chance to go to Venice as tourists tomorrow. There is a huge crowd of paragliders here and we saw them all on take off today, as we all went to Rubbio. It is a first off for me to be on the same launch as the 120 paraglider pilots, but cloud base was low, and there is still quite a lot of snow on the Campeggia launch.
It was very nice to have lunch with my family and a good friend from Bassano in the very old part of the town. Tonight we have the big dinner night at Antica Abazzia (which most of us just know as the "ruin", because it used to be like that before they reconstructed it), they always sponsor a real Italian dinner with several courses, very good food. Time for me to catch up with some socializing with the other hang gliding and paragliding guys.
On launch I met Yvonne Dathe who is now the sports director in the board of the DHV. She and her boyfriend Thomas Ide are on the German paragliding national team and here to compete.
Natalia came here all the way from Russia, but I guess the weather can´t get much worse than in Moscow or Kiew at the moment...

26 März 2013

Bassano, or not Bassano...

... that is the question! As usual when Easter is early, the weather looks very poor. Just too cold and rainy. But I just cleaned my Moyes RX 3 (thanks for recommending the pressure air method, Jörg, it was perfect to get the red Forbes dust out of the seams; and REALLY huge thanks to my friends for their patience, help and the space. It is snowing outside, 10cm since this morning, no fun to set up a glider outside in that kind of weather) - and the wing really wants to get into the air, no matter where or for how long!
Sure it won´t be a comp like Forbes or Valle de Bravo, but if there is a day off, I will just visit Tizian, Canaletto and the pigeons on the Piazza di San Marco ;) I hope some of my friends will turn up so we can dream of summer and plan the next flying adventures!

17 März 2013

Playa del Carmen, Timezone GMT - 5

 After having been to a great competition of 6 days full on race flying in Valle de Bravo, I went to a Spanish course in Playa del carmen. Starting at 8 am every morning, with just three advanced students we raced through the whole grammar within a week.
It must have been good for something. Yesterday when I went for a walk along the beach, a desperate British girl wanted to know what you can "really" do in Playa. She said it all seems so artificial and touristy, sooo many US and Canadian tourists just getting drunk.
No idea why she chose me to ask this question, maybe because of my scabby looking knee, maybe because my clothes gave her the right impression - my sponsor´s slogan is "Real people in every timezone!" And sure I told her all the secrets I know, the best time to go the the various pyramids, the best authentic mexican food, snorkeling with turtles... she seemed relieved, because for a moment she said she was angry that her backpacking friend had recommended Playa to her. But he only knew Playa until 5 years ago, and it has grown and changed quite a bit since then.
Our conversation made me feel very privileged to have friends like Miguel, Rudy, Aldo, Santiago, Juan, and all of the great guys who flew and worked at the comp. The guys who let me participate a bit in their life, who welcome me and who have been showing me their "real" Mexico for quite some time now, this beautiful, colourful country! Thanks for your effort, and also for your parent´s patience, Rudy, they did a great job teaching me more Spanish, my teacher at the school was impressed!

10 März 2013

Day 6: 93km around 4 Tp

 Today we flew a short last task because the organizers wanted to do the awards ceremony at the landing at the lake of Valle de Bravo in daylight. A quick 93km around 4 turnpoints and we saw many happy faces in goal. Wind was stronger than yesterday, but luckily it was less pitch testing!
Matt Barker from L.A. won the day and finished 3rd overall, local hero Rudy Gotes took 2nd place overall, and Zippy won the competition with a good lead. Amazing Erick Salgado - he only flew a couple of tasks as he arrived late, but he is right in the top 3 again after not having flown for a few years. I remember him from having been on the Mexican national team at Monte Cucco. The Mexicans will have a strong team here for the worlds!
Kip Stone (USA) won sport class, his first competition a full success!
Everything was well organized and it is great to see how much effort Miguel and Claudia put into this comp. As well as Rudy Gotes - he helped to organize the meeting, looked after Matt, Zippy, Patrick, Pedro and me, organized our trip to Valle, organized a glider for me, had us stay with him, yet he flew like a champion too!
All the Mexicans offered us a very warm welcome, and they were very open to any kind of comments we had about tasks, scoring, launching, set up and goal fields. Im looking forward to coming back next year for the pre-worlds to Valle de Bravo!

09 März 2013

Day 5: Goal at Piano

 Yesterday I tried to land out. I found a really big, flat field at about the same height at launch, 2300m. And it was the only nice looking one for a while...
When I touched down, a big dust cloud went up and I sank about 20cm into the fine dust. And then I knew why everybody looks dirty out here - I did too! They said now I look like a real Mexican woman ;)
I had nice company immediately, boys, horses and dogs. We talked a bit and they were keen to help me. I radioed the retrieve driver and within 40 minutes I was on my way back to the Piano goal where they served some food for the pilots and Chifuz downloaded the tracks.
Zippy had some problems with the download but he could solve it and he is leading by a huge margin now. Almost everybody but me made the goal after 110km.
I will try to do better today!

110km around 4 turnpoints

Another day win for Zippy, many in goal which was at Piano bombout today. They had some food for the pilots and download in goal as well. I didn´t fly far today, but I found a nice flat field to land in. The dust cloud was huge! It is like on the plains in Lake Chelan, very fine volcanic dust. I radioed my position to the organizers and within 40 minutes I was retrieved and taken to the party at goal.

08 März 2013

Nevado de Toluca!

We were exploring new terrain yesterday on our 110km around 3 turnpoints. With aa front moving throuh over us, it was less unstable and we saw clouds with a very high base. Less wind made everything smoother than the days before. It was an easy ride to the first turnpoint at Divisadero Antennas, but then we had to get really high and find a safe way to the second turnpoint.
I decided to go upwind to the south to get to cloudbase and reach a line of clouds that would take me over the second turnpoint. It worked for me, as I didnt have to scare myself.
The last turnpoint was about 6 km away from the vulcano Nevado de Toluca. After I did the radius, I couldn´t help myself - I had to try and go up to the Nevado! I´m not winning this comp, so I thought I might use this once in a lifetime chance to see the crater from above. I had to go around to the southwest side of the vulcano (and never look down...) to reach a nice cloud. The thermal took me up to 4900m which was enough to fly over into the crater and have a look. Normally either base is too low or the wind is too strong to do this, but yesterday it worked!
Superhappy I headed off to goal at an airstrip about 20km south of the Nevado. There were about 8 gliders in goal already when I arrived, with more coming in. I was carrying that beaming smile the whole rest of the day - probably my reaction to hypoxia? I didn´t feel sick or tired or unconcentrated, I didn´t have a headache. But I also didn´t stay that high for very long. Zippy was kind of wiped out on the drive back, but he raced the task in 1h50min to win another day ;)
At goal, Rudy´s father came to help me immediately. He is flying from that airfield and was happy to see so many hang glider pilots there. We were also welcomed with a barbecue and drinks, organized by the local community.
Rudy said that I was the first pilot to ever fly the crater of Nevado de Toluca in a hang glider!

Task 4: 110km around 4tp

... with goal at an airfield with a really long drive back to Valle, we just arrived very late. Pictures and update tomorrow. Zippy won again, about 12 at goal. I flew over the Nevado de Toluca, I hope the film is ok! It was great to see the crater from above for the first time! We had clouds with a high base today, really nice flying. Less wind better lift.

07 März 2013

No day for small girls!

 First of all, a big thanks to yesterday´s day winner Rudy Gotes - he hosts Zippy, Matt, Patrick, Pedro and me, also Gary Osaba and his wife were staying for a couple of days! Rudy has a very nice, peaceful place above Valle.
Today we flew 83km around 4 turnpoints, a very fast race and Zippy won. I learnt that "convergence" doesnt always mean "line of lift", but can also mean some really strong, rough and tight thermals, and some really big sink inbetween. My vario showed -11m/s down... no wonder I nearly landed after the first turnpoint. After that humbling experience I was more careful and stayed up higher, I left the thermals at 4500, but cloud base was in outer space when some few cumulus developed high above us!
Goal was at the lake in Valle again, which is really nice at sunset. Pilots socialize and have a drink before pinning in. More than half of our field made goal today. The day was undercalled, but with yesterday´s weather having been overestimated, today we just wanted to see many in goal and have fast retrieves.
The organizers are very efficient at finding pilots and picking them up. If you have to land out, it is like Turkey or Croatia - you have to know the area and know where the landings are smooth and easy. Lots of slope landings around, and some tiger country as well. Never below 1600m.
The thermals are strong, but quite tight all day. There are a few spots out to the east of take off where the thermals were wider and a little smoother. But in the big glider without a zoom A-frame, without carbon tubes, and with a sail that has probably flown 500 hours already, it is a little exhausting for me to shift it around in the strong air. Guess I am just spoilt with my RX3 ;)

06 März 2013

Task 2: 146km around 4 turnpoints

Yesterdays resuts here.
Just a brief update, as Im tired and hungry! The task was 146km around 4 turnpoints with goal 30 km northeast of Valle on the 2500m high plains of Toluca.
We started at 1.30 pm again, deadline was 17.30 so the retrieves wouldnt be too late.
The day was slower than yesterday and base wasn´t as high. Only Rudy made it to goal, even though he didnt feel well and was quite sick last night. Zippy, David Segura and Matt Barker just short of goal, I landed with Santiago Corral, Patrick Kruse, and Alexandre Menard at the lake again.
Yesterday´s results have been corrected after Davis pointed a problem with the Gap settings out.

05 März 2013

Report in German

You find my report in German and more photos on the DHV Homepage now! Looks like another day with high base today, just a bit more wind than yesterday. They are thinking about sending us to the high plains of Toluca with a goal at the lake. The plains are at 2500m msl, and the vulcano Nevado de Toluca is about 5000m high, so this would be a very scenic flight.

Toto, I think we´re not in Greifenburg anymore...

Official page here
We flew a 90km around 3 turnpoints with goal at the Lake. Plenty for me for the first day. A glider Ive never flown before (but a model I know well, Rudy organized a Litespeed 3,5s for me), bit of jetlag, task and safety committee, foot lauch (after Forbes and only aerotowing) and quite strong conditions on launch too.
The first part of the flight it was quite bumpy, but Im also very small on the glider and only took 1l of water as ballast today. Out to Divisadero turnpoint, it was not as converging as Miguel promised, but the way back was a bit easier. I just tried to stay high and out of trouble.
I was flying with another pilot most of the task and only realized after landing at goal that it was Santiago Corral, Juan´s brother. It was great to share the thermal that took us up to 4500m with him. On the eastern side of take off, it was really smooth and nice, 5m and really very calm. We went to Monarca, to the butterfly sanctuary, but I didn´t see any of them in the air.
Landing at the lake was easy with the laminar smooth wind. Zippy won the day ahead of Matt and Rudy, David and me. In sport class, Cyril (Zero) from GB was the only one who made goal, and he also did his personal best today.
The nicest thing happened after landing - a local pilot, Pony, helped me to pack up my glider! So nice to enjoy the view and the sun at the lake after a nice flight and somebody just does the work so I can relax a bit and celebrate to be able to fly in Valle again with some good old friends and many new ones!

04 März 2013

High base

Miguel just showed me the forecast for today- base of 4100-5300m! It´s going to be cold ;) and a great flying day Im looking forward to.
My vodafone internet plan for 30€ only lasted for a day (without me being able to actually connect I thought), so I will update daily from the shop when Im back from the flight.
It´s a crowd of about 20 pilots to fly and try the place of the next worlds, with a few Germans, US Americans and a British pilot over here.

Valle de Bravo

This morning I was awake at 4am, and we went to Valle de Bravo at 7.30, going to Rudy´s place where Zippy and Matt already unpacked their gliders in the garden. I helped Fabian to set up his brand new RX3 and was quite jealous ;) but Rudy had organized a Litespeed 3,5s for me to fly, and I was more than happy that I didnt have to bring my glider over.
When we finally went up the mountain, I got really tired and was reminded that I had been up for around 40 hours the previous two days... so I decided to take it easy, help on launch at el Peñon and then have a rest.
Now Im at registration in Valle. Fabian said he loves his new glider and had a wonderful flight. Most guys landed at the lake in Valle.
Tomorrow the comp starts and the weather looks good for the whole week. It is 7pm now and already dark outside, so our days won´t be as long as Forbes. Im looking forward to flying tomorrow.
When we came in for landing at Mex airport yesterday, I could see a lot of snow on the Popocatepetl.

03 März 2013


After a very long day of two major flights, Im happy to be finally in Mexico. Rudy took me to Toluca where I will stay with his family tonight. Tomorrow we will head on to Valle de Bravo. It is almost as cold as in Germany when I left this morning, because they just had a cold front that pushed through. Lucky I brought a lot of warm gear for flying as well... Zippy is already here. Rudy said we will be around 25 competitors, so it will be a nice, private, luxurious competition, cruising around the vulcanos!

01 März 2013

Funny clouds

On descent to Bangkok airport, we saw this funny Smurf look-alike cloud! Apparently he is a regular, greeting people flying into Thailand?! A very cute welcome, we enjoyed it. Thanks to Captain Guido for the nice shot. Yes, the cool Captain who took half of his crew over to Quest Air when I told them about the hang gliding, and he and some of the crew had great, long tandem flights. Almost 10 years ago, but he still remembers it and he enjoyed it - thanks to Jamie,  Bob and Connie Bailey, awesome Bob, Steve Kroop and all the guys who make the flying at Quest really special. I miss the comp!