30 Oktober 2013

Ischa Freimaak!

The "Bremer Freimarkt", a yearly fun fair in Bremen, is still running until Nov. 3rd. It was great to visit it with my family and also accidentally meeting my best friend Esther and her family. Sure I took her kids into "Wilde Maus"!
I always enjoyed the wildest carrussels, but I didn´t realize how privileged I am with my sport. In hang gliding, the fun runs for way more than just two minutes! And considering that a two minute ride at the fun fair costs about 7 € now, I guess my hobby isn´t even that expensive ;)

28 Oktober 2013

Tallinn, Estonia, Timezone GMT +2

Today I went for a walk through the old town of Tallinn, the former Reval, in Estonia. We are about 80km south of Helsinki, just on the other side of the Baltic Sea. Like Bremen, Tallinn used to be a city of the Hanse, trading goods by sea.
Lots of different types of churches co-exist next to each other in the old centre of the city. Most roads are still covered with natural stones, and horses and carriages would fit in much better than cars.
The place seems to live from tourists these days, and prices in restaurants and souvenir shops are about the same as in Munich, if not higher.
People are serious and kind of reserved, but almost everybody speaks English and is helpful when asked. As usual, I had been mistaken for a local and I think I had been asked (in Estonian) for the way today - people look and sound Scandinavian, tall people with light blond hair, so I guess I fit in.

27 Oktober 2013

Big Congrats to Seb!!!

Sebastian Vettel just won his 4th World Champion Title at the Formula 1 race course in Noida/New Delhi! Big congratulations!!! I know from own experience how hard it is to win once, and then it gets a bit harder every time to defend a title! Well done, mate! I hope I can party with you in Abu Dhabi next week-end!

22 Oktober 2013

Hang Gliding Course at Wasserkuppe!

On Sunday I started a hang gliding beginners course together with instructor Klaus Renz. I was happy to see two girls in the group of 9 people as well - I know the difficulties of small pilots and can help immediately with techniques and tricks to improve the ground handling a lot for us girls.
The wind was nice and strong, so the training I had with Nils at Boneyard was just the perfect preparation for the conditions here on the training hills of Wasserkuppe. The guys are progressing fast, and it was very gratifying to see the relieved smile of Alex, one of the girls, last night. She said her arms don´t hurt and she feels that she can control the glider now and run with it fine.
In the morning, the wind was way too gusty and it was raining a little, so I set up my own glider inside, teaching them the names of the glider parts, the type of loads on these parts, some aerodynamics - and of course everybody could pick my RX3 up or pretend to fly in it ;) we should have had a green screen behind it...
My leg muscles are sore from all the running on the training hill, but Im glad that autumn offers us such great weather.
The paragliding beginners were not as lucky as us, they didn´t fly so far, but theyleft very early this morning to go to a training hill which is much lower than Wasserkuppe (920m) and has hopefully less wind. If not, they should all just come over and try hang gliding!

15 Oktober 2013

Stratos documentary and 1 yr anniversary

It was a great pleasure to meet Sherry and Joe Kittinger as well as Felix at Red Bull´s Hangar 7 in Salzburg yesterday for the release of a new documentary and a talk show about the Stratos project on Servus TV.
Joe and Sherry were really pleased with the docu - I didn´t have the chance to see it yet. Luxury problem - if you are "behind the scenes" and meet friends who are usually racing from one event to the next (a bit like me?), you just want to spend every valuable split second talking to them, laughing and catching up with them.
A fantastic team which realized a project that seemed just impossible to do. A great step into the future, not just in terms of new records, but also in terms of their incredible media work!

12 Oktober 2013

Back in the cold

It wasn´t easy to leave Sydney. A perfectly blue day of pleasant spring weather, a big dinner at Bill´s place with Molly and Grace teaching me how to prepare Wonton - a HUGE lot of them, we folded about 400 of them for one "family dinner"... that means roughly 20 adults and at least 10 kids running around the kitchen and living room of the house in Bronte which is probably the most well known "home away from home" to pilots from all over the world!

Only 28 hours later, I was back in the grey, cold reality of German winter. It was pouring with rain and suddenly even huge snow flakes showed up, creating quite a chaos in southern Bavaria. The earliest snow ever in German weather history :( luckily it melted away, and my brave little bottle brush bush on the balcony kept it´s precious flower just to remind me of the good times I had in Australia!

09 Oktober 2013

Can I stay longer, pleeeeeeeease?

Just a few more impressions from Canungra - tactical discussions on Tambo, Jonny and Blenky task setting in the morning at the showgrounds, Jonny´s task briefing on Tambo, landing in the polo field where Mark joined me, and just some strong breezy weather!

08 Oktober 2013

Being spoilt

When I went down the coast by train to meet Kathryn in Thirroul today, the whitecaps on the sea showed quite a strong wind, dark clouds promised some rain. Kathryn invited me over to her place for a delicious home cooked lunch instead of hang waiting on the hill.
Before going back to Sydney, we had a look at take off - and it was perfectly on! We set up Kathryn´s new little Malibu and she put me into her harness and helmet and got me up into the smooth afternoon air at Stanwell. Might have been the last summer flight for me for a while, because autumn and winter are around the corner at home already. You have the biggest heart of all, Kathryn, I miss you already!
I was still wearing that big happy "I was in the air!"- smile in my face when Kathryn dropped me off at Vicki´s place - dinner with the family. Tasty Mexican food!
You guys make it really hard for me to leave Oz, and I wish you were all just living around the corner and I could invite you around for dinner at my place tomorrow eve! I had great support on this whole trip from so many friends, I can´t thank you enough. "You are travelling on your own?" many people are quite astonished about that fact, but I never feel lonely.
Because of all the big comps next year, it is highly unlikely that I will have the time for Canungra again, but be sure that I won´t give up hope and try all tricks I know to squeeze out some days to escape to the "center of the universe", to fly with Jonny and Davo, with Glen and Billy, to party with Linda and Nadine, to enjoy the most picturesque sunsets with Sue in her garden on Tambo. And hey, Gordo - maybe it is time for a trip to Europe soon?

07 Oktober 2013

Dune gooning at Boneyards

Back in Sydney, I had a great lesson in dune gooning today. Dick Heffer picked me up and took me to their "Boneyards" site - kind of strange when you go across a large cemetery first to get to a take off ;) then you fly with the gravestones behind your back. I like the irony in it.

The master of the dunes himself, Shannon Black, was there and played with his new toy, the Malibu 2. Impressive to see his flying - he makes it look just supersmooth and easy. When I tried, I felt completely out of control at first, but Nils gave me a really good lesson on how to cope with strong gusty cross wind on the slope. And without a place to land on the beach, because it was high tide.
It was a good physical work out for me jumping around like a kangaroo in a hang glider, but only when I saw the photos that Lynette took of us I realized that Nils must have worked just as hard as me to keep his gear with me in it in a safe place... certainly very different to the cross country flying in Canungra, but just as much fun!
Tomorrow Stanwell might be on, would be soooo cool to get as some airtime there before I have to go back to winter in Europe ;) might even be possible to watch some whales from above...

06 Oktober 2013

Canungra task 4 & 5 & party!

The last two days had been long and exhausting. I had my first bomb-out at Beechmont, and I was lucky that Dave is a really fast and smart driver- he got to the paddock just when I finished packing up! He and Bruce helped me to set up the glider again, and with a late 2.30 pm launch, I found the last thermal and went around two turnpoints!
I couldnt quite make it to goal, as the sunset turned my light (and thermals) off and the Jinbroken range was in my way. Tony and Dave helped me to pack up my glider at dusk, I was really exhausted, but happy that I got out of there at least with the second try, flying course all on my own.
Yesterday I went alternate and launched at 11.15 am, floating on top of the gliders at Tambo take off. Steve Moyes and Kim visited us, so I did my best to stay up high, waiting for the start gate.
I left with a good group, but we got split up pretty soon at Misery. When I met them again at the first turnpoint in Hillview, I was surprised and happy - and I wouldn´t let the gun pilots escape again! We flew along the ridge together, towards the 2nd turnpoint southwest of Beaudesert, but the day turned off at 2.30 pm and we all just glided as far as we could. Only Adam Stevens made goal, Jonny landed 9 km short and I had 13 km to go.
I landed in a polo field, just a perfectly flat, huge area of very short cut soft grass! A perfect ground skimming approach and fun landing was the final highlight of this comp. When I read in the final scores, I smiled - 3rd of the day after Adam and Jonny is quite something in this group of high class pilots!
Jonny won overall with Jonas Lobitz in 2nd and Adam Parer in 3rd.
The party was legendary as usual in Canungra, many friends came over who hadn´t been in the comp or were not flying for a while.
Nils Vesk got the award for most improved pilot, Billy Miller-MacLeod won floater class (and will soon flog his dad!), I was top ranked female pilot, finishing 20th overall.

Big thanks to the organizers Garbs and Morgan, to Tony and Sue, to Tim, Gordo and Dave, to Bruce Crerar on launch, also to Moyes for a glider that is fun to fly and even without ballast and head wind I can keep up with the "big guys", if my decisions were smart enough!