29 Juni 2014

Day cancelled, loads of rain

Today our team mate Markus went home and will go directly to have surgery on his arms to repair the damage, as advised by Ecki - he is strong and doing really well. But we will miss him a lot, he is always really positive, and a top pilot to fly with! We will keep flying for him, doing our best!
Yesterday I had a look at the landing field in Annecy that they will use for the last comp day. The organizers said that 3 of the flag poles will be taken down, so we can fly into the Paquier field from the lake side, if the wind is that way. Today the rest of the team went to have a look at the field, so they know what to expect and how to approach it.

28 Juni 2014

Day cancelled, rain and strong southwesterly

Another day cancelled for unflyable weather conditions with a frontal zone approaching us. Thanks to Ecki for some nice photos!

27 Juni 2014

Task 3: 70km around 4 turnpoints

In terms of scoring, another good day for team Germany today - Tim and Norbert went to goal quickly. I didn´t do too well, because with Françoise I decided to go over Semnoz after the second last turnpoint, as we both thought that Roc du Bouef might not work on the flight back. Turned out it did, and we got stuck a while before we could go on our long final glide. Seemed like most girls were already there when we landed.
The next two days don´t look too well weather wise, I hope that it improves into flyable again on Monday.

26 Juni 2014

Task 2: 98km around 5 turnpoints

The sandwiches we get in our lunch packs are really delicious, you can see that even at a world championships, al different nationalities sit together for lunch :) on this photo Dutch, American, Russion and Swedish!
The weather looked great today, so a 98km task was set around 5 turnpoints, slightly shorter for sport class.
With a base of 2400m and not much wind, flying here is a real pleasure! It was fun to race around the course with the girls. I flew a lot with Françoise again today, but also Japanese Yoko Isomoto is an amazing pilot. She told me she moved from Osaka right next to a launch site and flies almost every day. She loves it, and she won the day - again!
About 9 girls made it to goal today, amongst them Natalia and Julia from Russia, also Linda (USA) and Claudia (COL), Kathleen (GB) and Chisato (JPN) I think.
Food now, more infos later!

25 Juni 2014

2nd day: Too windy, task cancelled on take off

We went up to Forclaz launch today which was still in the clouds when we arrived. We set up our gliders anyway, and soon the clouds lifted, with a much higher base than yesterday. Also the wind was a lot stronger than yesterday, up to 38km/h in gusts on take off, and up to almost 40km/h at the goal field in Doussard.
The task was delayed, but with whitecaps and waves on the lake, it was obviously rather picking up than dropping down, so the day was cancelled.
I´m lucky to have Rebekka here as my personal support, helping me to carry the glider up to take off, looking after it while Im at the briefings, and helping me to pack up and take it down as well on a day like today.

24 Juni 2014

1st task: 49km around 4 turnpoints

Results here.
I wolfed down my dinner to write the news of the day for you guys ;)
We had our first round of the Hang gliding world championships today, with 49km in women´s and sports class and about 70km in rigid class. Don´t know how far the swift guys went, but as expected, Manfred Ruhmer won, and by the sound of it, all the competing class two gliders made it to goal today!
My adidas team mate Tim Grabowski was first in goal and won the day, and Norbert Kirchner was 3rd - a really good result for team Germany today!
I barely got up to 1500m today, which is about 1000m above the goal. I was flying with Françoise Dieuzede most of the way, and I think she might have won the day, while there were Natalia, Sasha, the other Françoise and a few rigid and sport class pilots in the field where I landed, about 7km short of goal. We hit a huge head wind for the last 9 km to goal and just couldn´t find a way to get back up and fight it.
I was lucky to get a really nice landing. Alain, a very friendly guy of the organization team, helped me after the landing.
You can find more photos and stories from our German team at the DHV page.

Monday: no training task, more preparations

No flying today, rain and storms started already in the morning. Preparations, shopping, radio checks, charging everything, running after downloads for restricted airspace, trying to find reliable internet. And meeting more friends. That´s one of the best things of these international big competitions apart from the flying - it´s about the only time I meet and get to fly with some friends I had missed for a long time and rarely see, like Andi Hediger from Argentina. Not in a paraglider in this meet, but flying class 2 in an Archaeopteryx.
Time for team photos in the evening in the great scenery of the lake and mountains, with one paraglider doing his safety training landing in the lake behind us ;)

22 Juni 2014

Annecy opening ceremony World Championships

Today started with teambriefing during breakfast at 8am. Some of us were going to fly, so I prepared my gear to go up to the Forclaz launch at 10am. All I wanted to do was to test my new harness from Woody Valley. The Tenax 3 was very comfortable in the air, and for landing it felt supereasy - a great first try, Im looking forward to use it in this worlds competition!
After landing, Dennis Pagen measured the pitch of my glider and told me "way too high, you can take it down a comfortable bit!" All good there. At 3pm, we joined a 2 hour obligatory safety briefing, followed by the opening ceremony which took us around the head quarter. A nice get together with dinner and drinks was organized by comp director Richard Walbec and his millions of helper - there are so many volunteers here helping to make it a smooth comp for all the pilots, it is fantastic to see how enthusiastic everybody is.
The biggest national team this time is from Japan! Seven women, six guys in rigid class and also quite a few in sports class - the creme de la creme of the whole Japanese hang gliding world is over here in Annecy to compete, it was impressive to see them all.
Weather forecast for tomorrow looks grim, some storms and rain, not good for flying, but it would have been only a training task. A good day to tweak the equipment a bit, polish the helmets and visors, rig the radio gear, just get everything right for the first big day!

19 Juni 2014

Flying over Nevado de Toluca - the video


Since I saw the gigantic volcano in the year 2000 on my first trip to Valle de Bravo, I always dreamt of flying over Nevado de Toluca. What does it take to get up there? First, you need a really high cloud base, as the mountain is almost 4700m high. Also you need a rare day of low wind speed to not have too much turbulence around the crater walls. Good organisation and ground crew is important, as you might land out any time on the trip. It helps to have other pilots around, so you find the thermals faster and more reliable.
It was a day during the pre-pre-worlds competition when we had a turnpoint merely 10 km away from the Nevado before going to goal. Until then, we had already passed plenty of tiger country, but with cloud streets at around 4500m msl, that didn´t seem to bother anybody. I first tried to fly up the Nevado from the north, where our turnpoint was, but I sank out and got low - one pilot landed up there. I sneaked around to the south western side where I saw a fire and climbed up again, all the way until I reached the clouds at almost 5000m. I didn´t want to stay too long up there, as I didn´t have oxygen with me. Luckily with my job as a flight attendant, Im used to working at about 2300m of "altitude", at least the air pressure in the cabin is reduced to that height. I felt fit and comfortable, so I headed towards the peak.
My heart was beating fast when I finally crossed into the caldera and saw the two lakes. All those different shades of the rocks looked beautiful in the afternoon sun. There was no turbulence, but also no climb above the caldera, so I just did one big turn and headed out to the south, towards goal.
When I arrived at Rudy´s father´s airfield, the goal of that competition day, I was the last pilot who made it, but I also wore the happiest smile. When I told Rudy what I did, he told our other Mexican friends, and they celebrated with me - they said I was the first pilot who ever made it in a hang glider without a motor, just by taking off from the Peñon and flying there with the help of thermals.
I´m glad I had this chance, I´m happy that I realized it on the right day, and just took it, no matter what. The flight of a lifetime!You find the video here on youtube.

18 Juni 2014

World Championchips here and there

About a year ago, I sneaked into the Maracana stadium in Rio, accompanied by Fabio Thomaz. Modernisation of this building cost about twice as much as first told, 425 million Euros. Still a lot cheaper than Berlin Airport which is still not finished ;)
All the best to my friends in Brazil, I hope you enjoy the soccer world cup, and I hope you keep the protests against social injustice and corruption up!
Our hang gliding world championships will start on Saturday in Annecy, France, with quite different budgets to the soccer game.

10 Juni 2014

224km FAI triangle

The last three days were the best XC days in a row in the northern alps for about the last 5 years. I was lucky that I could fly at least on Saturday, and I was rewarded with 7 hours of amazing sights, starting at Hochfelln at 10.45 am, going into Pinzgau along the main ridge of the Austrian alps, returning over Steinernes Meer and landing next to my car at Bergen again. Sure many people went a lot further, but as I expected Kathryn and Jorj in the evening, I didn´t want to get back to late...
I found a very good place for the swift with the broken wing - a friendly, elderly couple is looking after birdy now, feeding him and trying to cure his injury, even though the fragile wing was heavily broken. They are specialized on swifts, as these birds are quite rare in Germany now. With their high aspect ratio wings, they do great, fast maneouvres in the air, but apparently they are not the best when it comes to landings, so it might have been a landing crash that broke this little guy´s wing... none of us likes a high stall speed really.
My condolences go to the families of Olga Nekhamina and Herbert Klaushofer who died in a tragic accident in Greifenburg last week. Also heartfelt wishes to Federica Rova and her family, as her Dad Ugo Rova just passed away - he was an Italian legend in hang gliding, I have shared many thermals with him in Italian competitions!
Meanwhile Im at work in Buenos Aires, following the incredible distances flown the past three days, preparing for the upcoming World Championships in Annecy that will start next week in France.

06 Juni 2014

Broken wing

I thought I was going to fly this morning, but when I left the garage, this little guy jumped around on the street with a broken wing. Sure I could not leave her, so I turned around and picked her up. I think it is a swallow, and her left wing looks quite bad. She does not drink any water and just sits quietly. The vet opens in an hour, I hope the bird will survive till then :(

02 Juni 2014

New Hessenmeister 2014!

We didn´t have another round yesterday at Emberger Alm. The northerly winds were still significant, lenticular clouds spread over the Drau Valley towards the west. When four serious dust devils ripped some gliders apart on take off, meet director Oli Barthelmes cancelled the day, and most pilots packed up.
Congratulations to Stefan Boller, he is new Hessenmeister, and Im new Hessen-Vice-Meister and Hessenmeisterin. Also Tim Grabowski won again by a great margin with his fast flight. We enjoyed the training for the upcoming world championships in Annecy a lot!

01 Juni 2014

Day 3: too windy

Day 3 of Hessenmeisterschaft was still too windy and turbulent, also some rain showers darkended the Drau valley during the day.
We hope for a last good round today!