08 November 2017

Final day - How good is Tacima/Araruna???

A few days of no update on my blog, lots of flying, late retrieves, difficult changes of plans, little reest - but I will catch up for you now!

On one of the non-flying days, we went to the coast with Konrad to see if we could soar on the cliffs. But even there, the wind was too light, so we just hung out and enjoyed the clean water and empty, white beaches. We swam in a lagoon that just looked like paradise. The guys had some fish at the restaurant, I had some fries and a slice of tomato. One of those things was not a good idea, because I was totally wiped out on the next day and could not fly. Only two more possible days for flying, and again I was loosing another one. I started stressing.
Saturday looked like the best day of the week. I went to the Araruna/Tacima take off with David, but where were the other guys? They had lost the key for the gate to take off and were driving around, trying to find someone who had a key. After a while they gave up, and we started setting up really late. „Just take it as it is and make the best of it“ was my friends advice for me, cause he could see my eyes rolling in agony ;) Three weeks with an unexpected challenge every single day! And the flying itself was hard enough, with all the tiger country, rotor areas in the strong wind, and cactus trees everywhere…
But on this day, I didn´t chicken out when we got to the famous „last landing“ before the 25 gnarly km to get to Lagoa Nova. I got as high as I could and went together with Alipio. A relief when we made the high plateau and could finally reach some laudable areas again!
Anyway, we were topping up and went on. Some km before Apodi, Alipio got low and landed. I made it to the city of Apodi at 14.30, which was a bit late to get all the way to Quixada, another 150km, so I decided to land by the main road, to make retrieve easy and fast. 259km was a great flight anyway!
Then the disheartening message from our retrieve group - one car was going to pick up Alipio and me and take us to Quixada, where Macae was staying, and we would drive back on Sunday :((( no way! I don´t want to loose my last day to try for a big flight, and told the guys that I really really need to go back to Araruna today!
I sent my location again, and Konrad said they were only 55km away. I packed my glider in 20 minutes, and he picked me up, then Alipio, further down the way we stopped for Marcelinho and Joao. As we also had two drivers in the car, we had to go back with 7 people. I shared the front seat with Alipio, while four guys shared the space in the back, Konrad was driving. Driving fast.
We arrived in Araruna after 9pm, had a fast pizza and went to bed to get up at 5am on the next day, as usual. At breakfast at 6am, the guys told me that the plan was to check out, pack all our gear into the car, fly as far as possible, and have all cars going to Assu, where we would stay over night. One car was in Juatama already, the other one with us started in Araruna. Ok, I quickly packed my bags (stuff for four weeks of traveling, plus all the equipment and spares for the record trials) and took them to the car, where Konrad shifted the complete gear of five pilots into his car, tetris style!
The Assu idea was born because Guto and Macae had to fly out of Natal on Monday midday, and the drive from Assu was about 3 hours.
Again we only started setting up at 8am, but since I had already made up my mind to come back next year with a more professional infrastructure, I could not get stressed anymore. It was just not supposed to happen.
I took off as the first pilot, waiting for the others, climbing out together and crossing the canyon plateau at the luxurious height of 1200m, about 600m above ground. Always a relief when it worked! Flying over to the next plateau at Lagoa Nova, the next big step, was not easy. I was glad that Thalis and Marcelinho were with me, even though Thalis makes strange choices about his flying route sometimes.
Marcelinho found a strong lift, an we skyrocketed up to 1800m already.
After that, I decided to go to some good looking clouds on the other side of the plateau, while the guys preferred another way. But we met again anyway, which was great. Until Apodi we flew together, but then the guys dropped me, as I missed one good climb and had to wait for another one to pick me up. Oh well, another 3 hours of thermals, with 150 unknown km ahead of me. I will try my best!
The landscape got a bit greener at times, but still hills. Luckily a few clouds left on my way, so I could head on. About 30km before my goal, I realized that with the tailwind I could really make it on a last, big glide! When I finally arrived in Juatama, I could not believe it! almost 9 hours of flying, my longest flight ever. After all the hardship of the three weeks before this day, I really made my goal on the last possible day! What a drama story! Tired and happy I arrived and was glad that Macae helped me packing my glider while we waited for our driver to get back. I went up to the beautiful Pedras dos Ventos resort in Juatama and had a good dinner, surprised to see a lot of familiar faces. Jeff Shapiro was staying there, ready to fly a long distance on his paraglider, also Michael Gebert showed up. He and Verena were leading groups out there, and they usually stay a few months each winter. Many Swiss pg pilots, and some Americans too.
The news about my records spread fast, and everybody was celebrating with me. I was superhappy when the owner of the resort allowed me to go for a swim in one of the nice pools, and a hot shower plus a vegetarian eggplant lasagne made me feel like I arrived back in civilization, even though it was in the outback of Ceara. I had started in the state of Paraiba, went through Rio Grande do Norte and finished in Ceara. So fantastic to have gone with friends, all of us celebrated out own personal best flights! Plus I broke the open distance record by going 407,8km open and the declared goal record by going 405km.
Coming back to Natal, Alipio and Joao helped me writing, filming and editing a bit for the media, so we could take our wonderful sport to the public with a new achievement.

After that, cloud base was a bit higher again, yet the country looked like it was the moon. Where did these guys take me to fly? Very few dirt roads going through the terrain, and for sure no phone would work on the ground.

30 Oktober 2017

Another day in Tacima

More photos and my report in German on the DHV homepage!

The sky looked great today! I took off first, at 7.55am. Found some lift, but couldn´t get to base. Then I headed for another cloud. It didn´t work. Soon I got low - and landed. At 8.20am!!! What a desaster. Well, I had a great take off, and a really good landing. And a tree for shade for packing up. And an accessible field, so my driver found me. Guess it could have been worse. Alas, it is painful to watch Konrad on his way crossing the 200km line... at least I found the best Red Bull ever - the Brazilian Summer Edition is with Açai flavour! I had one to regain some energy and keep going. How do I get a few cases of that to Germany???

I´m grateful for having landed in the community of strong women yesterday! They seemed to be in charge, running their village, and I guess that´s what this country dearly needs - more heart, more chances, more education - and definitely more responsible thinking about how this place should look like tomorrow. The TV news are just the same every day here. People getting shot in the big cities, and banks getting robbed daily, always the same pattern, either crashing a car into the building, or detonating it. The banking machines here in tiny Araruna don´t carry money anymore, so the bank doesn´t get blown up! I get my cash by paying fuel with credit card and Konrad sharing with cash.
I was crushed by the feeling that I can´t fly here like I normally do, getting up really well in light lift. I need a reset. Luckily Marcelinho, Alipio, Macae and Guto are on their way here, so I will be able to enjoy flying with friends and hopefully have fun again.
This green spider I bravely took a photo of really liked my glider bag. Scary thing, it looked a bit like a huntsman, just bright green. Nobody could tell me if it is poisonous, but I didn´t want to try it. For sure the bite would hurt...

29 Oktober 2017

And - another piece of humble pie!

The last two days were not flyable in Tacima. Low clouds and rain made it look very average, so we went to the coast instead. Our driver David took me for a tandem, and Konrad flew his RX pro down the coast for a bit.
Today looked great. Just when I got into my harness and David kept cutting on a wooden stick, I got a bit irritated. He said he had forgotten one of my battens (no 9) at my last landing place. Guess I should never totally trust someone to look after the glider set up and pack up... he fit the wooden batten into my sail and said it would be fine. Oh well. I worried a bit, then I thought, maybe I´m just too German? So I took off. The glider flew well and only had a very slight turn to the right where he had replaced the real batten...
Early start at 8am, getting up to base straight away! 1100m isn´t really high above the plateau canyons, but I committed to crossing with Konrad. We went quite well, but after the plateau, Konrad hit some sink and landed. I stayed in lift longer, went up to base again, and was looking for the best line. First cloud didn´t work. Second one neither. Now I was already in ground mode, searching for some vultures or thermal triggers. Found nothing - and landed. At 9.05am!!!???? Painful to look at the sky, wondering why we both couldn´t get it, while the Gavin the paraglider is on his way to Quixada. Good on him!
I was greeted by a beautiful welcoming committee on the field where I landed. I asked around if anyone would like to try to pick up my glider - and it was only the girls and women who were really keen and interested, so I happitly taught them a bit about our sport! So cool to see how proud they were and how much they enjoyed it!
When they carried my glider to the road, I was invited to their verandah to wait for my retrieve car. They set up a hammock to make it really comfortable for me, and kept asking lots of questions. Even if I felt pain to loose a day like today, it was still really valuable to meet these wonderful people I would have never met otherwise! It´s a cool sport, even if you fail, you kind of get rewarded with interest, hospitality and friendship! Amazing country, this Brazil!
Sure we went back to my landing field from two days ago, where we really found the batten! Luckily!!! Compay Segundo was really happy to see me again, trying to talk me into staying with him, he really needs some company and would look after me well. I have a project and need to fly some more years, I told him.
We left and hopefully have a week of great days ahead of us!

26 Oktober 2017

When it is just not your day...

When you have a few consecutive days of low base, rain and no flying conditions, pilots get impatient. So yesterday there was a lot of talk if we could fly today, or better should go to Matureia straight away. A bit further inland, to avoid the morning overcast and rain from the coast.
We packed all our gear, but as a friend had told me that conditions today would be great for a big flight in Tacima, I convinced Konrad to stay here for today. It looked like a great day, but on take off, I already saw that I wasn´t as focused as the last days. I forgot my gopro cameras and spare batteries and spare vario and radio in my room, as I had packed it into the suitcase in case of travel. One of my spare phones wasn´t charged.
Davizinho helped me a lot with setting up my glider, while I was getting my harness ready. Trackers, radio, varios, water, all good. The wind was quite strong, so I didn´t want to wait and got into the air first today. With Konrad I went up well, but it took a while. Base was at 1200m. Konrad headed straight over the plateau, but when I saw Patrick Colin coming back low, it totally psyched me out. He is like a local and knows how to fly here. Windspeeds were up to 40km/h, with quite some turbulence in it, and it didn´t look inviting to me. Meanwhile the clouds spread again and shade covered the land.
Konrad killed me by saying how good it was behind the plateau, he was getting up to 1600m already. Not my day, so I decided to land in the big field where I had landed on the first day. Wind on the ground 20-30km/, gusting a bit. The approach was smoother than on the other days, but just when I thought I would touch down, a gust was crossing in and threw me to the side. I didn´t touch the ground hard, but in a bad angle, so my tip wand broke. And nope, I didn´t bring a spare one. What a day!
So glad my driver was there in an instant and helped me pack the glider and tried to cheer me up.
We went to pick up Konrad next who had landed in Campo Redondo. And the field next to his really cheered me up - it was full of stones, and in this case, a lot of rose quartz crystals! I never found them before, and I was happily jumping around to pick out the nicest ones. No idea how I will get those large rocks home, but I will find a way!
Arriving back, Konrad pulled out some spare tip wands and cut one for me so I can fly again tomorrow! Lucky girl. I just have to find back to the "flow" and relax a bit.

23 Oktober 2017

We were prepared, but...

... the weather didn´t behave according to the forecast. The first paraglider pilots launched before 6am already, and we arrived well before 8am on take off, excited to go a long way. Well. Then the clouds arrived. High cirrus, and the good looking type below them started spreading and shading the whole area.
I deceded to take off around 8am and wait in the air to see if it gets any better. Not getting higher than 900m asl means crossing the plateau at barely 400m above it. Not appealing, specially as the lift was really unreliable.
So just some fun flying with friends and vultures, until some rain moved in from the coast.
Back to patience mode I guess. It´s normal that the big days don´t happen so often. Ok, I have a bit of time left. And there are some interesting characters here chasing the big flights. Fun to listen to their stories!
Stay tuned.

22 Oktober 2017

Hang waiting - preparing for a good day!

Thanks to Chico Santos and Konrad, I received our Bronze Team leader medal - very much sought after by my team mate Jörg ;)
Meanwhile I had a couple of interesting flights in this area and learnt that a really long flight is not a give away. Getting up at five to prepare everything and have breakfast at 6am, going to Tacima take off and starting around 8am (in windspeeds of about 40km/h), then getting up to cloud base and squeezing the buttocks cause first of all, you have to cross 20km of a high plateau with not a lot of height above the ground.
Even after that, it´s not just happy landing area like Forbes for example. I was well on my way, but at around 10am, the clouds decided to spread out and I was surrounded by probably 100km of shade and decided to land in a safe spot. Well. The "hedges" here are made from cactuses, and they are really good wind breakers. Or rotor triggers ;)
When I landed, the farmers laughed and laughed, cause they thought it was really extraordinary to see a "senhora" who flies and "fell down" in their field! I explained to them that I "landed" and just ate some dust in the end cause I hit a bit of turbulent air. I was very honoured when they laughed again and understood my joke, because my Portuguese is more like Portuñol...
They insisted on taking my glider and harness to the road for me and invited me into their home. A very simple shack, but hey, it was definitely cleaner than my own flat!!! These guys in the Brasilian outback have really big hearts and offer me the best they have - a very humbling experience, and a big contrast to those reports of severe assaults and crime in other places. Btw, four guys had been stabbed yesterday - actually in Munich, at "my" train station that I use every other day, and I was glad that I was safe and far away in Brasil!!!
A local called Pata gave me a great introduction into the local flora and fauna, as we had two days that were very average, with rain and howling winds. I learnt that you better don´t touch the "Hortiga", which is like a nettle, just nastier. Falko got a blown up arm by his allergic reaction to it. When I took the photo of the cute colibri nest, the Hortiga accidentally stung me as well, and my arm hurt a bit, like after a yellow fever injection. Luckily it didn´t swell up, and the pain was gone in the evening.
A guy called Edvaldo seems to run this whole village of Araruna. He is my host at the local Hotel Pousada Araruna, but he also runs a restaurant with the best pizza in the area, he is the head of the tourist council, he knows basically everyone, he is the one who gets up at 5 so these crazy pilots can have their breakfast at 6am, and - he is a great supporter of hang gliding and paragliding. He put on this weeks event for us, and I think I even won some money with my flights!!! Incredible effort!
Plus - he made sure that this strange vegetarian German girl may cook her own food in the kitchen of the restaurant, cause I just can´t survive on meat diets they have over here and brought lots of organic goodies from home.
Yesterday I also met Sulamita Fernandes, a world class mountain biker, because this is not just a flying, but an outdoor event. They even have a university in this remote place about 1,5 hours from Natal!!!
Still in general, nobody speaks English, and I am very thankful that my Brasilian family, especially Claudinha´s mother, has tought me some language skills that com to a very good use here! Just in an interview with the local pr guy I got confused yesterday when he asked me why this place is like the "Avay" for hang gliding. The what??? Oh - after the interview I found out that it was "Hawaii", meaning like the Mekka of hang gliding ;)
Ok, Konrad is calling for our daily Açai dose. I´m totaly addicted to coconut water, Açai and Cupuaçu. This country is amazing!
Let´s hope for a good flying day tomorrow!
You can follow my flight live here:
here the link to my live tracking: search pilot: corinnaflies
follow! I will start about 12.00 UTC!

19 Oktober 2017

Arriving in Tacima

Finally I arrived in the area of Brazil where records are set. It rained on take off today, but with a lot of patience, we got into the air. I only wanted to check my gear is working, all the varios, trackers, radios, headsets correctly connected, and yes, all good!
After landing early in about 30Km/h wind, I went back to Araruna, the village where everybody´s staying. Can´t believe I was cold this morning and last night. Even less that it rained hard on take off?!?
The guys took me under their wings and explained how to fly in this area. A bunch of international and even more Brasilian pilots are here. Everyone who stayed long enough was rewarded with a "voozinho", a little flight. Well, Dudu from Brasilia even hit the 325km mark!!!
This place totally reminds me of Beechmont in Queensland, Jonny´s home. Guess it´s not the only reason why he likes this country so much ;)
More flying today, the rest of the week actually looks pretty good!

14 Oktober 2017

My first flight in Bahia - on a single surface glider!

Not so easy to be in an area with bad phone reception an fractured internet connection, but I try to keep you updated anyway.

My first flight on this adventure trip happened thanks to Betinho Schmitz and his school SuperAr. He is here with an xc clinic and let me fly a single surface glider and his harness. Together we try to help the others to improve their cross country flying skills. Carla, one of his students, helped me set up the glider, while I prepared the harness (not a lot of storage space in that one…), the radio frequency and the turn points.

And yes, I did fly with big wheels on my base bar, cause I wanted to show the pilots that it is absolutely cool to fly with the best protection possible, specially when you are in a new area and do your first xc flights. Landing fields can have unexpected slopes, obstacles like fences or powerlines or trees. With wheels, you might be calmer and make a better choice.

Our goal was Iaçu, about 75km from take off. We got up to base and went over the back of Buquerao take off. After Kate landed quite early into the course, Betinho said I could go ahead following the train tracks. For a while it worked fine, but when the good lines are upwind or downwind, possibly over not accessible, not landable terrain, it´s not so easy on a single surface glider. You have to be much more careful about good timing with clouds! About 25km from goal, I decided to land with a paraglider pilot in a field that looked like a great choice. The wind in the air and on the ground were up to 20km/h, so the landing was smooth and easy. Luckily I decided to not cross the forest and go for dodgy fields, because the „trees“ turned out to be cactuses with huge thorns! Impressive! While it was the big, blue hole when we landed, of course half an hour later we had beautiful clouds over our heads...

As I had no radio contact with a driver and no phone reception, Kiko the paraglider pilot and his family just put my glider across their car and took me with them to the next houses, 5km down the road. The lovely lady who runs the local bar let me use here phone, so I could tell Claudinha where I was, and she relayed it to Betinho. A while later, we were on our way back to Santa Teresinha.

The internet here is really slow and broken, almost impossible to post pictures!

12 Oktober 2017

Next adventure: Brazil again!

After I came back from the World Championships in Brasilia, my work started full throttle. Five flights to the US and back, and some ground trainings in Frankfurt inbetween, sometimes minimum rest, all within four weeks - barely time to wash my clothes. But I needed to work this hard to make enough time for my next, big adventure. Brazil again!

My friend Marcelinho from Natal took my glider and harness to the northeast of Brazil with him when he left Brasilia. That way, I just had to fly back and find my way up. He will be home on Monday, and until then I have time to visit my friend Claudinha on her farm in Bahia. After I spent one night in Sao Paulo, I took a flight to Salvador and was very lucky that Amerino, a hang glider pilot, picked me up on his way to Santa Teresinha.

After about a four hour drive, we arrived in this small, rural city. Great, big granite rocks are spread all over, flatlands inbetween, and the sky looks promising. We went up to take off today, but as I didn´t have a glider here, I just helped the other guys to get safely into the air in the strong, gusty wind. The temperature is very pleasant, not as hot as I expected.

Betinho just arrived now with an xc clinic. Quite a few girls in his group, so it will be fun to hopefully fly with them all tomorrow! He said he has a single surface glider for me to fly, which will be just great! Claudinha already got her paraglider ready as wel

19 August 2017

Task 9: Esplanada and BRONZE TEAM MEDAL!!!!

Results here! 95km task to Esplanada and a way better weather forecast left us trying at the start gate and wondering. We didn´t get more than 1200m above the plateau, and at first I hesitated when Jörg called me to go with him on the first start time. I wanted to stay and make more height.
Then I changed my mind, cause for the team it would be much better if Jörg and I charge out ahead and call the other, faster pilots with the second start gate over along behind us. I had no idea then that Lukas, Gerd and Primoz would even get stuck even after the 3rd start gate...
I had a good run, found lift, was with Mario Alonzi and other top pilots. We were racing along the course and only stopping for strong climbs. It had turned on, and thermals got us up to 3400m!
Until the last turnpoint, I was ahead with just a few pilots. But what should have been the last glide into Esplanada, like the other days, just killed us! I immediately radioed to Roland and Jörg to take good care and choose a different line, as I was sinking like a led hammer!
When we finally found some lift about 10km from goal, it was slow and the others caught up - luckily Roland as well! He would have a really good time with the 2nd start gate! Because of the massive sink, I made sure I had plenty of safety height in case I hit sink on the flight over the city. Turned out that I lost 5 minutes on the guys who were with me and easily made it, but I also heard one other guy who started the glide on 9:1 and barely made it in!
My landing was very average, as about 8 gliders came in at the same time, and it felt like someone left a bit of wake for me ;)
Tension to the very end - did we keep 3rd place, or did the US team overtake us? They had no really fast guy, but 3 pilots were ranking between Roland on a great 4th place, and me in 30 and Jörg on 34th. We could not believe it when we saw the results - we made the Bronze Medal by 6 points!!! The first medal at a Hang Gliding World Championship for the German Team after 18 years, after Guido and the team had won in Forbes long time ago!!! PARTY!!! Awards start in two hours.
Oh yes - I won the women´s ranking by about 1500 points to the second place - unfortunately there won´t be an official Women´s World Champion title, as we did not get an exemption from CIVL to have the title with only 6 girls from 4 nations :( Would have been great to promote our sport in public and media with a new title. 

18 August 2017

Day 7 & 8: inverted

Results here! Two difficult days with slower lift, lower base and a strong inversion turn 130 pilots at take off into the gaggle of death! Two days ago, I had fallen back and didn´t quite make goal in the end, and yesterday nobody even made goal, because we were moving too slow in the difficult conditions.
Primoz was a little ahead of our team and gave us good informations. I flew a bit with Petr Benes yesterday, the Czech pilot who ranks 2nd at the moment. We had a good time finding some strong lift above the big forest towards the third turnpoint.
Just before the fourth turnpoint, it was getting really late and Roland and I found ourselves in a big gaggle again, trying to work our way up in 3cm/s... While Gerd had landed just before the 4th tp, Roland and I managed to scratch the radius and head on towards the fourth. As the ground was rising again towards that direction, we could not glider all the way to the circle, but got as close as possible and then landed.
Later people told me that I was the last pilot landing on that day! Primoz got furthes and won the day, Roland was 5th and I was 6th of the day. My best day result in an open world championship ever! It put our team up from 4th into 3rd place.
Today is the last day, and it will be very tight between 3rd, 4th and 5th in the team rankings. Get some popcorn and watch us live tonight at about 4 pm UTC, 18.00 German time - here´s the link to the live tracking!
German reports and more photos on the DHV-Homepage!

16 August 2017

Day 5 & 6: Almost Esplanada and nowhere really

Results here! Big relief for our team that Gerd is allowed to fly with us again - and sure enough, he scored great! Thanks again to Wolfram Huhn from the German embassy who helped us get Gerd out very quickly - other pilots spent a few days in jail for the same infringement...
On the day after the stressful event, I was too slow to make it to the Esplanada goal. In the last thermal I could see the ground getting dark, and i didn´t want to dare flying low over the lake, like a few other daredevils.
I was just happy to have had a good flight, one REALLY strong and turbulent dust devil meets fire like rocket up, and great company for my landing about 10km short of the 132km goal. It was nice to have my team mate Jörg there!
Then yesterday only one pilot made goal - Genki Tanaka from Japan! Primoz and Roland got very close, while the rest of us barely made half the course. Strong inversions, blue sky and thick smoke from fires made it difficult to get anywhere. I landed in a field full of stinging prickles,very annoying stuff!
So nice to have had a rest day today, stocking up again on coconuts, fruits and veggies, hydrating, relaxing - and having a shower now, before the city turns the water off again tomorrow! The water reserves are so empty here at the moment, that half the city doesn´t have water for one full day of the week. Coming back from a day in the dust and heat, it is not so pleasant.
Three more days to go, keep your fingers crossed for us!