30 November 2020

A new title: German XC champion 2020 (ladies)


Even though I only had about 3 weeks to go flying this year, I managed to cover enough kilometres in the air to get 1st place in our national German XC championship (women)! 

Without friends and their support, I couldn´t have done it. I hadn´t flown in over a year, cause my mom got really sick last year, then corona started and all comps, including the Women´s world championship in Florida that I had so looked forward to, got cancelled. So it´s about time I say thanks to a few people :)

When Harald Stephan invited me to take a tandem flight with him at Tegelberg in his Atos rigid wing, I was happy to start spreading my wings again after a long lockdown.

In the end of August, I managed to squeeze in a few days in Greifenburg with my friend Rebi. We enjoyed the very warm welcome back of Bettina (Pension Zippo) and the Thaler family in Weisach - it was really like coming home. Just what I needed after all that stress about job, taking care of my lovely, but very stubborn parents for months, and changing from going around the globe twice a month to staying just in Germany for months. Something I hadn´t done since I moved out of my parents home, but now the only sensible thing had been: moving back in.

At Emberger Alm, I coached Rebi´s steps back into hang gliding, and she helped me a lot with my first paragliding flights after a long break. We had fun, and lots of flights. We squeezed out every flyable minute of every day, as we both had been deprived for too long. But it was hard work, as we took social distancing very seriously. We went up in our own car and took turns in flying, cause we soon leanrt that the official bus didn´t run in the afternoons. 

Landing out with a hang glider is always an adventure, but in times of corona - you just don´t want to try it. It´s exhausting and frustrating, cause nobody really stops to take you back to your car. One day, I walked some km with my harness on my back to the closest train station, took the train back to Greifenburg, while Rebi walked up to launch to get our car down. On the hottest day possible of course, with a storm lingering on the horizon...

A bath in Bettina´s natural spring water was fantastic after all that work!

During the six days we had, I managed to fly an exciting 98 km FAI triangle around some scenic, huge rocks of the carinthian alps, and also a 120km zigzag around the valley when the wind or cloud development wouldn´t allow any major crossings. For this area, it was already very late in the year, usually the great xc conditions are in spring and early summer in Austria. But I was happy about every moment in the air, and about every moment I got to spend with friends!

One evening, my Australian friend Billy and his girlfriend Katia came over for dinner, cause they had been traveling and flying for a while. 

Billy was stoked when I invited him for home cooked dinner with chanterelle mushrooms that I had collected the same day in the forest.

16 März 2020

Corona´s colateral damage

When I heard information about a new virus coming from China in January, I was alarmed to hear that they quarantined cities by destroying highways. Of course I was hoping for the best, but I clearly remembered Sars and Swine flu, which didn´t disappear within a few weeks.
As my brother and me have fought hard for the life of our parents over the last couple of years, I don´t want to be the one to bring the death sentence home, as they are actually doing a bit better right now, but with their conditions they would be the perfect victims for the virus unfortunately. So I didn´t visit them for the last four weeks, as I might be a carrier who doesn´t show any symptoms. My job as a flight attendant gets me close to people from everywhere in the world, and despite wearing gloves and washing and disinfecting my hands a lot, I might still have it. I asked for a quick test (so I can take care of my parents again), but authorities said they will only test if there are symptoms.
Of course I offered my elderly neighbours in Frankfurt to go shopping for them (it´s really a havoc in stores, so they were happy about the offer).
I am not scared for myself, cause I am young, fit and optimistic. Yet when Davis gave us the news that our women´s and rigid wing world championships in Florida have been suspended, it broke my heart. I know how much effort goes into such an organization, cause I have done it myself before. Davis, Belinda, the whole Wilowtree Crew, Kathy, lots of volunteers - thank you all so much for your effort! Please know that all the women were really looking forward to show the world a worthy World Championship competition, with lots of great flying in Florida! So many of my South American friends entered the comp, so many new, upcoming and promising talents - I was really excited to fly with them all!
Another sad cancellation- the Wings for Life World Run won´t happen this year, only if people run individually. It has been a great event over the past years and got more and more popular, supporting research for victims of spinal cord injuries.
I also feel for all my fellow athletes who hope to compete at the Olympic games, which only happen every 4 years. For me, there has not been the opportunity to win an official women´s worlds title for 6 years now - for olympic athletes, there is quite some money involved if they win an olympic medal, and they don´t often get the chance.
Of course, the crisis hits my employer Lufthansa extremely hard. Flights are cancelled every minute. I don´t know now if I will work tomorrow or not. I don´t know if we will all keep our jobs.
Also I feel with my Italian friends - they are hit very hard with the high fatality rate, very fast contagion, and a harsh quarantine. I caught myself singing "Fratelli d´Italia..." yesterday, thinking of my great flying buddies and wishing them all the best for them and their loved ones!
In these times, I hope that people will get closer, despite the "healthy distance" and a namaste greeting instead of a hand shake. I hope they will see that it´s important to stand together and help each other, that our human values are more important than ever to cope with this crisis, rather than fighting about toilet paper or beating each other up over some kg of flour. But in panic, everybody shows a different behaviour.

Meanwhile spring starts in Europe, the nicest of all seasons. Time to fly again. Maybe unmotorized for a while.

By the way, thanks for all your wonderful birthday wishes - I was very touched in these dark times. So nice that you thought of me!

25 Januar 2020

Help for Miguel and his son Patricio


Sometimes you need a friend, or as many as there are, to help you through a difficult situation. I´d like to share with you how I met Miguel Gutierrez.
Many years ago, at the Cucco Worlds in 1999, I went there just to write about the event and our German national team, for DHV and Drachenfliegermagazin. I was traveling with Tascha, my kiwi friend, and our gliders. Unfortunately, my car broke down in Italy. The Germans had no space for us on their team transport, but the Mexican team took pity on us and we joined them on rides up to take off, and also on sightseeing tours. I will never forget our walk through Perugia when suddenly the guys started singing cause they liked the accoustics of the narrow streets so much - all windows opened, and the guys got a big Italian applause!
Miguel invited me to come over to Valle de Bravo where he was running his hang gliding and paragliding school "Alas del Hombre" and organized competitions. He completely hosted me, helped getting my glider out of customs, retrieved. I had a great time flying in Mexico, and this wasn´t my only trip!
Miguel has since organized several World Cups and world championships (and almost lost his house cause some sponsors wouldn´t come up with the promised money in time), in his quiet and humble manner, always promoting our sport of free flying. Oh I forgot - while Miguel was competing, he was the top ranking hang glider pilot of the Mexican team, a really talented pilot. It runs in the family - his dad was Mexicos first pilot ever, his brothers, cousins, and also his son Patricio fly.
Now Patricio suffered his first accident, in Valle de Bravo. I was surprised that costs for medical treatment in Mexico can easily surpass even the high costs in the US.
If you have a little bit to spare, please help our friend Miguel - I know he wouldn´t ask for it, but he is very moved already to see that there are so many friends world wide who like to support him and Pat!