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!

13 August 2017

Day 3 and 4

135 km and 125 km were the long tasks of the last two days. It took us a long time to get to goal yesterday, but after all that crazy gaggle flying, I really enjoyed just cruising around with Primoz. Jörg was the first of our team in goal, and we all had exciting final glides into the city of Brasilia.
I landed late and barely started packing my glider when Betinho came with bad news - Gerd had done an emergency landing at the presidential palace Alvorada - landing conditions were rough, so we were glad that he didn´t get hurt. The organizer was already there, and I called the German embassy for help.
My team packed my gear, as I had been picked up by the "emergency guy" from the embassy and went straight to the police station they had taken Gerd to. Lukas and Murilo had been allowed to pack and take Gerd´s glider, so we "just" needed to wait for the decision of the police.
We were all transfered to the federal police station on the other side of the city, where the friendly boss on duty took the report really fast - we were very happy that Gerd did not have to stay in jail!
Sure he scored a 0 for the day for the infringement. It was a short night without much sleep for me, and I was sad to get to know at briefing today that the organizer and Mitch, the CIVL steward, had decided to not let Gerd fly today, maybe even disqualify him from the whole competition.
Attila stood up at the team leaders´ briefing stating that there were no written rules in the local regulations that pointed out a disqualification. At the pilots´ meeting, Zac Majors said that he thinks a zero for the day is punishment enough and a disqualification too harsh.
After all these discussions, we encountered a blue day with stronger wind and slower thermals today. It was really difficult to find the lift around the turnpoints and make it back to Esplanada. Jonny won the day, from our team Roland, Primoz and I got back.
I really hope that from tomorrow on, they will let Gerd fly again. He is totally aware of the mistakes he made, but he got himself into a bad place with the choice of drowning in the lake or smashing into a small field with a lot of tailwind - so he chose the only safe option left, knowing that he would be punished and get into trouble.

11 August 2017

Day 1 & 2

Our live tracking is here! More pictures! Results! Sorry for the delay, but the days here are long. Yesterday I didn´t make goal by about 13 kms, and the drive back took a while too, as we didn´t go to Esplanada for goal.
Right in the beginning of our task, I saw a glider coming down on the reserve. I waited to see where he landed and if he moved. Looking for fields to land close to him, I suddenly saw that he moved his glider and radioed that back to my ground crew. I was relieved when they told me that Betinho has already organized a rescue for the pilot, and that he is ok, and I can keep flying.
That is easier said than done - of course I was a little shaken and it took me a while and a really low save to switch back to competition mode.
The others had long gone, so no chance to catch up.
Over 100 pilots made goal, so I voted to go in the early bird take off today. Wolfi Siess had taken off first - and bombed out! The wind direction suddenly switched to a total cross or even tail wind, so launch was closed. Didn´t look promising as one of the first pilot´s off the hill... when the wind turned around, I told the safety marshall that I´m ready to go - I was just happy to get off the hill, hoping I could at least maintain.
I went down and up a little for a while, around the corner - and found some light lift. About 20 minutes fighting, and then the inversion seems to have broken, we finally went up and on course of the 120km task.
Until about 15 km before our Esplanada goal, I managed to stay with the huge gaggle of about 50 pilots, but then they started speeding. I can climb well, but not speed so well, but I was superhappy anyway to have made it to Esplanada.
Another dream came true - Yoko landed in goal! Only a year ago, she didn´t even know if she was going to fly again, and here we are, at goal, overwhelmed by emotions! She is a fighter, and she is back, right up there!
The Italian "twins" Alex Ploner and Christian Ciech take turns in winning the days, but our Primoz came 3 of the day today, our team currently ranking 5th.
A lot more days of flying are ahead of us!