The case for vPos

by MikeMike

World Gliding Championships have been held for many decades, but is has traditionally been quite difficult to follow these contests. News of the day-to-day race results often came from a telephone call from one of the crewpeople or the teamcaptain to the national gliding secretary, who then would type out the information and stick it on a message board in the bar of the national gliding centre, where it could be read by interested parties. As telephone became more sophisticated, sometimes a tape would be prepared each day of the results and members or interested parties could phone a certain telephone number and listen to the tape to get some idea of what was going on. It was slow and often incomplete but for those people who were interested in how a world championship progressed it really was the only way you could get some information.

The emergence of television has made an enormous difference because people could now watch events live or in compressed form by watching the sports programmes, but until today television companies havn’t been interested in covering competitive soaring. This is because nobody has, so far, been able to make soaring attractive to the general public watching their television sets at home.

Internet is now rapidly providing ways for us near mortals to follow an important soaring event. The internet menu provided by contemporary competition organisers is expected to include shout-boxes, newstickers, webcams on site, near realtime scoring, on site bloggers (latest news) and photogalleries / movies. In the competition website there is sometimes an area for country sub-sites giving similarly structured info as the main site, just focused on the national team. If you don’t have all the above on your competition’s website your contest management can be deemed to be deficient to say the least.

And now there is something new ….. vPos. For those who haven’t seen it, this is a system that can display (real time), on an electronic map, the position and height of the gliders whilst they are on task. The vPos system has some other features that are amusing, interesting and fancy, but the astonishing advantage is now that you and I can actually follow a contest pretty well live. It is absolutely clear that a major contest, or a selfrespecting smaller one, without vPos or a similar system is now unthinkable.

All gliders should be fitted with the vPos system just like all gliders nowadays have (often two) loggers. The two systems (IGC-logger and vPos) are probably reasonably easy to combine into one box and if FLARM could be included in the same box, this would make for one hell of a data, tracking and collision avoidance package. There are various safety reasons why we would want such a system anyway (for instance collision avoidance, locating a lost glider) and at the same time it provides the platform to make it much more fascinating for the audience. Let me explain…

When all competing gliders are fitted with vPos, anybody with a computer and an internet connection can now follow the event live. I assume that in the near future some zoom, time, filter and other controls will be selectable in the website of the contest, so the viewer can select which glider he wants to be the center of attention, how the data is presented etc. etc. Also, when a glider passes the finish line or (better) enters the finish circle, the IGC file could maybe be downloaded instantly to the contest-server. The relative postion and a preliminary day-result and preliminary cumulative standing builds itself immediately as gliders finish their task or land out. As the glider rolls to a stop after a task, he is met by a crewperson with a laptop or handheld computer and the pilot knows pretty well how the day went before he even gets out of the cockpit. Similarly he might get the message that things didn’t go that well when the crew tell him that the laptop fell and broke, they forgot to put it on, the battery is empty or that there is no connection at the time. Pilots can be volatile at times and showing them the (bad) results too soon might not be such a good idea. Enough of this, there is another angle to this vPos business that I find absolutely facinating, so listen to this ….

At the moment vPos is delayed by 15 minutes, so when you watch the screen, what you see is the position as it was 15 minutes ago. This is a pity because, obviously, what you see is not quite live. The 15 minute delay is motivated because of the fear that a pilot might have an advantage from someone monitoring the vPos display and passing on information to another pilot. This itself may be correct but the data is available to anyone at the same time, so??

I don’t think there is much, if any, ground for this 15 minute delay in data release. I think we are doing ourselves, viewers and pilots alike, a big dis-service by having this delay. Why…
Firstly we should not always try to put “equalizers” and “handicaps” in the system to make things “fair”. Some people have better eyes than others and thus some pilots will see other gliders (long) before others will. Are we now going to give all competitors in a class corrective glasses so their sight is degraded to the level of the one unfortunate enough to have the worst eye-sight. Would that be fair? I guess it would be fair, but I don’t think anyone will want to seriously think of actually handing out the corrective glasses for the flight!! I don’t even want to start thinking of a correction for one pilot being smarter than another. So I guess what I want to say is, what’s available is available and let everyone do with it what he likes.

One of the drawbacks of gliding is that it is a pretty egoistic sport. The crew can clean gliders, they can pamper the pilot, they can rig and de-rig the glider when the weather turns foul or when it clears up again. They can make food for him, bring him drinks etc. etc. Some crews are great (!!!), in fact some are so dedicated that Cleopatra (who had many servants) would have been extremely envious of the pilots of today. But the crews are not “in the cockpit” and they are no big help once the pilot is on the way. In the past, when POST tasks were being used in major contests, there was some opportunity for a pilot with a smart and fast thinking crew, to gain some advantage because working out the various turnpoint scenario’s versus time left on task was not something done easily in the cockpit. So people on the ground could help the pilot optimising his performance because they could work out the various remaining flight times based on an assessment from the pilot whether the sky “looked good” or “a bit iffy” from where he was towards a specified turnpoint. The method was somewhat crude but it turned out that a switched on ground crew could be helpful in providing the pilot with a sequence of turnpoints to optimise time and distance.

With vPos we have something entirely different available. We can now make gliding a team sport. Just imagine that on a certain day there is an AST of 200-600km. There are a number of competitors in our class we consider of importance. By e-mail or sms the pilot’s crew contacts a few of his gliding friends. Each is allocated a few gliders to monitor (plus their own pilot of course). The central “controller” (the pilots crew or the tactician of the pilot, who communicates with him over the radio) now sets up a party line on his computer through a messaging system or VoIp connection. Let the game begin…. I don’t know how this will develop, but I can see that the “analysts” sitting behind their computers and monitoring the vPos data will come up with usefull bits of analyses and tactical inputs. The “controller” will get the feed from his (remote) operatives and he most likely will be able to work out some good ideas, data and tips for the pilot to use if he thinks they are sound. So now there are already several people (is several extra brains) “flying” with the pilot in his cockpit. And these people could be virtually anywhere on the world..!!! How fascinating….. This is however only going to work when the time delay is taken out of the vPos data stream. If that doesn’t happen the potential created by vPos is negated to a large extent straight away and looking at it will be done because it is a curiosity rather than an exciting live media at work. Far fetched ???? Maybe, but just think of the possibilities with the time delay disabled…


Last day of July 2006
Latest news by Ritz .

The Netherlands;
First I would like to introduce to you , a new guest-editor who will write on a regular base, articles about “things” belonging to gliding. His first topic will be;
The Case for v Pos!

Enjoy reading, “MM’s Gliding Topics.” You can find it here now on the home site, but it should go under Section, then click TOPICS! We work on that, so you can easily find the topics!! Thanks and enjoy!

Mike Mike, [MM] is an alias and competition number of George Schuit,former National Gliding Team member of the Netherlands and former long- time operator of a very well known gliding centre in Australia. He was the first Dutchman EVER to complete an FAI 1000km. triangle in the mid -eighties and also invented “the Outback Shootout”, a soaring contest aimed at making most of the day in terms of distance flown. Something for the toughies…….
Welcome George!

In between I have contacted a few pilots , and TC’s for their evaluations on several comps, so stay tuned over the next weeks!

The Spaghetti glide is over and though the last day was a difficult one for some, young Bert Schmelzer jr. kept his “head and good flying-rhythm” AND first place with another day-win over an AAT task! Well done Bert and congratulations with your overall win in Rieti.
The top changed a bit in both classes, as young Swiss pilot Stefan Leutenegger “dropped” out of the top 3 and Georg Falkensammer from Austria entered it on spot 2! Steady on third position Bert’s brother Tijl!
In Club class Piotr ,also kept his act together and his first place, but one of the 3 Polish top pilots “dropped” out missing 36 points and Rasmus Orskov from Denmark entered the top as third!

It has started to rain in Europe now. In Holland we still will have 25 dgr. today, but then it is over, going down to 20/21 with rain and thunderstorms. Feel sorry for the Keiheuvel competition, but hope it will dry up soon again, so they have a few good last days . I remember stories from Klippeneck [starting on the 5th of August] with NO flying day at all, ONLY RAIN! Hope this will NOT happen this year! One of the farmers in the area here, said that August would be warm and nice and…. those farmers know a lot about weather!Good luck and safe flying, where ever you are!

Italy —–Belgium——Germany—–France

July 29 2006
Latest News by Ritz

With one day to go and a rest day today, Spaghettie glide, or with other words the Pre World Junior Championships are nearly over.
The youngsters , some flying with coaches have trained well and good results , specially from the Belgian brothers Bert jr. and Tijl Schmelzer, show that it should not be too dangerous for our juniors to fly there. “Good training IN the area during a competition, helps a lot “,is what comps director Leonardo Brigliadori already said when we left Hus Bos in the UK, where we had the last Junior -World-Comps. And…that’s what they did, though not a lot of them.But I am sure the juniors who are going to Rieti, will train in another period there then.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw that during the practise day on July 22 Bert Schmelzer jr. flew the 292.9 km with a speed of 150.8 km/ a discus 2. AMAZING!!!!

In club class 3 Polish pilots have settled on the 3 top places with one day to go. It is great that the youngest pilot from the World comps in Sweden Piotr Jarysz is number 1 at this stage flying a Jantar 3 W !
Good on you Piotr!!!!A lovely young man, you might remember my intervieuw with him in Eskilstuna!
Young Dutch pilot Bart Berendsen is 5th overall flying a cirrus 75. He is coached by Ronald Termaat [Libelle] who belongs to the TOP pilots in Holland and was on the last days 2d in the Swedish world comps but unfortunately landed out and fell down a few places.He flew many comps in Rieti and won one and was 3d at the European comps there a few years ago, so good to have him as coach, he knows all the in’s and out’s around Rieti and the Terminillo.
The Junior World Championships will be from July 26 till August 11 2007.

Today is known in France as “Black Saturday”,a day on which everybody goes on holiday. Traffic jams are calculated in the travel schedules, but… was not too bad.” Only ” 600 km all over France, better then in the last years. So competitors leaving Vinon after the Prize giving had the possibility to end up in one, but hopefully it was easy going for most of them! Another World Competition is over.Next one is in Rieti in Italy!Another mountain area !But pilots are used to it now!
SABINA GLIDE the pre -world Standard, Club and World class will be from July 6 to 20 2007.The World Comps will be in 2008 from July 6 till July 20.So now you know it all!

Today I visited the first competition day of the more or less “fun comps, with a serious touch ” at Keiheuvel, with 28 competitors. I caught up with lots of friends and of course had a long talk with Brutus about Sportavia. This topic was HOT. Of course different pilots and youngsters from this area flew or gave a hand at Sportavia in the past.
It was also nice to catch up with Pierre de Broqueville who I met in Sweden during the World comps and who so generously invited the 4 winners from the World Comps in Sweden 2006, to be his and his families guests , to come and fly for a week in the Pyrenees and play golf there. I never knew his home club was Keiheuvel and that he lives so close by.He flies this week his Nimbus 4 D with his Team captain from Sweden, as his co pilot.This gliding world is so small.

Several pilots travel straight from Italy to Germany where the 38th comps at Klippeneck , will be flown from August 5 till August 12 2006.A few well known competitors as Reinhard Schramme who flew in the European comps in Finland and in the World comps in Sweden, will compete there. He flies in 18 m. class, with 32 other pilots.
There are 28 competitors in Standard class . The Schmelzer brothers Tijl and Bert jr, but also Bert sr. and young Dennis Huybreckx are a few of them. Eduard Inabnit is another well known pilot from Switserland and I met him in both Sweden and Finland.
Also 8 competitors in open class. I will keep you informed!

The last great weather days , as the next week we will have some more unstable weather with thunderstorms and rain. A bit what the “poor Pilots in Vinon ” had over the last weeks, though they still managed to fly thanks to AAT tasks.On the OLC you can see already less longer flights. But we CANNOT complain , the weather has been SUPER!!!
Just having a nice glass of cool rose tonight after a beautiful lunch at Keiheuvel.American salad! Temperature is 28 dgr. and sunny and nice conditions to fly should make this first day an easy one at Keiheuvel. About 232 km. were the tasks for the 2 classes.No stories, a pity as I would not have mind to write for a smaller competition , it does n’t always has to be a World or European contest. But…I will go back one day, so stay tuned!Ritz

Thunderstorms avoid a last day of flying in Vinon !

July 28 2006 Latest News by Ritz

The last day of competition flying was cancelled at 12.00 to day, by the competition director, due to thunderstorms over the field. Result is that the World champions in Club class and World class {PW5} are known now.
Winner in Club class is Sebastian Kawa from Polen with 9129 points flying his Jantar 3 B.Congratualations to him. Well done Sebastian!!

Good runner up is French pilot Benjamin Neglais flying his St.Cirrus cs11-75, with 8733 points and 3d is Petr Krejcirik, from Czech- Rep. with his St cirrus gaining 8720 points.

UK pilot Jay Rebeck had still chances to day to get higher up in the ranks, but weather did stop him. Off course he could have lost too, by outlanding, but a lot would have been possible on this last day, though the winner only had to fly and not outland as he was well ahead! Jay ends as 4th with 8611 and yesterdays day winner , Uli Schwenk from Germany finished these comps with a nice 5th place. Good on you, Uli!
Though I was not there, but analizing from what I had read I was most impressed with the flying from Jaroslav Tomana, who finished 9th.

In the World Class the last flying day yesterday “disturbed” the top 3 places from the 3 French musquetiers, as Milos Dedera from Czech Rep, settled down on 3d place over all. Winner and World champion is Christophe Ruch from France, who flew in his PW 5 9319 points together. French pilot Didier Hauss who I know from the 1987 World comps in Benalla was the good 2d pilot and as said Milos moved in on 3d just before Laurent Couture.

I have not heard a lot about the comps in Vinon and though the stories were a bit better in the end it was difficult to get a good impression of these World Comps.Now I saw , how important a good story writer is for top comps, as whoever writes the stories, is the PR for our great sport gliding, and sadly enough it STILL does n’t get enough PR.Perhaps the IGC should spend some money and employ an editor for all their big events, so they are sure they get the best advertisement.

Europe ;
Still great weather with absolute fantastic flights all over Europe. I was most impressed with flights from pilots flying in an LS1-c for over 668 km and a mosquito with 644 km.Most probably Germany and Spain have more 1000 km flights then ever before in one season.

Also the weather in the USA is still good with 1000 km flights. Hobbs, Ely and Parowan show long distance flights.

The shock and horror of the closure of Sportavia slowly sinks in, and lots of pilots and friends write each other for comfort. There are people furious as they think it was not necessary, but also sad, very sad, a great gliding place which earned its place in the world, has been closed.

If you wish you can send your reactions on this site as there is somewhere a place for comments. Please use it when you feel the need!

As there are only about 30 participants in the BENELUX competition on Keiheuvel airport , I do not have to write there. Rudy called it off yesterday. But I will go and have a look tomorrow and inform you anyhow about their first competition day.

That’s it for now. VERY HUMID here in the Southern part from Holland.Ritz

Ross and Glenda

July 25 2006 at; 16.00.PART 2.

After finishing the story about Sportavia in Australia, I found out, that with the many people helping us to run the business, I forgot to mention Ross and Glenda Bodey, who have been partners with us for a few years. Sorry about that, they deserve to be mentioned.

About the European weather and the great flights , I found out that 98 pilots yesterday, flew over 565 km. The list of pilots flying and filing the REAL FAI tasks is huge too.
What a blessing for the glider pilots, this extremely good weather, but unfortunately NOT for the farmers. They complain that it is too hot and too dry and the whole harvest in Europe will be less then any year before or even nearly nothing. So we will have expensive potatoes and vegies.I feel for the farmers , but the rain should start on Thursday again, so a few real showers but without damage , might help, though I doubt it, it might be too late for this season.

Thanks for your reactions on the sad closure of Sportavia.People who suffer most are, Eddie the CFI and Peter, the engineer for gliders.They did an extremely good job over many years and have to find something else now, after dedicating their lives “totally” to gliding. Hope the new club can be arranged soon, so they might be involved in gliding and repairing again, but I am sure they will miss the international caracter from the past. For them it was a “life style” too,not only a job, they did not mind “pretty low wages”, but loved the guests and helped them where they could. Also after working hours!

If you were interested …and you have read the Sportavia site, you have also read that all pilots who have a private glider IN the hangar or a caravan ON the camping area have been asked to remove them from the premisses before the end of October , but….IF a club starts they might perhaps stay again!!?? Do you understand it!?
There are 2 more nice hangars on the field, not as beautiful as the WW2 hangar , but for the time being it might help, for the new founded club. As said , I keep you informed!

You might “feel”that it really has done something to me, so sorry for carrying on!

Black day!! July 22 2006

July 25 2006;Another hot day in Holland with 34 dgr. in the shade. Here is the news.


The 25th of July 2006 will be always in my memorie as A BLACK ONE.As you can read on the web site; the most interesting and international gliding school from the world, situated in Tocumwal[ Australia] on the mighty Murray River, does NOT exist anymore!!!
Lot’s and lot’s of pilots have flown there, came back year after year, then they spread the word and more pilots came with their wives, friends or new pilots.
I myself arrived there for the first time in 1985, travelling from Holland to down under. We missed after our first visit NO year, so we had no winters anymore with suited me fine!
In 1995 we bought the business from one of the owners Don and continued with his partner Jeff, who just 2 weeks later died in a terrible accident.
After being guests for 10 years we were sole owners now and I can tell you it is a total different story to be a guest from Sportavia or to run it.
But with help of Don and Eddie the CFI, Peter the technician, who started working there 30 years ago when the founder Bill Riley had this dream to put Tocumwal on the map , with Ingo Renner , Bob and many other people we managed to make it big, BIGGER !
The last 2 years Sportavia was in the hands of Richard Cawsey, who did his best, had the money and really tried hard, but in my humble and personal opinion, had not enough knowledge of aviation.
So the sad outcome is that the curtain has fallen over the place I dearly loved!
NO commercial gliding anymore IN TOCUMWAL!!!!Everybody who has been there, will feel the loss of this very special place.
A club has been started, so I will keep you informed where what and how, as soon as I know more!!


Today is a rest day in the World Comps for World and Club class in Vinon.The 3 top pilots in each class are really top pilots and with 3 days to go it will be an interesting finish of these comps, which had unusual [for the time of the year] , as I heard, showers and thunderstorms. Unfortunately in my opinion the daily news is very poor and the results much too late. Preliminary results can have mistakes, but that’s why they are preliminary.Look for all news at


Flying in Europe is still great fun. Pilots must get tired from flying nearly every day in such great weather.Lots of long distance flights have been made in many different European countries, as Germany, Italy and Spain but also the Scandinavian countries got their share of fantastic weather.look on the ON LINE COMPETITION for the daily results.
AMAZING!!! July will be the hottest summer EVER , they announced that already now. A summer to never forget , a day to never forget this July 25 2006.

A sad Ritz


Holland has from today on , its second HEATWAVE in 2006!!! Pretty unusual and not even the hottest summer, as the hottest one was still in 1947, but I can’t remember, as I was only 1 year old then.
I can tell you however;it is hot with 46 dgr. in the sun and 36 in the shade.Even as an ” Aussie” girl, I suffer a bit from the heat, during this holiday in normally cool and rainy Holland. For the first time in my life it was not even “cold” on the North Sea beach, as hot, still over 30 dgr. as in the country but with a nice wind.Very pleasant!

But….if it means that, ” over 1000 km. flights” are a measurement for good gliding weather, then we can ALSO say that the weather is not only perfect for sunbakers, but also for glider pilots.
Many 1000 km PLUS flights have been made both in the USA { p.e Parowan} and in many European countries as Germany {Unterwoessen} and Spain {Fuentemilanos}.Many, many….!!!
Ofcourse just under 1000 km flights enough too. What anbout 775 km. for my friend Antti flown from Rayskala in Finland and 783 km from Rieti in Italy not to forget Lubor, who flew 818 km in CS., so I think all pilots this summer season are more or less HAPPY!

The Club class and World class World Comps however, suffer a bit [ till now] with their weather as storms and thunderstorms “visited” the area of Vinon over the last couple of days.Yesterday they had a rest day due to the weather and long retrieves the day before, but today they finally go for longer flights; 405.5 km. for the Clubclass pilots and the PW 5 pilots go for a nice 312.5 km. task.
Hope they all have an excellent day with no, or just a few, outlandings.

There are not a lot of competitors in the Keiheuvel Competetion in Belgium, so I am not sure if I will go there. At least ONE day , for sure!
Due to the fact that the next World Junior Championships are in Rieti in the mountains , there will be no selection [as planned] this time over flat land.Both Belgian juniors who might go are the brothers Bert [jr.] and Tijl Schmelzer , but they practised in Switserland and Germany [Klippeneck] and go to Italy in August.
Dutch pilot and junior member Bart Berendsen will go to Italy too. He flies in a single seater with one of the top pilots from Holland, Ronald Termaat to practise and to find out if this area is safe enough for him to fly.
I know that Leonardo Brigliadori, who is the Comps director, is very kehn on having lots of juniors practising with top pilots who have been flying there in the mountains already, to fly in Rieti and specially in the competition, so they know the area and what they can expect in 2007.If you have trained well, it is a great area to fly there in sunny Rieti.Those Junior Comps will be held from July 28 till August 11 in 2007. I will be there as their “blogger”.

Back to the garden now. Still very blue skies, no wind , no clouds so still HOT, but…. the last day as we expect rain with possible thunderstorms tomorrow and then temperatures between 25 and 30. Not too bad!
Cheers Ritz

Still struggling a bit!

Just wrote a story about Vinon where the Club class world comps and world class have started their practise, about top pilot Daan Pare in the USA and the and his good flights in ELY [USA] and also in Fuentemilanos in Spain and though I saved it, I lost it all!!!Stand by as I try to find out via Australia what to do. Sorry about this. We are trying hard , but it seems complicated sometimes, though behind the scenes we work hard.
Trying to find the story now first.Ritz