SRGC [Southern Riverina Gliding Club]

Alphen aan den Rijn          28-11-2008

 A bit earlier then expected as this weekend is full of art , with an opening on sunday from the world wide well known artist Armando . The opening will be done by the lady-in-waiting from our queen Beatrix. So everything has to be even higher standard then the highest standard we always have already.You can imagine I am slightly worn out.

If you are interested in the Grand Prix for gliding in Narromine ,please look at
On sunday the 30thiest is the first day of the competition and as always Jo will be there to keep you informed. Please read her daily blog for the latest news. After 2 weeks of “bad” weather the skies hopefully will be blue with nice helpfull clouds on sunday.

Was shocked and very sad to hear that my real good old friend Jim died. Lots of you know Jim as our gardener at Sportavia. This was just a hobby for him as he was before he retired a great business man. How much he loved walking over the airfield , catching up with all our guests and he knew and remembered all of them and …..looking after the gardens.It is sad to live so far away and to not be able to show my respect at his funeral, but I know that lot’s of people will go and for sure he knows that I think of him here in wet and foggy Holland.I wish his daughter who lives in Queensland and her family all the best.
Thanks Jim for ALL the great ROSES in my garden and the fantastic red oleander on the grave of Dennis!!!!

More news from Oz, you see I am still very much attached to Australia . Ingo and Judy Renner are busy to found a new club at Tocumwal airfield, with the name we used in the past too; Southern Riverina Gliding Club.
Of course Sportaviation is there already and is going stronger and stronger I hear,  as the commercial center.Here is the invitation I got and of course I will support them.

             An Invitation to the Foundation Meeting

              of the Southern Riverina Gliding Club  

 As many of you are aware the MBFC will cease gliding on the 23rd December. Following this decision discussions have taken place amongst gliding members as to the possibility of continuing gliding activities as a separate club. With this objective in mind it was felt that a rebirth of the Southern Riverina Gliding Club would enable this to happen. On Saturday 6th December  there will be a foundation meeting to reform the Southern Riverina Gliding Club which was established in 1972 and has a long history in Tocumwal. Many pilots have gained their gliding certificates and flown records in the past as members of this club. If you are interested in becoming a foundation member and would like to support the establishment of a new club please come to the meeting or send a short message by  email  to Ingo Renner ( )  or mail to  SRGC  PO Box 32, Tocumwal NSW 2714.

Date: 6th December 2008
 Time: 7pm 
 Place: Tocumwal Terminal Building

Bitterwasser, Gariep Dam,Narromine ,Tocumwal,Kiribotip, Chapelco, Pokweni,Lake Keepit, Benalla and Omarama had atleast 1 or 2 pleasant to very pleasant soaring days last week, but not yet those booming days, that ” chairs, tables and crew start flying by theirselves”!!But…that will come, no worries!!!!
It’s busy enough at all those airports, so for sure great fun for all pilots and family to share thoughts in the bar or club house or ” to fly their just made flight ” again in words!!

Wishing you all a great and safe new week , with for all pilots hopefully ” HAMMERWETTER”.


Bruce Brockhoff….and more!

Alphen aan den Rijn             23-11-2008

My grandson’s 3d birthday , so I am off to Amsterdam, to see my family straight after writing. Though…I go just for an hour as we have bad weather here with wind , bad hail and snow and in the afternoon they expect up to 5 cm. of snow here in Holland , which is pretty unusual. Of course we do have snow, but this is a weird snow-disturbence, with in 2 days 9 people killed by slippery roads, even more unusual.

Africa, both N. and S. were the places to be last week with great and long flights, several over 1000 km. Uwe added one more on his long, very long list of 1000’s.Several of our former guests/friends are in Africa at the moment as; Uwe, Hans, Hans Theo, Hans Georg, Hermann, Alfred and I know more will be there over the next weeks.
One of my friends  said 10 years ago that  the future for the Europeans will be Africa to go to in winter and  mainly China and Japan will “use” Australia as there off -season base.
The flight to Africa is shorter, no time zone and great weather! Another soaring center opened;Kiripotib [ ( ).  in Namibia and he expects that every year another center will open as in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Malawi. Will see if this is correct. He is pretty accurate in his predictions.
But my heart still is in Australia so I hope lots of pilots will go there to fly.Lots are already there and the great Aussie weather will be there in time to make them happy, it is still early in the season, but…we do have had in the past long flights during our Outback Shootout, early November. Last week the Narromine Cup was flown, and kilometer-eater Terry is flying there and enjoyed  a good 582 km. flight!

Today you can enjoy the interview my friend Jo had with Bruce Brockhoff.I met Bruce in 1984, a great guy and a fantastic pilot. The Aussie team and the Dutch team, read George and I , hosted a Bols [ Dutch jenever] party at our tent in Rieti, during the pre-worlds.
All Aussies were there and for sure cannot remember what happened that night, as most were over- refreshed. We became friends for ever. But…Bruce was late. He landed that day on a ….soccerfield, yes you read this well, a soccerfield. Luckily nothing went wrong as Bruce was as said an excellent pilot .So here is more about him ;enjoy his story written up by Jo.

           Opening of the Australian Gliding Museum

Bruce Brockhoff Annexe – storage and restoration facility

                     Saturday 15 November 2008 

The opening acknowledged the very generous donation of $A100,000 from Bruce Brockhoff. 

Around 200 people attended; guests included:

Bruce Brockhoff,
Ian Grant – GFA Treasurer
Maurice Little – VSA President
Rob Pollock – Chairman Point Cook Action Group
Keith Meggs – President Aviation Historical Society of Australia
John Tenby – President B24 Memorial FoundationPresidents of Gliding Clubs –
Max Callingham, Victorian Motorless Flight
John Styles, Geelong Gliding Club and also Chairman of the Bacchus
Marsh Gliding Group,
Peter Raphael,Bendigo Gliding Club.

Supporters of the Australian Gliding museum, particularly those who have donated aircraft, memorabilia, cash and their time and effort to the Museum. Pioneers of the Australian Gliding Movement – Leo Dowling (holder of the first glider licence issued in Australia) and Jack Hearn. Tribute was also paid to the late Geoff Richardson, Dick Duckworth and Dave Darbyshire for the tremendous support each had given to the establishment of the Australian Gliding Museum.

 Apologies, due to other commitments, were received from:
Daryl Connell – President GFA
Bill Riley – well known aviator and supporter of the Museum
Dr Patrick Greene -CEO Museums Victoria
Roger Meyer – President Civil Aviation Historical Society IncMoorabool Shire President and Councillors. 

Bruce said that the reason for his gift was “because the sport of gliding has provided me the most enjoyable hours of my mid-life sporting days.  I experienced the comradeship and friendship of the gliding community and I embraced the whole scene, which became a very important and rewarding part of my life.

“When I first started gliding, I was a bit taken aback with the amount of cooperation and effort required by people to launch a glider into the air!  Since then, I enjoyed this generosity of time and effort from many others and appreciated the comradeship of pilots in Australia and around the world, and have developed many long-lasting friendships.

“I was going to leave an amount to the GFA in my will, but decided to do something now as there was a very worthy need.  There are about 50 old gliders all over Australia in people’s back yards etc desperately in need of a home and facility for all to enjoy.  

“I have always enjoyed old flying machines especially gliders – in fact I started off in a very old primitive wooden open air (no canopy) 2 seater in India in 1962 (I was an exchange student in Bangalore) – that was my first glider flight.  I was impressed by being able to hear voices on the ground, and I can well remember the quietness and the serenity of the flight.

“The next flight in a glider was some 10 years later at Bacchus Marsh and I was so impressed on that Sunday, I spent the rest of the afternoon and night on the phone  rearranging my week and found myself on a week’s course at Benalla, within 24hrs, on Monday morning – I went solo on Wednesday.  I must admit I had 10 hours up in a 172, so that helped.  On Friday I heard about the infamous Bill Riley at Tocumwal, so I went there from Benalla for the Saturday and Sunday, and learnt more in 2 hours with Bill than in all my flying experiences.

“This meeting was the beginning of a very close relationship with Bill who was not only a very close friend but a mentor to my gliding career, especially in the preparation of gliders and myself for racing.

“Bill invited me to accompany him on a fabulous tour of the major gliding factories of Europe including England, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Romania. We had a fabulous time together and I got to know Bill’s wonderful qualities, aeronautical expertise and knowledge on this most enjoyable grand tour of glider centers. He related many of his wartime experiences as a very young (underage) captain on a Sunderland Flying Boat during the Battle of Britain.

“I nearly gave gliding up – I got a bit bored flying around in circles, doing my 300 km and 500 km then Bill talked me into going to my first competition in a ‘highly competitive IS29’ (his words) – it was the most non-competitive glider you could imagine. Bill managed to sell me one for the occasion and helped me seal the flaps. He did not know about the non-disposal ballast bag of lead shot that I stowed in the spare area locker.

“My first competition was at Horsham – I outlanded every second day, but I caught the competition bug big time.  I then squeezed my way, before I was ready (and qualified), into the West Australian Racing Class Nationals as they were short of numbers, and again landed out every second day BUT undaunted, and even more determined, I commenced my climb towards my international career.

“In 1983 I won my first Nationals at Narromine, way before I was mentally ready to win a Nationals, then a few months later was off to the World Comps at Hobbs NM USA where I came 12th in 15m Racing Class, winning the last day in ‘great style’ I am told.

“Regarding crew, I have had many wonderful thoughtful and supportive crew over my racing years; however none could be compared to Beryl Hartley who was the best crew I have ever had for any competition at Hobbs in 1983.

“Bill Riley was not only an inspiration to me over the years but he helped me to make up my mind to make this donation by giving all of his gliders to the Australian Gliding Museum, so I thought it logical that I should support such a museum.”

Bruce is married to Kristine and they have two very beautiful daughters, Brooke (aged 13) and Belle (15 years old).  Belle is the current USA Nationals Boardercross Female Champion and has won many trophies around the world for snowboarding. Brooke is a very keen skier and has done well in the Australian Nationals in moguls.

Bruce was three times Australian National Champion in 15m racing class. He represented and competed for Australia in 10 international gliding events including an event in the Gobi Desert of China, where he won All Class Champion – China vs Australia.  Bruce was Team Captain for the Australian gliding team at the Pre-Worlds and World Gliding Championships in Borlange, Sweden. 

Bruce was Convener of the Rules Making Committee of the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) for over ten years.  He was GFA Delegate to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) General Conference in 1987 and 1988.  In 1994, Bruce was presented with the Gliding Federation of Australia’s FAI Airsport Medal in recognition of his outstanding services to gliding over an extended period of time.

Bruce is an enthusiastic sailor of solar powered sailing catamarans and built and launched his own ‘Dream Catcher’, a 48ft sailing catamaran, in 1998.  He won a Victorian Landcare Award for raising from seed and planting over 30,000 Australian native trees on his family farm at Dromana (three rows of native trees in plantations 10m wide double fenced totaling over 15 km long).  He is a breeder of Angus bulls and superfine wool Merino sheep and an enthusiastic and keen grower of exotic, full flavored, aromatic, heritage and purpose bred tomatoes. 

He has been experimenting with solar heat collection systems over the last 5 yeast and has taken out patents around the world for his invention SolarFlume which is a very basic inexpensive solar heat collection system which he uses to heat his tomato greenhouse.  His motto for the project is “More BTU’s for your Buck$”.  SolarFlume can be used to desalinate water with some minor modifications. A new web site will be up and running soon.

“The few  ideas that have come to me regarding the world’s desperate need for more use of solar energy have come about by an accumulation of knowledge and skills that I have been fortunate to acquire during my ‘journey through life’. These ideas have been drawn together with a lot of input and guidance over the years from many mates, notably my mentor Bill Riley of Tocumwal, New South Wales and Ellis Rowe of Benowa Waters, Queensland” to mention a few.

compiled by Jo Pocklington for

17 November 2008



Sorry that the lay-out is not perfect. When I copy and paste, the story ” starts its own life”.Have to figure out how to make corrections which STAY, as after 100 times it still goes back to what I do NOT want .

Off to Amsterdam now, it starts to get dark alreadyand it is only 10.30 AM.

cheers Ritz

Press release November 20

Alphen aan den Rijn       21-11-2008

Busy,busy!!!! Another press release ,for GRAND PRIX fans.
On sunday the interview from Jo Pocklington with Bruce Brockhoff will be on. So STAND BY!!!!!

Cheers Ritz

Press Release – Australian Qualifying Grand Prix – 20th November 2008

As the contestants gather for the Australian Grand Prix event to be held in Narromine, New South Wales, pilots who are gathering for the Narromine Cup week are checking out the high performance 18 metre racing sailplanes which will be the stars of the Grand Prix.

This new class of elegant sailplanes is proving to be the perfect answer for the pilots who are looking for maximum performance with ease of handling.  Just as the battle between pilots will be of interest to the gliding community so to will the battle of the manufacturers.  The modern sailplane is the ultimate solar powered machine, able to convert  the power of the sun and the terrain to fly tasks of 1000 kilometres in a day.

The growth of sophisticated instrumentation fitted to the modern sailplane requires an excellent understanding of the latest technology in GPS and digital collection of information for display in the cockpit.

The organisers are hoping for the usual strong gliding weather present at this time of year in Narromine. Under these conditions these streamline new sailplanes will race through the air at speeds in excess of  300 kph through the finish line.

The spectacle of the high energy finishes of each race will certainly attract a large number of spectators for each days task.

It needs some updating but for sure that will happen when it is on.

Press release-Australian Qualifying Gliding Grand Prix

Alphen aan den Rijn       18-11-2008

Just received this press release from Beryl Hartley from Narromine and of course I share it straight away with you.Will give you the site -adress when it all happens, so you can follow it by yourself.

Press Release – Australian Qualifying Gliding Grand Prix – 18th November 2008

Grand Prix racing and Italian males are the usual indicators of a furious speed event and the International Gliding Grand Prix is the perfect sailplane gliding race to hold in Italy in 2009. Two pilots from each of the 6 international qualifying events will attend the world championships.  Narromine in central New South Wales is host to the Australian qualifying grand prix from the 30th November to the 6th December 2008.

Two of Italy’s champion glider pilots are on their way to compete in Narromine. Thomas Gostner and Riccardo “Ricky” Brigliadori are many times Italian national champions. They will be striving to gain one of the top results and contest the world event in front of a home crowd in 2009.

Thomas Gostner is a regular visitor to Australia and has competed successfully in National championships in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. He has flown on previous championships from Narromine and will be familiar with the weather and terrain conditions of the competition area.

Ricky Brigliadori is a new visitor and is looking forward to flying in Australia for the first time. His father who will crew for him in Narromine is a previous representative for Italy at the World championships held in Benalla, Victoria in 1985 and he is looking forward to renewing friendships while visiting Narromine.

Grand Prix glider racing is an exciting new event in this sport and with the GPS tracking technology now in use, the public and aviation enthusiasts are able to follow the race in air-conditioned comfort at Narromine Airport.  The first contest day is Sunday the 30th November.

Information on the event can be obtained at 02 6889 2733

See you again on sunday . Jo has worked hard to send me the details of the opening of the vintage museum.

Cheers Ritz

Omarama 1216,5 km.

Alphen aan den Rijn                    16-11-2008

It looks I am to much focussed on Africa and Australia to see the first 1000 km flights for the out-of-Europe-season. As…yesterday the flight was made in Omarama, place from the World comps a few years ago. Great flying over the mountains in a more or less out and return with for sure good wave conditions.Max Stevens was the certainly very happy pilot flying a discus with a speed of 106 km. p/h. Distance;1216,5 km.
Young NZ pilot Dane Dickinson who flew several World junior Comps had a great flight too in  his LS 8;774 km. I expect a lot from him in the future world comps.Nice fellow, great pilot.

There are some “voices” who would prefer an OLC for thermal flights and wave flights. It is a different way of flying , with different conditions , but still soaring.I don’t mind!

S. Africa had great flights with p.e. Hans Wiesenthal, who likes to fly the real flights; set FAI tasks.This time a beautiful triangle with a speed of 107 km p/h. from Gariep Dam.
Australia had some early spring flights and I loved the one from Pepe , another pilot who prefers the set FAI tasks with 0ver 800 km. from Corowa .Pepe has flown in this flight over all familiar areas as Benalla, Tocumwal and passing Euroa, all gliding fields and even “touching” the mountains close to beautiful Beechworth.
But…the flight I liked most , this week, is from hang glider pilot Mart Bosman. Yes a Dutch name but he lives already for a long time in Australia in the neighbourhood of Mount Beauty. He and his wife are very good hangglider pilots and Mart learned how to fly gliders with us in Tocumwal a few years ago. Now he flew an LS 6 in one of my favourite gliding places Lake Keepit. A lovely not to big airfield on a lake.His comment on this flight;” Good day , lasted not long enough due to cirrus.Still 10 knots up to 9300 is n’t too bad.” Proud and glad to see he has gone so far with his gliding too.

The Grong Grong boys, 3 Japanese friends who tried in the past  to fly their first 50, 300 and 500 km. ,have arrived again in Tocumwal. Every year they came back , sometimes twice a year and when the weather was good, Grong Grong was set.  We were ALL happy and we rang the bell for them and gave them flowers on each distance  they had achieved, including GRONG GRONG!!!!
Still flying from Tocumwal, the place they just like most. Great gentlemen, I had a few sake’s with them in the past.

The Australian gliding museum is OPEN! About 100 guests with some VIP’s enjoyed a nice sunny spring day at Bacchus March airfield.A longer story will appear in the next Gliding International. I will come back on it too.

That ‘s it. Had a busy week and 2 more very busy weeks to come, but I will be there again next week.

Cheers Ritz

Black is beautiful!

Alphen aan den Rijn        09-11-2008

 What happened last week?
First of course the 44th elections in the USA with ,as glorious winner……….Barack Obama, the first black president in history!!Great stuff!!!!!
They have been however, the most expensive US presidential elections in history ,but….with a record number of American voters, 180 million. So a BIG day for America and the world!

If you like gliding you might like Formula 1 as well.In my opinion we had last year one of the best Grand Prix series EVER. Lewis Hamilton won in the last 100 meters to be 5th in the last race and….to win the WORLD TITLE with ONE point difference from Massa. Tension till the end!

So what about a ” black James Bond ” ????His latest picture gets record visitors here in Holland at the moment and the suggestion is not mine but from James, James Bond, himself.

Flemington, [Melbourne -Australia]….now we talk horse -races another very interesting sport. I do not know how many times I wrote on that day while working at Sportavia …..The Nation stops….. And it did again with a spectecular race won by ” Viewed “,trained by the great Bart Cumming [ this was his 12th Melbourne Cup Trophee] . First win for young jockey Blake Shinn, who had the task to bring the horse in first. And….it won by a nose from pre-race favourite “Bauer”, decided by the photo- finish.
While living in OZ , I loved that day gathering at a friends place, with some 20 other friends; with the sweeps,  the tension ,the TV …loud, the shouting and excitement,the bubbles and good food, not to forget the great heads and clothes, specially for the occasion.

Yesterday we had in Holland the National Gliding Day with over 300 guests visiting the University of Utrecht for some good sessions on interesting topics.Unfortunately I work on saturdays so I missed out on meeting lots of friends and listening to subjects as;
” Gliderpilots,young and old.”When is it time to stop with a sport you loved so much and spend so much time on?
President of the Dutch Dakota Association Anne Cor Groeneveld was the discussion leader in the morning talking about aviation including gliding and vintage gliding. 
Tilo Holighaus [Schempp Hirth ]and Holger Back [ DG Flugzeugbau] were invited to talk about the fleet and specially their latest gliders.
And another good topic was; How do we get more young glider pilots to our clubs!? Will the simulator help, now those young ones live in many different virtual worlds? Next year I will be there again.[source]

Next week the opening of the vintage museum at Bacchus Marsh Airport ,not too far from Melbourne. They have currently 32 gliders , in different conditions, in their collection and the number keeps growing. All gliders have been donated. During the opening 20 gliders will be on display and some others on loan. 
About my friend Bruce;” Bruce’s gesture in giving a donation sufficient to erect the hangar was certainly a wonderful act. This hangar will be used for storage and restoration of our fleet of historic gliders and most will be stored in a derigged condition. Our ultimate aim is to have a full museum display in conjuction with other fields of aviation but the achievement of this is someway into the future”, so far Mister Graeme Barton from the museum.

All gliding mekka’s in Australia and Africa have started with their first flights of the season.I hope for all of them on great weather.
On the OLC you see them again; names as Bitterwasser, Gariep Dam, Pokweni with familiar names, gliders and nice long flights. Corowa,Tocumwal and Narromine will follow soon, as the first guests have  arrived there last week.

The Australian FAI Grand Prix will be flown in Narromine from November 30 /December 6 2008. Participants from Oz as wel as overseas. From South Africa Mannie Mc Lachlan will fly . Also pilots as Heimo Demmerer from Austria and Thomas Gostner and Ricky Brigliadori from Italy are invited.Mac Ichikawa is the Japanese pilot who is invited.
In the week before [23/29th] the famous Narromine Cup will be flown; the 12th edition!
As you surely know, Narromine won the Australian bid to have the Worldcomps in 2012. Now is it up to the GFA to win the bid on worldstage. Would love to be there as editor!!!!!
Tentative dates IF it all happens in OZ, are;December 1/December 15, so in the night of the final party I can celebrate my 66th birthday!

For sure it will be another great time for all Europeans flying overseas! I stay here and enjoy their stories.Most friends said they will only mention it on the OLC, when they have flown OVER 500 km.So let’s hope we see their names a lot, which means they enjoy theirselves to the fullest.

Enjoy your next week to the fullest too! Ritz

Michael Sommer ……and more !

Alphen aan den Rijn         02-11-2008

Last weekend the weather turned out better then expected, so we did a more then an hour walk in the forest. No museum this year, we went bowling and had our luxury dinner. A great family day!
We also had already ice-on-the-window from the cars, so frost arrived in Holland too.And…we changed time last week, so we are 10 hours behind OZ for half a year.
Checking the OLC , I was most impressed with the flight in an ASW 15 on October 27;
470 km.[Petr Safar CZ]

Received 2 invitations last week.
 invited me on the occasion of the


 There will be a sizzle lunch available.
This will be on invitation with RSVP on November 15 at 12.30 PM.

This museum might be a welcome place to visit for all pilots from the world soaring in Australia. On a less good day specially guests from Benalla , Tocumwal and Corowa [these places are close to the airfield of Bacchus Marsh ] ,could visit this new museum full of vintage planes. Bruce , who donated a generous amount of money, is a good friend since 1984 when I met him and his “mates” first in Rieti, a former top pilot in the OZ team and former ICG member  for Australia.
I will be back on this item next week. If you are interested NOW , please look at 
You will see a “lovely” picture from young Bill Riley , who donated several very exclusif vintage planes to this museum.

I heard that both my Finnish friends Jari and Kari visit Tocumwal this year to fly the LS 6 , so keep this in mind guy’s. I know Kari LOVES vintage planes! And all the Japanese friends, please go and have a look, it’s not too far on a non-flying day.Also Daan and Harry and all the others at Corowa, it is worthwhile visiting! And…my English friends at Benalla, you are close by , so just have a look.

The other invitation was from France.In Toulouse you can discover the world of Airbus , more specific the A 380 and Concorde.
Guided tours to p.e. the first Concorde of the production series, to become familiar with the astonishing technical specifications of this former supersonic airliner.
See for more news

At last….here is Michael’s interview. It is pretty tough to keep such a nice story for your self for a while when you want to share it immediately with the world, but being involved now in the New Zealand Magazine Gliding International from John Roake, where you can read the interview too,I thought I had to. So enjoy Michael’s answers on my questions about the World Comps in Luesse [Berlin].

Michael Sommer,
2 times WORLD CHAMPION in open class;
A few questions!

1. Michael you were world champion in Eskilstuna in 2006 and now in Luesse, how do you compare both comps? 

First of all of course it was great to be able to be part in a world competition in the birthplace of gliding and my home countryGermany. The amount of public interest in this event was something I have not seen before. The German press, the German gliding community and the whole Berlin/Brandenburg region took a great interest in this competition. Without wanting to devalue previous Worlds I believe the public relations efforts as well as the whole organization of these worlds have set a new standard. The perfect infrastructure in Luesse contributed to this.
Unlike in Eskilstuna, I was very familiar with the location, having flown three competitions in Luesse before. Also this time my long time team partner Tassilo Bode was qualified for these Worlds as well. Both very positive factors!

 2. You mentioned that you did not feel a lot of pressure flying in your home country, how come? What was the secret? And how did you cope with the weather?

 Many people warned me beforehand that coming to Luesse not only as the national title holder but also as the current world champion would put a lot of pressure on me. Instead it gave me even more confidence which increased my level of calmness.The weather was as it always is when you plan a major competition: It was quite atypical for the season. During the training week we had the typical Luesse stable high pressure weather with high cloud base and low cloud cover resulting in long distance flights and average speeds up to 145 km/h, but once the competition started cyclonic conditions with only small weather windows dominated. Sometimes this included strong winds up to 60 km/h hand in hand with streeting and wave effects. Having 4 eyes and 2 brains in such demanding conditions was very beneficial.  

3. Flying with your friend Tassilo! Are you really pair flying? If he would have been better in the beginning, would you have supported him, in other words did you or the team set any rules? Would it have been different, if he was not there? 

Yes we pair fly very closely. We start within seconds and fly the task wing on wing, not further apart than about 50 meters. Any decision to be taken we take together. We first flew together some 10 years back and have always gradually improved our technique. Team flying like this can only be successful when each of the team partners accepts that the partner may win the title. Many so-called teams fail because one of the pilots’ aims is to be better than their team mate. Our aim is to be better than all our competitors. We stick to this no matter whether Tassilo is in front or the other way round.  

4. How was the team spirit in your German team? Was everything so well organized that you could ONLY concentrate on flying? Were you “pampered”, because you were the current World champion? 

No of course no one was pampered! The team was absolutely great and I believe we had the best support you can have. Apart from our crews and the team captain we had two coaches and a meteorologist with us. All of them were happy to be part of it and all of them gave their absolute best. So yes, I believe all of our pilots were able to mainly concentrate on flying! 

5. What was besides WINNING, the high light of these comps and was there a low point? 

I could not say that we had a real low point. There were days where the result was not as good as we would have liked it to be, but we were always able to analyze why it happened and where we had made the mistake. I can even see a positive in this; on two days we had the situation in flight that something did not work out well and we knew we had lost a lot of time but we were able to stay calm and managed to turn the flight around and still achieve an acceptable result for the day.   For sure thehigh point was day 6 when we managed with a clear day win to take position 1 and 2 in the overall scoring. It was just one of those days where we were just always at the right time at the right place.

 6. Is Hungary the next place for the third title, or do you find that area difficult? Or can you fly well, wherever you fly?[ That’s what I think by the way!]

 The one thing never to forget is that despite the best glider, best preparation, best team mate,… you still need a large amount of luck as well to win! On day one on task I was down to 200 meters and it almost could have all been over. I have never flown in Hungary but as long as it is flat country home field advantage is quite limited. All the top pilots are able to get adjusted to a new area quickly.

 7. Narromine in 2012 might be the 4th one? No other bidders at this stage? Another great place for you? I predicted he will be the next Ingo Renner, is that also your goal? 

I have to say a few words about Narromine. I have lived in Melbourne for the last five years and I have been able to experience what a great gliding country Australia is. I am really excited about Narromine’s bid for the 2012 15m, 18m and Open WGC. I am very confident that if Australia is successful with the bid that the gliding world will not regret travelling to the end of the world!
Regarding the future I have to admit I have not set any goals. Of course I can see that another title would be great, but for me it is always more important to have fun in gliding. I love gliding and as long as it stays that way I will continue doing it!

 8. What do you think of the Drugs tests in Australia for pilots, also glider pilots? I heard even light pain killers can give you a positive test and it takes at least 14 days to have checked that you were not positive, a competition might be over then?

 Doping tests are standard in the sport world. I had the first test during a gliding competition more then 10 years ago. As gliding is not seen any different to other sports we have to adhere to this rule which means you are not allowed to take any of the forbidden substances. I do not see a big problem with it even though I personally can not see that with doping you could get an advantage in gliding. 

9. You told me you like flying from Benalla, close to your home in Melbourne and you specially like to make long distance flights —yes I called him once a kilometer maniac—-, do you just enjoy the long distances, either FAI set tasks or jo-jo’s, or are you still eager to fly 1000 km and more?

 I guess I just enjoy getting the maximum out of every day, taking off in the first thermal and then making it home in the last light. That can but does not have to be a FAI triangle, 1000km or a record. I quite like the concept of the OLC where you have all the freedom to use the day in the best possible way. I do like central competitions but can get annoyed with them as well when the tasks are too short and after the opening of the start gate you have to wait forever to be able to start at the tactically correct time.  

10. Is there anything you would like to say and I have not asked? 

Sometimes I am amazed myself to realise that even after 21 years and many thousand hours of  gliding every day I fly it still fascinates me. I do not need a competition, record weather or the latest open class ship for this. There are still plenty of new flight regions, new tasks and challenges waiting for me!  

Thank you very much Michael. I have read the answers in one go. Surely the readers will do the same.Good luck and safe flying for the rest of your soaring career . Enjoying what you are doing is the secret of many winners, continue to enjoy!!!!Ritz

Hope you enjoyed this nice story too. See you next week

Cheers Ritz