Crisis in the world !UV radiation and Horsham Week!

 Alphen aan den Rijn                  Thursday  19-02-2009           Carnaval!

It is more or less cucumber time ,as the overseas glider pilots are nearly all back home, waiting for their gliders to arrive in a few weeks but they can  still enjoy the great weather they had and the fantastic flights. It takes some time to have filled in club friends and other friends and family with the stories!
Those, without taking their gliders, try to “dig them up” to prepare them for the new season. So not a lot of news on the gliding front, though Jo was so kind to send us the report on the Horsham Week. Thanks Jo!

When I received my paper this week, huge black letters on the front page told me that
 ” the crisis in Holland is so BIG, that the gouvernement cannot solve the problems alone , we ALL have to help”!!!!
The Dutch economy is going “down ” 3.5 % is the expectation and this is AS bad as in 1931. So….everybody will be touched by it, not only Holland but , as you might have felt already too, the whole wide world!

My neighbour came to borrow my car. He was fired  by the ING bank together with 2700 other people, so his lease-car was gone. I told him that I had RESIGNED and he nearly fell of his chair.
Yes I did! And it feels very good!!!! Just a few months earlier then planned, I started my well deserved retirement, so…more time to write and visit comps. Love it!

Another article which is of interest for all our glider pilots is;
” Spray shows in early stage skin cancer”.
According to this story, airline pilots have a 10 times bigger chance to get malicious skin cancer specially those pilots who fly transatlantic. It seems they have 15 % more chance to get it , when pilots passing 5 or more time-zones even have a chance of 25 %.
Not good all this UV!!!!!!
This new method is from Dr. Neumann from the Erasmus Medical Center and his research is published in “Lasers in surgery and Medicine”. [published on February 17 2009]  What happens!?
1. This fluorescent detection-spray is sprayed over the skin.
2. The patient then goes in a cabin with soft light for 2 hours, to let the spray soak in.
3. A digital camera makes pictures with different colours of light.
4. A computer translates this in a picture and beginning skin cancers are visible.

The article finishes with ;
” Due to further investigation it was found out that helicopter pilots wearing NO helmet get it more then average,  AS WELL AS HOBBY PILOTS WHO GO GLIDING!!! “
The author for the paper [] Marc Kruyswijk happens , as I found out, to be the husband of my daughters friend Febe. I found it very interesting.
So be careful!!! In the past I saw “our” Japanese guests wear white soft gloves, white long sleeved pullovers , scarfs to protect their neck , of cours hats and some were even wearing face-masks. I found it then a bit “weird”, but it seems they were earlier smart then I and knew already more!!!

Though my friend Jo was not in Horsham, she still has send us the report from the Horsham Week, this time written by the competition director Geoff Vincent. Thanks !!!!
 Jo’s husband Tony was flying and ended as number 1 in his class. Both are off to the USA  [have fun!]visiting Colorado and….a glider friend. Is n’t it great that we, in this world of gliding ,make and have friends everywhere in the world. It starts already with the juniors ,as I found out my self, who make sometimes life-long-friendships at their first international comps.

Enjoy the Horsham Week!

 Horsham Week 2009
by contest director, Geoff Vincent
Approx 44 pilots and 35 gliders participated, including several 2-seaters, pilot pairs and 3 self-launchers, 8 interstate pilots (4 SA, 2 NSW, 1 Qld and 1 WA).  Pilots were from Grampians, Geelong, Beaufort, VMFG, Corangamite, Temora, Southern Cross, Mt Beauty, Darling Downs, Waikerie, Gliding Club of WA, Adelaide, Bendigo and Gliding Club of Victoria.  Bacchus Marsh clubs provided half of the competitors with over half of those from Beaufort. 

Eventually, there were 4 tugs in use after initial setbacks with the non-availability of the Geelong Gliding Club Pawnee and engine problems with the Horsham Flying Club Jabiru.  Typical aerotow launch time was 57 mins for 32 gliders and 75 mins from first launch to last gate opening.  Towing heavy two-seaters (eg Twin Astir) behind the Jabiru was like watching a cruise liner behind a harbour tug – very sedate, epitomised by P2s succinct observation: “that end fence has got rust on it”.

HFC made a Jabiru available for temp trace flights.  Max Hedt’s comment on day 5 after the east wind had brought a bit of smoke over – “it was IFR above 4,000 feet, I think you should call the day off” – but it eventually turned out to be the best day of the week.

East-west runway 08/26 was used on only one day which involved sharing with the RFDS Super King Air.  Some 20 gliders moved off the bitumen strip onto the grass in 5 minutes to allow the King Air to proceed to and from the terminal. 

Black Saturday 7/02/2009 – Extreme weather conditions with 25 kt winds gusting 50 kts and temperature peaking at 46 degrees C. Grass fires around Horsham resulted in the loss of some 10-12 houses, the golf club and about 40,000 trees. No fatalities or serious injuries reported. All ideas about flying were abandoned.
8/02/2009 – Horsham airfield closed to glider operations due to intense water-bombing and fire-spotting aircraft traffic on the active runway. An enforced non-flying day.
Contest day 1 – 9/02/2009 – A generally blue day with a moderate south-west wind. A separate racing task was set for each class with the task areas north-east and north of Horsham. 30 gliders launched by 3 tugs in under 75 minutes. Most people had a good day with everyone getting home.
10/02/2009 – A cool and partly cloudy day prior to gridding, with good cumulus streets and a 15-20 kt southerly wind.  However, by launch time the sky was over-developed and the temperature was falling. Six 15m class gliders were launched but 3 fell down immediately, with the remaining 3 able to achieve a slow climb to 5000 ft cloudbase. Deteriorating conditions forced cancellation of the day, although several gliders later managed good XC flights in the proposed task area north of Horsham. Them’s the breaks! 
Contest day 2 – 11/02/2009 – Cool, cloudy and windy early in the day but cleared to a fine but windy afternoon. The task setters opted for a moderate distance AAT with 20 km circles at the two turn-points. It was a challenging day, especially the into-wind final leg, but everyone got home. 
Contest day 3 – 12/02/2009 – Persistent strong south to south-east winds kept temperatures down but provided some good streeting opportunities.  Open, 15m and Standard flew a racing task (range 263-313 km) with Sports battling out a 3 hour AAT. Only one outlanding, 10km from home – Philip Volk (VMFG) flying a Discus CS.   Philip got a lift back to Horsham airfield to organise his retrieve crew and that was the only outlanding for the week.
Contest day 4 – 13/02/2009 – Soaring conditions improving, with moderating south-east to easterly winds, bringing warmer temperatures but poorer visibility due to bushfire smoke from eastern areas.  Sports class flew a 3.5 hr AAT, with most of the field returning early.  Open, 15m and Standard flew racing tasks ranging between 280 and 370 km.
Contest day 5 – 14/02/2009 – The initially selected tasks to the south were abandoned before briefing due to heavy smoke in the Grampians area and replaced with a 150 km lap Run Task taking in Minyip, Warracknabeal and Antwerp to the north. It was a late start and all classes flew a 2 hr time frame with the exception of Open class with 2.5 hrs – bringing everyone home in plenty of time for getting in flight data and de-rigging before the evening’s festivities began. The soaring conditions were spectacular with many pilots reporting 11-12 kt climbs to 8-9,000 feet.  It was hard to beat Jack Hart’s 14 kt climb which he left when it weakened to only10 kts – we should all be so lucky.

Horsham Week recognises many and varied achievements.  The ‘Daily Devil’ award, made to committers of silly or noteworthy acts (offender had to wear a silver horned cap during briefing) this year went to:
* David Cleland – opening the canopy before stopping
* Geoff Vincent – use of inappropriate language on CTAF radio frequency
* Gary Stevenson – assault by motor vehicle on airport property
* Simon Brown – bunk-house break-in after locking himself out
* Craig Vinall – reverse landing on active runway
* Alex Kreti – wheel-up landing + the GCV ‘Turkey Trophy’.

One recalcitrant whined that the registration desk was run by the gestapo – Trevor Hancock retorted “I take that as a compliment”.

It was a good week that ended well with a lot of happy faces and promises to be there in 2010.  With thanks to many who helped out including Horsham Flying Club – premises, infrastructure and willing members; Horsham Council – airfield, coordination with CASA (NOTAMS etc); organising committee – treasurer Trevor Hancock, safety officer John Anselmi, tugmaster Phil McCann, scorer Brian Wood (and for provision of the PA system), met David Wilson and Max Hedt for airfield liaison and temp trace flights.  There was the usual essential support from Horsham catering crew headed by Lorelle Esmore, tug pilots, task setting team, grid teams and launch crews. Internode provided wireless broadband service which was of great assistance. 

Winners were:    
Open: Tony Tabart – Corangamite SC, Vic – Ventus 2cM
15m: Andy Smith – Mt Beauty GC, Vic – Ventus B
Standard: Craig Collings – Mt Beauty GC, Vic – ASW19
Sports: Jarek Mosiejewski – Geelong GC, Vic – Puchacz
The Achievement Award went to Craig Collings in recognition of his outstanding competition performance, even more noteworthy considering that he had less than 20 gliding hours in his logbook in November 2008.
For full results go to

 I am off to “celebrate” Carnaval in the southern part of Holland , where Carnaval is really “HOT” so enjoy your weekend and week.CU later

Cheers Ritz

Happy Valentine !I can ” smell ” spring !

Alphen aan den Rijn                    Saturday 14-02-2009

With still 12 big fires burning, the firebrigade in OZ deserves for each fire fighter a medal. One of the agg-pilots I know is flying 6 hours a day to help distinguish the fires from above with water bombers. On the news here is , that the weather at this stage helps the fire brigade as temperatures are 20 dgr. less ,the wind decreased and some rain falls, not much but all water helps…..
On the other hand I also heard , that temperatures are going to rise again, with the wind picking up and the expectation of thunderstorms, where lightning can bring new fires. Unfortunately it seems to be ,not over yet.
As one of my friends wrote; ” I think that we will all be touched in some way by this disaster.”
At this moment , I hear, they fear for 300 people dead and 2000 houses lost!!! I don’t even want to know anymore, how many animals have been killed too. It is all too sad for words, but ….if you wish or not, life continues…..

The Horsham week is on, so pilots have gone to more or less the last competition of the OZ season. Horsham , NW of Melbourne, always has a very friendly finish of the gliding season with nice tasks, friendly people , more or less the sub top , plus some toppers, no stress to win , just relax and fly , enjoy your friends and the good food they are well-known for.

On google earth I found a site to check where the fires are and this site is updated by the fire brigade. On it I saw also fires south west of Horsham, but pilots are busy with day 5 , so they seem to have no problems ,also not with the smoke, which in some areas sometimes only gave 2 km. of visibility.

The season in Africa was already over , now the season in OZ is over too, though I know from experience that you can fly great flights with good to fantastic conditions till Easter.
The Corowa pilots have packed their gliders in the containers and one of these days they will be shipped back to Holland, just in time for their owners to start with the European season.
Today is such a nice day. At 10 AM it was blue and very sunny , though cold with 3 dgr. but I got some tan. At noon…. great clouds and high …and at 2 some overcast , but it looks and smells like “things are going to happen again”. The first motor glider flew over my house!!!

New soaring-guests however still visit Australia, as I heard  that longtime Sportavia guests Jochen and Hans arrived for some good soaring in Tocumwal at Sportaviation. They had a good season , which pleases me. Also Benalla picked up so did Narromine. Great!
Best of course was Corowa and specially January made their season.Lots of long cross country flights, also from my friends Daan , Harry, Vincent and Pepe , made them as airfield pass the 500.000 km. mark which is fabulous!

In Europe preparations for the JWGC in Finland are in full swing . At this stage 36 prelimenary entrees have been received in standard class and 42 in club class with 18 different nations participating!!!!The comps will be flown from the 24th of June till the 3d of July, unofficial training on the 21st of June and official on the 22d and 23d of 2009!

 SORRY …I just lost ALL statistics I evaluated ” checking the OLC.” I start again but it will be shorter now!And ….just take it please, for what it is worth, as some pilots can stay 4 months overseas, “using ” the bad, good and hammerweather- days and some have to fly in a shorter time -their holiday-, so it is all a bit “coloured”.But still…..very good results!!!!

First the REAL flying , which of course is the OLC-FAI;

Champion–Mannie Mc Lauchlan from South Africa , flying his ASG 29 from mainly Gariep Dam and Welkom [ SA Nationals].Great effort , good pilot! I met him in Eskilstuna during the WGC, but do not really know him. Anyhow…congratulations Mannie!!
The best FAI flight is made by “mate” Terry Cubley in his “old” LS 3 from Gawler. What an effort! 1043 km. with a speed of 114 km/h.
I know Terry and his wife Vicky,since 1984 when we met first in Rieti during the pre-worlds. Before I knew him , he was already “great” in soaring, he still is and we talk  30 years later.And…he still flies world comps , he was in Rieti last year and….WHEN Narromine would win the bid for the 2012 comps, for sure he will be there again, flying in his home -country!!!!

Looking at all the flights; the best  this season are made by Hans Wiesenthal , both in FAI -OLC or OLC.
He flew the unbelievable amount of 33.235.13 km. in 43 flights from Gariep Dam in South Africa.
 If you look at the FAI-OLC only, he flew over 9000 km. more then the runner up , who had “only” 5 flights less. Yes ,..Hans stayed for a few months in Gariep Dam, but…he is 70 years ‘young’  now and this season with the many hot days,  he had to fly nearly every day, a great effort and you really have to be fit then. Luckily he is!!His wife Ute is his very devoted crew, for many, many years.Well I think everybody agrees ,he truly deserves to be the number 1 pilot from the best flights for the 2008/2009 season.

 Of course the very long flight from Klaus Ohlmann, made him the champion of the OLC with the best flight too. You know how I think over these kind of flights, but…..flying 1806 km. in a DG 400 , makes it very special again!

The best club was the Gliding club of Victoria [Benalla] and it pleases me a lot that Benalla is “hot” again. They hosted the State comps and the Nationals,  both flown in  great weather and with a good organization. Many pilots , I heard, had the old-Benalla feeling again. 

Last but not least Corowa managed to fly a fantastic record of over 500.000 km. cross country in 879 flights . Cool!!!!!Their concept of shipping the pilot ‘s OWN glider  in a very safe way, for 3 months to Australia, is a great success. Lot’s of our Sportavia guests have moved to Corowa ,after the demise of Sportavia and it pleases me a lot , that I hear every year better stories of their soaring holiday.I can only say, job welldone and congratulations to Grietje [with 2 small children!!!! ]and Francesco with their team.

cheers Ritz

Weird weather !!!!

Alphen aan den Rijn       08-02-2009

With the highest temperatures ever , up to 47 dgr. C. in Victoria ,the S.S.E of Australia struggled with the heat this last week and still stuggles and HOW!!!!!!
For sure you would not mind that I am pretty sad about the huge bush fires in Victoria and NSW. I still see Australia as my second home-country and Tocumwal as my second home-town.

Till now “ASH-WEDNESDAY” in 1983 was the worst , if we talk bush-fires!  I think 75 people got killed then and it is written in every-bodies mind!!! Even in mine,  though my first visit to OZ was in December 1984. But somewhere deep in my heart I have the feeling that these wild bush-fires are an even worse disaster. From my friend Margie I just heard , that “55 people are known to be dead already”. Hundreds of houses and personal belongings….gone!!!And what about all the animals living in the bush!!!!! Very sad!!!!”
It is a bit tragic that we love the heat  for our beautiful sport of gliding, while others hate it and are anxious already when they see the “total-fire-ban-signs”.

For some of the pilots in OZ, this very hot weather is an extra bonus in the end of the overseas season for their  long distance-flying. It is pretty unusual to fly a 1000 km. flight in the beginning of February as the days are really getting shorter, but using “everything” some pilots managed to do so. Great effort!!!! On the other hand with such searing temperatures, where can you be better then high up in the cool air.

On the other hand, parts of Queensland , in the East of Australia, suffer too and are TOTALLY flooded and warnings for snakes and crocodiles on the search for food and dry land have gone out.Poor Australia, one part in fire, one in water!!!
With the “red” wind up to 60 plus km /h. on the ground it all started a couple of days ago again.I have been once in such a “blizzard”, where the fire goes with the speed of the wind. It hit Tocumwal and we were surrounded by fire at the airfield. NO way to go anywhere!!!! TRAPPED….. REALLY TRAPPED and that “horrible”  feeling of 53 dgr. C.!!!!
So with wet blankets, we were waiting on the side of the pool to jump in when the fire would hit and fly over…..January 3 it was in 1990 or 91!!!!! We were lucky that the fire-brigade and the hundreds of volunteers helped out around the town to stop the fires.The fires even managed  to jump OVER the Murray River .
Also due to the fact that the wind direction changed,  the old beautiful WWII hangar was saved. But the poor sheep at the airfield all had to be killed , as the speed-fire burnt their eyes and legs. The smell of burnt flesh from the poor kangaroos was dreadful. A memory I will never ever forget!

For sure pilots from Lasham would have loved to be in OZ, as they suffer from the worst snow up to 22 cm. in London. Not “ever” ,as in 1963 there was 33 cm. and in 1982 28 cm.
Reason for this extreme weather is ,as they told me, that very active depressions / showers activate the cold freezing air over the Noord- sea and they are pushed to the south -east of the UK by a strong Easterly. The South East even got 30 cm. of snow. Nice for the kids, not so much for the traffic, whatever train, car or plane. And….it is not over yet!

I read over the last 2 weeks with great enthusiasm the stories from Vincent Dolfin. I know his family well and it is refreshing to “see” how a young Dutch guy from just 34 years old on his first trip to Australia and his first real long distance flying, looks at this for him new world. Indeed very refreshing, outgoing and with self-discipline and self-knowledge!
I quote a few words about  his last flight on February 6:
” It is over! What a great flight to finish this holiday, what a beautiful day! Clear blue and an early start! A bit difficult in the beginning, but then…”full on”  and up to 3600 m. and go-go-go!!!Straight up to the North and back. The thermal activity stopped pretty early today , but I managed to get home without problems. One final circle around the field and the last landing for the season on Corowa airfield”
He is grateful for the possibilities he had and the experiences and for “this fantastic adventure”!!!! Luckily it is not too cold when he arrives back in Holland, though light wet snow might welcome him.
He is THE example of being on the right time , at the right spot. Perfect gliding weather nearly every day and when soaring is impossible due to the smoke of the fires , he had just left  again.

Next week we look at the statistics from the season 2008 / 2009, for whatever they are worth!!!!
I will  try, in my way, to evaluate the overseas season brought to ALL of us by the OLC. Pilots have put their flights ON the OLC to share them with us! That’s correct , is n’t it!?

That’s it for now, I am not the fittest person in the world at the moment, so see you next week in better conditions,  also with the flooding and wild bush-fires.
And  ……compliments to a for me totally unknown UK pilot, who managed to fly his first 1000 km . [1159] flight in NZ, starting from Omarama in a discus 2 and enjoying in the end the great view from 24.000 ft. While flying, he says , he even “found” Australian-bush-fire-smoke” in the wave, so not the very best visibility on lower and medium level.

Cheers Ritz

Worst heat wave since 1855 in Australia!!!

Alphen aan den Rijn     01-02-2009

January is over and slowly the overseas season for European pilots is over too. It was as far as I heard a GREAT summer, wherever the pilots were in Africa or Australia.
Australia suffers at the moment from a heat wave with temperatures up to 45 dgr. and not for one day, but already 5 in a row. Thunderstorms might give some relieve.Since 1855 it has not been so hot in Victoria, 43 dgr. is a very high temperature for Melbourne.Sadly enough 20 people died already. Bush fires have started and I know by experience how bad they can be, no electricity for 500.000 houses in and around Melbourne due to over -use of air -conditioners.

It is a bit dual to be happy over the heat for soaring, while people die from it. But gliderpilots love the hot weather , though I heard from one pilot, that he started a bit later to be able to go straight away high up to the cool air, after all others had started. Not too much fiddling around on the hot tarmac on the ground.

Wow ….Australia finishes off the season 2008/2009 with fabulous weather. All disappointment over the less good November/December period have been forgotten.
I was most impressed with the Danish record from Hans Hoeck flown in the ASG 29/18m. over a 1000 km triangle on January 30. Great stuff! One day later he flies 957 km ., to top it off with a beautiful out and return today from Corowa up North, to Cobar, “the middle of nowhere”, another 1000 km. flight!

Michael [Sommer] only has the weekends off from work . Not long ago he flew a 1000 km flight from Benalla, now he flew one yesterday and today. WHAT A WEEKEND!!!!Good for Benalla too!!!
 Great flight from Terry [Cubley] from Gawler;1055 km. in his “old” LS3.
What about the flights from Jan Umlauf and Stefan Soell from Tocumwal. Both airline captains from Lufthansa love long distance flying. In an LS 4 [read WITHOUT engine] they flew last week over 850 km. not going with the clouds, but great set triangles.One day later even over 900 km. Splendid!!!
Corowa has a lot of guests flying in their own gliders, brought in the containers from Holland and Tjech Rep. by Francesco. Most of them stay between the beginning of November when the containers arrive and the middle of February, when they depart again.They all must have loved January!!! More 1000 km. flights and other fabulous flights, have been flown and on February 1 they top the list of airfields on the OLC over Bitterwasser and Gariep Dam. Congratulations!!

One of the Corowa guests at the moment is Vincent. This is his first time in Australia and he even celebrated his 34th birthday in Corowa with his parents Max and Carla. I know them for many years when Vincent still was a little boy running up and down the hill from the gliding center Terlet. Now he nearly flew 1000 km.  [made 952 km. ], is amazed about ” the nothing” on the ground …..yes Ivanhoe is pretty “empty, only scrub and loves it. For sure not his last time in Australia. What a way to celebrate your 34th birthday, what a great exemple of being on the right spot at the right time!!I loved his comment after flying over the Lake Mulwala full of dead grey-coloured trees;” and I thought what a lot of sailingboats.”

Great to see Chad [Dvorchak]from the USA being happy in Omarama,[ it seems he never gets old!] and kilometer-eater Terry [Bellair]who moved for a while, from Bendigo to Corowa for some great flying as did/does Roger [Druce] from the VFMG.[ Victorian gliding club.]

Trips to Finland and Australia are firmly booked. I will take my laptop with me , to keep you informed, though it is still a long time before this all happens. But it makes me happy already NOW!

 This morning started not too good for me. I got the message that last friday good friend and many times great customer at Sportavia, from the UK, Mel Eastburn has died.
Mel flew several years with us in Tocumwal. He could be really happy with a good flight. His face told it all. One year he wrote us that he could not come. Cancer was diagnosed but …he was going to fight it. He did! After ..he came back again. Around Christmas this year he visited with his wife Jan, Mikiko and Shige in Tokyo. He met them at Sportavia. He even was their witness at the wedding in the garden of  Sportavia. I wrote them an email how glad I was that Mel could travel to Japan and how good he looked on the picture I received from Mikiko.
 This morning the message was that he had died peaceful.I was very sad , as I did not expect his death so quickly after Tokyo, but I feel proud to have known him.I wish Jan and the family all the best  and I know I speak now in name of ALL his friends!!We will treasure the memories we had with him.

Cheers Ritz