Nearly spring ?!? Winter Olympics are over !

Alphen aan den Rijn    February 28   2010

The last day of February already and it still feels like 2010 only started yesterday. Time flies! And….March 1 is the day  the metereological spring starts and the 21st here is called the “real” beginning of spring. HURRAY!!! After a dark , cold and white winter we all need SUNLIGHT and if possible LOTS of it!!!!.
February was a typical winter month again.
What strikes me most weatherwise is the huge amount of rain in Europe with floodings and terrible landslides with several death as a result.
And world wide the earth quakes in Haiti , a shocking and unbelievable one and yesterday in Chile [ 8.8 and and after shocks 0f 6.3]  and one, but that seems pretty “normal” in the far South of Japan [7.0] . Tsunami-warnings have been given for all countries around the Great Ocean but have been lifted this morning except for Japan.
The International Airport from Santiago is closed for atleast 24 hours , as several terminal buildings have been damaged according to CNN.

Looking back at our winter  we had the coldest in 14 years with 55 days UNDER 0 C.[normal is 38 days].On top of that we had an average of 41 days with snow and even 55 days in the NE. Worst day had 40 cm of snow![ Source; KNMI Dutch weather station]
But….they expect the first real severe storm from this year today [9 Bft at the coast] and temperatures of minus 3-6 in the night , next week, so it is not over yet!

Now Corowa has packed it’s containers  the result of the OLC on airfields is a bit more defenite and with 901 flights by 75 pilots  and a total of flown kilometers of 507 .619.80, you can only say that Corowa was very active, had great weather , specially in January , enough enthusiastic pilots who wanted to fly and a TOP year.

The NZ Nationals have been flown  and in 3 classes we know the winners now. After an average start, Dane Dickenson showed what a good pilot he is and won in standard class flying the LS 8. In Italy both at the JWGC and WGC we noticed already the potential of this young guy! Keep an eye on him! Congratulations Dane! But…..The runner up in his class only missed out on 17 points in the overall scores, so not bad either !
Luckily day 6 gave “normal” weather with “normal” tasks and a 356 km was set as racing task. But… forecasted pilots could expect over- development as well. From ALL pilots only ONE  in club class, made it back home flying the 213 km. in 3 hours and 44 minutes, earning 1000 points.
Winner in Club class;Paul Schofield in PW5 with 3085 points out of  6 days
          Standard class; Dane Dickinson in LS 8 with 4197 points out of 6 days
                 Open class; Nigel Mcphee in duo discus with 4544 points out of 6 days
Taupo looks like a nice and interesting airfield just on the N East side of a huge Lake, which must give influences as well. When I read what Rob Lyon writes I have the feeling that I have to go there one day and look for myself;
—-Again todays task takes the pilots right out to the West of the area task,but with the botton turnpoint at National park , down beside the 3 main volcanoes of the central plateau.—
Volcanoes, lake, plateau, park; it sounds perfect.

On Thursday February 25  the disaster with the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 was remembered by around 300 guests .One year ago this terrible accident happened while landing  at the Schiphol Airport Polderbaan, killing 9 . A memorial stone has been placed at the spot , with the text; ” Your grief is our grief ” in 3 languages: Turkish and Dutch as well. Very simple stone but just right for this sad occasion.

Thanks for reactions on the story of the “bad fumes”! I hear that more pilots know about it , but that it is a ” fragile ” subject. It is a bit sad to hear from pilots, that “lawsuits against big companies are only won by the lawyers”.
When there is ” really smoke there could be fire as well, ” so hopefully the pilots in Belgium, Australia ,the UK , Holland and Australia and maybe more countries, go to the bottom to find the truth!!

Apologies when I am sometimes a bit TOO carried away with sport! But…when you are still interested in who won the 100st Dutch gold medal in total,  counting summer and winter Olympics , then I can tell you that this was in the end a surprise. For the first time in history , “we” won at the Winter Olympics, a gold medal in a snow sport. The very first also NOT on ice!!!Nicolien Sauerbreij won gold on the parallel giant slalom for snow boarders. Great effort, while our pursuit skaters both men [very unexpected!] and women failed to win gold! Again we were counting on them, as they won all races over the last years world wide, but……such is life!

Not a lot of soaring happening last week,  only and of course very important , a lot of talking at the IGC meeting this upcoming week in Lausanne, so see you next week…and I hope our friends in the Southern part of Japan and in Chile are OK!
Cheers Ritz

Some problems ! Taupo !

Alphen aan den Rijn       Wednesday  February 24 2010 

In a “sad” mood all day! I know there are much worse things in the world  then loosing a “sure”  gold Olympic medal, but nearly 7 million Dutch people and I, had a great evening yesterday, looking at the last race of the 10.000 m. , till the moment after 9 minutes with only less then 4 to go, that Svens coach told him to go to the other lane , Sven got confused , listened and….”paffff” gone was the 4th gold for Holland, Sven’s 2d this year and the hundreds Olympic gold medal in Dutch history, we ALL wanted Sven to win. He might still win it in the pursuit, as he announced straight after the disaster he will go for that, with his mates! TOP GUY!!!!Sorry I had to get this of my chest!!!

At TV I saw an interesting program  about aviation, which even worried me a bit .
On Sunday evening , reporters from  Zembla [ a Dutch program with a critical look on the world]  claimed  that a very strong bad smell and smoke in the cockpit of  one of the KLM planes , has made, at least in 2 occasions  pilots dizzy and they even  had to  use their oxygen-masks!!! It happened , as the programmers  said,  on December 2 and 23 2009 with the same Fokker 100, from City Hopper . I know how careful KLM is with their pilots  and passengers, always safety first is their device, so I was a bit surprised that the Inspection has confirmed that both these incidents indeed have happened.
It seems that, maybe due to bad sealings ,oil from the engine or from the hydraulic systems, can leak into the airco system and pilots ,but also crew and passengers can inhale toxic fumes.
KLM did not want to say anything  in the program, Fokker said they knew from the incidents ,but they guarantee the safety for everybody involved and others said it was a “hidden truth”. Some pilots who got sick are preparing a “case”. Let’s wait and see what comes out of that.
Anyhow serious enough to keep a good eye on it, as a lot of my friends, young and old are [airline ] pilots!”
One day later KLM denied that the crew was sick , but admitted the bad smell.
Very glad that there are no toxic fumes in gliders !!!

Commotion in Europe’ aviation-world; On Monday morning early a  strike started by the Lufthansa  pilots [4000, including German Wings and  Lufthansa Cargo] ] for better working-circumstances  , more money and ….they are not happy with the fact that Lufthansa has announced drastic changes  to survive in these times of  crises .One of  those new changes “could be”  , that they want to reduce the staff  with 4500 and they seem to prefer “cheaper ” pilots from outside Germany . On Sunday the Lufthansa TOP offered them better conditions,but that was not good enough. Lots of passengers were stuck  as around 800 flights were cancelled on Monday only and it will cost Lufthansa as they say, 25.000.000 Euro per day. Lufthansa went to Court and on Monday,they decided in court, that the union and Lufthansa are continuing their negotiations, so till March 8 no more strike!!!

Europe’ s aviation is a bit lost  as also air traffic controllers strike in France as a protest for possible loss of jobs. Poor passengers over there at Orly and Charles de Gaulle and the same in Greece where AND pilots AND  cabin crew AND  air traffic-controllers are on strike and on top of that the UK cabin crew union has announced a strike for guaranty of their jobs and a better CAO.

Most of the OLC flights in gliders were from Lake Keepit, where the Lake Keepit Regatta started last Sunday. Over the last couple of days they enjoyed very pleasant soaring weather with flights up to 350 km..
Great to see Rieti is already early active with a 433 km.  flight from Alfredo Giretti, flying up and down over the ridges of those great looking mountains  reaching a height of 2800 m.

In Taupo, [ NZ ] the Nationals finally had some better weather  and Dane , in standard class, straight away set the record straight , by winning day 3 with 1000 points.
Also for Dutch born Tony van Dyk,  day 3 was a good one getting 4th. and…an even  better day, was day 2 which he won! He climbed up from last place [22] overall on day 1 to 15 and is on spot 12 today. He is not the youngest anymore, but still shows how good he can be.
They have had ,between showers 5 soaring days and Dane…is on top NOW.

Only a few more days and a regular life with normal sleep will start again. Olympics are great but you have to have nerves and stamina, when you are a sports-fan.

Cheers Ritz and enjoy the rest of your week

Hang-gliding ! “Zweefvliegen in Vlaanderen “, the book is out!

Alphen aan den Rijn     February 21 2010       blog  275

The overseas season is REALLY over  and all the gliders are on their way home , or about to go home, after a great time in December in Namibia and SA and one of the best times in January in Australia.
Rain is still spoiling the NZ Nationals, but…..yesterday they had their first nice flying-day, even with 1000 points for the winner in Standard class . Only 3 pilots however manged to fly the AAT in 3.30 gaining with that effort the highest points. Still going till the 25th of February , so possibilities enough for those who missed out on this first soar-able day, certainly for them who landed within 100km. after their start, while the biggest distance turned out to be 239 km..
Dane lost about 400 points,ai-ai! Today they tried hard again and pilots FLEW , but…not far enough to make it a day!

 I had a look at our friends in hang gliding. They had a competition in Manilla going till yesterday; the NSW Hang Gliding State Titles.
I know only 2 of them a bit better and that’s Jonny Durand jr. from Australia,  1 overall after 4 days of flying in open class and…after winning day 1, 2  and 4 and in the end the  overall – winner after 5 days .
The other even more familiar pilot is Grant Heany, my kind colleague for 2 years in the organisation of Sportavia “under” Richard Cawsey.
Grant, who is a great glider pilot as well, dropped on the 5th and last flying day from 6 to 7 ,but still very good. From the 54 competitors I have met quite a few in the past, as for ONE year hang-gliding and gliding were combined in Tocumwal. We organised a big competition as well, with Jonny in the top as well, can’t remember if he won or Atilla.
Day 2 was a real good day with 19 pilots flying the maximum set task of 128 km. with best speed by Jonny ; 52.9 km/h. Most pilots fly Moyes Litespeed and it would be nice to know how Mr . Moyes , who is not the youngest anymore, but still a very interesting ” guy” , is doing. I liked his enthusiasm!

Still absolute fabulous weather in the East of Australia  , where about 200 km.S. of Lake Keepit a Standard Libelle from Warkworth in the Hunter Valley was launched and could fly a beautiful triangle of 468 km. up to Lake Keepit and back home via the W.
Tocumwal’s pilot Terry Ryan, who had a fabulous year, flew still a 529 km. flight this late in the season, though there might be more nice flights to come as even March can be good.Benalla had a wonderful flight with Louise O’Grady topping the day with a flight of  490 km. in ASW 19, not making it back home ,but  close and still a great flight!

Just received by mail the  new book SOARING IN VLAANDEREN  by professor Bert Schmelzer sr. ,  “a fascinating adventure in silence” and wow what a fantastic book this is !!!
331 Pages , bound and with a hard cover, lot’s of pictures, history , even registrations of gliders in Belgium,  competition results, facts, stories and interviews with pilots; unique in his kind! My weekend is JUST GOOD, I started reading straight away!!!!
Just to let you know; Bert sr. is the father from Bert jr and Tijl, both top pilots in Belgium in both JWGC and WGC  and the husband of Hilde, TC during several EGC’s and WGC’s.
And….the whole family flies!!!
After my first impressions I can recommend the book to everybody who reads Flemish/Dutch. In fact it is a “MUST”!

I got back all nice memories after starting to read this book.  One I would like to share with you;
Being the first female pilot from the student aeroclub from the University of Eindhoven, I had some priviliges. I loved going for retrieves in the old jeep with an open trailer behind it; exploring the world. So on the 27th of April in 1968 we went to Eindhoven where the Victor Boin Trophy was to be flown. Theo and George were the pilots, flying the real “FLASH” competition glider KA7. I was going with Kees, who later became world champion in Hobbs and as I remember well, Leo for the retrieve. For a long time we did not know anything and as this one day competition is all about free distance, we drove a bit direction South as that was where the wind went. At 8 we heard that “our” pilots had long flown “off”  their map and landed not far from a garden with a castle , where a fighter pilot was living with his wife and children. Nivelles was the place and…. in the North of France. With more speed we drove the jeep into that direction, but Fortuna was not with us. Some of the cables in the old jeep burned which “killed” the action. It was after midnight and no cars to be seen on a straight road without lights and full of trees, just past Brussel. Kees managed to park the car between the trees and asked for one of my stockings??? to repair the cables, but I was in jeans , so no silk stockings.
The first aid kit helped and with plaster , our to be electro technical engineer, did a great job.
At 3 in the morning the glider was on the trailer and after lots of thank you’s , to the kind but by then very tired new friends, we went home.They dropped me off at home , it was light already and the boys were going to the airfield.Not long after I had fallen in an exhausted  deep sleep, mum entered my room and said with big eyes; “Who are those tall guys sleeping in the sun-chairs in the garden???”

See you next week Ritz

A bit of history ! Early comps in 2010 !IGC meeting in Lausanne !

Alphen aan den Rijn      February 21 2010

Looking outside I still see snow but…. some glider pilots in the East of Australia  at Jondaryan, where you can fly all year around, enjoyed their Valentine Day with  superb flights, p.e one  in LS 1f by Allan Barnes;710 km. a big polygone to the S and N West of Jondaryan. Great effort!
” Poor Italy ” has the most shocking landslides after heavy rain in Sicilie and Calabria , luckily people were warned in time and escaped their towns and Belgium suffered the sad loss of 18 people in a horrific train accident. More then 160 people wounded!
Looking at the bright site; spring WILL come , days are getting longer and temperatures end of this week will be around 5 PLUS.

In Taupo in New Zealand the NZ-Nationals  2010 have started with well known names as Dane Dickinson , George Wills and Tony van Dyke. As far as I heard the NZ season was not the best and also now rain was spoilsport. They hope however to fly tomorrow. The comps count 41 competitors  in club, standard and open class and started on February 14 with a practise day and Dane used it to still fly a 197 km task, though the forecast was not too good.  They go till February 25. Will keep you informed.

Yesterday several planned flights to the Canarian Islands  were cancelled due to winds up to 120 km /h.  Result for that day; 9000 people could neither go home nor to their holiday destination. The meteo had given a weather-alarm for all the different islands.

Last time I mentioned  the Pribina Cup in Nitra [Slovakia] and Fatraglide also in Slovakia at Martin Airport, both celebrating their 10th edition, today I would like to mention the 2010 Trofeo Internazionale Citta di Torino in Italy as well. This is planned from March 26-April 5 for 15m. class[handicapted]
And very important for glider pilots is as well the next IGC MEETING in Lausanne on March 5 and 6 2010. Delegates from all countries have been invited! If you are interested the agenda  for the plenary is to be found at ;

Air Berlin is willing to upgrade their interest in Niki,  an Austrian price -fighter and owned by Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda, from 24 to 49 %. Air Berlin is the second biggest passenger carrier after Lufthansa and last year 8.3 million passengers choose to fly with  Air Berlin. Their co-operation started in 2004. [source; Der Standard]

 While doing research for my article   for the Dutch Gliding Magazine Thermiek,because of the CAE NLS Dutch National Championships in Twente early in May,  I found on google that 74 years ago, in 1936,  the first Dutch Gliding Competition was in Twente as well. One of the well known soaring editors writing p.e about the past, was Ary Ceelen and he mentioned in an article that 50 pilots and 14 gliders arrived for that event.  Gliders as Zogling, ESG and Grunau Baby[ I went solo in a Baby in 1967].
Goals of that first Dutch competition were; reaching best heightgain over start height ; this time 380 m., the biggest distance , this was 39 km. flown by the winner and the longest flight and that was 100 minutes!!!!!!!!! Only 3 flights were allowed and you got points for them and out of that the winners were selected.
During that competition 1 pilot flew over the “magic 100 km.” and one flew over  50 km, so 2 pilots were the first to fly their 50k for the silver C. But…the story says that they did not win any competition-points or got any prize” ,while they had used their 3 flights already on other days”!!!! What about that!! But the silver C’s must have felt like gold!

That’s it for today, still enjoying the Olympics to the fullest. Sorry to see the organizers in Richmond struggle so badly with the ice and their machines. We , Dutch, are a real ice-skating-nation and all our millions of toes were “bend”, from frustration. We are also still stuck with “only” ONE gold medal, but more is to come, wait and see!

cheers Ritz

Storms ! Gliders for sale !Fatraglide 2010 ! Pribina Cup 2010!

Alphen aan den Rijn      Sunday February 14 2010

                                           HAPPY VALENTINE !!!!

While Belgium suffered nearly 1000 km of traffic jam  on Wednesday, Afghanistan was hit by terrible avalanches after heavy snow, killing at-least 160 people. The people in the East of the USA are still cleaning a meter of snow in front of their houses and  Melbourne was hit by a severe thunderstorm  causing chaos in most of the state Victoria and flooding in the town, so badly that people could swim at places.
The weather this year  is ” impressive”  world wide, both in a good and bad way and as glider pilots depend on  weather , they will be , as I am , interested in what this weather does!

In Austria glider pilot and millionaire Karl Rabeder  has decided that a “5 star life ” does not make him happy and he is planning to raffle his house on a lake looking at the Alps, to sell his farm in France , his car  and….his 6 gliders !!!! The money will go to orphanages, small business and development projects in Central and Latin America.
Well, to be honest I do understand him! Hope he “finds” happiness now!

As last year I would like to inform you about Fatraglide. [Thanks Tibor!] They prepare a jubilee competition as it is the 10 th time they fly this International Mountain competition at the airfield “Martin “.
 New is that they offer prize money for the 3 prize winners in each of the 2 classes, 500,-300,-and 100,-Euro, plus a special bonus for the best junior of 200,-Euro!!! I like that special …for the best junior!!
You can find all the details on and…included in the entry-fee is, like last year,  a unique design T-shirt [by] , so if you are interested go and look to their site! Competition is from May 1 – 8 and May 9 is a reserve day.

Also the 10th anniversary of the Pribina Cup 2010 ,the first BIG competition of the season 2010. There will be a limit of 50 participants in each class with a maximum of 150 pilots in total in all classes! The comps are as always in Nitra during the Easter holidays. During the next plenary meeting in Lausanne we will hear,  if Nitra will win the bid to have the EGC for the smaller ships and 20 m. multi- seat class in 2011.

Not a lot happening in our soaring world!  This is a real in-between period again , so let’s look at something different BIG and SPORT; The Olympics.
I noticed that the Dutch Olympic team lives above Australia and they are “neighbours” from Canada! I guess they will have a lot of fun!!! And for sure their new neighbours will be invited by the Dutch in the famous Holland Heineken House!
The opening ceremony was just awesome. I loved the fiddlers and the tap dancers, the way they honoured their original population and the fairy-tale-way way they showed the environment.
Of course I had a tear in my eye when I saw how the young only 21 year old  luger  got killed in that horrific accident, while practising and doing what he loved most and he was good in. The one minute silence and the way his team was supported by the crowd, coming in into the oval, was more then impressive. These Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver have been dedicated to this young man, Nodar.

Had a great Carnival time and  …..looked with OVER 5 million Dutch people to the 5000 m. race from Sven in Richmond and had tears again  when he won his first Olympic GOLD!
Off to look at the 3000 m. for ladies now . See you on Wednesday

After-summer,pre-summer !

Alphen aan den Rijn     Wednesday February 10

As I told you the after-summer in Australia can be very good.  It was proved by several pilots last Monday ,though we all know that the days in this period of time, normally start later and are shorter!
Pepe the well deserved FAI-OLC  winner for AUSTRALIA, managed to fly that day a nice big task from Corowa to the SW and NW making 802 km. adding some points to his “title” , while yesterday 8 pilots flew between 700 and 800 km.
On top of that Pepe was today one of the flying pilots to bring Corowa to a new milestone ; all pilots flew together 500.080.29 kilometer in this successful Corowa-season . Great achievement again !.

In both Szeged and Prievidza  organisers are very busy with the preparations for the WGC. 87 Pilots have preliminary entered already  for Hungary and I see BIG names!!!
In Slovenia I noticed 90 pilots on the list with  more or less defenite , 27 pilots in club, 29 in standard and 9 in World class. BIG names here as well. They will be great comps in both countries! Looking forward to it!

In the French mountains  top pilot Gerard Lherm made a nice flight from St Martin de Londres, claiming that , though he lost 2 hours in the Ganges area, he really enjoyed this early European flight in the Ventus b/15m. of 519 km.

From February 8 onwards  pilots here could enter to fly in  the Dutch Nationals at the Military Base of Twente. Within 24 hours 21 pilots did so on line! Pilots can still do so till April 1 2010.The organisers are very busy with presse-releases,talking to different parties who are involved, having the site ready and what’s more to do.
I noticed that the current European champion Rene de Dreu will fly, as well as his runner up in club class Tim Kuijpers. With Ronald Termaat who was European Champion in France [Issoudun] in 2007 and runner up in Luesse during the WGC in 2008 and Steven Raimond, who was the EG champion in Finland  in 2005 , the Dutch Nationals will be a TOP EVENT.On top of that the JS1 will fly for the first time in Holland and Ronald will fly this glider.

In Horsham a lot of pilots enjoy the real great soaring weather  in the West with great distances as well. What about Rolf who flew at day 3 from the comps a 787 km task in the LS 8/18 m. As I hear they still have good soaring conditions,  but also storm cells on track. Yesterday day 4 had an AAT  task set to the S. over the Grampians with rainstorms over the 2d and 3d circle , so not everybody could complete the task.
Day 5 today still distances up to 351 km in a Standard Jantar. 

Saw an impressive  programme on National Geographic   about the tragic flight from the Concorde flying from Paris to New York, crashing just after the start on an hotel in Paris on July 25 2000. Unbelievable how in fact “small” things [ a strip of titan!] can cause such a disaster, killing 100 passengers , 9 crew and  4 people on the ground. Last week the court has started on a 4 months during case who is to blame for this catastrophe, after already in 2004  a preliminary investigation concluded that ” this strip” from a Continental Airlines plane caused the disaster.

Slowly I prepare myself for the long nights  to see specially speed-skating on the TV as the Olympic Winter Games start on Friday.I was a bit worried as temperatures in Vancouver reached 20dgr. but it seems that there is snow everywhere, even if they had to bring it  by trucks and helicopters , to do skiing and snow-boarding on good pistes. Enjoy , as we hopefully will, our hero Sven Kramer! He is JUST GOOD!

Off to celebrate  CARNAVAL now for the weekend, not sure when I will be back, but I will be back.
Cheers Ritz

Horacio about Chaves !Jake solo on his 15th birthday!” Corowa Classic ” in 2011??

Alphen aan den Rijn     February 7 2010

The main part of this blog  will be taken by the very nice story from young pilot and member of the Argentinian junior team, Horacio Piombo . He describes the South American Gliding Competition / Argentinean Nationals, flown  last week in Chaves in an open and very enthusiastic way. As we already knew the weather  was sometimes “booming”  and  sometimes difficult in Chaves during this competition and the pilots had some exciting experiences over there ,as you will read.
Talking about young pilots; We have a new one. On the site from SportAviation I read that Jake , who is the big help at SportAviation in Tocumwal and is supported by the owners of the business ,  Eddie and Sheryl , celebrated his 15th birthday AND his first solo-flight in front of his mum, dad and 2 brothers. Great moment for this young and very enthusiastic young man/lad, who I met first sitting on the , at that time Sportavia bench from the office ,3 years old. We will hear more from him in the future and to me that looks bright!
Congratulations Jake!

A very nice email from Mari, the operational director of the airport in Rayskala in Finland reached all TC’ s from the fabulous JWGC 2009, as well as ” the honored jury members, the mighty stewards and the amazing Ritz”.
Why? We all get as a present the 2009 JWGC dvd and I am looking forward to receive that dvd ,as those comps were just special! And I know that a lot of people think the same. For each pilot one dvd  is ready to be send to the TC !!!

As a lot of pilots in Corowa  stay for a few months to fly there , Francesco  has suggested to have in 2011 a Grand Prix based competition for 20 m. class gliders called “The Corowa Classic”! Great idea! I noticed already that a few of the Dutch pilots , flying for a longer period in Corowa, set theirselves task to fly and to stick to, to have a bit of a challenge, instead of just flying the same task again and again or just to not follow clouds only…..Such a competition would be a great challenge. News about it can be found soon on their site; and I guess all pilots will be interested.
And as Grietje told me; ” It was a fantastic good season and the team on the ground was fabulous.” I know how important it is to have a helpful, smiling team around your guests and from what I heard they were indeed SUPER!
Being on the OLC on top of the list of airfields worldwide is a great achievement, so the staff /team must have worked hard, but they also got great changes to fly as Rene has experienced with for example  his first 1000 km flight!
Not a lot of flying over the last days in the South of Australia due to some bad weather as a result of  ” Olga “, a cyclone hitting the North in the end of January, but luckily not too bad.
I also got a report on an electric storm in the night from  Wednesday to Thursday in Tocumwal with lots of thunder and lightning which took all night and 2 inches of rain where measured. Yes the season is over now, both in Africa and Australia but the “after-season ” can be very nice , specially in Australia ,[ today over 600 km in Corowa!] but also Bloemfontein had a nice 386 km. flights in an Antares yesterday. In Horsham the well-known Horsham week is on right now, first day has been flown yesterday .In fact this is the last competition of the Australian season.

Here we go with the full story from Horacio! Enjoy it to the fullest!

Dear Ritz, 

The 2nd FAI South American Gliding Championships is now over, with a record assistance of 94 gliders from Argentina, Chile and Brasil.

As you know, this event took place in Adolfo Gonzáles Chaves, venue of the 32nd World Gliding Championships in 2013 for Club, Standard and World Classes (and who knows, maybe 20-meter too!), so the events during this competition should be of great interest for those willing to come and race in the Argentinian flatland.

The competition was organized into three classes: Combined Open (for flapped gliders with a wingspan of more than 18 meters long), Combined 15-meter (basically the ASW-20s, DG200s or Ventus without wingtip extensions) and Standard (dominated by the LS-4, Jantar Standard, and Standard Cirrus gliders). As you can see with the exception of the Open class, where you do find the latest glass, there were no modern gliders in the other two classes, so what people in the US or Europe may refer to as Sport or Club class, we still call them 15-meter and Standard. This means that for the Worlds, all of the LS-8s, Discus2 and ASW 28s will have to be brought in by ship. On the other hand there will be no problems whatsoever in renting a Club or a World Class sailplane.

Flying with so many different performing machines is only possible thanks to our handicap system, which by the way  does not consist of a fixed index, but instead it is variable and generates an specific index for each glider type on a given day, taking into account a lot of factors such as thermal strenght and radius, wind, starting altitude, task lenght, etc. by analizying the flight records. We are very satisfied about how it’s been working so far.

Back to the championship itself I flew in the 15-meter class on board an ASW-20 FLP “LQ”. I was able to travel to Chaves a week before the competition began in order to train with Damian Goldenzweig and Javier Gaude to learn some of the basics of team flying. For Damian this was his first competition on board a flapped glider (ASW-20 A “WR”), since all his previous national and international events had been on board standard class sailplanes (LS-4 in Argentina, LS-8 in Eskilstuna and Pociunai, and Discus2c in Lüsse). Javier instead has always given a lot of use to his left hand, climbing immediatly after flight school to a 20 and winning the latest nationals in a Ventus CT (we shall never forget his final winning flight during the 2008 Nationals, averaging 150 kph on a 450km course stopping for thermalling only twice!). During this training week we were always able to fly each day tasks of around 300 km, with 3 m/s thermals and cloudbases around 2000 meters.

One day after flying we went downtown for dinner with my crew and some friends, and as I entered the restaurant and looked to the left I saw a very familiar face sitting among some other people, I knew that guy, it was definitly him! Uli Schwenk was in Argentina and he was visiting us for the competition. I was so excited when I saw him that I did not realize that he was sitting with our chilean friends who had arrived to Chaves that same evening: Carlos Rocca, René Vidal and Carlos Stipicic, the first two had been flying the GP final only a week ago, with Carlos finishing second after Sebastian Kawa and René winning the Andes Cup. I was lucky to be quickly introduced to him thanks to the friends from Chile who were doing their best to break the ice, saying things like “Hey Uli, Horacio was at Räyskälä, like Alex Spath (who I believe was crewing for the germans during the Santiago GP)”. We talked about many things, specially about flying in Musbach for the 2011 Junior Worlds, he gave me some very valuable advice. The following day Alex Janssen from Chile lend Uli his Ventus2 “XS” and we had the privilege of flying a training task together, although he never spoke over the radio, which seemed awkward at the time, he later explained that the Ventus had so many buttons on the stick that he didn’t know which one was the PTT!

The competition for my class began on a very poor day, having to cancel Standard Class right from the start. Thermals went as high as 800 meters with me and another 13 pilots outlanding in a crop duster’s runway 50km away from home, we had a lot of fun together waiting for the retrieval teams. The weather was soon to improve and on the second day cloudbases where already at 1800 meters with a CB forming parallel to the first leg and blocking the way into the second area, only 6 pilots barely made it back that day, me and the guys outlanded. On the third day soaring conditions were really improving, showing what the area has to offer: we departed into a blue sky with thermals reaching 1800 meters on the way west to the Sierra de la Ventana ridge, and while heading north over the mountain range cumulus began to develop and cloudbases soon reached 3000 meters, with the winner averaging 113 kph over a 470km course. The fifth day was nothing to write home about, and although I took the day win, the weather was very poor with dry thermals climbing up to only 900 mts. From that day on we continued having magnificent soaring conditions for the rest of the competition, with cloudbases around 2000 mts. and being able to fly in 10 out of 13 days.

The final day was one I will always remember, the morning sounding forecasted dry thermals up to 1500 meters, but while the metman was giving the breafing, CU clouds were already beginning to form in the sky outside the hangar. By the time we took off the bases where at 2200 mts with a CB building up rapidly over the first area. As I was one of the first pilots to be towed into the air I was able to patiently climb over the clouds using dynamic lift, allowing me to gain 300 meters over the rest of the competitors. As the CB was growing larger we had to go as soon as the line was opened, I hear Damian and Javier leaving under the cloudbases so I had to dive from above the CU behind the start line in order to catch up and depart with them. With all my excess energy I was flying at the 20’s VNE of 250kph, just to find out that I had flown right by my teammates and I was now 8km in front of them! So I was on my own. While approaching the first area I soon connected with the storm line, which ran parellel through the first and second legs finding incredible values being able to achieve 140 kph during the first hour of the task. The team on the ground were keeping us informed about the weather developments and It really seemed that this was going to be a distance task, so many of us decided to go straight for the maximum distances. As the flight was coming to its end I once again met with Damian and Javier over the last turnpoint with only 80km separating us from home, but the situation ahead looked nasty, and although the ground crew was informing us that still no rainshowers had been spotted over the aerodrome, some were affecting the alignement point 10km away.

We took our final climb and in combination with a highly energetic route we were coming in fast at MC set to 4. At 30km from Chaves we met the rain, so we slowed down to avoid becoming a flying brick, 10km further the rain eased a little bit so we pushed on in order to arrive before the CB did, which was moving directly into the airfield.

Time was critical, it was the final day, Damian was first overall and I was third, we both knew we had taken a big sporting risk in extending the course instead of arriving back early doing minimum distance avoiding the storm, and now we were facing the consequences. We are at 10km over the alignement point rushing for the finish line, not because we want to win but because we want to arrive before the CB does. 15 gliders pass over our heads, things were going to get busy. At 3 kms away Damian announces his approach: “WR straight in runway 31”, but the frequency is overflowed with the other arrivals, we see Damian diving to make his direct entry while Javier and I remain behind a little higher in order to determine the best approach. We decide to go straight in, it is already raining heavily, but while we make the announcement we receive the order to pull up and make left downwind of runway 18, soon we find out why: runway 31 was closed, the CB was at the gates and nearly 20 gliders were already landed on that runway. With all the cars with their lights on it was like if we were about to make an instrument approach to Heathrow International in the middle of a storm. As we pulled up we could see another seven gliders also pulling up in front and below us. The contest director was giving directions to every approaching glider: “ET take it to the end and clear to the left… ZB behind ET and to the right…” As I turned into final I had this 7 gliders in front of me and landing outside the runway seemed a perfect choice at that time, but I found a gap between all the traffic and decided to go for the runway: flap position 5 and I settled down like a Harrier. As I opened the canopy the worst was yet to come as hail coming from the CB began to smash the glider. Me and my crew rushed for the canopy cover and used our bodies to protect it from the impacts. The hail storm lasted for about 10 minutes and luckily no glider was damaged and everyone was able to make it back safely. It was a job well done.

In Standard Class three times national vice-champion Santiago Berca (LS-4) finally obtained a well deserved first place, followed by Javier Sondón (Std. Cirrus) and Claudio Schmidt (Jantar Std.3) from Brazil.

In the 15-meter class the gold medal went to Damián Goldenzweig (ASW-20), with Mauricio Delfabro (ASW-20) finishing second and me in the third place.

And finally in the Open Class brazilian pilot Egon Rehn (ASW-22) took the first place, followed by Fernando and Irene Repicky (ASH-25) in second place and Joaquín Blanco (Ventus2 cxm) finishing third.

This edition of the South American Gliding Championships served us as an opportunity to improve our skills for hosting the WGC in 2013, not to mention the satisfaction of being able to share the skies with all our friends from across the southamerican continent.

I’ll be in Szeged this summer crewing for Damian, so I’m looking forward to seeing you there.



THANK YOU SO MUCH Horacio! And…about Szeged , I still do not know what’s going to happen with me. The organizers , I heard 3 days ago, are negotiating with a local reporter, which is good as well, as long as the world knows day by day what’s going on.  The 17th of February might give a solution! Take care, see you next Wednesday and….the Dutch Nationals will be defenite at the Airforce base of Twente from Mai 13 till May 23 2010.

Extensive evaluation and statistics of overseas season!

Alphen aan den Rijn     Wednesday February 3 2010

Today an extensive evaluation of the overseas season , with still some surprising results. I know that NOT ALL pilots  put their flights on, so it is based ONLY on the OLC. All the news and statistics are made by my Aussie correspondent and I am grateful for his input in    
THANK YOU! Here we go, stick to your chair  and see if you agree on the comments of the evaluation !

Following is an overview of how some of the well known centres performed compared to earlier years. Thanks to the OLC we can now get these insights. Please keep in mind that the flights included in these lists are made by just over 550 pilots, ie about 0.5% of the worlds glider pilots!

                            2007           2008            2009            2010            %

Bitterwasser        402.589      584.385        481.335       479.926        0%
Pokweni             219.286      276.608        235.927        272.318      15%
Kiripotib                       0                0          61.005       140.340     130%
Gariep Dam        365.387      329.946        424.674        217.476     -49%

MuniVitacura               44       63.613        137.171        146.027        6%
Chapelco              29.476        18.885         13.231          
54.299     310%
Lago Nahuel           7.871                 0          5.922           21.827    269%
El Calafate              1.007                 0                 0            2.479

Corowa              324.295        479.208       496.302         469.111     -5%
Narromine          117.828          94.392         80.140         139.487     74%
Benalla                 34.950         33.450         265.486        137.499    -48%
Tocumwal            19.013         44.218          48.486          49.965      

TOTALS:      1.523.753      1.989.713      2.251.688     2.132.764   -5%

Gariep had a terrible cross country season due to mediocre weather.  Still, because the site is further to the south, and thus has longer days, it must be rated as the location with the best chances of flying 1,500+ km flights over relatively flat country, ie without wave.Namibia had quite a good season and visitor numbers increase as accomodation becomes available, most of the increase took place in Kiripotib. The rainy season started early this year in Namibia so, in the end, the season was quite short, but still again in kilometers flown, if you just want to fly a 1,000 km flight this might be your best bet.

Australia is a well known winter destination for overseas pilots. Corowa has had a similar sort of season as last year, Narromine quite a bit better. Australia has good, safe, cross country possibilities but is not ideal for ultra long distances. There may be possibilities for longer flights in the area around Alice Springs but there is no infrastructure there. Maybe in future…

South America is starting to come into the picture these days. The most active club being Vitacura in the outskirts of Santiago, Chili. Much further to the south is Chapelco, becoming quite famous now because of the very long flights of Klaus Ohlman. One flight this season he flew from El Calafate, another 1,200 km to the south. The days are much longer there and because the flights- length seems to be only limited by daylight, there must be possibilities for other pilots then Klaus , who did this in 2003 already , to “crack” the 3,000 km barrier easier than from Chapelco . Another location, Lago Nahuel in the Bariloche, about 200 km south of Chapelco seems to have good cards to grow significant in activity level. Now this is an interesting area for more than one reason. Not only is it a plush wintersport area with royalty and the rich and famous visiting frequently but it is claimed, by the journalist  Abel Basti, that Adolf Hiltler, having escaped from Germany before the end of the war by submarine, lived in this area until his death in 1960. Now how about that for a story…..!

But back to the statistics of the season. In the following table the order is by the longest flight of the season. It is obvious that, if you want to go for the real big ones, South America is the place. Oxygen and warm cloth are a must because the flying could be done at altitudes up to 10,000 meters. Brrrrr….It is interesting to see that 75% of all flights of 1,000 km and longer are flown in Namibia and South Africa. Klaus Ohlman and his mates in South America fly 10% of all flights exceeding 1,000 km, leaving the remaining 15% for Australia.

                         flights          >1000km.        Av.Km.       Max       pilots

Chapelco              51                  26               1065          2831           6
El Calafate              1                    1               2479          2479           1
Lago Nahuel         31                    5                 704          1673           5
Bitterwasser        678                107                 708          1412        106
Kiripotib             177                  48                 793          1401          30
Pokweni             374                  67                 728          1376          52
Gariep Dam        402                  15                 541          1270          66
Corowa              822                  36                 571          1253          75
Narromine          338                    6                 413          1209          78
Tocumwal          124                    1                 403          1029          26
Muni Vitacura     427                    2                 342          1019          50
Benalla               380                    0                 362                             6

Totals;              3805                314              561                           556

So far the analyst! And THANKS again! The statistics for the best airfield  were this year for  Corowa, with Lubor as the Australian OLC champion .  They flew 471.078.11 km with 75 pilots over 825 flights. Congratulations !!
Not difficult to guess that Klaus Ohlman  is the worldwide winner from the 2009/2010 OLC season , while the best pilot flying FAI tasks is Alexander Mueller.
The statistics show that the pilots of the Gliding Club of Victoria flew the most kilometers;147.434.49 with 50 pilots and 405 flights. Welldone!!!
As I do admire pilots who fly set FAI tasks here are some of the winners;
All Australia; Pepe Gresa [ES] before Tomas Suchanek [CZ] and Berry Fennis [NL].
All Africa; Alexander Mueller [DE] before Bert de Wijs [NL] and Bernd Dolba [DE].
Congratulations! So ….in the end maybe NOT everybody was happy with this season, but most of them were!

And then this…Only between December 16 and January 15 17.000 people in Holland have visited the first aid in hospitals after falling due to slipperiness. 16 % of them had to stay in hospital and the cost are 38 million EURO. And…this week now is the worst!!!! Bad , white and long winter!
“Welcome back ” in cold Europe dear overseas pilots!!!!

That’s it for today see you on Sunday! Comments are still welcome!
cheers Ritz