The gate to explore New Zealand!!

in Tony’s office       Tuesday December 21 2010

Wow, everybody who told me how beautiful New Zealand is , was correct!  Amazing. I fall from one astonishment in the other. Being here on one of the most gorgeous looking estates , helps of course as well.

I left Australia half an hour later  then fore-casted as the arriving plane from Quantas had a small delay. Before that I had lot’s of trouble to get my luggage through security. Stupid me! Here I go with a very ancient sterling silver butter knife, beautifully wrapped as present for Emily and Tony, in my hand luggage to the security. I did not ever think of it as a knife and nearly forgot about it as well, as I had no problem to get through security with it, at Schiphol or HongKong Airport. But in Australia they did not see it as a present but as a knive, so I had to leave it behind. It was too expensive to do so, so they advised me to go back to the the service desk from Quantas. They were really good. They packed it in a plastic bag and send it as another package, but…with the message ,;”It might not arrive”.
The plane was fully booked. Very tall guy’s were sitting behind me, all in good mood. They won from the Australian team I heard. They were the National team of NZ , the Breakers, playing top level basketball. Some were so tall, they hit their heads against the ceiling and the legs from the one behind me came out under my chair. When we left the plane I was the tiny little person walking with them and looking high up to see their face. I had to smile when I told them I felt like a dwarf.
I was the first to have my suit case , but the little package did not come. I waited long, and then decided it was a nice Christmas present for some body else. A guy was overlooking the belt with suit cases and I asked him if a small parcel still might  be somewhere. He said straight away :” I put it aside mam, here it is” . So very pleased I walked out to a new adventure in my life, exploring the Nord island of NZ.

At Auckland Emily and Tony   were waiting for me. I knew Tony of course but never met Emily and she is just such a sweet, warm, gorgeous looking young lady with the most beautiful voice and… a clever girl as well,  as I found out straight away. I got nice flowers, took of my coat as it was highly humid and still warm at 11.30 PM. The main street up to the north of the Nord Island was superb, I was amazed to see this. In one hour we were at Springhill, where a glass of Moet , made me sleep in a flash.

Next day, so yesterday  we needed half the day to look around on the Estate, with hills, trees in all varieties, green great land- scaped gardens, a river, high like the Murray now, very well fed sheep , about 2000, good looking cattle, springs , a farmers house ,sheer facilties for the sheep, possibilities for several B and B’ s and a very original built home stead.I fell in love with it all, straight away. On top of that it has a 1 km. long straight runway 34,  and a few big hangars as well as a club house for the model pilots.You have to fly over it to see it total , but the weather was not good enough to do so.

After lunch in a very authentic little town on a small creek,  Matakana, Emily , Linda,[ Tonies mum a real nice lady] and I went out to help in the soup-kitchen in Wellsford, where a Christmas dinner was organised for the people who need it. Lot’s of beautiful looking young children. At least they had a full tummy yesterday.
After we had dinner at Tonies and Emilies, with Linda,  Tim and Ruud, both retired airline captains and their wives Caroll and Caroline. Tim is from the UK and Ruud from Holland. I knew him from the past , about 40 years ago, as he flew in the same company as George did and Inge now.” A blast from the past, ” Ruud called it. A very pleasant evening with the special-Tony_pasta as a main. Tim and Ruud run a business on the airfield here and a buyer just visits the estate here to pick up a new light aircraft. I will give you their link asap.

Overcast today with light rain, after 3 weeks of very dry weather here, they even called it  a drought! Every minute is filled as Tony wants me to see as much as possible and I try to keep up with their speed. He does n’t want me ” to work” he wants me to enjoy NZ. In between we talk about possibilities to ” use” this estate for more then sheep , cows and owners. It has great potention . You can soar here , specially in this time of the year as the sea-breeze comes from both sites making the air in between great for soaring. When I mentioned ,it might be not a place for 1000 km flights , Tim who just bought a DG 400, said that it IS possible and has been done!But on top of that, you can do horse riding, motorbiking, hiking, fishing, and just enjoy the beauty of the estate. With the plane, or an helicopter you can go  Hastings, where there is great wave flying, to Napiers an art deco town , hit by an earth quake in the past but totally rebuild. I come back on all these items as I am going to visit those places including Hawkes Bay.

Off to do more today including a dinner with an helicopter -business-owner and a developer in this area.
By the way I get the latest version of this writing program and I should be able to put videos and pictures on it as well. I know this was promised before, but…now I visit the owner of my domaine name and site, what can I expect more! He believes in me and in blogging! Brainstorming has started but it feels not as working, I really have a holiday here!!!!!!!

Cu when I have time. But…you share it all, no worries!Ritz
Sorry if I have spelt names or words wrong, forgot my dictionary

Last news from Tocumwal !

Tourist information center in town           Saturday December 18

I was a nice reunion with the Grong Grong boys  at Sportaviation, as well as with Michael and Neville, Jake and good to meet the tuggie for the season Ian. Nice to hear from Nobo that he still remembers the kiss he got with the flowers when he flew his first 300 km. After talking and making pictures each had to go his own way again. In the pub in the evening I heard , I missed out just on 2 minutes ,on Andrea and Werner visiting me.Sorry!!!!
I even thought I heard a Dutch voice flying over from Corowa over Tocumwal and calling he was there.
At Kelly’s where I invited Dundee for dinner, as he ” donated me his car or his car with a driver”  and I really kept him busy and wanted to say thank you,this way ,  it was very busy but we still got a place.I must say, we were treated like royalties and we got a super meal. We had 20 ordering in front of us, but maybe  because we were just the 2 of us, good old top chef Brian cooked our meal in a flash and before we knew we heard ; ” Ritz …where is Ritz sitting ” and we could enjoy it straight away.

From Michael I heard Pepe is still trying to fly to Corowa and then travel to Tocumwal, where his friends take care of his car. Was hoping to see him today as well , but that might not happen. This low pressure system is still haging in between Corowa and Narromine.
We even had rain this morning here as well. I have been here for a 6 months period with 2 days of rain and now I had 6 days with 2 days of rain!!!

Got an sms from Daan that it was pretty windy in Pokweni, so he took the day off. Still great flying over there in Namibia.
Have ‘n’t time to do research on all what’s happening in our small world so will do that when I am home again on December 28.
 I love the set triangles , but do realize that not every day it is possible to do so!! Enjoying the flight is MORE important then ” struggle for life ” to fly one. And it is also different in what kind of glider you fly it and with or without an engine.

Looked at the one hour video  yesterday of the reunion in Tocumwal of  the last few people still alive from the Liberator time here in Tocumwal in 1942. There is this great replica of the B-24 Liberator on a pole to the entrance of the Golf club.The wing span is 8.38 m and the length is 5.12, the height 1.37 and it is made from fibreglass over a steel frame.Eddie was helping to put it on the pole as well as Neville and young Jake. A lot of town people donated to make this all happen. My friends Bob and Gina, organised this very successful day. I visited their home yesterday and half of their garden is a [ private ] lake now, from the flooding of the Murray. I read this morning in the paper that 50.000 visitors are lost for the Region over the festivity season.That is a lot!!!!
But campers can still visit the great camping place from Eddie. What’s even better then being at the river, then being at a WW 2 camping with Waldorf Astoria – facilities?????

Travel tomorrow to NZ , so just stay tuned for my view on that part of the world , they call the most beautiful in the world.

Cheers Ritz

Thank you!

at the airport in Tocumwal      Friday December 17 2010


Thank you for all the birthday wishes, via sms, phone internet and Facebook, could not even all read them by now. Wonderful! Had a great day and a fantastic dinner with some of my friends. Still not over the jetlag!!! Tony and Jo flew in in the Lance Air and just reported that they have arrived back home again, which is good as more S . some thunderstorms were forecasted. Here in Toc the weather is good a bit windy at the moment [6 pm] and the pilots here were going for a 500 km task. One Japanese Grong Grong boy is back and one outlanded, the other flies local.

This morning Tony , Jo and I  had a super breakfast at the Paviljon, looking out over the Murray, which looks more then a lake at the moment. After we looked around in town and found a nice new shop on the other side of the fore shore. Good to see new business still start up here. The rest of the day was filled with visits to friends and Sportaviation where Eddie was busy enough with all his guests. Great to see Terry’s son Scott who was a tuggie I guess about 20 year ago at Sportavia.Now he is a senior first officer at Dragon Air living in Hong Kong, flying an A330.His son was flying with his granddad Terry who had that nice flights 2 days ago. ” still too short”, was his comment when I praised him.

At the moment the junior Nationals are on in Waikirie.See for results at the soaringspot site. Have to go nkow ,see you soon again. Travel to NZ on Sunday. Take care cheers Ritz

It is the year of the LOCUST !!!

Tourist information center in Tocumwal    15-12-2010

The biggest impact after arriving here, is the long-leg-mosquito and ,even worse,  the locust, some kind of bigger grasshopper flying around with millions and disturbing life and soaring as well, as before you are in the air , the canopy is full of blood, wings and other colours of remains of this animal. All of this , a result of the heavy rain here over the last weeks. Now it is bloody hot, I gues in the low thirthies with 8/8 of cu and storms brewing up in the south. The wind activates the locust and they fly in huge groups around.

Yesterday Dieter drove me to Cobram for some shopping and to Corowa to see some of my friends over there. That did not happen , as it was a gorgeous day with great clouds and all pilots stayed up till later in the day , so they should, [that’s why it did not annouce my arrival, ] and we had to back home in Tocumwal around 6.30. So we only had a word with Anders who’s big smile said enough , that he was happy to see us. I left a note with Grietje for Kees [703 km] and Max [839 km] and Jan [ father of “my” junior Robbie, 781 km.] and the rest. Pepe was not yet back from Narromine, due to rain between Dubbo and Corowa. Corowa looked well, all in splendid condition. Also Grietje and the kids looked ” top” , Francesco was flying.He declared and flew a 750 in the new glider ASH 31.

Today I catch up with the Grong Grong  boys from Japan flying at Sportaviation and with Michael flying UE. Though this should be after flying and to be honest it does not really look like flying. Busy enough however here at the airfield. Yesterday Terry flew 817 km while Michael had 623 on his instrument and Lothar a very nice 654. So clearly a great day!!!! The Grong grong boys , always declaring a 300 km flight to Grong Grong, flew with 3 of them …a 300 km. Will check if it was to Grong Grong.

From South Africa I received the message  that the weather is not co-operating for their Nationals. Friends Bruce and Brad from Australia and Ronald from Holland and my SA friends still are waiting for their first flying day. It looks as far as I heard that they will not fly today as well, but MAYBE…tomorrow. Hope so!!!
Anita, Bruce’s wife has left SA for Europe , but a lot of her belongings from her suitcase have been stolen!!!! Not good!!!!

It is great to see that Tocuwal is doing well. Shops are busy , but the high water from The Murray, stops all recreation on the beaches and that is a bit sad. The holiday makers bring in a lot of money during the Christmas and New Year festivities and at this stage they do not have a place to camp!

That’s it for today. A rush against the clock as I pay by the hour.

Cheers Ritz

Greetings from sunny Tocumwal !

Dundee’s caravan                 December 13 2010      

So it all went smooth and here I am back in Tocumwal. SUPER!!!!
The flight was OK! We really had a bad landing in Hongkong. Normally the stewardess stright aways says : welcome in Hongkong, but this time it was silent over the radio, they all had a bit of stress. When we arrived at the gate the captain was speaking. He apologized for the hard landing and said he normally did much better , but the tough East wind and even worse the sheer wind on final, got the big 747 with 400 passengers in a tough and turbulent grip. We were already happy it all went well.
The Airbus flight was good but…here we also had turbulent weather. The captain even climbed from 11 .270 m to 11.880 m. and still we were in the clouds meaning we were sitting in total over 4 hours with the safety brelts on and no hot drinks were served, we could not even get out of our chair to go to the toilet. BUT…I arrived in time, John was waiting to bring me to the motel and as I did not sleep too much aboard , I was pretty worn out and slet straight away til 6.30 AM. A quick visit to KLa Baguette in Little Collin street for breakfast a short walk through Melbourne town and off to Tocumwal.

Skies here looked super and the finally had a better day here , but it seems this week will be good with a strong high, so no worries.
A great experience this afternoon , when I went to the cemetary to visit my son. A ” new girlfriend”  was laying nearly on his grave!! A lovely mother kangaroo with baby in the bag , woke up and I was close enough to make nice pictures before she moved away.A once -in-your-life-time-moment!

Eddie and Sheryl both look very well and it was busy enough with flying this afternoon. Dundee is in great spirit and offered to drive me when necessary and in town people were pleased to see me so unexpectedly.Former instructor Richard was one of them.I have never seen the river SO high. The 3 m. high levy banks are ” gone”.Water everywhere and the river is normally THE place to be for caravan-holiday-makers this time of the year, but they can’t be standing at the river for a while now.

More news tomorrow as I nearly fall a sleep now and I still have to bring my luggage to Margies home.

Good to be back here , cheers Ritz

C U in Tocumwal !South African Nationals !3 World records in ONE flight!

Alphen aan den Rijn    Friday December 10 2010

Just checked in for the trip from Amsterdam to Hongkong and Hongkong Melbourne !All done now and ready to go!
Weather was awful here with frozen rain, hail and rain yesterday, but the sun was shining as well ; today and  the weekend will be around plus 6. So not too bad and no worries to leave Amsterdam.Snow has disappeared for the sun.
Different then Paris and Frankfurt where yesterday still flights have been cancelled due to heavy snow. From Munich I heard that it is totally white again. Was I lucky!!!
While waiting in row at Munich on Wednesday , some people really were “pissed off”, when they found out that there were no flights to Paris. But what can you do when 11 cm of snow falls down from heaven, the worst since 1987. Even the Eiffel tower was closed for a while to avoid accidents. On Thursday it was open again.
In Portugal, a tornado caused lots of pain and damage. 40 People were injured under them 19 children. Damage was beyond believe. This weather is just weird!!!!

No worries for pilots in Africa and Argentina. But still not the normal weather in the Australian paradises, where I hear gardens have never been so beautiful green as now. To be honest I have seen more dry years in Tocumwal then wet ones. Only brown fields then, as even watering was forbidden , to not spill water. That is for sure different now. But….last year January was excellent, so …no worries.
In Argentina [ Chapelco] Klaus flew a nice 1000 km triangle as well. Not the up and down  and up and down, but a nice FAI triangle of 1.608 km. As I told you before it is really good to see so many triangles on the OLC now.
Daan had his day off but friend Jos was flying in Kiripotib and he also flew a 1000 km. Most of my Dutch and German friends are really having a ball in Namibia and Gariep Dam.Yesterday Daan flew on his flying-day another 1000 km.,  as if it is normal to fly a 1000 every day.
Good to see Lasham mate , Roy flying at Bloemfontein, with good old Dick Bradley; 870km in Ventus 2CT.
The first 50 pilots flew last Wednesday between 678 and 1.728 km. I noticed that day 27 over 1000 km flights.No complains!!!
Today more great flights and the first 30 flights on OLC were for Namibia. Very pleased to see Hans Raschke flew his 1000 in a duo discus T.

Today I saw that Corowa has much better weather, very pleased for them!!! When they have good weather Tocumwal has it too, certainly when pilots fly to the west from Corowa,  so Michael , who flies in Toc since “ages ” can do some good flying in his DG600.

You remember Brutus?  He visited during his Africa-trip, Gariep too and Ute , Hans, Karin and Uwe, really were pleased to unexpectedly see him. He also caught up with Tjeerd , Max and Marc. Brutus still knows so many in our soaring world as well. He  travelled with a friend through Africa  and returned last week, visiting the Krueger park and enjoying Africa to the fullest. From 30 dgr + to -1 was less nice!
I noticed that the forecast for Johannesburg is partly cloudy with thunderstorms throughout the days and temperatures between 14 in the night and 25/28 during the day.

Namibia’s airspace is  bigger!!! The Civil Aviation Authorities of Botswana have been so kind to open up a big area East of the border of Namibia ,with even up to flight level 195. Look at the site at” aktuelles”,  if you want to see what has changed. []

At the M[ountain] W[ave] P[roject]  site [] , I read today that on December 8 that very nice triangle from Klaus included  3 WORLD RECORDS in one flight,  in a class D-glider. Distance over a triangle course of 1.600,2 km . Free triangle distance of 1.608,2 km and Speed ove a triangle course of 1500 km ; 122,77 km/h. The former record was by the deceased Steve Fossett. Pilot reports and impressions will be soon on their site. His first reaction you might have read on the OLC comment in German ; “There you see it all goes in wave as well. was pretty difficult”.

The Mountain Wave Project (MWP) – a project of the scientific and meteorological panel of OSTIV, was conceived during an OSTIV seminar1998 in Serres/France by René Heise and Klaus Ohlmann and attracted several enthusiastic scientists/pilots since.

Was nice!Wrote on Facebook that I will visit Tauranga and straight away got an invitation to see the local gliding club over there. So…When I have time, I will report about them as well, as …..we share the news.
Also on Facebook; My Aussie friends Anita and Bruce Taylor are in  South Africa preparing for the South African Nationals at the airport of Welkom. Ronald our former ECG champion will be there as well. As dealer for Jonkers JS1 in Holland it will be nice to fly with so many JS1’s , 11 in total in 18 m.  class in the country were the glider is built and…against the 2 Jonkers brothers Uys and Atti. Other well known pilots flying during these comps ; Oscar and Laurens Goudriaan, Mannie McLaughlan, Sven Olivier, Arne Boyer Moller , John Coutts and daughter of  Dick Bradley, Jennifer.[]  Competition is from December 13-22. Will try to keep an eye on it as well.

To get in the Aussie mood already  I share with you a few lines of the last Narromine Cup , as seem through the eyes of  Brian Hayhow, winner of these special comps,  also now  distributor for Schempp Hirth and Jaxieda in Australia. Interesting to see Dutch pilots as well; a couple, William and Evelyne, both airline pilots in Holland and collegues of my daughter Inge, spending quality time in winter in Narromine as well. As said before, this world of ours is SOOOO small.
Hope to “see”  you in Tocumwal, in Springhill and in Tauranga, as I have the info ready to reach you all. Bye for now from  grey Holland, Ritz

Narromine Cup has been around now for some eleven or twelve years and has become, probably, the most well known of these events. It continues to draw pilots from all over the eastern and southern states, and usually, some overseas visitors (this year from Spain, The Netherlands, Japan & the USA). It is always a chance to catch up with old friends, as well as get in some good flying for the old hands, while affording the newcomers the opportunity to take advantage of that wealth of experience.

The Cup has always been about providing the opportunity for pilots to be able to achieve their flying goals. There is a complete infrastructure on hand to facilitate that, along with full catering and the scoring via the On Line Competition (with its associated handicap factors). It really could not be made easier or more encouraging for the pilot. The focus is on distance flying and after the morning briefing & weather, pilots will usually split up and task according to their experience and aims.

It’s not uncommon to meet pilots who are looking for their first 50km or 300km flights and just down the grid, find others who are attempting 1000km. It is just that diversity that makes the Cup one of the more interesting for all the pilots involved, the newcomers can fly with coaches and mentors and pair up with others who can assist them around a task. That encouragement & assistance has always resulted, year after year, in many pilots going home with substantial developments in their flying.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Cup for that reason, and in previous years have been involved in a coaching role there at an introductory XC level. This year Paul Mander ran the morning lecture series and, as always, gave great insight into the art of soaring. We were blessed with six challenging days flying and a lot of kilometres covered.

If you are looking to extend your flying, or just want an atmosphere of mutual encouragement, consider adding the Narromine Cup to your schedule. I know that having flown five of the last six Cups has been of tremendous value to me and I look forward to seeing you there at the next one.

Hat wieder sehr gut geklapt! “Our” duo- discus!

Alphen aan den Rijn     Wednesday December 8 2010

Back home from Munich again! Stupid me! I kindly invite you all to virtual come with me and…then I forget how to get in the website where I write my blog . SO sorry to let you down!! I normally start from my favourites and do not use the name .
But I did write down a few things in Munich, so here we go:

As last year Germany and Austria were special and great.   I am blessed I can do all those nice things due to the soaring world I got , in ,in 1967.
My flight to Munich was easy going and though there was snow everywhere, the flight was not delayed by it.
Maria and Dieter welcomed me at the airport and on the way home, I enjoyed  many things they showed me, as the Olympic Park where in 1972 the Olympics were held and the buildings still look fantastic and different , real spectacular architecture. 
Also the soccer dome from Bayern Munich looks good , as well as the head-office from BMW built as a round building ,with a lot of characteristics as used for the Olympic village. 
Next day we were up very early  as we travelled by train through the snow landscape of Bayer to Austria. Quite an exciting trip, with more people in the train then fitted, so lot’ s were standing in the aisle and the train was so heavy that after climbing the locomotive gave up aboiut 30 km. before Salzburg, as the push-belt was broken. All those hundred’s of people had to go out and within 5 minutes we had to be in another train, going via stairs , then under the ground to the next railway. It all went well.
Already a year ago Maria ordered a real Wiener– Schnitzel -dinner in a fancy restaurant and every-time when guests left,  the sign “reserved ” was placed. It was booked out all day.
The Advent play/singing was even more impressive as last year. It seemed to me that Josef and Maria who both are students at the opera school , felt better in their role. I had goose bumps several times.
We went back in the fast …..but wrong train from Budapest to Munich, which only stopped in Salzburg and straight brought us to Munich. We had tickets for the stop- train, but the people were very kind and after paying an extra amount, [not too bad,]  we were home quicker and could go out, inside the big hall instead of outside, where it was pretty cold and the walk was less, which was good for Maria who broke her leg badly last year with Christmas and still needs a walking stick.
At 10 pm we had a drink and a bite to eat and we all went to bed with a very satisfied feeling. Salburg is just such a wonderful town!!!! Specially in Christmas time with the special market and special light decorations.

Sunday was a more easy going day with a visit  to a Weihnachts/ Christmas _market in the neighbourhood. Still a more then an hour drive trough  again  a great landscape full of snow. Bad Tölz is a great and very sophisticated little town and the market went up to the top of the town. The other market was around the Benedict convent, where the stable was turned into a real authentic Christmas-  market. Lot’s of things made by the monks as well. Had a real nice hot stuffed apple!!!

Monday was a rest day as the föhn hit  and temperatures went up from minus 6 to plus 9 during the day. Lots of watery, slippery snow, due to heavy rain, so the rest-day was welcome. Yesterday we drove around the Starnberger lake. The lake is about 30 km long and 3 km wide. Sisi ,the empress Elisabeth from Austria, has lived there with her family before she met the emperor Frans. We had a nice coffee and cake looking out over the lake and to the Sisi-house.
Another interesting story around this lake is the maybe suicide of the King from Bayern Ludwig 1.Or maybe ..the mord on him , this will be ALWAYS a secret , which he took with him into the water and still keeps people busy. Me as well!!

On Wednesday I was back home again  after a very quick flight with KLM; 20 minutes ahead on schedule. 10 out of 10 for KLM. It was colder here with -2 while Munich was still over 0. A great time with my nice and warm friends! THANKS!!!!
Found out that the top of a flat building in my town has been blown of by an explosion, killing one , the owner of the flat and injuring 4 more.
Preparing now for Tocumwal, Springhill and Tauranga, so Australia and New Zealand here I come, departing in 2 days on Saturday AND…the site- info is in my wallet now , so I will try to keep you updated.

In between life continued  with some great flights in Namibia , 28 x 1000 km flights  yesterday this time also with 18 m gliders!!! My friend Daan arrived in Pokweni and flew straight away on day 1 a 1000 km flight. Alexander Müller is back on track after a quick reparation of his ASW 22 and added 1.221 km to his already impressive list of 8 till now. Was it 15 last year???
Also Gariep Dam had a 1000 km flight. As I always say, when the weather is there it is so much easier….but….you still have to do it!

As I mentioned in an earlier mail, I got in touch via Facebook with the Perlan Project.  They read that I wrote about them and the project manager Morgan Sandercock, gave me some more info, and do you know what is very interesting? He bought our duo discus with the demise of Sportavia, has refinished it , built in instruments which are going to be used as well in the Perlan glider and he flies it in the Hunter Valley. How small is this soaring world of ours;

Did you know we have a web site?

 The project has been underway for more than 10 years.  Phase 1 of the project set the current glider altitude record at 50,000ft and that is only half of our final goal altitude.  Phase 2 is building a new glider that is optimised for efficient flight at these extreme altitudes.  This year we have had a lot of progress with new funding from Dennis Tito, the world’s first privately-funded astronaut, and we are well on the way to building the actual fuselage of the glider.

More news when I receive it. Just a quick blog cause I let you down, will do some more research tomorrow.

Will be back before I leave, cheers Ritz

Snow and cold!-16 with wind chill factor!Sebastian and Bruce “share” 2.125 km!

Alphen aan den Rijn      Thursday December 2 2010

YES, on Monday at around 5,  we got our first snow here in town. Not only in town but most of Holland was happy, or ….maybe NOT SO MUCH , as the travellers by car got into the worst-ever-in-history-traffic-jam in the evening. Just over 900 km! The worst ever was in the morning on February  8 in 1999 with 975 km. Anyway it looks great outside with the sun shining on the white world. Maria thinks I can make it into Munich, so I will let you know.
It is so cold with minus 7 but with the NE wind , straight from Russia, the wind chill factor is around -20.  Amsterdam has ordered that all people without a home, should be inside! Even if they do not want to be inside they have too. Other towns leave it up to the homeless their-selves. 
The animals in the ZOO go inside as well when necessary and some even get heaters. In Belgium they distribute warm clothes to those who need it. Yes it is really cold , yesterday-morning was one of the coldest moments I ever felt, but after this week it should go back to more  normal.
The UK , Germany and Poland suffer as well and even more.

KLM cabin personnel will work in the future on 3 different types  instead of 4  [ Boeing 737, Boeing 777, Airbus and MD-11]. It is better to avoid mistakes to know the security procedures for 3 types , is what they found out after risk-analyses. And…as the first priority of KLM is safety, they will change that. From April 2011 it should all be in place and all stewards and stewardesses “only ” have know the flight safety rules for 3 types.

Only ONE soaring-day till now at Lake Keepit  ! My Aussie friends suffer a bit from the rain and on channel 9 I noticed that this rain might well go into the Christmas period. HOPE NOT!!! Due to the poor weather this competition has been cancelled and is re-scheduled for March 2011.

And then the ridge soaring in Argentina is “hot”.   Klaus flew 1.572 km with the comment ; “unfortunately not the most ideal day”!!!! He started at Chapelco in a Nimbus 4D, while Sebastian Kawa started a bit more south from Lago Nahuel and he flew in a Nimbus 4, a great 1. 623 km task up and down over the ridges. Speed ; 138 km./h not bad!!!
Dirk , one of our guests in Tocumwal in the past and if I remember well he learned how to fly gliders with us, must be over the moon with his great flights in Kiripotib.Till now 5 out of 9 flights over 700 km.  in the ASH 26E. Great job Dirk!
Alexander flew from Kiripotib another 1.224 km flight with a speed of 141 km/h. on the last day of November. Sadly he has a problem with his ASW 22, so as he mentions , he has to stay a few days on the ground. Won’t be easy for him I guess. From 7 flights till now he had 5 1000 km flights, and what flights!!!!

Did you hear from the co -pilot who “dived ”  his plane 2000 m lower,  to the huge scare of the passengers. I guess we would have never found out, what had happened ,would it have crashed.
The captain went to the toilet. The co moved his chair a bit forward to reach better. While doing that he hit the stick and put it full down , causing the dive. The captain quickly came back, but as the co panicked and tried to recover the situation,he did not open the door straight away. When the captain sat on his chair again, they had dropped already 600 m. and dived further another 1400 m, till it all was established. In the end the 737-800 from Air India Express got away with it, but not thanks to the co who kept pushing while the captain tried to pull back, to get back to normal.” The poor co had no idea what he was doing”  is the result after the investigation. This all happened on May 26.

December  1 2010; Most of Europe is “cold “,  Australia is pretty wet , but South Africa  ,  Namibia and  also Argentina still have great soaring weather. Klaus [ Ohlman] added a great 1.709 km. ridge flight to his total till now with a nice speed of 130 km/h. A good beginning of December.  Also the speed from UK pilot John makes you smile; 168 km/h over 1.198 km over the ridges starting at  Lago Nahuel in an Antares.
AND ……more ridge flying, also from Lago Nahuel; a SUPER flight by Sebastian Kawa with my friend Bruce Cooper as co pilot. Good to see Bruce is back in Argentina. He really loved it last year!!! They flew 2.125 km with a speed of 160 km/h!!!!!  Straight away the longest flight till now in the 2011 season.
Gariep Dam had a “WOW ” -day with Max who flew a magic declared 1012 km triangle with 117 km/h! Well done Max!!

What a  bet at TWITTER  can do?  Before December 6 there should have been enough pre-subscriptions for a special  extra flight to Miami. Within 5 hours they had enough people to do the flight, so on March 21  2011 , fans from the dance scene will travel to the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Nice to see that the vice president of E- Commerce at KLM has organised this and…I know him.

Soccer; who gets the world comps in 2018 and 2022??? Today at 4 it will be known to the world. Holland and Belgium still have a chance, though Russia and the UK will be strong competitors, as well as Portugal/Spain.

While my daughter and family travel to Cairns tomorrow, I am off to Munich tomorrow as well and Salzburg on Saturday, CU there, if possible. Clothes for Australia and New Zealand are sorted out , so the only problem might be too much snow to fly back from Munich to get the next plane in time for Melbourne. No worries it will be OK! If not I travel by train.

Cheers Ritz