Michael Sommer ……and more !

Alphen aan den Rijn         02-11-2008

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers Ritz

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