Flight 9525 !Phenomena ! 7th Helli Lasch ! Seniors in the USA !

HAVE to start with the huge tragedy in the South French Alps.
How very , very tragic to hear that an A 320 from German Wings [daughter from Lufthansa] crashed in the French Alps, on it’s way from Barcelona to Dusseldorf,  in the area from Barcelonette, an area where so many  glider pilots flew/fly with such great pleasure.How close can be happiness and sadness.
Now it looks that the slopes in this remote area, are a grave-yard  for the 150 people [144 passengers and 6 crew] who died, in this crash, among them 16 grammar school children with 2 teachers on their way back home from an student-exchange program in Barcelona. SO SAD!!!
Weird that the very experienced pilots, dived for 8 minutes and NEVER said that something was wrong.Were they unconscious???
Hope they find out quickly, such accidents are nerve-breaking for everybody, certainly for pilots flying the Airbus 320, [ some did not want to fly for personal reasons yesterday evening]but also for all of us as we mostly fly to our destinations!!!And for me personally with a daughter as airline pilot.
At least they found one of the black boxes, pretty amazing when you see the millions of little pieces, so hopefully we should know something soon.
I feel for all my friends in Germany, Spain , France and Turkey and my thoughts are with all who lost a loved one.
Life is tough!!!!!
But it continues,…I know so well!!!!! So I leave what I had already even about the mountains.


As I read on the DG site they had some “sparkling” spring weather in Austria as well. They shared some pictures I like to share with you as well;

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In Niederoeblarn/Austria they had a beautiful season start this year with their DG-1001Club!
Thank you Lukas for sharing these nice pictures! [DG] 


Last week we had some interesting and pretty unique phenomena.
First there was the northern lights , which you can’t see often in Holland. Very special and some managed to get a picture from it.
And then there was of course the total solar eclipse, not seen here since 1999…but ,…we had FOG here and due to the eclipse the sun-heat was not strong enough to burn away the fog in time, even if it was “only”  80 % here . The full 100 % was on the Faeroer Islands ……and on a population of 48.000, around 10.000 visited extra to be part of this phenomena.
A bit later the full 100 % was to be seen at Spitsbergen as well, but all who went there had not the best weather either.
We could see it however a bit on TV ..live.. 8 seconds!

I wrote a lot about record -chasing- pilot Max, last winter in South Africa. He is a colleague of my daughter at Transavia and he was the lucky one to fly the 737 full of eclipse-lovers. They looked at the eclipse FROM THE AIR!!!!!What do you want more, above the clouds so 100 % chance to see it. 2 People won a prize and had a free flight/”ride”  to the eclipse.

The combination ECLIPSE and the start of the astrological spring is another unique co-incident.


Max was so kind to share some pictures on FB as well. Here you are when you are not on FB!




Time for the SENIORS Championships in Seminole Lake , the 25th version. They started on March 14 and had some pretty good days and with one day off/rest day,  the 60 [55 plus 5 guests] pilots flew every day , so 6 out of 7 days.
Winner was Bif Huss,[5785]  in a Discus 2 b. Bif , who is a “young”  senior and a former Navy Fighter school instructor, won day 3 ,4 and 5 and was with that about 140 points better than Robert Fletcher in the 15 m. ASG 29.[5643]. Good “old” Karl Striedeck was on spot 3 with 5630 points in a DUO DISCUS.
Baude Litt [LS 8 15 m] finished on 6 and Ken Sorenson[Ventus 2cxa]  on 8, Dave Nadler in the ANTARES 18, on 18 and Tom Knauff in the DUO DISCUS on 20.
Bif and his wife had to drive back 3 days to go home,[close to Colorado Springs]  but it was all worth it.
As the daily reporter , John Good mentioned in his last blog;
“Today was the 12th straight soarable day in central Florida, which is possibly a record for Senior Contest weather.  It is certainly remarkable for 2015, which until pilots began assembling in earnest for this event had seen about the worst winter soaring weather in anyone’s memory.
Scorer Rick [Sheppe] says about this competition;
The Seniors contest is the happiest contest of the year.  Everyone is glad to get away from the winter conditions up north, and it is a great reunion of the most experienced pilots.”

zzzz semimole 3 zzzzseminole2

Pictures shared by Seminole Lake Gliderport and courtesy Bozena Michalowski.[great pictures!]


 Told you about the course at Mount Beauty. Here is the latest shared by the Gliding Federation of Australia.

—-“We have just finished the fabulous Mt Beauty/Victorian Soaring Association Alpine flying course. Standard Mt Beauty weather of course – thermal, ridge, wave and convergence lift to 10,000 ft and above in wave. Lots of flying hours. Excellent coaches and instructors.—-“
The participants lined up for the class photo.

zzzzzMount B.



Between May 30 and June 7 the ” OPEN FLY-PINK CUP ” will be flown in Italy. Location ; Ferrara in the North of Italy not too far from Bologna, not in a mountain area but flat country.
When you are interested and there should be ladies enough in Europe, willing to fly there,  you can contact the CD  Giampietro Magri via gpmagri@libero.it

By the way , Holland will be represented by 4 ladies during the WWGC in Arnborg in Denmark. VERY good!!!!
They can start with their training straight away, now the season is getting slowly more active.
RASP is up and running again,  which gives them a good idea about the soaring possibilities. [Regional Atmospheric Soaring Prediction]
It gives pilots a potential flight distance, strength and height of the thermals, cumulus clouds and wind over 3 days.

zzzzz Natasja

One of the Dutch WWGC womenen, Natasja, here on her first flight for the season , last Sunday.


Except for one day , they could fly till now, every day from Tswalu over the fabulous Kalahari Desert, the SA soaring paradise. Michael [Sommer] even topped the OLC list on Friday with a 757 km. flight [700 FAI triangle and Bert [Schmelzer] flew  678 km [500 FAI triangle]. They share gliders there . All JS 1 types as A, B, C and C-TJ and a DUO DISCUS T. It’s already the 7th Helli Lasch .
—-Since 2003 this biennial event has seen reigning World Champions and the South Africa Squad sharing 2 weeks of intense flying and moving experiences in an exclusive setting in the spirit of Helli Lasch.—
As said before it is an exclusive, invitation-only, all-expenses-paid event, as a tribute/ living memorial  to pilot Helli Lasch,to foster international relations,  to promote South Africa as a gliding destination and  to develop the competition skills of the South African gliding team.
More reasons to become a WORLD CHAMPION, when you are not a South African squad team member.

—-Tswalu Kalahari is South Africa’s largest private game reserve, covering an area of over 100,000 hectares. Owned by the Oppenheimer family, Tswalu takes conservation as its absolute priority; our vision is simply ‘to restore the Kalahari to itself’. No more than thirty guests at a time can discover the beauty of this landscape, its diverse wildlife, and the serenity of what may well be South Africa’s last great wilderness.–
more on www.tswalu.com

Young Bert , here in his MILVUS outfit, shared some pictures as well. AND,….last Sunday he flew a new Belgium record over 300 km. out and return with a speed of 158.55 km./h.
By now he has gone back home after an excellent gliding holiday.

bert jr in Milvus

Tswalu 1 by Bert  Tswalu by bert 2

courtesy Bert jr Schmelzer.


Preparations are in full swing for the very first Pan American Championships and some pilots are already practicing. As is Tony Condon who participates in his St Cirrus and is proud to represent the IOWA STATE AEROSPACE ENGINEERING department.

zzzzSt Cirrus

Chilhowee was the place to be,…. but Rick Sheppe who is the director of this new event, had to write a letter to all competitors . Here are parts of it:
—” As you probably know, the Chilhowee Soaring Association has been working hard for at least two years to prepare for this groundbreaking event. Part of that preparation included some actual groundbreaking: the regrading and reseeding of the runway at the gliderport last fall. You may also be aware that the Eastern USA suffered an unusually cold and snowy winter this year. The result has been that the new grass has not yet taken hold, and the runway will still be too fragile to use on the first competition day. This possibility was anticipated from the beginning of our planning for the event. ”
With the approval of IGC, we have moved the contest operations to McMinn County Airport (KMMI) in the town of Athens, 12 miles north of Chilhowee Gliderport. It is a much larger airport, with a 6000 foot paved runway with grass on both sides. We have the full cooperation of the airport authority (McMinn County) who have agreed to close the airport for our gridding and launching, and have provided permissions for all the necessary access, trailer parking, etc.
The competition Organisation will still be based at the Chilhowee Gliderport, where many of us will be staying. The opening and closing ceremonies, and the social events, will take place there, as originally planned. Perhaps we will be able to have a ceremonial glider launch at the closing ceremony! “

Practice days for the 27 pilots from the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina are set for April 3-5, and the competition will run April 6-17. That allows for rainout days, but the nature of the sport requires a good deal of time anyway.
Seven current or recent national champions from the four countries represented ,will be in East Tennessee for the first Pan-Ams!


2 Of my USA friends Pete [Alexander] and Rick [Walters] flew the ARCUS around, better said up and down,  over 350 km.in great wave, on March 20 from Minden with an excellent speed of 188 .5 km./h. Not bad.
On March 23 another straight-forward-wave-day!!! This time for speed and distance.
Jim and Tom Payne flew 1.841,89 km. in the ARCUS M with a speed of 163,5 km,./h.
Even faster was Keith Essex  ;1.689,37 km. with a speed of 183,5 km./h. in his ASH 31/21m..
To show how good that day was Dennis {Tito} and Ron [Greg] flew 1.275,48 km. in the DG 1001 M.


Latest on the UPPSALA MASTERS, here is your chance;
-” There have been a few late cancellations so if you have considered entering the competition now is a good time to give us a heads up! Perhaps you are coming but have a friend that is still on the fence and needs a gentle nudge?–”
This National/International gliding competition held in Uppsala, in  Sweden in Racing (handicap coeff. 107-114) and Open class is set for May  23-30  2015.
At this stage there are 36 competitors in racing class among them my friends Teresa [Toivonen] and Ake [Pettersson].
In open class 14 ,with Goran [Ax] and Martti [Koivula].


Had a great Sunday afternoon, with Isabeau, the daughter of my good friend Lynn who lives in Sydney. Bowie is part of a 17-member-crew  on a 70 m. yacht and loving her life on the boat and outside of it. As they had to be in Holland for some maintenance we had the chance to catch up in Amsterdam and it was great to see, how this young girl   I met when she was a todler [ Lynn, George and James the rest of the family were my neighbors at the Tocumwal caravan area] grew out to a very  level headed gorgeous looking young lady with a warm open character.
For sure she is living the life.
By the way dad George , who died a few years ago, owned in the past the yellow hangar on the South site where Eddie runs Sportaviation now.He and Chris [Corrigan] owned a few Caproni gliders and build in one of them a jet engine!!!!
My very last flight at Tocumwal was in that Caproni with the jet engine flown by Ingo.

Isabeau en ritz 2 Isabeau en Ritz

That’s it CU next week,
cheers Ritz

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