Post 981,…March 29 in 1967 changed my life….. 50 years in this gliding world!!!!


On March 29 1967 ,……there was snow. Not a real flash day to go to a gliding field for the very first time in your life, but we had no clue what to expect, so off we went.

I had a nice boy-friend Hans, BUT,he was ONLY talking about gliding. He was smart , so ENOUGH to talk about when you are young, but he stayed on the subject SOARING. We had been at the same Duke John College , but Hans [ picture below] was a bit older than I was.
We all belonged to a Youth Society E 7, with mainly Duke John students who missed the school and each other.
One day we were fed up with Hans’ gliding-tales, with all those movements from arms and hands making spins and following clouds, so he invited us to come and see what he was doing and loved so much!!

In an old “Deux-Cheveaux ” with a bloc of concrete on the bottom to not “fly out of the corners” , Toon, Liesbeth and I traveled from Valkenswaard [from Mai 1 I will live there again,…back to the roots!!]  to Venlo, where the students of the ZES had their spring camp.
It was cold and windy and I noticed already quickly that we would not stay in a nice room with a good wood burner , but we were supposed to sit in some kind of dual seater with wings ,…….OUTSIDE at the cold windy field.
Dick, we are still mates, told us with whom we were going to fly and 2 could go , one had to wait. I wanted to wait, but no I had to go.
I did want to fly with an older student and NOT with the youngest member of the club , even when  they said he was a real talent.
But, again, I had to sit in the KA 7 with the young one, called George and at 14.10 we were airborne.
Liesbeth went in the Rhoenlerche with Dick.
It was overwhelming, high up in the air, cold and a bit scary. Dick thought I was waving  to them, so full of enthusiasm, they came closer and closer, but the only thing I did was trying to let them know to go,…as far away from us as possible.

pictures before start with 1. Toontje talking to George  and me nervously waving on the ground,
2.  after the flight happily smiling as the plastic bag was not necessary [ with George then already looking a bit mmm……]
3. with Martin and Henk at and Theo in the glider.
AND,….ON HIGH HEELS with an Audrey Hepburn scarf !!!!!!!! You see indeed no clue what to expect.

We landed both safe and it was interesting for the boys that  George and I had the longest flight for the day; 30 minutes!!!That sounded and seemed “special”.
Not for me, I was “gone”, the cold and wind and tension got into me and I fainted at the spot.
George turned around, thought what a stupid girl and left ,while Dick asked for help to get me back to “normal”.
My very first experience with soaring!!!!
After 2 years George and I married , got 2 lovely children Dennis [ who more than  sadly had a fatal accident on January 3 1988 in the Belanca Scout] and Inge [ my pride , support and “everything” and mum of my 2 adorable grand kids Dexter and Indya from 11 and 13]  and have been married for nearly 30 years and though he is married now to Diana, we are all still good mates.

Hans was right, it was a GREAT SPORT. So on May 10 I traveled with the boy’s  to the airport at The Peel and had my first lessons in the Rhoen from Dick, who later let me solo too.
The Student Aeroclub first had to deal with a girl in the club. Some thought nice , others that it would disturb the male hegemony and male atmosphere.
A special meeting and voting were necessary to find out what to do with a “girl” and a student from an academy not from the technical university. Was the ZES ready for a girl??!!
They voted and I was in; first girl in the student aeroclub. As far as I remember the president was not amused and left the club.

My instructors turned out later to be toppers. Kees Musters became World champion in Hobbs and Dick Teuling has been Dutch Champion and flew international comps. The other members were great young guy’s and I turned out to be a mascot for them; they were very protective for me.
As we had only camps,[ the ZES had no field] , we moved from Venlo in spring , to Malden in summer and Terlet in autumn, this one mostly with the students of Delft. They all flew with a “tie”, but were nice fellows too.


Kees and Dick at Terlet, both “my” instructors.

When a camp was over , I had to wait for another one , had to get in the groove again , but after 68 flights I went SOLO in the GRUNAU BABY with summer canopy on July 9 1986.
The 2d flight had a beautiful landing and then the camp was over ,………but it turned out later that it was my last solo flight as well.


After,…all happy chappies no head but who cares[d].

With instructor Dick and fellow students/pilots from the ZES, Wim[pie] , who was solo during that camp as well, Wim Dortu flew his 5 hours .He has by the way 2 son’s Willem and Maurits, who belong to the Dutch top now [Maurits flew the WGC in Benalla this year]  and Martin who went solo after 22 starts!!!!.

AND with head!!!

an impression of the several camps.


At one of the camps we had a huge fire [ no we had nothing to do with it , we even helped the fire brigade!!] and I sat there on request and some of the E7 friends wanted to know what gliding was and showed up as well.

CAMP life and “cooking” pancakes for the boy’s after they taught me how to make them.

With my friend Hans[ who sadly died a few years ago on a camp from the ZES in Germany in his DG 400]  and Kees [who sadly died in a hang-glider accident in France in 1987 and my friend Ans , who is still my friend, with me in the glider just for the “show” and fun with Kees on his  Tomos????

1.At the tractor to get the cables for the winch
2. keeping the time log from the flights against Boudewijn’s car
3. lazy sun baking with my friend Ans between the military tents where the boy’s slept and we shared a little kitchen and had LONG conversations!!!!
As my parents did not want me as sole girl between all those men [boy’s] I asked Ans to join gliding as well. She did and was SOLO too. Nowadays more girls fly at the ZES.

What happened after the solo flights?
I tried  another club later in Eindhoven , but the instructor who flew around with me , asked me to point out the airfield and I had NO CLUE. In the end I had no orientation feeling at all. I could do what was told to me and repeat that nicely but after thermalling,….I was straight totally lost.
A huge disappointment!!!

So,… I loved the sport could fly with others but not by myself and with George flying national and international comps we got to know a lot of lovely people and I started writing about what happened on comps.
That’s how I started blogging, LONG  before the word blog was invented.
That’s how I traveled the world and met the most interesting people.
That’s how I became juror and steward, TC and crew , as well as ‘journalist on invitation of the organization of EGC’s , WGC’s and JWGC’s.
That’s why we moved from Curacao to Australia to run the Sportavia Soaring Center in Tocumwal.
Still love the sport, the people and the airfields.
They said thank you to me for my contribution as a female for our sport with the Pelagia Majewska Medal[international] and the Golden Pin from the KNVvL.[National]

In fact I should say thank you for 50 fantastic years , even with all the tragic and sad losses in “our” world!!!!
Sharing this blog full of private pictures  is a thank you to all who have been good to me!!!

TODAY……50 years  ago…….. was my introduction to gliding,……quite a milestone,……..THANK YOU!!!!!


Share please
Dear Gliding Friends. Please share this on Facebook and far and wide in Europe, particularly in Belgium. Thanks.

Please can everyone keep an eye out for a Ventus 2cM s/n 41 G-IIIO that was stolen with trailer and metallic grey BMW 530d m sport.
Number plate on trailer and car is WG08ULV.

Taken from hotel car park in Arlon, Belgium on 24/03/17. If you see it or know where it is please contact Belgian Police on +32 63 21 43 76. Email for case officer:

Next week the USA SGP
Cheers Ritz

4 thoughts on “Post 981,…March 29 in 1967 changed my life….. 50 years in this gliding world!!!!

  1. Dear Ritz,
    congratulations with your anniversary of 50 years among crazy guys in our huge and international community of gliding-nuts.
    Many thanks for all you did for so many of us. Always welcome at Keiheuvel-Belgium
    the entire Schmelzer-family

    1. Thanks Bert and the entire family!!! CU soon as the removal to the South is already in May.
      Maybe I am a gliding -nut as well.
      We shall have a drink on it at the Keiheuvel.

    1. Thanks Doris, I could write so much more.
      Maybe one day I write stories around the many , many old pictures I have.
      Love to mum ,dad , Karin, Markus and to you from Ritz.

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