Sunday, May 23, 2010

At least I, for one, had fun

The 2010 World Championships never happened. Out of 14 days scheduled for competition, not a single one provided weather good enough for a flyable task. For 80 of the world's best pilots pilots who traveled from around the globe, it was a bitter disappointment.

Each day either the cloudbase was too low (often lower than the launch ramp on Tegelberg), or the wind was too strong, or it was raining, or it was snowing, or storms threatened from one side or another...always something. On only a few days was the weather good enough for the pilots to even merely launch for a short, local flight. Down below in the valley, it was green and spring time. Up on the launch ramp, however, it was more winter than anything else.

For me, however, it was still a great time. With so many of my best friends in the world all in one place, what's to complain about?

I'd fall asleep each night contentedly exhausted, and wake still too tired to go for the morning run I'd been claiming for weeks that I'd finally start doing again.

On our last day there, Daphne attached a GoPro camera to her foot and held her regular camera in her hand to combine the footage for the video below of our ride down the summer time toboggan run. Such was how we occupied ourselves on the on the ground.

Here's a glimpse of the other days:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

...with benefits

One of the benefits of being involved in hang gliding competitions around the world is that, since most hang gliding involves leaping off a mountain, I get to experience some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.

Right now I'm in Schwangau, Germany, better known as the location of the Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.

I'm here to drive for (l. to r.) Daphne, from the Netherlands, Claudia, from Columbia, and fellow American Jamie. The three of them are competing in one of the three classes of World Hang Gliding Championship running concurrently off of Tegelberg, a mountain just out of view of the Neuschwanstein castle. They also have been my companions (both individually and as a group) of many adventures over these last years.

Those are just three, however, of perhaps 30 people I know taking part in this competition, of which close to 15 could even be termed some of my closest friends. The other night while sitting at a table, literally squeezed left and right between the affectionate shoulders of Swiss mother and daughter Dolores and Ashanta (pictured here later in the evening with Zhenya as well), I could not help but gratefully contemplate my blessings of human compassion in my life.

Last Sunday, May 9th, was the last practice day before the competition began. I attached a camera to Yulia's hang glider and set it to take a picture every two seconds for what she knew would be just a short flight. It began to rain just before she landed so that by the time she came down over the Neuschwanstein castle, rain drops had spotted the lens cover.

Rain has been a problem. Of the four days that have passed since the competition began on Monday, the 10th, none have been flyable. Yesterday, however, a German pilot found a small window of opportunity for a personal flight and strapped a camera onto his glider. Daphne took the trouble to edit his 27 minutes of footage down to a three minute glimpse of the beauty of flight, this region, and Neuschwanstein.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Through the Eyes of Yet Another

I was only in the States for five weeks, three of them spent delightedly hosting Yulia for the period surrounding Florida’s two spring hang gliding competitions.

As recorded a year ago, I spent the previous spring doing much of the same with Zhenya. Over the last two years I've had many adventures with both Yulia and Zhenya overseas (such as my trip to Velikiy Dvor in northern Russia with Yulia recorded here). It's always good to have the chance to return the hospitality I've been shown in so many different countries by so many different people.

The trip to the States was short, however. We both departed May 5th for Germany; her to compete in the World Hang Gliding Championships, me to join her and other friends at that competition as a way to begin a full summer of plans overseas.