Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Update of summer and fall 2009

It is already December and we had an amazing summer and fall.
We where so busy with all the cultural events, enjoying the amazing infrastructure of the the alps, we did countless hikes and flights all over the place.
As you can see, we are still in Germany. Since September the kids are going into a German kindergarten 5 times a week from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Penny is taking and enjoying German lessons 3 times a week.
In the mean time we have held several x-alps presentations and came up with a online slideshow here in the blog.

Everything is in best order, we enjoy every day in Europe and at the same time we miss Canada, our friends and the community. Pretty soon, in March we will be back and get ready for the easter meet.

Thanks again to everyone who was helping and cheering for us at the 2009 x-alps.
Here are a couple videos of our adventures

X-alps 2009 slideshow

Flight in the Dolomite's

Hike and fly in my local area

Here is another way how we get our heard rate up (5 times a week in the morning)

Seasons Greetings and a very good, healthy 2010

Max, Penny, Katia and Erik

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

x-alps statement and more details

It has now been a few weeks since the completion of the Red bull X-Alps, and it has given us time to reflect and write this blog.

We are having a great time here in Germany. We are all recovered, no more dreams of having to get up to get ready for the next hike, where will we take off and what route will we go. The kids love it, Penny is settling in to the "local lifestyle", I have high speed Internet and am able to work from here without any problems, the beer is good and cheap, so everything is just pefect.

The main question I am hearing, is if I would go for the 2011 x-alps again?
I am very happy with my 13th place finish this year. I did have a good chance to be in the top 10, if I would have choosen the "North Route", as I was sitting in 9th spot with 48 hours to go. The weather seemed to be in favour for the north the days I was traveling through that section, but had already positioned myself in the south. The "South Route" did have a lot of wind and it was hard to gain distance. It is not that the north or south route is better, it all depends on the wind and weather at the time you are there. Christian Maurer (winner) took the "South Route" and Alex Hofer (2nd) the "North Route" and both where very successful in both areas. It is just how you hit it, and being in the right place at the right time.

The major aspect that seperates the top pilots from the middle and end of the pack is the skill level of these pilots and some of them, being from around here, have a lot of local knowlege. The top finishers are exceptional pilots though, are in a class of their own, and did take more risks than I did. If I would go for the next x-alps, I would have to spend at least 2 months with a motor glider (motor sail plane) to really explore the whole route and fly it several times to get more familiar with the area and different valleys and landing areas. I also think the next x-alps, you will see more professional mountain guides as supporters, as had Christian Maurer.

Another important point is if I/we are willing, and able, to to free up the necessary time for training and also the time for the training in Europe. Further more, it is a matter of money as well. This race cost us more then $20.000. We were able to raise $10.000 at our fund raiser, but our personal costs exceeded $10.000. Thanks a lot to everyone again who came out to support us and spend money at the BBQ and on silent auction items. This obviously was such a huge help to us. We had a couple product sponsors too, (which I will mention in a bit) who helped us as well. The biggest expenses are the airplane tickets, car rental costs, gas, shoes and hiking boots. (I had about 12 pairs of shoes & boots through training and the race), phone, internet costs during the race (checking google earth, routes etc), maps, GPS, light weight equipment, and the wing, not to mention the time you are not working.
We got the wing for about $3000 from Nova. I was very happy with the wing as it certainly was better then most wings in glide. Ogi even thinks that the Triton is pretty close in glide with his Bommerang. Very good from the performance perspective and even better if you look at the saftey aspect as the large Triton is rates as a EN "C" wing.

Vincene Muller with www.MullerWindsports.com sponsored me with the Apco "ChairBag" harness. This is a very comfortable harness. The reserve is under the seat and the harness is reversable and very light. For the race I ended up with the SupAir Altirando XP which I got sponosred from SupAir. The reason why I chose this harness over the Apco is because the backpack is developed by mountaineers, is extremely comfortable and perfect for the hiking I had to do. I did not once have sore sholders during the race. The harness also has an optional leg fairing (pod) and an additional bag which can be mounted on top of the backpack. The backpack itself is very large and easily fit in my large triton, helmet, and other gear.

Craft clothing line, who sponsored me with clothing, has such an excellent line of clothing for active sports people. I used a sweater which was perfect for warmth around the neck, which is so important, and at the same time it drew the sweat off my body, and believe me I was sweating!! Very impressive is their underwear. I wore this during night time hiking, and again, your body never stays wet from sweating, you stay warm, but do not over heat either. It is hard to explain, but it certainly is different from what I have used in the past. Once you use the "Craft" line of clothing, you will not use anyting else.

Ark'teryx supplied me with a light Gore Tex jacket and pants which I used as my fly gear. The pants and jacket together, weigh only 590 grams. I did not have to use the pants too often though as the leg fairing of the harness (pod) was so good and kept me very warm. The jacket was awesome, keeping all air and wind out, keeping me very warm.

Another sponsorship which I was very grateful for was the "MBT" shoes. During training, I tried a number of different styles, and found the best for me, and the best for the different conditions I would be in. The shoes made it possible to walk long distances, on the pavement and on some hikes, without any pain and too much blistering. I had no problems with my knees, as I had in the 2007 X-alps, and by the end of the race, all I had was swollen feet, swollen achilles and a couple blisters. I would say this is normal with the kind of walking and hiking we ended up doing! I did not use any regular runners, only the MBT hiker, runner or sandal, or a solid hiking boot.

I would like to mention a few people I met because of the x-alps and have become very good friends with. Thanks to Till Gottbrath (Team Nova leader and owner of KGK) who connected me with Craft, Ark'teryx and with Garmin. His connections helped me get these product sponsors. Thanks also, and again to, Michael Phol (one of the best Austrian x-country pilots and super nice guy). Michael helped me in route planning and took time off to meet and fly with me before the race. Mik Broschart, simply a super nice guy, who was always there to help any way he could. Lloyd Pennicuik and Lewis Nott - Team Australia, who I spent some time with before the race and found that we were together quite a lot during the race. And of course, our great friend, Frank Kernick - 2007 supporter, who convinced me to go me into the x-alps, who helped raise funds to cover some of the expenses, sponsored me by paying for some expenses and joined me in Europe for a week prior to the race to check out the Frensh Alps.

Since the race, we have done a few presentations about the event, with information from the preparations (training, nutrition, logistics), the race itself, and the variety of equipment we used. Please feel free to drop me an e-mail if you have any questions.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The race is over

The race is over ... Not quite for our minds yet.
Our bodies are almost recovered and we are already catching up with work and getting things organized. 

The race was very intense and it was impossible to update this blog. We updated our race blog at the www.RedBullxalps.com. Check it out, there you can read others and see a gallery of photos and videos as well.  

I have to say that I had a lot of fun doing the x-alps adventure with Penny this time. Not that Frank was a bad supporter for the 2007 x-alps. Actually he was way easier and more human with me than Penny was. To be a supporter and a team for the x-alps is a huge test on your friendship and partnerships. We have seen some teams never talk to each other after the race, and on the other hand, it connects can also connect an amazing bond. As you all know, Frank and I are still very good friends and now Penny and I are even talking about marriage!!! Whew

I know that a lot of you want to know how we are doing and want to hear about what happened during the race. Most questions are:
How was it?
What was so special about it?
Would you do it again?

Here is in short was I/we think about it:

I have to admit, having my kids and Penny as my partner is still the most exciting adventure of all. But following in excitement right behind is the x-alps. What makes it so unique is that you are so fully involved 24/7 for numerous days on end. Nothing in the outside world even filters into your mind, work, kids, news, rumours. For both myself and Penny, we realized the focus we had and the concentration you have on the moment, you are absorbed in everything about the race. You do know the overall plan for the race, in where and how to go, but being able to do it physically, you need to concentrate on the moment you are in and this allows you to push the limits of physical stress or fly in conditions you never would fly in.
If someone tells you that you only can sleep 2-4 hours a day and have to hike up to 4000 meter in elevation or 50 km or further distances a day, for 12 days without a shower or bath, everyone would say you are crazy. The most amazing part is how the power of your mind can allow your body to do it.
As an example, one day I started hiking at 3:30 am, almost fell asleep walking along the road at 6:00 am, but Penny gave me a Red bull and I was a new person!! Then was flying at 11:00 in lee thermals while we had plus 100 km/hr winds build up behind the mountain. Eventually I got flushed down and managed to land in very steep and alpine terrain in the dolomite's, hiked over another pass (1000m elevation gain) and decided at 5:00 pm to hike up the 3300m Marmolada Glacier and rock climb in 120km/hr winds and to be down at 10pm in time for a pub to still be open and feed us spaghetti and beer. All this in one day and we were out there for a total of 12 days or so ( I already forgot how long it was) This was also one of two meals we were able to eat in a town at a restaurant!
Out of this ordeal, all I had was a couple blisters at my toes, heels and hands. I had swollen feet and archilles tendon which is all good again.

I am more amazed how Penny did all she did. She kept the van clean, had my bed ready when it was needed, got up an hour before I got up to have breakfast ready and the morning worked out, worked on the computer checking other athletes routes and updates on weather, had all the technical details in order, cooked, and made sure I have all the liquids and gear I needed and to top it off, she hiked all the mountains with me and most of the peaks to help carry up gear and supplies. Ask her how much her backpack weighed and she will tell you at least 30lbs of extra gear, food and water - she was probably right. Where ever I flew down, she hiked back down, up to 2500m elevation differences, and  somehow found time to stop in at a grocery store to restock, and then catch up to me again. Most amazing part is that she always had a smile in her face and was still talking as much as usual and what you know of her.

Now would we do it again?
Hard to say, It is an amazing adventure. The competition is extremely strong (Paragliding World champions and world cup winners) and the main benefit to most of the Europeans is that they know the alps and routes very well. They had alternate route plans and take off sites dependent on weather conditions, winds and time of day. Most of them are extremely good pilots and willing to take huge amounts of risk in how they fly and where they fly. To compete with these kind of guys is very hard. If I would do it again, I would have to spend at least the same time in physical training as I did for this race and next time I would travel the route for 2 month with a motor glider (sail plane).
It is too soon for me to make a decision on whether I would go through all this again. We still have some some time to think about it.

Even though my body's aches and pains and feet are back to normal, and the fatigue has diminished, we are both still having "nightmares" about where to launch, how is the weather, what are the valley winds doing, have we over-slept. It still takes both of us a couple minutes to realize where we are and that the race is actually over. We have both enjoyed a few flights this week.............hiking up 800m elevation gain, even when there was a perfectly good gondola right above our heads!!
We want to thank so many of you for helping us getting to this race. All your support at our fundraiser was incredible. It is a huge undertaking and a huge expense, and with your support helped make it a reality for us. And thank you too for all your comments on our guest book. I am sorry we didn't have time to respond, but we enjoyed reading them when we found a moment.

Max & Penny

Friday, July 17, 2009

Final preparations

I had a couple days to get everything ready for the kids and Penny. It was about time to see them again. Thursday morning they arrived on time and a different adventure has begun. It took the kids a couple days to get adjusted to the time change. Good x-alps training... waking up at 2:00 am, singing, playing and going for early walks (with the kids). We spend 5 days in Kempten and now we are in Fuschel am See at a camp site. Thanks to Oma and Opa to help out with the kids. They will look after them while we are in the race. Right now we are in the middle of briefings and final preparations for the race. You can find more updates and sign our guestbook at www.redbullxalps.com

Max, Penny, Katia and Erik

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gross Glockner and Watzmann

After I left Sillian, I drove the Gross Glockner Road to Zell am See. 28 Euro's to drive the pass - that's crazy! I drove to the little lakes east of the Gross Glockner which, if taking this route would bring us through the turning point. The weather, bad already, got worse, and with the low cloud, there was no sign of the Gross Glockner. Once I got to Zell am See, I drove to Kaprun and checked out the west side of the Gross Glockner. While asking for directions at a restaurant I met Michael (working for a company building cable lifts across valley's). Michael offered me to drive up to the dammed lakes, and minutes later we drove through a "private" 7 km long tunnel up to the lakes. From the lakes you can hike over to the Weiss See and then fly down to "Kals am Gross Glockner". Going this way will get through the turn point, but although it is shorter, it is very alpine and not along a road, allowing very few landing options.
After this little adventure I headed back to Saalfelden via Zell am See. Here, I received a SMS from Michael Pohl (Team Nova Pilot) stating that he would meet me at 8:45 at the train station in Lienz to go flying. So I turned around and drove back to Lienz, but this time via the "Tauern" tunnel.
I got up early (5:00 am) in the morning and decided to drive into "Kals am Gross Glockner to check out the area where you would come out from the Weiss See. This area looks great with a lot of landing possibilities if needed. Also once you get out and land in the valley, there are are great hiking trails across the next range down to Sillian.
8:45 Saturday morning I met Michael and we decided to take a taxi up to the Hochstein. The weather indicated that we would probably just have a glide down into the valley, so instead of rushing we enjoyed coffee and cake and chatting at the Hochstein hut. After this we hiked about 30 minutes to the Hochstein summit. While we took our time, we could see that the sky was trying to open up. After about another 90 minutes the sky was was only about 40% overcast and the sun could do her job. We launched to the north-west (due the main wind direction) and climbed up to 2800 meters resulting in a little cross-country flight of about 25 km to to Sillian. This was a great flight, nice thermals and good fun. Michael tried to fly back but got stopped by the rain which had been following us on our flight. From Sillian I took the train going back to Lienz and joined Michael for supper. We evaluated our flight and discussed our options for this area in the X-Alps. Thanks again to Michael for spending the whole day with me.

On Saturday evening last week, I headed to Zell am See via the Tauern tunnel. I camped in Zell am see and drove the next morning to Koenigs See to check out the Watzman area. It started to rain and I checked in at the closest campground to the Koenigs See. I asked a couple questions and within 5 minutes Alois arrived and greeted me with my full name. I looked at him and wondered from where and how I would know him. A lot of people do know my first name but not my first and last name. Well, it turned out that he is a huge Xalps fan and he knows everything about everything and everyone.
The day was still early and I decided to hike into the Wimbachtal and up to the See Horn. This 24 km long and 1500 meter elevation proved to be an option for the Xalps if the weather allows to fly somewhat.
I got back late to the campground, showered, and had a couple beers with Alois and Richard, also a huge Xalps fan. Wow, I got treated like a king, and was given an incredible rate for staying, eating, drinking (more then I wanted) at his brother in law's campground. The next day started with light rain and escalated into a lot of rain. I then packed up and drove to Fuschel am see to meet Nick Warren from Zoom productions. Then continued on right away to Aschau to see Till (Team Nova Pilot) to pick up his Garmin 60CX which includes all the hiking and topographical maps from the xalps tour. This is awesome and will make it easier to navigate rather than always trying to find the right trail over the mountians. I would also like to thank Garmin again for lending me the Garmin Nuvi for the supporter van and a Orgegon to see the topographical maps as well. I am sure, if I would not have used the Garmin GPS for driving and hiking, I would have had a lot of frustrating moments to navigatge throught the alps all by my self. This tool will also be a great asset for Penny during the race.
After the visit with Till I rushed to Kempten (my home town) as I knew I will have Internet access for my Monday evening conference call.
The next couple of days is to get ready with the appartment and the arrival of Penny and the kids. Can't wait to see them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Dolomite's

Monday morning in Flims. The signs in the sky indicated another no fly day due over development. The campground I stayed at had wireless Internet and I thought it might be a good idea to cleaned up the van and wash my cloth. After this, I headed back through Davos, Fluele Pass, and the Ofen Pass to Bozano. Time was running out and I had to find a place with Internet by 9:00 pm for our Monday conference call. As mentioned before, in Italy it is kind of hopeless to find a WiFi Internet connection so I headed to Sillian (Austria). There I found a place and stayed at parking lot overnight.
Next morning driving through the town I saw some wind flags of different paragliding manufactures and pulled in. In this parking lot I met Lloyed (from Australia) and his supporter Lewis getting ready for the day. After talking to them we decided to hike up to Sillianer Hütte (1400 elevation hike) and fly from there to Sexten and then hike from there to the 3 Zinnen Hütte (1100 meter elevation hike). On the way up we must have missed a sign and ended up on a dead end. Here it goes again, making your own trail. Anyhow we found the trail and when we got up it started to rain. So we had a soup and after the rain stopped and we where able to take off and glide down to Sexten. For our Canadian paragliding friends, Sexten is the home town from Hugo Tschurtschentaler who lives now in Golden running a B&B with his wife and doing Tandem flights from Mount 7.
Lloyed could not do the hike up to the 3 Zinnen as he has some problems with his calf and needs some rest. So I hiked up with his supper Lewis and we had a great view to the huge rock faces the Dolomite's offer. The best part, besides the huge rock faces, was to see that there are plenty of landing sites up at 2300 meters once you fly in from from the Sillian Huette into the Dolimite's. From the Sillian Huette it rather looks like flying into a ocean huge towering rocks and nothing to land after or within the rocks. Now with this hike things look completely different.
In the evening we drove back to Sillian to the "BlueSky" shop.
This is an amazing place with a lot of happy and friendly people. Susan and Stefan certainly do a very good job to make you feel welcome. I certainly recommend to stop by at their shop before you head into the Dolomite's or when you are flying in the Pustertal. They pretty much carrey all kinds of gliders to test fly and buy and offer a huge stock on harnesses and other flying gear. Besides coffee, beer, a huge amount of information they also offer repair services. Lloyed, Lewis and I gives them a big thumb up. Check out their website at www.BlueSky.at. Thanks again Stefan and Susanne for your hospitality and keep up the good work.

Wednesday morning we drove into the Dolomites via Toblach to Lake Misurina. This is the other side of the 3 Zinnen and from there you can fly and head to the Marmolada via Cortina. From Cortina there are 2 passed you can drive to the Marmalada, one is the Passo di Falzarego and the other is Giau Pass. The Giau Pass is smaller and is the pass you would fly through to the Marmolada. We drove over the Passo di Falzarego to check out this area and from there I headed to the Marmolada.
I got there at 4:00 pm and I decided to do a fast hike up to the 3343 meter summit. I was lucky and could catch a kind of chair-lift (but you have to stand in) up to 2600 meters and from there I hiked over the glacier, a rock face (100 meter elevation secured by steel ropes) and the rest over the glacier again to the summit. It was fantastic and I was rewarded with great views and surrounded by thunderstorms. I only stayed up for 5 minutes and was getting down as fast as possible as I did not want to be coughed in one of the storms. 7:30 I was back down in valley and met up with Lloyed and Lewis. We then drove to Bozano to check out the site Alex Hofer flew the "South Route". It was a very interesting trip with several options. Thanks to Markus from the Roen Stube, we got all the information we needed. Markus even drove up Lloyed to the take off site to go for a flight. I hiked up and watched them take off just before the thunder storm moved in. Lloyed and Lewis just made it down in time and we headed back to Sillian.
I drove back via the Marmalada over the Giau Pass and it really showed very clear how to fly the route.
Today I hiked up about 400 meters from Sillian to have a little flight and then I will head to the Gross Glockner.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The "South" or the "North" route?

I got up early Friday morning and headed from Zermatt (Taetsch) to Fiesch. I connected with the local school and got a lot of information from Xari and Benno (thanks again to everyone). I got one flight in the morning just before the thunderstorm was starting in the early afternoon.

Due the bad weather development I headed east and then to the south over the Nufenen Pass. This pass is where you come over when you travel the “South Route”.

There are 2 main routes you can go after the Marmolada.

The traditional is going via Meran, Ofen Pass and the Flüela Pass, then over Davos to Chur and over the Furka and Grimsel pass ins Wallis.

The “South Route” is going over Bozen to Sendrio, the Como Lake, then over the San Jorio pass to Bellinzona and then over the Nufenen pass into the Wallis.

Which route is the best? Well Alex Hofer proved at the last x-alps that the south-route was the best due the weather conditions. This is why I wanted to drive the “South Route” and the “Traditional North Route” to get a better idea about the terrain.

So, after getting over the Nufenen pass I drove to Dongo at Como Lake. This is in Italy and it is very surprising that the word “Internet” seams to be a foreign word. It is extremely hard to find a place offering Internet.

Saturday morning I got up early and I started to hike up to the San Jorio pass. I thought it would be good to get some more training in. Well, some training …, this hike ended up into a 6 hour hike up to plus 2000 meters elevation (1800 meter elevation gain) and a total distance of 40 km. I thought 2000-meter height is not to bad, but I did not realize right away that Como Lake is only at 200 (plus) meters. Anyhow, the hike was great. After a good shower at the campground I was heading to Meran. The “South Route” drive was very interesting and certainly has its pro’s and con’s and I am glad I drove it. At around 10:00 pm I ended up at a viewpoint overlooking Bozana. This is where I stayed overnight. The morning was awesome. I had a great view over the valley going from Bozano to Meran.

After a short breakfast, I headed to Meran and planned to go flying at Laas. The weather showed signs to overdevelop again and so I decided to drive to Flims (near Chur) to check out the “Traditional North Route”.

After a long day of driving and checking out terrain I ended up in Flims at the Gondola station. There where a ton of paragliding pilots at they just rounded up the Swiss champion ships. I met Alex Hofer (he was second at the Swiss Championships) and we talked a bit about the routes. The flying for the Swiss championships where not good at all (based on Alex) and I did not miss anything from a flying point of view.

Anyhow, tomorrow I plan to fly here in Flims and hope the weather will not again overdevelop later in the day. After this, I will head back east into the dolomites.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What did I do from Monday to Thursday?

Ok, here we go. This will be quite an update as I have done a lot the last couple of days.

Monday morning I met Laurant at www.SupAir.com. Laurant told me right away that the Altirondo I used is not the same as the new Altirondo. As I was sitting int he new one there was quite a difference. Laurant set me up with the pod, the reserve and made sure all is set up just right. He told me to use this brand new harness until they have the x-alps version ready (800 gramms lighter), thanks Laurant. I have to say, this harness feels great and with the pod it makes it very slick. I also like the attachment to add a pack on to top of the bag. All this is very well thought out.
The afternoon looked windy with rather big clouds, so I decided to find a "Herz" repair station to get the coolant hoses fixed as we constanly lost coolant liquid. It looks like an animal was biting into the hoses. As it turned out, they asked me to drive it until I get back to Germany and exchange it there. Anyhow, Frank did a good job taping it and it seams to hold the coolant for a couple of days.

In the evening I decided to head to Chamonix, stay overnight at a hotel with Internet connection for my Monday conference call and to catch up with work.
Tuesday morning I hiked up west of Mount Blanc to Col de Vosaz (850 meter elevation gain) from there you can launch and fly into the Les Contamines-Montjoie valley and head back up the mountians to continue south west to Moûtiers from where you can start heading up the first big pass I traveled with Frank a week ago.
After I got back, I decided to head east of Chamonix to Martigny. On the way to Martigny I found the trail head to Col de Balme late in the afternoon. I thought I go without my heavy bag and do the 1200 meter tour fast with a light bag and water. So I headed out after 4 pm and made it back after 8:00 pm. This was a great hike and cerainly worth it. On top on the Col de Balme there are great take off spots haeding to Chamonix (see picture, to the left is Mount Blanc and Chamonix below). I alos found some cool historc rock houses. All in rock including the roofs. After I got back to the Van, I had a great shower with the camping shower and haeded down to Martigny. In Martigny I was able to catch up with more work online.

The next morning (Wednesday) I headed up to Verbier as I wanted to try out the new harness and I knew that this is a rather easy flying site. Once I drove up there and looked for the landing site, I realized that the landing site was very small and when I was there last (22 years ago) that this is how far we only could fly unless it was a great day and we could fly over Verbier and landing down in the valley. Today you land in down in the valley except the vally winds are gettting to strong. So I parked the Van and hiked 50o meter elevation to a nice alpine grass launch site. The flight lasted about 30 minutes and was very smooth with some small thermals. I was very happy about the harness and the wing and got ready for a hot 800 meter elevartion gain hike back up to the van. With this hike I accumulated over 3400 meters elevation gain in 2 days.
Late afternoon this day I headed to Zermatt and had a good look at the windy Martigny and Sion Valley. Driving up to Zermatt (Taetsch) made me realize that I do not want to land anywhere from the Matterhorn down to Visp (town in the main valley). There are no landing sites at all. At Taetsch (5 km before Zermatt) I pulled in a campground. You can not drive any further as the last 5 km to Zermatt are only accesible by Train or Taxi.
The next morning I got a hold of Bruno (local Tandem pilot) and met him at the landing site at 10:00 am. This is a cool landing site as this is virtually on the train station. He was heading up to Unterrothorn which is at 3103 meters and just east of the Matterhorn. I was taking the gondola up with him and his tandem passenger and got a lot of information about the area. He made the whole area sound like a piece of cake. I flew off from the Unterrothorn (picture is with Matterhorn behind at cloudbase), crossed the valley and had a look at the turn point Schwarsee. The thermals where chopped up as it turned out the valley wind got stronger earlier then normal. Also the cloulds started to build up and later in the day we had a short thunder shower. The flight was great. I could thermal right under the cloudbase (at 3100 meters) and could get more comfortabe with my new harness. The landing was as expected in strong valley wind. While I packed up I met Ronny and his girfriend Karla from Holland. Ronny will be in the x-alkps and representing Holland. After I packed up we decided to hike up to the Turn-point Schwarzsee to get familiar with the trail. After 900 meter elevation gain (this brings me now to 4300 meters elevation hikes in 3 days) starting with sunshine and ending with some light rain and a thunder strom further south we had a special cheese sandwich ala Ronny. The sandwich is way to go but sitting heavely in the stommach. Ronny thinks this is best x-alps food (just kidding). After we had the meal, the thunderstorm and rain stopped and we unpacked out wings and flew down to the train station. The winds where very light and we had a great flight down. These flights are very good to get in tune with the new harness and wing. I do like it and hope the weather stays good to get more flying in. I will spend one more night at the campsite and then head to Fiesch. This is a very well know cross country fliging site. From there you should be able to fly to the Matterhorn and at least to Sierre (east of Sion).
Anyhow, this is it for now. I hope this is not to much writing as I do not want to bore you either.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Update about Frank and quick update from Chamonix

Frank and Tracye are still in Nice and they will fly home coming up Friday. Frank is doing better every day and he enjoys the beach with all their views. Today Frank was even able to have a swim in the Mediterian Sea. As you can see, he is not in a full body cast, he wears a plastic cast as you can see in the previous blog.

People asking me for more details and some people are already coming up with their own stories.
I will add a bit more to what I wrote in the last blog.

... I landed before Frank right at the sand beach. This is about half way along the beach. There was no wind and the flight as absolutely calm. Once I landed and turned around I saw Frank about 100 meters behind me laying on his back and people walking to him. So I have not seen how it happened.
Frank's statement is the following, he felt he was a bit high to land right beside me and he did an extra turn while flying slow, then flying even slower and the wing stalled and he did not have enough height to get out of the stall. Frank had a light airbag harness (which worked just fine) and landed on his behind. The wing was not a high end competition wing as some people are stating. The wing is a large Triton by Nova and is rated as EN "C". This is the same rating as his Sigma 6 and 7. To the safety, our wings are constructed with extra light material and this will make it an even safer wing as the extreme flight maneuver will reacted slower and easier then with the heavier material. The difference between the Sigma and this wing is that the break travel is shorter and Frank was not used to this and did not watch this.

The internet coffee is closing here and I will have to write about what I have done tomorrow.
In short I hiked just over 3400 meters in elevation (this is more then 4 times Swansea) in 2 days around Chamonix. Had one flight in Verbier to check out my new harness and enjoy camping.
I will write more and add pictures once I get back tomorrow from the Matterhorn.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Frank is out of the hospital and I am heading north

Frank got released from the hospital June 19th late afternoon. He was happy to be out and to go for a beer. Although you could tell that he was in pain. The day after we spend the day at the beach. He certainlky is not hopping arond and even got back to the hotel in the afternoon. He is ok, but when he is up for a while he certainly is hurting. I spend one more night with Frank and Tracye to make sure they will be fine on their own. They have a hotel right on the beach and only 5 minutes away to the Nice Airport. If all works as per program, the insurance will book a flight for them for Tuesday or Wednesday. I will keep you upated in how they are doing as I am in contact via Skype.

In the mean time, I made it back up north to Samoëns. This is between Annecy and Chamonix. Some of you might remember Nico who used to work as a electrician in Radium, this is where he lives.
I decided to drive via Turin as the shortest way from Chamonix to Monaco is through Turin. This is a shorter way if you would walk it all. There is not much of a chance to fly as the foothills are treed and you will have to cross a lot of valley's to get down south. Once you are about 50 km to the Mediterranean, the mountains are getting lower and covered up by bush/thorns and landing is virtually impossible due the narrow treed in valleys. It seams the route south of Albertville or the long route along Grenoble is a better choice. After all, it will be weather depended to see what route will work best. I am glad I traveled this section as this was a huge eye opener.

The most impressive part today was driving the route through the Mont Blanc tunnel. The view up Mont Blanc from the south seamed to be unrealistic and just humangus.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We made it to Monaco and have to do some changes.

We are having to do some modifications to our plan. Frank had a landing accident in Monaco. He fractured and compressed his Vertebre (L2)and will be released from the hospital today wearing a body-brace. Frank is very mad at himself that this happend. To the accident, he was on final and wanted to land closer to me, did an extra turn, then stalled the wing from about 20 feet and ended up on his behind.
The injury is a clean fracture and needs time to heal. We are happy that it did not turn out any worse.
Today we will pick up Frank from the hospital, check into a hotel and figure out when they will go home.

Here a couple words in how we got to Monaco.
Wendsday morning, light rain. Not really what was forcasted. We took our time, cought up on work and e-mails. Once we packed up and went to the van, the weather opened up and it turned into a super nice day. We decided to go for a flight Frank and Tracye drove up and I decided to hike up. It is only about 400-500 meters in elevation and somone told us that there should be a path going up from the hotel. Well, not even the hotel owner knew about this trail and I decided to head up anyways. This little hike turned into a little adventure through tall wet grass, thick bush with a lot of thorns. I crawled through a very steep dried out creek up to the plateau reaching eventually the launch site. This was a friendly reminder in how it can feel if you try to make your own path, specially in a terrain you are not used to.
Frank flew first while I ajusted the harness and sorted out the gear. Once airborne, I realized that this older version of harness is not the same as I tried at SupAir. It was not comfortable at all. The thermals were strong and punchy and I got up to plus 2000 meters. I was trying to see where the mountain range is leading to Monaco and I could not find it. In the mean time Frank landed as he had trouble with his vario and I decided to fly out as well and check out maps and then head down to Monaco. Once I got down and checking the map and driving towards Monaco, it all made sense. The range was there but we had to drive over a 2700 meter high pass (Col de la Bonette). So from the air it looked like you would fly into instead along a mountain range. The top of the pass was spectacular and the drive down the other side turned into a 60 km narrow valley leading to Nice. Not very inviting to land. Later with Google Earth it showed that you would fly along the range and if you need to land, you would land on the east side of range in a wider and higher valley and not landing along the road as there is no way to land.
We got to Monaco around 7:00 pm and headed straight up to Mount Gros. The wind was very light, the sun was just about to be gone. The launch was easy and we had a spectacular flight looking over Monaco. Looking over the mediterian, checking out all the houses, hotels, people and ships. It was just beautiful until we landed.

As stated before, Frank will be ok and on his way home in the next days. I will head back up north and continue as planned.
I will keep you updated.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The first couple days on the route

The first couple days are full on with no moment to spare.
Monday morning 4:00 am my alarm went off and 45 minutes later I was on the road to Geneva to pick up Frank and Tracye. This drive showed me what rush hour can be in Europe. I spent over an hour in stop and go traffic around Zurich and arrived late in Geneva. Not a problem as Frank and Tracye were late as well.
The first stop was in Annecy at SupAir. Laurant e-mailed me to try their new harness and check out all the new add-on's. I now have an older demo to try, but from what I have seen so far, this is a wow. The pack is rather large and very good to carry. The backbag also offers an additional bag to be mounted on the top, which does not sacrifice any carring comfort. Now the exciting add on is the "pod or fairing" for your feed. This can be added on very easy and you have a comfortable and warm harness. Anyhow, I will be back in Annecy on Friday and will decide if I will get one based on a couple of test flights.
After the visit at SupAir, we tried to go flying at Annecy but the weather was coming in faster and we just watched the last couple pilots landing. Right now Annecy is holding a paraglding world cup and it was cool to see the high aspect ratio wings coming in.
The night we spend in Albertivlle (Winter Olympics in 1992) and then we headed south to explore the route most x-alps pilots used. This was a very interesting drive through the french Alps and certainly showed how challenging they can be. Some of the challanges is the high altitude changes (up to 2000 meters) and valley crossings.
South of Albertville we drove over the Col de la Madeleine and then over the Col du Galibier pass. These are very impresive passes and very popular by road and motor bikers. We did not see anyone walk or fly there. From there we drove through Briançon and over Col de Vars pass to Barcelonnette. This is the area where Alex Hofer's route joined with the others heading south to Monaco.
We stayed overnight at a very
old place 3 minutes out of Barcelonnette and we will head south to Monaco. The weather is not as forecasted and we have light rain. Lets see what the day will bring, maybe we can get a flight in Monaco.
Keep you posted.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The first couple of days

Everything is going well going well and no boring moment so far. I met with my brothers and sister to get things organized like picking up the van and the new wing, shopping (phones, food and other stuff), met old flying students and had a great chat with the old flying school colleges. Saturday I had a couple practice flights at the training hill, hike up Tegelberg and an amazing 2 hour flight over the castle Neuschwanstein to Säuling, back and then to Buching and back to the castle.
Training is already in progress. As mentioned before, Saturday I hiked up Tegelberg and today I had a 4.5 hour hike from Pfronton to Aggenstein and back (about 20 km and 1200 elevation gain). I could not fly today as it was way to windy.
Right now I am getting ready and pack the van to leave at 5 am to Geneva to pick up Frank and Tracye.
Will keep you updated

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Arriving in Germany

I have not updated my blog for a while and it is hard to believe how fast time is going by. Right now I am on the flight from Calgary to Munich. This is a 10-hour flight and I am very lucky as I have a whole row (3 seats) and can stretch, study maps, sleep and write this blog.

Anyhow, training has slowed down for me since the May long weekend as I got really busy to clean up around the house and to finalize a ground breaking contract with BookingCalendar.com and Appointment.com. I have been in contact with a group from the US for the last 6 month to work on a very exciting venture. This will bring the technology I developed with BookingCalendar.com to the next level. www.BookingCalendar.com will become www.Appointment.com and at the same time we increase our team with very talented people to beef up the design, add more features, develop a consumer portal for appointments and have a very experienced Internet marketing team in place to dominate the appointment scheduling market. The contracts got singed in Seattle June 2nd and we are in full progress to work on the new venture.

In the mean time I spent as much time as possible with the kids before leaving as I missed them already before leaving. I also wanted to give Penny some time for her training, as she will be handling the kids, the canoe and kayak rental business and packing up the house/kids to follow me July 8th.

For those who do not know, Penny is my best buddy, partner, mother of my kids and supporter for the x-alps. She was training as hard (as she always does) to get ready for the race. Penny is a powerhouse and lives up to her name (Penny Powers). Besides looking after me, the kids and her businesses (Personal trainer and running www.ColumbiaRiverOutfitters.com) she participated at 2 running events the last 6 weeks and at both races she won her age class and come in as 4th overall. One race had 1000 runners, the kids and I are very proud of you, way to go Penny.

The kids (Erik and Katia, 3 and 5 years old) are as active as mom and it was great to follow the progress with both starting to ride their bikes without training wheels. They went from pushing to riding all by them self’s within days and now they are riding through obstacles in the skateboard park. At the same time they started to take tennis lessons and keep hitting balls around my ears.

As you can see, there was never a boring moment and I am sure all these events are the reason why time flew by so fast.

Now, once I arrive in Munich, I will get the rental car, my wing (with the right colors), gear, and start exploring the route. Monday I will pick up Frank (supporter in 2007) and his girlfriend Tracye in Geneva and start exploring with the French Alps.

During daytime I will be training, exploring flying and meeting local pilots and Team Nova Pilots and during the evening hours I will spend about 2-4 hours working and updating the blog to keep everyone informed of where we are and what we are doing.

Thanks again to everyone for all these good wishes and all the help we have received so far. I also like to thank the Bookingcalendar.com team (Shalene Wright, Cicely Younk, Ashith Shetty) and the Appointment.com team (Rob Monster , John Leonowich and John Lawler) to allow me to prepare for the race and to be flexible with their times to keep on working on the www.Appointment.com venture.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What a great long weekend we had....

What a weekend we had.
Our x-alps expenses was growing bigger than expected. Frank (former supporter) and Trayce came up
with the idea to have a x-country challenge combined with a fund-raiser party at their house during the May long weekend (May 16th and 17th).
The x-Alps will cost us in excess of $20.000.00. The main costs are for airline tickets, car rental, gas, maps, travel expenses and equipment (e.g. wing and hiking gear).

15 pilots showed up at 9:00 am Saturday morning at Frank's place. The task was easy, walking up Mt.Swansea (about 10 km) then flying to Radium Hot Springs and back (26 km).
It was pretty funny to watch some faces drop when they heard the word "walking". Anyhow, we did not ask for any entry fee, but if you wanted to get your gear shuttled up, it cost you $10 or $20 if you wanted a ride with your gear.
7 people hiked up without their wings, 2 with the wing (Steward Midwinter and myself), and the rest got a ride up. Most enjoyed the hike and might even get into "hike & fly" in the future. Flying conditions were strong and not easy, but
5 made goal and one flew even further (Steward Midwinter).

After flying, we set up for the party with 100 Bratwursts, 50 Hot dogs, 100 Hamburgers and 3 keg's of beer. Frank
was not just offering his house, he also donated the live Band (Electric Squires from Banff). These guys were great and played until the police asked them to stop at 1:30 am.
All in all, it was a great party and a ton of fun. Over 200 friends and neighbor's showed up. The food was gone in 2.5 hours, the face-painters for the kids worked overtime, the beer was gone just before midnight and we raised just over $10.000.00 with the cover charge, silent and live
auction. This is just amazing, thanks a lot all the people helping at the party, donating products and services (see companies listed here), Frank and Tracye to host the party and to everyone for coming. The people who could not make .... missed a good one.

Sunday was kind of slow going.
Thanks again to everyone helping to clean up Frank's house in the morning. After that, no one was interested to walk up the mountain again and I was on my own (as usual) The flying conditions were trashy and the flights did not last too long and I seemed to be the only one making goal to the Lakeside Pub.

Here are some pictures at my Photo Gallery
If anyone has some more pictures, send them to me and I will add them here

Again, thanks to everyone

Max, Penny, Katia and Erik

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

what harness should I use?

Besides the wing, the next most important gear to choose from is the harness. This was quite a learning curve and I think I got now what is best for me.
First I used a Apco AirChair with a front container and somehow I felt there must be something better out there in combination as a back-pack and harness. I tried a couple and either they come with a smaller pack-pack, or they turn out to be to heavy and bulky or where not good to fly for my kind of flying style. I almost went with a light harness and a good backpack, but until today I could not find a comfortable enough backpack.
Here is what I ended up with now. I am using a Apco AirChair with the reserve under the seat. This version is about 0.250 kg more then with a front container but is very comfortable and easy to get in and out without any straps and container to work with. In total this harness is 2.9 kg including a big backpack. The backpack was not the most comfortable pack but with a couple straps it makes the pack very slim and easy to carry.
After I decided to use this harness, Vincene with www.MullerWindSports.com gave me the harness as a sponsorship. On top of that, she also donated a beginner lesson for 2 for our silent auction at the fundraiser party coming up.
Thanks a lot Vincene,

also a big thank you to all the local business donating products and services for this fund-raiser party. See details at www.flyingMax.com

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mini x-Alps Training in the Rockies

Now with spring at our doors, we are switching from hikes in the snow, x-country skiing and gym training to 5 days/week mini x-alps training sessions. We have decided to train every day for about 2 - 4 hours instead of 6-8 hour workouts once or twice a week.

Most of the hikes are from my house to either www.PanormaResort.com (23 km on the road) and if the weather allows it to fly back, or to hike 12 km from my house up Mt. Swansea (860 m elevation gain). If the weather is good I will fly and if not, I will walk back home. On the days I can fly, I will land about 8-10 km away from my home and walk back. This way I get a good combination of flying and hiking and get used walking with my gear.

New for my flying gear is a light Gore-Tex jacket and pants sponsored by www.Arcteryx.ca. To keep me warm, I use underwear and fleece form www.Craft.se.

Besides training, I do spend about an hour plus a day with Google Earth and Google maps to get familiar with the route. It is really is amazing what technology can do today and I recommend everybody to give it a try. During the race you will be able to download our tracks into Google Earth and you can run the track as a tour. This way you can follow me without getting out of your chair.

In the mean time, visit and sign my Guestbook at www.Redbullxalps.com.
Thanks again to everyone supporting us with the good wishes and sponsorships.

Previous blogs can be viewed at

Max & Penny

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

x-alps fundraiser for May long weekend

Besides training and working, we are working on a fundraiser for our x-alps project.

The x-alps will cost us $20.000.00 plus for airline tickets, renting a support vehicle, equipment (such as wing, harness, reserve chute, mountaineering equipment, energy food and drinks) and travel expenses.

Frank Kernick (former supporter) is holding a fundraiser x-country competition and party with a live band at his house at Lakeview Meadows for pilots, friends and everyone who knows or is interested in the Max & Penny x-Alps adventure.

The x-country funding competition will be on the May long weekend (May 16th to 18th) starting with a pilot meet at 9:00 am at Frank's house.
Party with live band, silent and live auction is Saturday evening May 16th.

If you have any services or products to donate, let us know.

Here is what we will do for your donation:

Also mark your calendar to come to the party or even confirm at our Facebook page and feel free to pass on this information to anyone who might like to join us.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter flying Meet at Panorama

The Easter flying Meet at Panorama was a great turnout.
In total we had 40 pilots and great weather. This year Easter was late and snow was still good and the flying conditions as well.

Friday was the best flying day, we all got at least 2 flights for our "Easter egg drops" and target landings. Later in the afternoon launching at the Cappuccino hut got difficult due the cross wind and stronger thermal conditions. Frank Kernick could sky our after a rather interesting launch. Several us us decided to head up to the summit and fly from there. 7 of us where able to sky out to 3500 m and fly about 20 out to the Lakeside pub (where we host our annual www.LakesideEvent.com for beers.

Saturday was great for egg drops and target landings and in the afternoon the conditions got to strong and started to overdevelop. This gave us some good time to ski with family and friends. The competitions where not stopping as we had our annual "Food Tray" race and Boat races in the bar that night.

Sunday turned out to be to strong and only about 5 pilots where flying and the rest of us had a great ski and swim day.

All in all it was a great weekend for the pilots, family and friends.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why are we doing this ...

... hiking 20km and further with 20 kg backpacks, hiking Mt. Swansea with a 900m elevation gain, twice up and down in one training session, train 6 days a week in endurance sessions, weight sessions, stair climbing interval sessions, and "dragging" the kids across Europe, and......to do all this........ facing approximately a $20.000 bill!!

We are currently working with a film producer, Greg someone, who will pitch our story to international networks. He believes that the reason we are doing this might be a good sales point to the networks. So here we sit and ponder the question.........why are we doing this?

When we really think about it, we actually don't have a wild and cool story of why we are doing it. I can say though, the x-alps will push me to fulfill my dreams and passions of paragliding, and this time by flying and hiking across the alps. I can't say that I am really looking forward to the long and endless physical stress and bad weather we might face, but this comes with the challenge.
Penny's passion is travel, play and physical exercise. She has always wanted to do an adventure race, and loves any mental and physical challenge. The Red Bull X Alps is certainly going to do this. Our kids are go-getter's, and we believe that this will be a great experience for the whole family (our 3 and 5 year old kids and the grand parents).

We are lucky and blessed to be healthy and all feel that this will be a great experience for everyone.

Our training is going great, and most of the pre-race preparations are well under way. We are however, still looking for some help to finance this project. With a bill of approximately $20,000.00 that we are facing, for the race and prep work alone (not the "holiday" for the kids and grandparents), we are looking for options for outside sponsors. Now the only part we need some help with is to help to finance this project.

As a result, we have come up with the following idea. If we can collect enough Air Miles and Aeroplan points from family, friends or businesses, who have an abundance of points and don't think they need them all, the flights, car rental and gas can be paid for with those.

So if you have some spare points, please log on to your account and transfer some of your Air Miles or Aeroplan points into our account (Air Miles # 8000589 1472, Aeroplan # 723 134 193). The points don't have to be for a full flight, each point you donate will add up with others for the full amount required to book a flight.

Each point helps.

Thanks a lot,

Max, Penny, Katia & Erik

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Slovenia part 2 and first flights with new Triton in Canada

Today I received my last missing bag. First thing was to unpack the Milka chocolate and Hariboo Gummibears. Second was to weigh the new wing. Guess how heavy the light version of the Triton 24 (large) is? 7, 6, 5 or 4 kg... It is just a bit over 5kg, exactly 5.1 kg. Well done Peter (manager for Nova productions), this is very light for a large glider.

Back to Slovenia, we had ideal conditions every day with about 10 km wind at launch and great soarable conditions mixed with some light thermals. We could climb up to 1400 m asl and flew up to 35 km x-country. I am not sure what kind of connections Brigitta and Dusan are having, but they seam to be working very well and we had great flights every day. By the way, the Nova Pilot team has a Photo Gallery and we have a lot of pictures about the meet at http://picasaweb.google.com/NovaTeamPilots.

One mistake I did going to Slovenia, was not taking my harness. As you all know, only change one part of the equipment and not all. So, at my first flight, I used the new "Globe" harness from Charly on my new Triton and it was kind of hard to have a real first impression about the wing.
Here is what I experienced. The Triton handles very nice with a short break travel and average break pressure. Launching is very easy, it thermals very well in light conditions and where the Triton really stands out, is the speed. It seams to glide best with little speed bar on and the faster you fly it does not seam to sacrifice to much on glide. Also an important fact is that the large Triton is only a EN "C" (for those who are not pilots, it means it is rated for intermediate and not for expert pilots). It only has a couple C's in not important flight characteristics (at least for me). Overall, the rest is either A's or B's (even accelerated). Now my Triton is build with extra light material making the wing even more tame and this makes the Triton in my eyes the perfect wing for the x-alps.
While testing in Slovenia, the only part I did not like to much is that the wing likes to get out of the bank after about 2 turns. We figured that this is due the stable harness and the Triton needs input with the seat board to stay within the turns. I also had the opportunity to fly the "Factor". What a great wing that is. It handles like a toy. Light break pressure and the wing can entirely be flown with the break lines, in other words you can use a stable harness and still have excellent handling characteristics. It seams that the Factor and Triton are performing the same in trim speed and in thermals. The main difference between the Factor and Triton is when you start using the speed bar. All I can say, both wings are a absolute wow. Well done Hannes.

While writing the blog, the weather seam to improve and checking the wind at Panorama ski resort, it did not look as bad as forecasted at NavCanada. So I packed my skies, the new Triton, my Apco AirChair and a medium "Sky" reversable harness from Jeff. First I flew with the Apco AirChair and wow, the handling is great and just as expected. Second flight I did with the "Sky" harness and the handling is excellent as well. The only difference is that you sit a bit more upright then with the apco AirChair, but it also could be that the medium harness is a bit on the small side for me.
I was very happy after these flights confirming that the harness is a big part of the equipment and should never be underestimated. Can't wait to get out for some big air now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Slovenia report Part 1

What a trip. I am still not home. I am at Penny's parents place in Calgary and have some time to write this blog. Once the City wakes up, I will have a couple meetings, some shopping to do and then back home to Invermere.
Most people would think I am crazy to travel to Slovenia for a weekend. It was not crazy at all. it was the best I could do. The only thing missing was Penny and the kids. Next time we will try to get them to come as well.

Hats up to all the Nova Team members. All you guys made this an amazing weekend. Starting from getting picked up by Mik, staying at his great place with his young family (Emila, what a cute 3 week old baby and Kristine his accommodation wife) and a comfortable drive to Slovenia and back.
Once we got there, things just got better and better. Thanks to Brigitta and Dusan who organized this great meet, job well done. There was not a boring moment at all. We where flying every day and had lots of great opportunities to socialize at launch, landing site, dinners and meetings at the hotel. Every day we could fly little x-country flight (about 25 km and more). Igor who runs the shuttle service and a kiosk place at the landing site is a very nice and funny guy serving the best Slovenian Igor Burgers. The only thing missing (and he will work on it) will be some cheer leaders at the landing site.
If you can fly, every meet is a good meet, but the best was sharing the fun with all the Nova Team members (plus 30 team members where there). I have to say, this is such a great group of people what makes flying a much better experience. The whole group is so diverse, from competition pilots, test pilots, x-country pilots, and to just for fun pilots. I have never seen such a diverse group of pilots having so much fun together. Most teams are either a local club or only competition pilots flying for one manufacture.
Nova, thanks for putting this all on, I had a blast and it was great to meet and experience in how you guys work. Watching Alex's top landings while testing new gliders, Tony Bender trying to fly with a sleeping bag (based on his face, I guess he picked up the wrong back pack and thought there was a glider in it, but you never know). The great and detailed conversations with Hannes about wings, flying and family live. Getting to know Peter (Manger of production plant) was a great experience and it makes you even more comfortable to fly a wing build by Nova as Peter strikes me as an extremely detailed and thought through person (by the way, his dad makes excellent wine). Finally I also got to meet Wolfi with his great sense of humor and Till (Public Relations) who started and maintains the "Nova Team" spirit. Well done Till and Wolfi.
I also like to say thank again to Wolfi and Hannes as it seamed they picked up all the bills for accommodations, breakfast and dinners. Thanks Nova, to give us this royal treatment and the sharp looking Goretex jackets, I will come again and the whole experience with everyone in the team makes me a very proud Nova Team member.
I will have to stop for now and will talk in the next blog about the flying site, my new wing and everything else I learned about equipment and the discussions about the x-alps.