Donnerstag, September 10, 2009

Dienstag, September 08, 2009

Way back home

Now being on the ferry there is some time thinking about the flight.
The decision to launch was taken with the assumption, that it would be possible to stay north of the mistral and be able to land before water. The velocity of the wind and the power of the Mistral was totally underestimated by the metrologist.
The launch itself was with calm winds, but we were to heavy at take off, so we had to dump a whole bag on Marc and my nephew Paul (sorry for that!) in order to avoid a collision with the Belgian balloon.
The night was beautiful with a bright moon. Unfortunately we hit a rotor flying over some of the mountains, which took us approx 20 miles more to the south. After being out of the mountains the mistral picked up to incredible wind speed. Our Finnish friends reported wind speeds of 102 km/h – which definitely got them the Mistral Rating. In higher altitudes, you were able to steer to the right, but not sufficient to avoid water totally. At this point Bepperl and Georg – Team Germany 3 – said “see you later”, since they took a different route and tried to hit Sardenia in which they succeeded.
After being on water we hit some turbulence from the Mistral hitting the sea and the winds turned more to the south. The cooperation with all the teams on water was excellent. Everybody shared information about wind and weather provided by the headquarters at home.  The winds turned more and more to the south and it became more and more clear, that probably the prognosed right turn won’t come in time for us to return back to the Spanish mainland. At this point we punched in Menorca as our “Fly In” target.
We studied the map of Menorca thoroughly and identified the West side of the Island as flatter. So we aimed at the Island and had a visual approximately one hour before hitting it. With 20 bags remaining on board we packed the balloon for an expected very hard landing. Meanwhile Gerald (AUT1) missed the island by only little and we could hear his concern in the voice clearly. Thankfully he provided us with some wind closed to deck, so we could plan with them. The controller (Damia) provided us regularly with wind updates from the airport, reporting 15 knots winds gusting to 25. Since we knew that the airport is behind the mountains – it was clear for us, the the wind will be much stronger. Willi (GER1) also was approaching the Island for landing. So we agreed, if we both succeed we will have a beer or two or three …… together.
At reaching the coast of Menorca, the wind hitting the coast line causes an hard upwind – since the Island is only 18 km wide and we came with approx. 50 km/h we had only less than 20 min. for finding a suitable landing spot. Pulling down the balloon through this upwind we immediately dropped like a stone to a forest before being taken up with approx 3 m/s by heavy thermals over the island (at 15:30 local time – no wonder). Volker forced the balloon through this thermal to drop, so we were approaching one of the trillion stone walls of the island. After throwing out bags completely and our trailrope, we overflew the last wall and hit with approx 20- 25 knots Menorcan ground. Balloon and Pilots were safe!!!
It was hard to find help, since it was landing in the middle of nowhere. But we found very nice farmers, who helped us retrieve the balloon and brought us to a hotel. Getting the balloon from the Island proofed to be impossible, so that our retrieve took the ferry. Before doing so, they picked up Matthias of Willis crew to come along.
After meeting them at the harbor of Ciutadella (beautiful town – worth a visit), we first picked up our balloon and then Willis gear. After that we met with Damia, the helpful ATC-controller, for the agreed beers.
All of this flight wouldn’t have been possible and propably wouldn’t have ended that well, without Dominik working in the background. He informed us about the changing weather and that it probably would be safer to risk a hard landing on the island than ending in nowhere or Algeria. It was calming for us to have him there whenever we needed him and he also was the one to calm us down and cheer us up. Dominik also assisted after landing by organizing the ferry for our crew and providing us with information about the the 3 balloons, who missed the Balearic islands. Thank you so much!!!
I was very worried about the Finish Team, since we educated them and it was their first Gordon Bennett. But now I am very proud how they handeled the situation and what mental strength they showed. Incredible – from now on we will call them “Hadschi Halef Olli” and “Kara Ben Nemsi”
The Gordon Bennett Race is being pushed to higher limits. Things that have been considered as impossible in the past are standard today. I think the safety issues must be considered more in races to come.

Verfolger in Menorca angekommen

Gestern sind unsere Verfolger mit der Fähre aus Barcelona angekommen. Zuerst
haben wir unseren Ballon bei den Landwirten, die ihn für uns untergestellt
haben geborgen und sind dann anschließend zu Willis Ballon gefahren. Nachdem
auch dieser eingeladen war, sind wir weiter gefahren und haben uns um
Mitternacht mit dem Fluglotsen, der uns bei der Landeanfahrt betreut hat
getroffen. Es wurde noch ein heiterer Abend, so daß wir erst gegen 3 Uhr
wieder im Hotel waren.

Our crew arrived with the ferry yesterday from Barcelona.
After retrieving our balloon, we got Willis balloon and then had a couple of
drinks with the air traffic controller who was a big help to us during our
landing procedure. He got the situation right, that this is a "one and only
try" and cleared us from all traffic.

Sonntag, September 06, 2009

Landing site

Landed safely in menorca.

After a 20 knot landing we managed to find a nice farmer,who is sheltering our drove up to the nearest city to a hotel.shiv now volker and i are enjoying a paella and some drinks. He you all world know how happy we are that our fly in over 300 km worked out.

Landed safely with 20 knot winds in menorca

Does anybody knows a place to stay and somebody to help?

Team landed on Menorca Island

Around 4:30 PM Tomas called to report they landed safely on the west side of Menorca Island in the Mediterranean. More information to follow. So far it looks like a three-day island vacation :-)

Tomas a Volker bezpecne pristali v zapadni casti ostrova Menorca ve stredozemnim mori. Vic informaci, jak budou prichazet. Zatim to vypada na tridenni ostrovni dovolenou :-)

na jiznim pobrezi Francie po deviti hodinach letu / the team's position

Protoze Tomasuv a Volkeruv balon dostal nefunkcni tracker (zarizeni udavajici polohu), nejsou zatim na mape videt. Petra a Andreas z pronasledovaciho tymu informovali, ze kolem sedme hodiny ranni byl balon Germany II nad Montpellierem v jizni Francii a chystal se preletet cip stredozemniho more do Spanelska. Hlavni stan bude udavat jejich polohu kazde dve hodiny.

The team flew over Montpellier near the southern coast of France around 7 AM; close to other balloons, and the guys were getting ready to cross the corner of the Mediterranean sea into Spain. There seems to be a technical problem with the tracking device they were given, and that is why their position is not showing on the interactive map. The headquarters will update their position in the column next to the map every two hours; reports Andreas from the chase team.

Positionen von GER II

Das Headquarter erhält alle 2 Stunden eine Positionsmeldung von Tomas und Volker. Diese wird neben der Karte im Blog veröffentlicht.

Ger II gestartet

Tomas und Volker sind in einer feierlichen Zeremonie an 2. Stelle gestern um ca. 22:30 gestartet.
Es war ein wunderschönes Erlebnis zuzusehen wie die 16 Ballone unter Abspielen der Natinalhymne in den klaren Nachhimmel aufgestiegen sind.

Nach Aufräumen des Startplatzes waren wir nach Mitternacht im Hotel. Dort erreichte uns ein Anruf das wegen Trackerproblemen der Track von GER II nicht ankommt und damit auch nicht veröffentlicht wird. Heute morgen kam ein Anruf von Tomas. Durch korridierte Kontakte kann der Track nicht übermittelt werden.
Sie selber verlassen soeben mit dem Hauptfeld die französische Küste bei Montpellier.

Sie werden bei Spanien wieder auf Land treffen.

Ballon und Team nach dem Aufrüsten

Hier noch zwei Photos

Samstag, September 05, 2009

Samstag Impressionen

Hier einige Bilder vom Sandsack füllen, den bisherigen Briefings und natürlich dem Aufrüsten der Ballons. Derzeit kann ich von meinem Sitz beim Ballonkorb 10 gefüllte bzw. teilgefüllte Ballone sehen. Es wird also noch etwas dauern. Das nächste und vermutlich letzte Briefing ist für 20:00 angesetzt.

Das Funknetz hier auf dem Platz ist im Moment leider schwach. Daher werden es wohl etwas weniger Bilder als erwartet.

Men at work

Even our youngest crew member Paul Gerhardt is helping preparing for inflation and launch. Todays briefing didn’t bring any new surprises. There is the possibility to try for Sardinia, then there is a possibility to ride the Mistral and shoot on the Mediterian Ocean, hoping that predictions are right and you will hit land after approx. 50 hours and then there is the possibility to fly further west for Montpelier, with the possibility that winds will die down totally back there and you will be stuck over southern France. It sure will be an interesting race with a brave hero as the winner.


Freitag, September 04, 2009

Freitag Nachmittag

Am späten Mittag eintreffen im Hotel Ramada Encore (nach einem kleinen Umweg über das Ramada Inn auf der anderen Seite von Genf).

Nach dem Check-In reicht die Zeit noch für ein schnelles Mittagessen in der nahegelegenen Pizzeria.
Zum General Briefing um 15:00 sind wir rechtzeitig zurück.

Nach den Begrüßungen (dreisprachig) findet die Auslosung der Startplätze statt. Zuerst die Reihenfolge der Nationen und im zweiten Wahlgang die Startplätze der jeweiligen Teams. Das Ergebnis seht ihr im vorherigen Beitrag.
Das nebenstehende Foto zeigt unsere Los bei der Ziehung.

Innerhalb des ca. 2 stündigen Briefings nahmen vor allem die Themen ATC (Luftverkehrskontrolle) und Wetter einen großen Raum ein. Unter anderem wurde auch anhand der neben stehenden Übersichtskarte mit den freien und gesperrten Ländern, die möglichen Ziele angesprochen. Es sind derzeit Griechenland und Spanien, die von einigen Teams diskutiert werden.

Nach dem Briefing konnten wir den Sprinter teilweise entladen und unsere Zimmer beziehen, bevor es für den Empfang durch den Bürgermeister mit zwei Bussen in die Geneva City Hall ging. Nach einer sehr herzlichen Begrüßung und einem regen Austausch beim anschließenden Büfett sind wir vor wenigen Minuten wieder im Hotel angekommen.

Morgen geht es um 10:00 mit einem Briefing auf dem Startplatz und anschließendem Sandsack füllen weiter.

Launch Sequence

1. Ben Mattson
2. Tomas Hora
3. Ronny van Havere
4. Mark Sullivan
5. Sebastian Rolland
6. Gerald Stuerzlinger
7. Max Krebs
8. David Hemplemann Adams
9. Wilhelm Eimers
10. Barbara Fricke
11. Thierry Villey
12. Christian Stoll
13. Jannett Folkes
14. Bepperl Hoehl
15. Andy Cayton
16. Kurt Frieden

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Donnerstag, September 03, 2009

Das Team unterwegs nach Genf

Heute abend haben wir noch ein gutes Stück der Strecke nach Genf geschafft.
Im Moment erfreuen wir uns an einem kühlen Bierchen
bevor es morgen weiter geht.

The mountains so high and the sea so deep

The prognosed path doesn’t look much more favorable than the last days.

The green line would be a flight up at 4500 meters – unfortunately directly over the Mont Blanc – therefore not flyable.

The other lines are 1000 and 1500 meters – so deep sea.


Stay tuned to see the development and our decission.

Mittwoch, September 02, 2009

I heard they are having good Gyros in Thessaloniki

High Altitude flying will be neccessary at this race

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Nice evening with Team FIN

To elimimate volker and my weight disadvantage,we are trying to feed the team with the lightest balloon -the worlds best finnish gas balloon team.

Trajectories more or less unchanged

The forcasts are still showing a very difficult decission situation. The red line is showing a prognosis for a flight close to ground, while the blue one is predicting the route when you be flying in an altitude of 5000ft. The green line is the path which is prognosed, if you fly in approx 3600 meters of 12000 ft. Most likely the lie for victory but also the line with the highest possibility of failing and then ditching.

Dienstag, September 01, 2009


Todays trajectories must be drunk - especially the 5000ft trajectory (blue) is going to the coast and back in 48 hours. This is for the pilots who want to be at the awards ceremony punctually.