Have you ever flown your glider more than 700 km away from home? Not many will be able to answer “yes” to this question. Jeroen van Dijk from Holland made such a flight last week. We interviewed him about this adventure:
OLC: Jeroen, with your flight last Saturday, you took a commanding lead in the still unofficial OLC-Distance ranking. This is reason enough for us to ask you a few questions for the OLC Magazine.
First of all, how old are you, what flying experience do you have and what keeps you busy outside of gliding?
Jeroen: I am 37 years old, I started flying when I was 15 years old at the “Amsterdamsche Club voor Zweefvliegen” which is located at formerly known airbase Soesterberg. I am still flying at this great club and since then I have achieved just over 2.000 hours and 1.957 stars. I like flying competitions, I flew in multiple national contests and one time a WGC. I still try to fly one or two contests per year and I would love to fly a WGC once again, however, at this moment, my two kids keep me busy most of the time. My girlfriend is a glider pilot as well and that is why I am very fortunate that I can fly a lot. We bought this LS-3 in 2015 and we are very happy with it. I work for the Royal Netherlands Airforce as an engineer for the Military Type Certificate holder organization.
OLC: You have already claimed many very good flights with the LS3 (e.g. almost 1,000 points in 2020). However, your flight of 28.05.2022 clearly stands out. 1,166 points and over 1,000 km – that’s really something to be proud of. Of course, the distance of 709 km from the take-off point is particularly striking. Tell us about the flight. Was it planned or did you decide to do it spontaneously?
Jeroen: That flight started a few years before with an idea to achieve the 1000 km once conditions would make it possible. With an LS-3 it would be very hard to plan such a task with the option to make it back home, so a little wind in the back and a remote landing would be the best option. The weather forecast for 28.05.2022 was reported to be a very good day a few days earlier. It was looking like it was going to be one of the best days this year over a large area that would give the option to fly far, besides that the wind was indicated north-west, so it would give a nice average speed, but the best thing was the thermal prediction, at 9.00 am local time it was expected to reach 1000 meters with averages of 1.5 m/s. Each day is closer to 28.05. the weather seemed to be pretty much the same, however, more and more rain showers appeared on the maps. Nevertheless, I started arranging a retriever and a tow pilot for an early flight. And I started checking airspace, terrain, notams etcetera for a task. The main direction for the first turning point I was looking for was the Czech and Austrian border (around Sonnenflugplatz) then the second turning point in the direction of Bayreuth and the finish as far as it would go. The day before the flight I didn’t have much time for preparations and I was still a bit in doubt about whether I should go for it or just try something else as more rain was predicted. I started to think of some other tasks as well as most rain was predicted around the northern part of Dortmund. But heading east via the Eiffel was also not my favourite option because of the low cloud base and an area with blue thermals predicted over the Rheintal… On the day itself, I was still not sure about my task, but there was no time anymore. At 8.00 local time, the cumulus were growing everywhere and it seemed that even 9.00 start was a bit late. So I rigged the airplane, filled it with water, put everything inside and compiled a new task again (as I had deleted the task from my device one day earlier). So with all the rush and still checking Satellite images I was “ready”. At 9.09 am local time I took a tow and released at 1000m under a small Cu street which was doing fine with more than 2.0 m/s climbs, so I started directly to head to the east. It was still a bit strange to start so early on a cross country flight that I was determined not to come very low in the beginning. With the first showers appearing just north of my course line (in the Terlet area) it was clear to me that the forecast was pretty reliable. While still checking the latest satellite images I was finally determined to go for the original plan… Well, that was probably not the best choice, the first outspreading cumulus north of Dortmund directed me very close to the control zone. Unfortunately, the glidersector west of Dortmund was not activated and I didn’t want to risk the pass below the 1000 meters without any options to land, so I headed to the second option to cross Dortmund overhead the airfield, that glidersector was closed as well and while thermalling I got blown away for a crossing option, so once again I decided to fly a little bit further. Just passing Hamm Lippewiesen I got trapped in a rain shower, which cost me a lot of altitude and I decided to stay in the vicinity of Hamm and try all the small Cumulus. After a while, I managed to get dry again and climb, but now the opening to reach the Sauerland was blocked by rain showers… so I decided to go around the CTR of Paderborn as well. Unfortunately also in this area showers were appearing in the north and I was cruising into 8/8 grey clouds. As I was just passing the CTR of Paderborn on the eastern side I could not find a decent climb and after a few tries, I found myself quite low without any options left but to go further as there was nearly no cumulus anymore. I even thought about going back, but the rain showers blocked the way back, so I started my last option to fly to one small Cu near a nice outlanding field and at a very low altitude I entered a very bumpy thermal that got me away. From there on it got better and better, however, the clouds were sometimes misleading and the terrain was challenging, but the cloudbase was rising as well and I finally reached Walhalla. Boy o boy I was happy with my heated socks 😉 . But at that time I only had 450 km… so there was some work to do…
I just started to follow the best weather and let go of the task. Somewhere in the Czech Republic, I decided to turn when I was entering an area with outspread Cu again. On my way to the northwest, just 25km north of Bayreuth, the same thing happened. At that time my retriever Lennart was near Bayreuth with the trailer and told me to do whatever it would take to make the 1000 km, so I decided to head straight for Czech and land as far away as possible. That final 150 km went terribly fast and with a cloud base of 2700 m, I was able to reach an airfield well after I got the 1000 km. Thanks to Lennart I achieved 1000km and he was only 2 hours driving away when I landed. We got very lucky that the airfield of Strunkovice appeared to have guest rooms to stay in overnight and very friendly people to cook us some dinner with beer 🙂
OLC: It takes a lot of confidence to fly so far away from home. Did you have everything you needed with you? Who could you stay with overnight? How have you looked after?
Jeroen: Yes I had a small sleeping bag with me and a lot of food, just in case there wouldn’t be any. In one of my earlier flight plans, I was thinking of flying back the other day, but due to the forecast, we decided that Lennart would go and drive immediately after I started. Therefore I did not take any chargers with me, but only things that I could need right away similar to any other cross country flight. We stayed on the airfield in one of the guestrooms.
OLC: Of course, now the question has to come, how did you get back home?
Jeroen: By Car 🙂
OLC: Would you like to do more “long-distance” flights or even „Wandersegelflüge“ in the future, or was this a one-off adventure? What are your plans and gliding-related goals for the future?
Jeroen: Yes I will and I already did some “wandersegelflüge” in the past. I flew Euroglide 2010 and 2012 and I travelled to Jena on 29.07.2020 and flew back the other day.
I would like to fly a 750 FAI Triangle in the near future and I still have 1000 declared on my list as this flight turned out to be a free flight.
OLC: Congratulations again on your great flight and thank you for answering the questions.
Jeroen: No problem, and thank you for your mail and your interest in my flight.
Source: ‘Stefan Harries on OLC-Magazine’.
Source: ‘Stefan Harries on OLC‘.