Schlagwort-Archive: Weltmeister

The Sky is not the Limit

The untrained eye can’t see it, but Uwe Wahlig’s competition glider is obsolete. Forty-plus years, three generations of wing profile refinements, and other design changes separate Wahlig’s plane from the latest gliders. But the reigning world gliding champion in the Club Class remains true to his trusty LS-3 sailplane built in 1977. To be clear, as a senior developer at SAP, Wahlig doesn’t oppose technological advances. But when he sees value in something, he holds onto it and improves it. He applies this principle to many things, but it’s perhaps most evident in his vintage glider. Together, Wahlig and his LS-3 “November Sierra” glider consistently finish ahead when competing against the best pilots and planes in the world.

If he weren’t so successful, the German pilot with long hair could conjure memories of Björn Borg’s attempted tennis comeback with a wooden racket against carbon in 1991. But Wahlig pulls it off without a trace of bravado. In June, he achieved an astonishing fourth place in the Racing Class competition at the German National Championships in Zwickau, Germany, also placing first on the fastest day of racing. For Wahlig, the joy of flying is the ultimate goal. Pilots at the German nationals applauded his gliding mastery. Because in addition to his flying skills, he is revered among the gliding community for his quiet nature, sportsmanship, and calmness under pressure.

Optimizing Everything
Wahlig’s calm demeanour belies a burning passion for the sport of competitive gliding and an unabating lifelong drive to optimize everything about himself and his plane. He leaves nothing to chance in preparing for competitions, meticulously studying geography and climatic conditions wherever he flies. There is a myriad of variables in the course of a flight that a pilot needs to consider, and he knows them all. “You always keep an eye on the clouds and the ground to have an idea where the thermals come from, and you need to optimise everything during the competition,” Wahlig says. His passion for optimizing everything stems from his experiences building and flying model airplanes as a boy. What began with launching paper airplanes from the second-story window of his grandmother’s house into the neighbour’s yard continued with the construction of his first model gliders of balsa wood. “My father wasn’t impressed with my initial models, but with time they got better and better,” he says.

Soon, Wahlig tested and refined his model planes with his friends at the local glider club in Bensheim, Germany. At 17, he earned his glider pilot rating, and at 19, he already won his first national youth gliding competition. He was always finding new ways to improve his flying skills with the club’s planes, which at the time were primarily made of wood. Throughout his path to becoming world champion, he was intuitively applying “continuous improvement,” a widely recognized software development approach whereby incremental changes are made that add immediate value for end-users. As a software engineer at SAP, Wahlig is detail-oriented and accustomed to applying the latest technology to test and optimize the operation of business software for hundreds of thousands of business customers worldwide. “I apply the same focus I have during gliding competitions to my work improving software solutions,” he says. By taking advantage of SAP’s flexible working policy, the glider pilot has been able to hone his skills and compete at competitions across Europe and beyond.

The Sky Is Not the Limit
Wahlig is constantly pushing the limits of himself and his LS-3. Improvements he has made to the plane’s flight characteristics and instrumentation have helped him achieve the maximum possible performance for the vintage glider. For example, he added winglets and bug wipers to reduce drag and maximize the gliding ratio. He recently installed the latest instrumentation for navigating and locating the maximum lift in thermals. “A good plane and pilot are important, but to reach the last two per cent of performance, you need good instruments,” says Wahlig. At the German nationals in Zwickau, Wahlig knew he wouldn’t stand much of a chance against modern gliders on days with very strong thermals. But competitions are conducted under varying weather conditions, so a day with weak thermals or changing conditions could benefit a lighter plane like his LS-3.

Several challenging flying days played into the gliding champion’s strategy, and by keeping a cool head and waiting for the best opportunities, he maintained consistently good results throughout. Flights can be up to five hours long in the same position – half sitting and half lying, so he practices yoga to relax between flights. “This brings you back to the ground when you are in the air so long,” Wahlig says. The added flexibility in his neck and shoulders also affords him a nearly 360-degree view from the cockpit. “Preparation, consistency, and simply the avoidance of stupid mistakes are often more important than the plane you are flying,” he says. He’s convinced that recent competitions have helped him better understand the limits and strengths of his 45-year-old glider. “I have a lot of new ideas and have recently made many improvements in how I fly,” says Wahlig without mentioning any trade secrets. Wahlig is now preparing for the following competitions to help him defend his No. 1 ranking at the 2023 World Gliding Championships in Australia. There, you can be sure that he will be flying his trusty LS-3 along the fastest route from thermal to thermal. Because for Wahlig, the sky is not the limit. Source: ‚SAP News‚. Youtube-Video.

Weltmeister Werner Meuser wurde 70

Es kommt eine Zeit, da macht man sich Gedanken über das Alter. Der Kirchhainer Werner Meuser räumt ein, lange nicht darüber nachgedacht zu haben. Aber jetzt sei ihm in einer ruhigen Minute bewusst geworden: „Ach du je, du bist fast 70. Wie wird es weitergehen?“ Was die Zukunft bringt, wird sich erweisen. Allerdings ist ein Rückblick auf Meusers sportliche Vita lohnend. Immerhin ist er einer der renommiertesten Segelflieger nicht nur Deutschlands, sondern auch weltweit. Sein Name taucht in etlichen Wettbewerbslisten der Vergangenheit eher selten unter ferner liefen auf. Vielmehr ist seine Titelsammlung beeindruckend.

Ganz hoch hinaus
Neben dem mehrfachen Gewinn der Deutschen Meisterschaft ragen vor allem seine beiden Weltmeistertitel heraus, die er 1997 in den französischen Seealpen und 2001 in Südafrika erflogen hat. Insgesamt hat er ein Dutzend Mal mit der Konkurrenz um WM-Ehren gestritten – zuletzt 2014 in Polen.

„Um an einer Weltmeisterschaft teilnehmen zu können, musst du zu den besten zwei Piloten in Deutschland gehören“, sagt Meuser. Das sei für ihn immer das Schwierigste gewesen, zumal die Konkurrenz im eigenen Land enorm stark sei. „Deutschland ist die führende Segelflugnation“, betont er. Inzwischen hat er die Wettbewerbsfliegerei, bei der in der Regel binnen zwei Wochen jeweils verschiedene Tagesaufgaben erfüllt werden müssen, für sich als beendet erklärt. 2018 hat er sich in einem letzten offiziellen Kräftemessen in Bayreuth noch einmal der Konkurrenz gestellt. „Die sich verändernden Bedingungen haben sich mit der fortschreitenden Computerisierung nicht in meinem Sinne weiterentwickelt“, kritisiert er.

Doch das Segelflugerlebnis als solches will er nach wie vor nicht missen. Eben ist er aus der Region um Grenoble zurückgekehrt, wo er mit Freunden gute zwei Wochen verbracht hat, um einmal mehr und nur zur Lust im Mistralwind die Seealpen zu genießen. „Allerdings hatten wir schlechtes Wetter; es war kalt, bewölkt, und die Thermik war schlecht“, sagt er. Dennoch ist er mit seiner Ventus 3, die eine Spannweite von 18 Metern hat, fast jeden Tag in der Luft gewesen. Wer seit 1974 regelmäßig in die Lüfte steigt, kann offenbar nur schwer davon lassen, zumal der Blick von oben auf die Welt unten noch immer erhaben und elektrisierend wirkt. Außer in Asien und Südamerika hat Meuser viele Länder der Welt aus dieser Perspektive genießen dürfen.

Eine Altersgrenze gibt es bei uns nicht“
Wie lange er das noch fortsetzen kann, hängt nicht nur von seinem Willen, sondern auch von seiner Fitness ab. „Eine Altersgrenze gibt es bei uns nicht, du musst halt gesund sein“, betont er. Alle zwei Jahre stehe der Gang zum Fliegerarzt an, der eine Untersuchung gemäß der Vorschriften des Luftfahrtbundesamtes vornimmt. „Bisher habe ich immer jede bestanden.“ Man benötige für das Segelfliegen zwar keinen Hochleistungskörper wie etwa Topathleten, „aber eine gute Kondition und Nervenstärke zur Stressbewältigung sind unerlässlich“. Die Unterstützung seiner Ehefrau Kerstin ist ihm jedenfalls gewiss.

Natürlich braucht der Flieger verschiedene Flugscheine. Meuser hat sie alle. Überdies muss sich der Pilot stets über neue Entwicklungen auf dem Laufenden halten. War man früher mit Karte und Kompass im Cockpit unterwegs, hat inzwischen auch dort das GPS Einzug gehalten.

Auch als Funktionär verdient sich Meuser einige Meriten. Nachdem er federführend etwa ein Dutzend Mal die Marburg Open in Schönstadt dirigiert hat, bringt er seit 2017 etliche Deutsche Meisterschaften und Qualifikationswettbewerbe über die Bühne. So auch in diesem Jahr, wenn sich in Zwickau vom 6. bis 18. Juni 115 Teilnehmer in drei Klassen um Startplätze bei der WM bemühen. „Da musst du fit sein und das Regelwerk genau kennen“, sagt Meuser, der Mitglied beim LSV Homberg/Ohm ist.

Dass sich im Laufe der vielen Jahre gute Bekanntschaften unter den Fliegern zu Freundschaften verfestigen, weiß auch der seit heute 70-Jährige zu berichten. „Ein guter Freund von mir ist Ulf Merbold, der einzige deutsche Astronaut und Kosmonaut. Er war schon öfters in Schönstadt zu Gast.“ Der Blick über das Marburger Land scheint offenbar auch für einen Weltraumpiloten etwas Besonderes zu sein. Quelle: ‚Bodo Ganswindt in der Oberhessischen Presse‚.

Vale Ingo. Fly with the eagles.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our gliding legend, Ingo RIt is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our gliding legend, Ingo Renner. Ingo passed away on 26th February, 2022. Our love and thoughts go to Judy Renner and family. Ingo’s gliding career can be found here. Ingo was inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame and is outlined below and can be found here.

Ingo Renner is hailed by many as Australia’s greatest exponent of gliding, winning four World Championship titles, numerous national and international titles and training hundreds of glider pilots in a career that has spanned more than 50 years. He was born in the village of Hude near Bremen in Germany on 1 June 1940. As a small boy, he was fascinated when watching models being flown and learnt how to make his own model gliders. At the age of 15, he was legally old enough to learn to glide and started taking lessons. He then gained his gliding license and his club nominated him to become an instructor.

After finishing his education, Ingo Renner worked as a shipbuilder, but he wanted to see the world and that meant leaving Germany. In July 1967 he arrived in Australia as a skilled worker at the Evans Deakin Shipyard in Brisbane. Not long after his arrival in Queensland, he convinced his supervisor to drive him to Oakey to visit the Darling Downs Soaring Club, now at Jondaryan. He was taken on a check flight and made such an impression that he was granted a full instructor rating the following week.

He was in demand as an instructor and would travel from Brisbane to Oakey each weekend, driven there by his friends, as he did not own a car. In fact, Ingo owned his first glider in Australia, a wooden framed Schneider Kingfisher, before he had his own car.
He spent three years as an instructor at the Darling Downs club. It was during this time he met and became friends with fellow glider pilot Bill Riley, who offered to provide him with a glider to compete in 1969/1970 season National Championships being held at Narromine. Ingo came second. It was while travelling back from Bacchus March in Victoria to collect the glider that, at Riley’s suggestion, Ingo stopped at Tocumwal to check its suitability as a gliding site. Riley had the idea of starting a gliding school in Tocumwal and asked Ingo to join him as the Chief Flying Instructor.

In 1970 he moved to Tocumwal and began work at the newly established Sportavia Soaring Centre. For the next 36 years, Ingo Renner would instruct at Sportavia over the Australian summer months and then he would work as an instructor for the Oerlinghausen Gliding School in Germany for the northern hemisphere summers. He continued this until 2006 when he officially retired at the age of 65. He averaged around 1,000 gliding hours each year and this meant more time in the cockpit to develop his skills. The results showed in his performances at competitions.

In 1971 he became an Australian citizen and went on to represent his new country at several World Championships. His first win was in the Standard Class at the World Championship at Rayskala, Finland, in 1976. He followed this with three consecutive wins in the Open Class at the World Championships at Hobbs, New Mexico in 1983, at Rieti, Italy in 1985, and at Benalla, Australia in 1987. Other wins include 19 Australian National Gliding Championships, the open class Austraglide at Benalla in 1984, the Bremen Regional competition in Germany, the Queensland State competition (twice), the Smirnoff Derby and Hitachi Masters of Soaring in the United States of America and the Tour Lilienthal held in Berlin to celebrate 100 years of flight. Among his other achievements: a two-seater Distance World Record set on 27 January 1975; a single-seater speed World Record of 100 kilometres triangle of 195.3 kilometres per hour set on 14 December 1982. The latter earned him inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records. He has held many Australian gliding records. He has also coached the Australian Team for world competitions, helped the Japanese organise and run their very first international gliding contest on Hokkaido and coached many pilots for international competitions both here and overseas.

His wife Judy has crewed for him at many of the events in which he has competed here in Australia and in countries including Germany, France, the United States, South Africa, Japan and New Zealand. Ingo and Judy are both foundation members of the Southern Riverina Gliding Club formed in December 2008. It operates from the Tocumwal Aerodrome and attracts a large number of trainees and qualified pilots.
In 1988, Ingo Renner was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to gliding and in 2000 he received an Australian Sports Medal for “high levels of achievement in international competition flying over a long period”.
In his gliding career, Ingo has accumulated almost 36’000 hours of flying and 31,000 hours instructing trainee glider pilots. He has made a significant contribution to the aviation industry through his professionalism and dedication to the world of gliding.
Vale Ingo. Fly high, fly fast. Source: ‚Victoria Soaring Assoc.‚, Image: ‚Anton Wildberger / edubilla.com‘.

FAI introduces multiple World Champion Sebastian Kawa

Sebastian Kawa is one of the most accomplished glider pilots in the sport. A multiple FAI World Champion and FAI European Champion he has excelled in all classes of gliding since the turn of the century. However, his competitive roots lie not in the air but in the sea. From the age of 8 to 18 he sailed competitively at national and international levels for Poland. He took up gliding in 1988 aged 16 and within two years had clocked up 200 hours, as well as reached milestones like completing a 3,000m gain-in-altitude and a 300 km triangle flight. After winning the Polish Junior Gliding Nationals in 1992 he gradually climbed the ladder of elite glider racing. His first international podium came with a Bronze medal at the FAI World Gliding Championships in 1999. He won his first FAI World Championship in 2003. In 2005 he was ranked number 1 in the world for the first time. He spent the next decade at number one or number two in the world rankings and dominated the elite level of competition. In 2012 he won his fourth FAI World Championship gold medal and became the most successful competition pilot in history. He has continued to win gold medals and is now the most decorated glider pilot in history. In 2011 he published his autobiography, a Sky Full of Heat, in Polish and English. An active coach, teacher, and trainer for all levels of pilot, Kawa revealed in his autobiography that it takes, „10 years of maximum concentration and effort to get to fly against the masters“. As well as competing around the world, he has pushed the boundaries of gliding flight with high-altitude flights above Aconcagua (6,962m) in Argentina, and in the Everest region of Nepal. A qualified medical doctor he is married with two children. Source: ‚FAI‚.

Career Highlights:

  • 1999: FAI World Gliding Championships (World Class), Bronze
  • 2003: FAI World Gliding Championships (World Class), Gold
  • 2004: FAI World Gliding Championships (Club Class), Gold
  • 2005: FAI European Gliding Championships (Club), Gold
  • 2005: FAI World GP Gliding Championship (15m), Gold
  • 2006: FAI World Gliding Championships (Club Class), Gold
  • 2007: FAI European Gliding Championships (Club), Gold
  • 2007: FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix World Final (15m), Gold
  • 2010: FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix World Final (15m), Gold
  • 2010: FAI World Gliding Championships (Standard), Gold
  • 2011: FAI European Gliding Championships (Standard), Gold
  • 2012: FAI World Gliding Championships (15m), Gold
  • 2013: FAI World Gliding Championships (Standard), Gold
  • 2013: FAI European Gliding Championships (18m), Gold
  • 2013: FAI European Gliding Championships (Standard), Gold
  • 2014: FAI World Gliding Championships (15m), Gold
  • 2015: FAI European Gliding Championships (18m), Gold
  • 2015: FAI World Air Games (Gold)
  • 2017: FAI European Gliding Championships (20m), Gold
  • 2017: FAI World Gliding Championships (13,5m & 15m), Gold
  • 2018: FAI World Gliding Championships (15m), Gold
  • 2018: FAI World Gliding Championships (Two Seater), Gold
  • 2018: FAI Sailplane Grand Prix World Final (15m), Gold
  • 2019: FAI European Gliding Championships (15m & 18m), Gold

Aus Tilo Holighaus‘ Weltmeister-Tagebuch

„Jetzt nicht die Nerven verlieren!“ – Tilo Holighaus hat den FAI Sailplane World Grand Prix deutlich für sich entscheiden können. Welche Gedanken ihm am letzten Wertungstag in La Cerdanya (Spanien) durch den Kopf gingen und wie er am finalen Wettkampftag ein wahres Wechselbad der Gefühle erlebt hat, schildert der Weltmeister hier: Wir stehen heute vor einer Aufgabe, die zunächst nach Südosten an den fast 3.000 Meter hohen Cambre d’Aze geht. Man muss also gleich nach dem Abflug nach rechts weg und unbedingt Höhe machen. Vor dem Abflug nutzte ich die Zeit und schaute mir das mal an – und finde stlich des Skigebiets Molina gar nichts – ja sogar heftiges Fallen über dem Höhenzug. Schnell wieder zurück an den Hausberg, der „untenraus“ zwar gut geht, mich aber nicht ganz auf die erforderliche Abflughöhe bringt. Schon bin ich etwas aufgeregt, da nur noch wenige Minuten zum Countdown der Linienöffnung bleiben und auch der nächste Hang nichts bringt. Zum Glück schaffe ich dann am Ausklinkpunkt gerade noch rechtzeitig die Höhe. Mist – einen Teil meiner Nerven habe ich nun schon vor dem Abflug liegen gelassen… Ob der Rest reicht, um den WM-Titel in trockene Tücher zu fliegen, sehen Sie im spannenden Originalbericht des DAeC.