Pilot in a Tree … and It Is Not What You Think …

With a briefing at 11 on Saturday, 11 pilots in club class, 12 in 15 meter and 12 in 18 meter  the first competition in the 2013/2014 season in South Africa started in Potchefstroom. In 18 m, eight of them fly JS gliders.

JS 1 21 m.

Johan Bosman, yes a very Dutch name and involved with aerodynamics at the JS 1 business, flies a Cirrus and the Jonker brothers Attie and Uys the JS 1B, and the Goudriaan brothers both in JS 1Cs /21m.

Martin Lessle from the Douglas Gliding Center flies a Duo Discus and the Soaring Safari friends from Bloemfontein, father Dick and daughter Jennifer, fly in 18 m and 15 m class, respectively.

It's nice to see Mrs. Schmidt and Mr. Schmidt competing against each other and or helping each other in 15 m class.

Yesterday was the practise day and as far as I could see they could not fly. It seems the weather in the upcoming week will improve every day, at least that's what I read. More next Sunday.

I noticed on Facebook that part of the Dutch team had dinner last week in Rotterdam with the Honorary consul from Argentina, Ida van Mastrigt (who really helped our team a lot in Chaves). I thought straight away how many interesting people we get to know through the sport of gliding. At the March IGC meeting in Holland, some of our team pilots  showed up at the dinner at Malden Airport specially to see their Argentinian mates. It proves again the sentiment shared by pilots worldwide—how kind and hospitable the Argentinean population is.

Some of you have surely heard the next story, although I never had time or place to publish it. When I asked permission to publish the FULL story, I was in Australia on a holiday, while one of the pilots from the UK "struggled a bit with some inhabitants of a rural area."
I can't keep this retrieve story away from you now, having found it among my drafts. Enjoy!

On the very first day of the competition,100 gliders out landed in various parts of the Pampas. My field landing was about 4.30pm near a farmstead and close to a town called Barker.

It was a really deserted place and unfortunately, there was no telephone signal to inform the recovery team, but with my personal GPS survival device I selected the 'I'm OK' transmission along with a location reference. There are other buttons on the device but feeling everything was under control, I casually walked over towards the farm buildings looking for any signs of life.

After carefully negotiating a barbed wire fence and about 50ft into the enclosure my safety was soon compromised when a huge Rottweiler came running from the other side of the compound. Now I like cats and most animals - but I hate dogs with an intense passion and they really don't like me either.

Well within a micro second my legs immediately turned back the years and I became an Olympic athlete. Knowing I couldn't make it back to the fence before my leg was eaten, I chose a nearby Eucalyptus tree and survived the initial attack of the hungry Rottweiler. 'Welcome to Barker,' I thought.

The good news was that I was safe— AND climbing higher actually gave me a mobile signal, so I could organise the recovery team which was a two hour drive away !

At this point I texted my GPS coordinates and wondered what I could do next. I don't know if any of you have spent any real time up a tree with a Rottweiler gnashing beneath, but options are limited, comfort not assured and the dog was not pleased to have me in his ‘garden.’

After some 20 minutes he still refused to leave my wonderful tree and fairly soon my call of nature became apparent.
Positioning my back to the windward side I aimed at the dog and released about half a pint with lethal accuracy.
The dog really didn't take kindly to this, became mentally deranged and ran off back to his dog house to roll in the dust and other things.

Realising my tactics had worked, I got down and back over the fence to safety, feeling VERY satisfied about my dog encounter.

Walking round to the front side of the farm a very ‘weathered’ looking woman started screaming Hombria, Hombria' – 'There’s a man There’s a man!'

Obviously they don’t get too many visitors because a few seconds later her husband appeared with a gun. I immediately grabbed the gps device, placed my finger on the SOS button and walked confidently towards him and presented a piece of paper explaining in Spanish who I was and where I was from. The only problem was he couldn’t read.

After getting a few words in Spanish out and asking a few questions about the farm and animals (10.000 acres and 4000 head of cattle) - they invited me into their ‘home’.

All I can say is this was a horrible, seriously dirty,’ manky’ and a place that I wouldn’t even put chickens in. There was one 25 watt light bulb in the ‘kitchen’ and the bathroom was just disgusting.

The farmer rang the telephone number that I showed him and he spoke with the gliding organisation but began shouting at them (apparently to come and get me). Due to the 100 landouts, there were many delays and at 11pm the farmer insisted I leave his ‘home’ and drove me to the edge of his farm.

I was getting cold, there were thousands of mosquitos, and it was very windy. The night sky and the Milky way looked fantastic and I saw several shooting stars, but was definitely beginning to feel the effects of a long day. However I had a gortex coat, a silver canopy cover and some drinking water.

I lay down in the grass down by the side of the road to get protection from the wind ... and waited.

At midnight I saw some car headlights approach and stood up at the side of the road with my silver reflective cover, the car and glider trailer drove straight past and I became really quite annoyed. At this point I was beginning to get a seriously worried and felt quite 'low' - all of a sudden the phone rang and my team partner Ian said ‘Where are you ? we can’t find you’.I explained my predicament and he said ‘Press SOS do it ! - we’ll locate you’.

The SOS signal sends a name tag international rescue signal which is picked up by the US coastguard, transmitted to the Argentinian Navy,and then to local Police and Gliding authorities.

At 0130 I saw more headlights appear and this time stood in the middle of the road – it was the recovery team.

We got back home at 05.30"

I hope you enjoyed this interesting, adventurous, and scary story from the UK pilot.

For all other news from last week you can visit www.soaring.eu . CU next Sunday.

Cheers ...  Ritz

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  2 comments for “Pilot in a Tree … and It Is Not What You Think …

  1. September 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    There are so many hilarious out-landing stories. Has anybody ever collected them for a book?

  2. Glenn Holden
    September 24, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Great story Ritz. Thanks for sharing!


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