The OLC 2016 - An Intermediate Report

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

While we have just started the calendar year 2016 and are still awaiting the first signs of usable lift (ridge, wave or thermals), it is hard to believe that the OLC year 2016 is already mostly over for the southern hemisphere (having started on September 20).  The conditions in southern Africa (i. e. Namibia and South Africa) have lived up to expectation and during the past two and a half months there have been an astounding 381  1000+ km flights in Namibia and another 61 in South Africa.  As usual the legendary desert airfield of Bitterwasser in Namibia is at the top with some 194 1000+ km flights!  This puts Bitterwasser again at the top for 2016 in terms of the accumulated achievements with 572,872 OLC points and 573,827 km (actually slightly less than last year) with no other airfield in the southern hemisphere having a chance to get close.  (Puimoisson in the French Alps beat them for first place overall last year.)

All these flights were made in pure thermal conditions.  The best flight was posted by Karin Wiesenthal from the Kuruman Johan airfield in South Africa - !492 OLC points for a 1370 km flight!  These flights explain, why Namibia and South Africa have become so popular with European glider pilots – one can escape the European winter, enjoy an African vacation and possibly get a coveted 1000 km flight, which is very difficult to achieve in Europe.

Compared to these achievements the rest of the world looks somewhat insignificant. Using 1000 km flights as an indication, the only other area of extended thermal soaring was Australia with (6) 1000+ km flights.  This covers most long distance soaring so far  (1/19/2016) for the 2016 OLC, but there were also a few wave riders with outstanding flights.

A total of (10) 1000+ km flights were made in wave and ridge conditions in the Andes by just two pilots (Jean-Marie Perrin and Wolfgang Goering).  And 3 pilots (Keith Essex being one of them) posted 1000 km flights in New Zeeland  There were even (3) 1000 km flights along the Pyrenees .  However, just to confound all the analysts wave master Jim Payne actually made the longest flight so far:  On November 24 (2015), one of the shortest days on the northern hemisphere, he made a sensational  2016 km wave flight out of Minden at an average speed of  131.5 mph!  That is in addition to another flight on November 1 with 1623 km.  Jim is obviously headed for another OLC championship!

Jim’s flights were made in a Schempp-Hirth Arcus and a large number of the other 1000 km flights also used this 20 m two-seat racing machine.  This continues the outstanding success story of this design and Schempp-Hirth is cranking them out as fast as they can.

Meanwhile we are still waiting …