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Klaus Ohlmann: From Serres to Thessaloniki Wednesday, 26. May 2021 translate news

Klaus Ohlmann simply flies in a different league: Now he has managed a flight that most of us have probably never imagined. From Serres in the French Maritime Alps, Klaus made his way deep into Greece and landed in Thessaloniki after 15 hours of gliding with his Stemme S10. Annoying: A military restriction area was activated just as easy ascent promised comfortable altitude. Ten more minutes might have been negotiable.

Klaus Ohlmann’s flight on Monday, May 17th, with the three long stretches across the Mediterranean will make you shudder at first. This flight is a part of his “total work of art”. “I've been working on it for three years,” explains the long-distance specialist. This includes the exploration of the connections between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the more than 200 kilometers from southern France across the Mediterranean to Corsica, the jump from there over the sea to central Italy into the lee of Abruzzo and then the onward flight in waves up to deep into the Italian boot. On Monday he succeeded in gliding over 280 kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea to Greece from Calabria. After a total of around 300 kilometers of gliding distance he found connection to the wave lift system again.

Initially Klaus had planned something else and would have preferred to fly at the weekend because the military airspaces are then not active. He had planned to take off from the Massif Central, from Clermont-Ferrand, but that could not be approached on Sunday with deep rain clouds. On the other hand the departure from Serres turned out to be tricky enough on Monday. After the start, the engine still had to help one more time. With ridge soaring and weak waves, which did not reach very high, the departure followed west side of the Buech valley over the Chabre and crossed south of Sisteron over the Vaumuse, then Cheval Blanc and the eastern Verdon valley into the Fayence wave, which then did it right.

Northeast of Bastia on the way to the wave over the sea. Wind with 60 to 70 kph whips the whitecaps on the waves. Klaus Ohlmann. The emergency rescue equipment is piled up on the copilot's seat of the S10.









The approach to Corsica was secured from around 6000 meters of the Fayence wave. After two traverses, this was no longer new territory for Klaus. He reached the northern tip of the island at 2100 meters. There he did not throw himself directly into the lee and thus far across the sea, but first used the less pronounced wave right above the slope of the Cap Corse. “I came from 6000 meters with an ice cold engine. I didn't want to take the risk of diving into the rotor area in the lee and having to use the engine, ”Klaus explained the cautious gain in safety over the cap.

Klaus prefers to take on the risk of a water landing on his own. He doesn't want to be responsible for a passenger. If you are forced to go into the water with wind speeds of 60 to 70 kph and the corresponding winter temperatures, you have to reckon with everything. Klaus: “I know about the risk, but it's calculable.” And without a passenger there is plenty of space on the second seat for emergency rescue equipment.

The weather conditions for such flights are always marginal. The humidity can quickly play a trick. If the humidity is too high, the clouds prevent you from flying overhead and below they envelop the relief.

Simply looking at wave flight tracks in the OLC and evaluate the supporting lines there for the choice of course, that does not work for the flights outside the Alps. They just don't exist. Klaus orientates himself on satellite images and the wave forecast from Skysight: "This is my motivation program". For the big flight, however, he no longer got the map in his LX9000. Klaus: "I spent half an hour tinkering with my iPhone without any results."

Without the 11 minute engine run near Naples it would be a 1,800 km flight.

Reaching Grosseto in Italy. There are only some kilometers to the line of waves in the lee of the Apennin.


"When it blows at more than 75 knots in around 6000 meters, then it is usually too humid," is his experience. "Then the waves are mostly flattened and don't give good climb." In northern Italy it even blew with 100 knots, but Klaus stayed clear of clouds on his course. Klaus: " Finding the gaps in the foehn wall is the real difficulty."

The lee wave from Cap Corse was this time under a blue sky and brought him to 6000 meters. Klaus: “Approaching the wave lift at speeds of up to 350 kph is always an exciting thing. You have to turn in when the fall decreases, otherwise you will shoot far too far. "

The premiere of flying into Italy from Corsica with a slight crosswind component worked straight away. Klaus was able to get into the lee waves in a good part of the Apennin. “From the north to the Gran Sasso there are elongated wavebands that are buzzing,” he has already learned on exploratory flights and stated: “The south is more complex, there are not so many lines up. The clouds there are usually relatively dense, so you can't see the ridges. And you have to get by with a rough idea of the structure. Finding your way around there is a lot of work. "

Race track Beautifully drawn wave on Monte Caramolo.

And that's exactly how it was with the big flight. In addition, an extensive cloud sausage had fooled him in southern Italy which only supposedly indicated a wave. “Around 500 meters were missing,” Klaus annoyed later, “then the connection would have worked.” So he tinkered at a low altitude above a confusing group of hills that were blocked up and had to take the engine in under 1000 meters MSL. After about ten minutes and further down the leeward, the Stemme climbed again in the laminar. Despite the understandable frustration, he flew on. It was superficially also about exploring new aviation territory.

Later, deep in the south of Italy, Klaus got a clearance to about 7500 meters. High enough for 300 kilometers of glide over the Aegean Sea to the first waves over Greece. There, too, the wind field was still fully established and carried the flight in waves up to Thessaloniki.

Klaus is now full of confidence that the 2000 kilometers in Europe are feasible and many other distance flights can be surpassed: that of the Herbaud brothers from Vinon to Morocco and also that of Hans-Werner Grosse over 1460 kilometers from Lübeck to Biarritz. Klaus had set his real goal further, also in Greece, but again in the Mediterranean: Heraklion on Crete for a distance of 2000 kilometers in a straight line.

After 250 kilometers of gliding from deep Italy over Corfu. In the waves of Greece on the way to Thessaloniki.

The return to Serres was not the problem for the Stemme pilot, even if it took him three days: From the overpriced Thessaloniki, sometimes with thermals, to friendly Dubrovnik, from there to the edge of the Alps to Thiene and then in a "thermal pleasure flight" over Aosta to Serres.

Klaus: “The Stemme is the ideal tool for such projects. There is no other glider with this overall quality. I would have had better gliding performance with my Antares, but I would have had to plan a lot more time for the return. However, the new batteries planned by Lange Aviation could bring significant advantages for such undertakings in the future."

Gerhard Marzinzik

Peter H. Braasch
Alexander Schleicher
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