On the18th April 1981 I had already flown a large distance of 465 kilometer with the PH-314, our Ka-7. Flip Damen and I landed 40 kilometers short of our goal, the airport at Alençon in Normandië. We, however, were well on course, but unfortunately had to land because of changes in air mass.

And now the 1043 kilometer. Honestly, there were three flights necessary to attain this distance. All three flights exceeded three hundred kilometres. The longest flight distance amounted to 367 km. These flights were piloted by my co-owner Ad van der Velden and myself during the first five competition days at the “Coupe d’Europe Des Planeurs Biplaces”, in Poitiers.

This French two-seater competition has a unique formula. The participants can plan their own flight each day and submit them in advance. This leads sometimes to an atmosphere of secrecy and spying to another. It is not uncommon to let false flight plans lying around to throw your Dutch competitors off and punt them on the wrong leg.

Depending on results the competitors are granted points for distance, completed legs and the plane’s handicap. The day’s results nearly always produces surprises. Then it appears that some contestants have used their engine or have been towed during their flight. This costs not only money, but also points, a lot of points.

After landing we were asked for our results and frequently to the astonishment of them. We are not always successful. Sometimes we transmitted on the radio that we were surprised with our glide slope whereby the ground crew knew to attach the trailer and make ready. Actually we were either surprised by the weather or had been mistaken in our tactics either in advance, or during the flight.

Now, how did we reach the podium in third place? In fact, we never put one line on the flight map. At the weather briefing we tried to discover if, during the night, there was a low temperature region. In that direction the first clouds and the highest flight base was to be expected. For this reason we waited as long as possible before submitting our flight plan. And once underway it was the art of making the correct choices and to fly towards the right clouds. The best visibility of cumulus clouds, and therefore the thermals, are when flying at low altitudes. And here we flew often. On the flight of 367 kilometers (Polygon with four way points, submitted on the OLC 03-08-2007) we found ourselves, twice, at an altitude of lees than 250 meters and climbed our way up. Ad van Velden is a master at this. There was time enough for me to look out of the cockpit to see which direction was best. Unfortunately, it did not always succeed. We may have flown 21 triangles and returns with the KA-7 above 300 meters however, in the course of the 438 over land flights that I have flown I have made no less than 281 outside landings. No guts, no glory. Gliding is fun.