Welcome to cross-country flying

When I began flying in 1989, I was immediately fascinated by the feeling of taking to the air. The first time I left the ground – only a couple of metres – was indescribable. I “collected“ flights – a day in the Zillertal valley – first lift in the morning, last lift in the afternoon, nine flights of a thousand metres each. There is nothing better than flying for lifting your spirit. I quickly wanted to learn how to thermal – possible with the gliders available on a good day. Flying friends of mine with more experience (they‘d been around since 1987 when the gliders would only sink) explained excitedly of the rare luck to go up in rising thermal air.
Thermal flying, together with cross-country flying became, and remains to date my greatest passion. In 1992 I ranked 14th in the German cross-country championships with 103 points. In 1993 I came 4th with 342 points, and improved through to 2004 to win the sport class, and 2007 to win the open class in the championships.
My ambition lead me to spend almost every spare minute I had in the air. I flew with the German League, with the World Cup and various other championships too. Over the last 10 years I have concentrated on the German cross-country championships, and this is still the aspect of the sport which fascinates me most. I‘m not so keen on acro-flying or racing, but I have been back in the German League for the last few years, and managed to win the Bavarian Masters twice.
When I think back to my beginnings it is always with big respect. I had a lot of luck, on several occasions.
I hope to help enable all enthusiastic thermal pilots to begin to go cross-country flying with this book. This book complements my “Thermal Flying“ book, and has a chapter especially for beginners, where I have collected all the most important information for getting started.
For more experienced pilots, I have included a lot of information on route planning and choosing the right site. The book follows on a lot of ideas presented in my “Thermal Flying“ book, and intensifies the themes introduced there.
In the descriptions I use, I almost always address paraglider pilots, but all the information is equally relevant for hang glider pilots.
My special thanks go to all the world class pilots who have added their personal tips and tricks to my text – these are particularly valuable!
Also included is an interview with Sepp Gschwendtner on flatland flying, accompanied by plenty of photos. Interesting for all who’d like to try the flats, but don‘t know where to start.
The book concludes with a selection of Alpine sites, and information on how to go cross-country from them.

I wish you all plenty of wonderful and accident-free cross-country flights!

Burkhard Martens


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