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|Written by Milan Petkovic|
|Monday, 09 September 2013 00:00|
HOW I MET MR. STIPE KRISTO AND MY FIRST 30 YEARS OF GLIDING
BY MILAN PETKOVIC
What a great way to celebrate 30 years since my first solo flight in a glider! Actually there was no better way to celebrate it! To sum it all, it was a great "privilege" to be flying this beautiful new glider in a newly discovered mecca of gliding Livno. Sharing the controls and skies with great pilots and good friends and enjoying the social life after long and successful flights.
For me it all started 30 years ago when I was sent on my first solo flight by my instructor Nenad Isakovic and from that moment on almost everything that happened in my life was closely tied to gliding.
Nenad and I, 30 years ago in a Blanik YU-5377
My trip to Livno this year had another interesting fact and that is that I have literally flown around the world. My trip started in Hong Kong (my current residence and work place) and from there I flew and drove to the following cities: New York, Miami, Washington DC, Frankfurt, Kircheim unter Teck, Bled and finally Livno. The return routing was: Livno, Bihac, Ljubljana, Frankfurt and back to Hong Kong. I have proved once more that the world is round and definitely worth traveling and exploring!
On a Lufthansa flight from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt
As I was on my way around the world to reach Livno I was recalling numerous memories from my gliding and aviation career.
Among them notably stood a gliding contest from my youth days during which I met Stipe Kristo.
Many, many, many years ago (isn't this how all good stories start?) I was a young 21 years old enthusiastic and not so experienced glider pilot from Belgrade and someone had this "brilliant idea" (Radovan Korda from VSJ) that I should take part in an Open multi national championship of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as a guest contestant . This contest was held at a sports airfield of Lucko just outside of Zagreb, Croatia.
At the time I had no glider, no trailer, no tow car, no crew and no driver s license. Somehow I managed to find a glider and get it registered in time for the contest (Cirrus YU- 4299), the trailer was borrowed from AK Leskovac, my father s friend was nice enough and brave enough to loan me his company car (although he was the company's general manager this was done in top secrecy and no one knew of this transaction! ), a youngster glider pilot at 16 years of age volunteered to crew for me and all we were missing now was a licensed driver to take us to Zagreb and back. It would be another very long and interesting story who and how took us on this journey in an antique red Zastava 101 pick-up truck. Most motor gliders that I fly these days have more horse power than this unique product from the Zastava car factory of Kragujevac.
But believe me when I say it was not easy at all reaching Zagreb and at times it was illegal because I had to drive and I had no driver s license at the time . . .
There in Lucko I met Stipe Kristo flying his beautiful brand new DG300 "BL" and representing his aero club Banja Luka. We even shared several thermals together but he was much more experienced and flew a better glider and therefore I wasn't able to keep up with him and the rest of the fast flying boys . . .
This was way back in July 1988 and during the entire contest I was able to accumulate an impressive total of: 88+ 115+163+150=516 kilometres! It must of have been then that this great enthusiast and visionary Stipe Kristo got an idea that there must be an easier and better place to fly gliders ! Perhaps it was then as he was waiting for a retrieve at the Cakovec airport on 4. July 1988 (after he had landed out) that he remembered the beautiful Cumulus cloud streets over his home town of Livno. Whether the idea was born then or on some other occasion it is thanks to Stipe that we are now able to fly for hundreds of kilometres without a single turn and enjoy everything that Livno has to offer. Thank you Stipe and I am sure that you are keeping a close watch on all of us with a smile on your face and feeling of ultimate pride and happiness!
Logbook records of flying at a Zagreb contest in July 1988
Young we were at the Lucko airfield, Croatia in 1988 together with my even younger helper and another contestant Milan Lukic from Tuzla
All Glider pilots united ! Livno 08. Avgust 2013
Arcus M in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina = 80 hours in 14 days
BY MILAN PETKOVIC
Arcus M, this newest and greatest product of the well renowned factory Schempp Hirth was rented from the newly established company "Rent a Glider" owned by Wolfgang Janowitsch and Ludwig Starkle. Their idea of professional renting state of the art gliders in top condition is rather new to the gliding world. This represents a huge advantage to until now known practice of individual and unofficial rental of gliders of more or less unknown condition.
Arcus M taking off from Livno (Milan and Martin)
Rent a Glider Logo
This particular glider Arcus M with a contest number "TWO" ("WO" is a many years trade mark contest number of world and multiple European champion Wolfgang Janowitsch) was delivered to us by the Arcus chief design engineer Andy Lutz on an early Bavarian morning. Andy and Wolfgang had just returned from Ostrow, Poland where they have very successfully demonstrated all the performance abilities of this Arcus by winning the European Championship. This meant that we had no excuse for not utilizing this gilder to its fullest capabilities in Livno !
Arcus delivery at the Schempp Hirth factory
Our drive to Livno took us through the picturesque town of Bled, Slovenia at the foothills of southern Alps where we had dinner and breakfast with our gliding friends and their families. My flying partner Martin Schulz and I were so ambitious that we even managed to make a morning run around the lake of Bled (5 km) together with our breakfast host Karel Cec. We arrived in Livno in the eve of 4.th August where we were greeted and welcomed by Livno aero club members and our flying friends . We had no idea that the next two weeks would be some of the best of our flying experience, accumulating in total 80 hours of flying, 7500 kilometres and flying the glider all 14 out of the 14 days that we had it available.
Jogging around the lake Bled
Breakfasts with the Cec family at their Bled villa
Our days were very long but successful. We were starting with a wakeup call at 7 am, having breakfast in the hotel "Park restaurant at 8 am, enjoying the crystal clear skies and cool morning temperatures of 14 degrees C. Driving to the glider port at 9 am and making a regular stop at a local bakery for some fresh and still hot pretzels and making sure we avoid the heavy stuff like local pastry "burek" and "pita"! Having a briefing with Miro or Edo at 10:30 am SHARP! Well OK, on some days we were a bit late for the briefing and didn't hear over and over that danger zone "Barbara" is active again . . .
Preparing this glider for the flight was also pure pleasure since that every piece of equipment is state of the art and it all still has that brand new smell :) The glider is equipped with two LX 9000 flight computers (for the front and rear cockpit), all instruments are Winter, LX NAV Flarm, two comfortable National parachutes, EDS oxygen system and of course the latest and greatest Walter Binder SOLO engine producing 78 HP fuel injected and all automatically controlled and regulated by an engine computer system. The only piece of high end gliding equipment that was missing was our old trusty friend "Oudie 2" and this was only because of our rental contract stipulation! We were not allowed to use any suction cups on the glider canopy!
As I mentioned earlier we had absolutely no excuse not to perform!!! All we needed now was good soaring weather and that's why we came to Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina or as we recently started calling it "mini Namibia" !
Arcus M "TWO" equipment
And Livno, it was at its BEST! The weather patterns almost every day were very similar except for one day when we had north easterly winds locally called "Bura" blowing and even that allowed us to make several easy runs on a 60 km long ridge. Every day we had nice developed and defined convergence lines running in North-westerly - South-easterly direction with cloud bases as high as 4300 meters MSL. This allowed us to fly as far north as a- beam Zadar in Croatia and to the south a- beam Tivat in Montenegro. For most of us this was unknown flying territory, or at least all in one flight!
Early morning skies over Livno
Late afternoon skies in vicinity of Livno
8.th of August represented a special day for several of us. Bostjan Pristavec flying with his wife Tanja in their EB-28 flew the first 1000 km flight in the Balkans. He devoted this historic flight to the late Stipe Kristo, founder and developer of Livno gliding centre.
For me it was exactly 30 years since my first solo flight and there was no better way to commemorate this then with a flight of 820 km flown at average speeds of 140+ km/h in close vicinity of my good friend Andrej Kolar who was flying a Ventus 2cxm. At one point of our flight, Andrej and I got rather low on the hills of mountain Golia. We bravely and cautiously pushed forward and each found a good thermal which allowed us to keep our high average speeds. Later on in the evening Andrej called this "Run for the glory , and glory it was at least for the two of us, two happy good friends!
The top three places on the OLC scoreboard were reserved for the three musketeers from Livno!
The evening ceremonies continued at a high level thanks to "ceremony meister" Dr Darko Gagula with whom I had made prior arrangements and ordered a roasted lamb which we all enjoyed. My flying partner Martin has brought two barrels of German beer from his home town and the party was on until late. It was very nice to celebrate again with old and new friends. That evening the spirits were so high that Andrej and I have sent the following SMS message to the Arcus owner : " Wolfgang, you have to buy a new variometer for your Arcus glider ! This one shows climbs only up to 5 m/s! Ha ha ha!"
Together with the Pristavec team in front of their EB-28 "7"
"WO, you need a new variometer :)"
Our daily routine was very similar day after day , more and more high quality flying and then enjoying nice cool temperatures in the evening either at an open fire cookout at the airport or in one of the local Livno restaurants.
My flying partner Martin enjoyed his newly gained gliding experience in particular since that in the northern part of Germany where he flies his St. Cirrus he has no opportunity to fly in the mountains, ridges and such strong convergence lines. Also flying in close proximity of other gliders for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres was something new to him. Unfortunately all good things have and ending and for Marin it was after seven days when he had to leave and join his wife in the coastal town of Trogir and start enjoying the beauties of the Adriatic sea . . . Don't we all love these wonderful moments ? ? ?
Happy faces after a day-long of ridge flying, Martin, Milan and Edo
Good bye I said to Martin and thanked him for his exceptional help and airmanship and hello I said to Luka Znidarsic my flying partner for the next seven days.
Flying with Luka represented a great new experience since that Luka is a very skilful glider pilot and also a Schempp Hirth dealer for Slovenia so he was eager to get to know his factory product even better.
Flying jointly we were able to utilize mutual experience and knowledge as well as good team work which is so important when flying in a high performance two seat glider.
On numerous occasions our flight path was in close proximity of other fast flying pilots from Livno. Every time we saw them the race was on trying to out climb them or over take them in straight flight!
Flying in close vicinity of other gliders such as JS-1, ASH-25, Ventus 2Cxm and others we were able to check the superb performance capabilities of our Arcus, and "superb" they were !!!
For me it was a special joy to utilize all my recently acquired knowledge from week long training with my coach Wolfgang Janowitsch. Last December I had the privilege of being trained by a world champion in Namibia. We particularly worked on utilizing long energy lines and here in Livno the condition were perfect to check what was learned and retained. For hundreds of kilometres Luka and I were able to cruise at very high ground speeds (220 km/h and more) without the need to circle at all. I did my best to utilize all signs of lift and avoid areas of "bad air" and at times I could almost hear my coach "WO" -s words from behind : "Milan, you have to put all your heart into this straight flying ! " in his typical and pleasant austro - english accent :) For those of you wondering what it is like to fly with a world champion, imagine playing tennis and being coached by Roger Federer himself!
The highlight of this second week of flying was when Luka and I flew for 863 km and placed first for Europe and second in the world on the OLC scoring list. At one point we got low in the vicinity of Niksic airport in Montenegro and it looked like we will have to start the motor due to many rain showers and lack of lift in that area. Luka was able to find a very turbulent and difficult to centre thermal and get us to a comfortable altitude. "Great job Luka! the credit for this save goes to you :)
We landed at Livno glider port 5 minutes after official sunset ( at 19:56 local time) happy and tired with some great pictures of the sun setting behind the Arcus wing.
Niksic, Montenegro and their airport where we got low on our return flight!
Beautiful Velez mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reminded me of the sharp cliffs of the Grand canyon in Arizona
Sun setting behind the Arcus wing and mountain Osjecenica on our record OLC flight for the day :)
Lukas's happy face
The following day Bostjan Pristavec flew another 1000 km flight from Livno, showing once again that he is a true master and his specialty are these ultra-long 1000 km + flights. On this day Luka and I took off about an hour later than usual but for what we believed was a good reason! I have taken a very motivated 16 years old glider pilot Marusa Knap from Sloven Gradec, Slovenia on her first flight in a high performance glider. Her motivation and enthusiasm was so high that both Luka and I believed that this flight opportunity for her was far more important than any OLC points that the two of us could of have racked! "Marusa, keep the good work and continue pursuing your glider flying! .
Preparing for a very important flight! With young Marusa Knap and Milan promoting
Southern Riverina Gliding Club in Europe
On the last day of our stay in Livno we decided to fly the Arcus to Bihac glider port just to the south of the border line with Croatia. Luka being a true gentleman offered the back seat of Arcus to his lovely wife Maja. He in turn volunteered to tow the trailer to Bihac and there we would meet to disassemble and pack the glider.
Maja and I had a great flight once we were able to climb high enough and connect with another great convergence line guiding us directly to Bihac. In the 120 km that we cruised to Bihac at maximum turbulent airspeed we made only one unnecessary turn. Maja wanted to check the handling of Arcus :), once the 360 was completed and Maja was satisfied with signature work of the Schempp Hirth team we pressed on! On this flight we were escorted in close formation by Maja's father in law Matija Znidarsic flying his 18 m FES (Front Electric Sustainer) equipped LAK glider. Once Matija was sure that our LX 9000 was pointing us in the right direction towards Bihac and we had a 2000 meter and more reserve on our final glide calculator he wished us a "Bon voyage and happy landing" and made a sharp 180 degree turn pointing his glider towards his favourite turn point of Blidinje some 200 kilometres to the south !
We landed at Bihac glider port where we were greeted and helped by many of our gliding friends. Some I knew from some 25 years ago when we all flew together at the wave camp in "Korenica" (then called "Titova Korenica") and others we met the previous year.
Our drive to Ljubljana was long and slow due to the numerous tourists travelling on the roads but what helped were three large and "healthy" portions of chevapchici" (traditional and very typical skinless sausages from this part of the world,(if you have cholesterol issues stay away from this stuff or eat at your own risk!) which we got in the town of Bihac and a continuous conversation and laugh recalling the events of the past two weeks.
My return back to "reality" of Hong Kong took me well over 48 hours, first sitting in the front seat of Arcus, then right side seat of Luka s BMW, and then two jump seats: Adria Airways Airbus 319 and Cathay Pacific Boeing 747. "Thanks to the jet skippers for helping this glider pilot to get back home in time for his flying job "
Good bye Bosnia and Herzegovina...
and Good morning Hong Kong! :(
In conclusion once again I will say that this was a "pure privilege !
Flying, traveling and having a good time with best pilots and friends that I have met so far!
Flying over these beautiful landscapes of a county that was once called Yugoslavia (now days it is four newly formed countries) has once again convinced me that there is no greater natural beauty than here in a place that many of us once called and considered "home !
Once again many thanks to all the members of Aeroklub Livno, in particular to Mr Edvard Kristo and his late father Mr Stipe Kristo without whom and their vision and unselfish enthusiasm none of this would ever be possible !
Safe flying and good skies to all of you :)
Milan Petkovic - Petko
For those of you interested in finding out more about our flying in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina please visit :
All my flights from Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina can be seen here.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 15 October 2015 10:32|