What is the
Barron Hilton Cup:
The Barron Hilton
Cup is a decentralised cross-country event in which the pilot flying
the longest FAI triangle wins a gold medal and an invitation for a one
week soaring camp at Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch in Northern Nevada,
U.S.A.. The competition has a cycle of two years. The afterwards
following biannual camp is held in those years without any World
One point per flown
kilometre will be awarded for each flight and then adjusted to the
handicap factor based on the glider flown. If a triangular course does
not fulfil the FAI Sporting Code a 12.5% reduction will be applied.
Pilots from all over the world with any kind of glider can submit
flights from the country in which they permanently live. The minimum
distance for a completed triangular flight to be scored is 400 km.
There are five
regions: 1. Europe and Asia, 2. Eastern USA and Canada, 3. Western USA,
Central and South America, 4. Australia and Africa, 5. Japan and New
Region 1 has five
classes: Open class, 15-meter, Standard, Club class and Double seater
class, whilst all the other regions have only one class.
More details about
the Barron Hilton Cup and the rules can be found under:
Flights for the
Barron Hilton Cup must be entered through the International Online
Logger Contest under: http://www2.onlinecontest.org.
With more than
30,000 flights entered during the last two years, the Barron Hilton Cup
was the biggest world wide gliding event.
won the Cup:
Quite a long story
and may be something which I wanted to achieve more than my husband.
When I started gliding in 1984 the Barron Hilton Cup was just four
years old but already well-known in Germany. It was a dream of my
father’s and whenever we went to a Gliding Seminar there was always one
pilot who reported from the Barron Hilton Cup. This fascinated me
But it had to wait
exactly 20 years till my dream awoke again.
On 28 November
2004, Shinzo, achieved his third 1,000 km flight in his Nimbus 4 DM.
The flight was a
successful attempt for a 1,000 km Diploma. When Beryl Hartley, the GFA
badge claim officer, processed Shinzo’s flight she told me that his
flight would also be interesting for the Barron Hilton Cup. Luckily
Beryl mentioned, also, to me that all flights for the Barron Hilton Cup
must be entered electronically through the Online Logger Contest within
seven days. I wasn’t aware about this new rule and without Beryl’s help
Shinzo would never have been able to win.
Shinzo led at
first, clearly, and our dream of going to the camp seemed to be so
close. But Gerrit Kurstjens flew beginning of January 2005 in his
Nimbus 4 T also a 1,000 km FAI triangle from Narromine. It was a few km
longer than Shinzo’s but it gave him a considerable amount of more
points as the handicap of his Nimbus 4 T was much better than that of
Shinzo’s Nimbus 4 DM. I was disappointed and started to pull out my
calculator from my office desk, which showed me that a 900 km FAI
triangle in a Discus would be enough to beat Gerrit, even if Gerrit
would fly a slightly bigger triangle.
Shinzo wanted to
fly, instead, a 1,000 km FAI triangle in his Discus 2 or a 1,100 km FAI
triangle in his Nimbus 4 DM. When we compared the chances for achieving
Shinzo’s flights to that of mine, we got an answer of 50% compared to
90%. But even this did not convince Shinzo from my idea. I had to ask
Shinzo straight out: Please challenge the Barron Hilton Cup!
Surprisingly, Shinzo listened to me, for the first time ever, and
prepared a 900 km FAI triangle flight.
On 28 January 2005,
Shinzo achieved a 913 km FAI triangle in his Discus 2a. The same day
Gerrit achieved another longer 1,000 FAI triangle in his Nimbus 4 T, he
got more points but not enough to beat Shinzo who was leading again.
Shinzo landed already at 6.30 pm on this day with nice
cumulus clouds still on the sky. Shinzo’s 1,000 km FAI triangle flight
in a Discus would have been surely possible but did we know this in the
morning? Like any other badge flight, the flights entered for the
Barron Hilton Cup must be pre-declared and the triangular course must
be completed. An outlanding following a too long task doesn’t bring
Shinzo after his 913 km flight on 28 January 2005.
Nice cumulus clouds are still on the sky after 6.30 pm.
The season was,
however, far from over and we knew that not only Gerrit would try to
beat Shinzo. Fortune was, this time, on our side. And once again Beryl
was correct, most Barron Hilton Cup winners, she said, achieved
their wins by flying small or old gliders with a suitable handicap.
This I find makes this competition so nice. Anybody
with any glider can enter this competition. It is not necessary to have
an expensive top class glider for a chance to win.
Shinzo’s flight we sent a completed badge claim form end of March to
Chris Stevens who is the Barron Hilton Cup representative in Australia.
invitation to the camp followed shortly afterwards.
Thank you very much
Beryl and Chris.
the Flying M Ranch:
We had to be at
Reno Airport on 14 July in the late afternoon where everybody from all
over the world arrived. There we met Annette Reichmann, who is in
charge of the administrative side of the Camp, and Frank Franke who
initiated the idea of the cup together with Annette’s husband Helmut
exactly 25 years ago. A bus took us for our two hour drive from Reno to
Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch where we arrived at late night.
On the ranch, we
moved into our luxurious motor homes. All motor homes had their own
toilets and showers with running water. From shampoo to water bottles
inside the fridge, from room service to a torch for finding our way in
the night, there was absolutely nothing missing!
The first flying
The next morning
began with a buffet breakfast.
The food was always
from the finest and freshest, with plenty of choices.
After breakfast we
had our first daily briefing which started always at 9 o’clock.
We got introduced
to Hannes Linke, who was the competition director and in charge of the
daily flying operation, and to Dan Gudgel, who was responsible for the
weather briefing, the check-flights and the towing operation. Together
with Frank Donnelly they operated two tow planes every day. Later on we
were introduced to Carl Herold who explained how to fly in this area,
how to set the best tasks, how to judge the weather and what to look
After the first
briefing the FAA licensing staff arrived at the ranch to complete all
formalities. Shinzo was straight away o.k., as he already had an
American gliding license which got issued more than 20 years ago. My
case was different. The FAA officers decided, at first, to issue me an
American License, but it would have taken several weeks as the FAA
needed to contact Australia first to make sure that I was really
holding an Australian PPL. They decided therefore to issue me a Student
Pilots’ License. Even Bruno Gantenbrink, previous World Champion and
Barron Hilton Cup winner, had to fly with a Student Pilots’ License.
The number of his German license changed, which made its American
License referring to his old German license number invalid.
After a small
buffet lunch Shinzo and I went for our check-flights in a Duo Discus.
check-flight was only ten minutes but mine was one hour as I was the
last pilot on the list. I had a very funny feeling on take-off, I felt
as I couldn’t fly anymore. Later on, during one of Carl Herold’s
briefings I found the reason for this.
The Flying M Ranch
is 5,000 feet high, inside the desert of Nevada.
Because it is so
high, the density altitude is low which means that all controls need a
higher speed to become effective. If during take-off one wing drops the
pilot will automatically try to pick it up by the ailerons. But this
will cause the dropping wing to stall and result in even the opposite
by touching the ground.
This meant also
that our actual cruising speed between 16,000 to 18,000 feet would be
20% higher than shown on the Airspeed Indicator.
The first day
finished with the usual formal buffet dinner. This time we only had a
small number of our usual gliding T-shirts and short pans in our
suitcases as we brought a lot of formal wear and dresses with us. Good
advice from Kerrie Claffey.
The second day
started as usual. During the briefing all pilots draw a number, which
was put onto a list in a different order every day. The pilots on top
of the list choose their gliders first and selected their favourite
choice. The pilots at the end of the list had to take whatever was
left. Every pilot had equal chances as the order changed every day.
This year, however, more gliders than usually were on the ranch so even
the guest pilots, including myself, got a number and were included in
the daily draw.
But there was one
small problem, which had to be solved first before we could start
choosing our gliders:
Shinzo and I
weighed both only 55 kg and as all gliders had a minimum cockpit load
of more than 75 kg we needed to find some additional ballast to
compensate. The common trim ballast weights were however missing. Ted
Schirtzinger, the manager of the Flying M Ranch, pinched Barron’s own
trim ballast weights for us. But these were not enough. Ted then made
new ballast weights by putting in some small shooting bullets, called
bibbies, from the gun room of the ranch. It was now enough for Shinzo
but not for the both of us. One of us had to fly either in the back
seat of some double seater or stay behind on the ground. This was the
reason why we elected to fly the DG 500 together on the second day.
For the rest of the camp Shinzo was planing to fly 1,000
km but changed his plan quickly as it was so much fun flying together.
There were three Duo Discus, one DG 500 and one Twin Astir on the camp.
We had plenty double seaters to choose from. The three Duos, however,
were the most desired gliders. With our double votes in the selection
list one of us was always in the front part of it being able to get a
DUO, except on the first day when we flew a DG 500.
We were about to take-off towards north, our tow plane was just landing
Photo: Tracy Gudgel
When we flew
together in the past, we flew mainly competitions, where we were
constantly worried of loosing points, flying safely, avoiding mid-air
collisions, finding enough time and especially enough money.
But this time, we
didn’t have any pressure upon us like in a competition, we could do
whatever we liked, we could launch whenever we wanted and we could fly
wherever we wanted, as long it was safe. We felt like birds, which had
finally been released from their cages! We received a strong reminder
that gliding is mainly there to have fun and enjoy yourselves.
Uwe Hartmann, the
winner in Open Class from Europe / Asia, told us that participating in
the Barron Hilton Cup was much more fun than any competition he
attended so far.
For the Barron
Hilton Cup Uwe participated whenever he wanted, whenever his family and
job allowed him, without going to somewhere far away and at his own
leisure, pace and plan.
familiarization flight in the DG 500, we went south to the northern
boundary of the Yosemite National Park inside the Sierra Nevada, and
north to Yerington.
We could climb up
to 18,000 feet with oxygen.
On the third day we
went further to the south and to the north. We went to Independence on
the south end of the White Mountains, 210 km south of the Flying M, and
to Minden, 77 km north-east of the ranch. We took off around 1 o’clock
and we landed around 6 o’clock after 570 km. After the landing we
realized that our two oxygen bottles were completely empty.
On the fourth day I
noticed when I was plugging my oxygen into the connection that there
was some oxygen leaking. We called Jim and Ralph, who prepared our
gliders for us, but only I could hear the leaking noise. At first
everybody looked at me believing I am talking some nonsense, but Shinzo
knew that my hearing ability was far better than his. Only this could
explain why we used two full oxygen bottles during our last flight. Jim
and Ralph tried their best and got some new o-rings. It didn’t solve
the problem why I decided to connect my oxygen just before using it to
keep the loss of oxygen to a minimum. We knew, however, that we would
not be able to fly more than 5 hours with oxygen.
conditions during the whole camp were extremely good.
The State of Nevada
experienced the longest period of extreme hot days for many years. The
weather before the camp was not good but changed a few days before the
start to its best. Salt Lakes are usually a reasonable possibility for
outlandings. But this year was an exemption as all salt lakes were too
wet after heavy rains at the beginning of the year turned the desert
into a rich green land. Only airfields were possible for outlandings,
we had to plan our flights carefully!
The following days
we went further away, step by step.
One day we flew 600 km in only 4 hours as we found a
convergence line along the White Mountains. We went at first to Owens
Lake, 50 km south of Lone Pine or 290 km south of the Flying M Ranch,
then 250 km to Mina, which is 85 km east of the Flying M and back to
home. When we were passing Lone Pine on our way to south we could see
the famous Death Valley which was very impressive.
over the White Mountains, on the way to south,
towards Owens Lake, visible on the photo.
On the same day
some pilots flew more towards the east into the desert. One of them
outlanded on an airfield without, of course, any mobile phone coverage.
After waiting a while and trying to get things sorted out he couldn’t
trust his eyes when a sheriff walked towards him, he believed would
only exist in western movies. Having a big gun on his belt, a huge
cigar in his mouth and speaking an accent the pilot could barely
understand this sheriff was the only hope for him to contact the Flying
M Ranch. But the adventure ended happily, the pilot returned to the
ranch, relieved, in Barron Hilton’s helicopter and the glider returned
by air retrieve the following morning.
The last day was
the most impressive.
The forecast was
blue with thunderstorms developing in the south later during the day.
We decided to
launch at 12 o’clock instead of 1 o’clock, in blue. When we arrived at
the White Mountains at 1 o’clock almost all pilots had launched as
cumulus clouds started to develop. On our way to the south end of the
White Mountains we observed a range of thunderstorms developing only
west of us over the Sierra Nevada without distracting our return to
home. But when we turned and headed back home thunderstorms developed
now also in front of us, much faster than our speed rushing home. In
the meantime we heard on the radio that other pilots were starting to
return to the ranch as well. They were only 100 km away from getting
home, however we had 200 km to fly. We saw huge black clouds forming
above us. Amazingly Shinzo found still very good lifts below them. The
shape of the western ridge along the White Mountains showed many small
wind tunnels. These wind tunnels shuffled the air blowing from the
thunderstorms over the Sierra Nevada up to the top of the ridge
creating small but strong and turbulent thermals. We flew faster than
expected. When we left the northern end of the White Mountains we still
had to fly another 100 km. Our altitude was 12,000 feet, which would
have given us enough margin to glide home in smooth air. The track to
home, however, was covered by dark black clouds and showers in every
direction we could see. Shinzo tried to climb beside the clouds as he
wanted to get as high as possible for a safer margin. When we reached
14,000 feet we decided to carry on through the dark rain areas in front
of us. Shinzo diverted into areas with less rain but our wings started
to get ice. We realized that we might not have enough altitude to glide
back into the Flying M Ranch so Shinzo asked me to calculate the
distance to Hawthorne for just in case which was a couple of km east of
the ranch. Suddenly, whilst I was trying to calculate the distance,
Shinzo found a smooth climb beside a huge rain cloud. We climbed
slowly, but constantly, and we could arrive happily at 10,000 feet over
Barron Hilton’s Flying M.
Whilst I was happy
and relieved to be back at home my never getting tired husband had
different ideas and decided to fly towards Minden as the weather there
showed no signs of any developing thunderstorms. An hour later we
returned finally to the ranch.
The one week flying
camp at Barron Hilton’s Ranch was amazing, exhilarating and the best
time we ever had together inside a cockpit.
Location of Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch and why it so excellent for
Flying M Ranch covers an area as large as Rhode Island and is a green
oasis inside the desert of Nevada. The runway is so long that the grid
starts in the middle, facing towards the favouring wind. Ruby and Doug
Paine drove us every day from our motor homes to the runway where a
tent was installed to provide shelter from the sun along with cooling
boxes full of drinks, sandwiches, fruit and snacks. Once we were ready
to fly, Jim, Ralph and Max were pushing our glider into the runway and
all we had to do was sit inside and fly. Luxury in a dimension we never
The location of the ranch is close to a range of 9,000
feet high mountains, and thermals starting at 11 o’clock in the
morning. Long distance pilots can take-off early, climb at the range
and then head south towards the nearly 15,000 feet high White
One of our
logger traces, a 600 km out and return flight
along the 200 km White Mountains.
The White Mountains
start 100 km south of the ranch and have a length of nearly 200 km. We
flew several times along the whole length of the White Mountains
without a single turn. With two turnpoints in the south, one turnpoint
in the north and thermals starting at 11 o’clock 1,000 km flights are
with the highest possible luxury there were plenty of more challenging
There were the
helicopter rides with Rick Rains through the canyons around the ranch,
the Steerman flights with Dennis Ivans, taking you through the canyons
like in an Imax theatre, ballooning and the full aerobatics flights
with Art Goodwin in the Extra 300. Whilst Shinzo couldn’t resist the
aerobatics flights, I selected to omit this, which wasn’t in the end so
Shinzo had only a
limited aerobatics experience in high wing loading aircraft such as the
Extra 300. Ordinary pilots who do aerobatics for their first time fly a
snap roll by moving the ailerons slowly. But Shinzo moved the ailerons
quickly so the Extra 300 flew three snap rolls straight away instead of
one. After this challenging maneuver the Extra went into a turbulent
high speed stall, from which Shinzo tried to recover by releasing the
elevator pressure. The Extra went out, but inverted. This was a little
bit too much for Shinzo’s neck and during the following afternoon’s
flight in the Duo he was complaining about pain, poor Shinzo.
The Barron Hilton
Camp is more than just flying:
Besides flying we
could meet many other aviation enthusiasts. We could talk to them like
we had known each other for many years, we had the feeling of being a
member of a large family. The list of those whom we met was long and I
couldn’t write from all of them but I had to write from the ones who
left us the most remarkable impressions, starting with Barron Hilton.
I asked myself, not
only once, what the reasons could be that Barron Hilton spent so much
time and money for gliding pilots like us? I believe, I found the
answer in the camp itself, as it is a symbol for aviation enthusiasts
who love this sport, its beauty, its challenge and the friendships
resulting from it.
Chuck Yeager, the
first man who broke the sound barrier, presented a small documentary
one evening in which he explained that only the horizontal stabilizer
needed to be changed into an all flying tail plane to make it possible
to brake the sound barrier. Without this modification the elevator
started to flutter before braking the sound barrier, which made all
attempts impossible, simple to do but difficult to find. One night
Chuck said to us: "Isn’t life exciting? I was shooting Japanese
pilots during the second world war, after the war I was teaching
Japanese how to fly F15 and F16 and now I am drinking with an
Australian whose face is Japanese in the middle of the desert in
came to the ranch.
Bill Anders, who
took the first picture of the earth when rising like the moon.
Ulf Merbold who was
the first foreigner on board an American Space Shuttle and the first
who went with the Americans and the Russians into space.
Neil Armstrong, the
first man on the moon.
He congratulated Shinzo with the words: "You truly deserved it".
Armstrong and Shinzo.
Hollywood star and Oscar winner came to the camp. He wrote in June 2004
about the Flying M Ranch: "Flying Bey, we’re wild mustangs, not
subsidized, not on welfare, last of the ‘wild west’ and damned proud of
adventurer and record holder, brought his ASH 25 and flew with us.
the Americas West winner, flew like a bullet. When we were cruising
over the White Mountains he came from behind much lower. Ten minutes
later he disappeared into the far front still at the same low altitude.
Shinzo whispered to me: "Gordon’s Airspeed Indicator starts
working from 100 knots". After landing they were talking, joking,
laughing and playing like two Magpies.
Shinzo, the two magpies.
But why was Shinzo standing on Gordon's fuselage?
At the farewell
party, during the last evening, Jim Plake, ground manager, gave a
speech in which he explained how they prepared for the camp. When
reading through the participants’ lists they found a pilot with a
Japanese sounding name from Australia. They believed it would not be
easy to look after this particular pilot, but it turned out to be the
opposite. "Shinzo and Christiane", so Jim continued, "enjoyed
their flying so much that it made everybody happy to see". My face
changed to red after Jim’s speech, what a lovely compliment he made!
Thank you to
everybody who made this camp possible, thank you Barron Hilton and EADS
(European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) for sponsoring such a
Last but not least,
thank you Frank Franke, you created this idea together with Helmut
Reichmann 25 years ago.
In your book
"BOUNDLESS SKY Soaring, the real dream of flying", you cited Rainer
Hertrich, who wrote: "Gliding is the most fundamental and original
experience of releasing oneself from the earth’s ties – it’s a kind of
monumental test, enabling us to measure ourselves against the forces of
nature". How true this is.