Redbull hangár

Redbull hangár

2012. június 14., csütörtök

Survival training with parachuters in Austria

Text, photos and videos: Gabriella

I was at the Austrian parachute world cup event in last year too and felt very good because of the excellent company and the exciting happenings, so I decided to travel to Thalgau (near Salzburg) again. (You can read the report about the 2011 race here: The company was still good and there were excitements as well, but in another sense. I would rather say, that my weekend was adventurous.

I guess, that the Hungarian target jump military team’s biggest opponent this year is the weather up to now. Although it is for every team. In Rijeka, at the first round of this years world cup series, the competitors couldn’t complete even the minimum number of jumps due to the strong wind, so they left the venue without the final result. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too friendly either at the next round in Austria.

As for the Hungarian national team, the rising generation (made up of two youngsters) joined the „old foxes”. (They weren’t here last year, so I saw them competing at the first time.)  The 22 years old Szabolcs Gál and Roland Olenyik have been parachuting for 5-6 years and are serving as contract soldiers at Szolnok military base. Both of them are from a paratrooper dynasty and they can already pride with significant successes, which they reached in junior competitions and they could try out themselves in the national team in the 2011 rounds of the world cup series. This time, Roland was added to the national team, while Szabolcs has got new race experience as a member of the mixed team with the Slovenians. Otherwise Szabolcs proved his skills at another sport: he was a junior world champion in kayak.

But let’s talk about the competition now. Hot weather welcomed me when I arrived to Thalgau on Thursday and it lasted till Friday afternoon. But around six o’clock, a terrible storm has started. I’ve never seen anything like this outdoor. The Hungarian team was already in the start zone, but their plane didn’t take off, they were sent back to the target zone. They have just run back, when sky fell down. I was stuck into one of the big military tents with them and an Italian military team. The tent’s canvas wasn’t fixed down as nobody expected such a heavy storm. So half of the men were hanging on the upper crossbar with their whole weight, avoiding that the wind takes away the tent blowing under the canvas, while others were fixing down the canvas to the lower crossbar. I was standing in the middle of the tent and was seeing it with my mind eyes, that the I will be whipped up by the wind together with the tent, like Dorothy in the Oz the wizard musical. Actually we had the music to it, as despite the hurricane force wind and that it was horizontally raining, the organizers didn’t switch off the loudspeakers. Thus, as the tent canvas was safely fixed down, one the Italians started to dance to a Modern Talking song, which bellowed at full volume. I could hardly believe my eyes. Otherwise I was incredibly lucky to be with soldiers as they acted immediately and in excellent team work (despite they were from different nations) to provide secure conditions. I even got some schnaps in the end, because I guess, that some scare could be seen on my face. The storm was rampaging for half an hour, then the sky started to get clear, but the jumps with flag from a C-130 before the parade couldn’t be executed because of the low cloud level. We went to sleep early after the procession of nations (held together with the village day). I was in a good situation, accommodated at the very kind Lichtmannsperger family (four stars room equipment with outstanding and whole-hearted attention to guests), but one part of the Hungarian paratroopers slept in their own camping tents, others in the van, except two members, who brought only mattresses, planning that they will sleep in one of the big military tents. But after the thunderstorm, they hardly found one which had a small part where water didn’t stand.

The team's coach, István Asztalos presenting the ideal summer clothing for this summer weekend :-)

Unfortunately it was raining in Friday night and Saturday morning with small breaks. The sun came out only in Saturday afternoon, so the jumps continued. The grassy runway of the start zone has became soaked totally, so the two PC-6 flied to the near Salzburg airport and brought up the jumpers from there. It meant 20 more minutes by the shuttle buses. Originally there were three aircraft, but the storm on Friday heavily damaged the Red Bull PC-6, so only the military ones have left. Now two teams jumped out from each to complete as many jumps as possible, because the weather forecast predicted further rain. The temperature went down by afternoon, it could be around 10 degrees, as I could see my breath. If a parachuter hadn’t given me a softshell jacket (which I wore above my shirt + pullover + light jacket combo) I would have become an ice cube.
Many local people visited the competition in the afternoon and members of the Red Bull air fleet appeared: a Cobra helicopter and Hannes Arch former Red Bull Air Race champion who made a great show and a specially painted Kiowa heli from the Austrian Air Force also landed.

The race was stopped at 8 PM for that day due to the deteriorating light conditions. One part of the competitors has already made the necessary fourth round by then, except the 10 frontrunner teams, the Hungarians between them. We sat down to dinner, hoping, that they can also made it on the next and last day.
But unfortunately it didn’t happen like this. It was raining constantly during the night and the whole morning, so the organizers decided at 11 AM to cancel the event. Because even if the the sun would have come out in the following two hours, not everybody could do the fourth jump till 4 PM which was the official end of the competition. So everybody started to pack up sadly, as it was the second event where they left without a final result. (Although the half-Hungarian team was in the 3rd place and the national team in the 4th before the cancellation.) Only four event left from the six, which means, that fierce fight is expected, every centimeter will have a big importance at every jump. I hope, that the weather will be sunny and maximum a light breeze will blowing during the whole weekend in the next round in Bled, Slovenia. Otherwise the parachuters need to develop a new sport: target jump in rubber boots.

The team of Oman

Video of the Hungarians's jump:

An Italian competitor's target landing:

The Hungarian team's landing onto the target:

1 megjegyzés:

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