June 23, 2024

'An incredibly satisfying leisure activity'

‘An incredibly satisfying leisure activity’

Since Andreas Trainer first took off, the magic of flying has not left him. In 1972, his father took him on a flight – and it quickly became apparent to the son that he wanted to fly, too. So the 52-year-old got his license at the age of 17. “I got my driver’s license for the first time three weeks later, but that didn’t interest me at all,” he remembers.


Still interested in flying today, he is hobbyist with Traunstein Aviation Group. The association was founded in 1959 by twelve people from Traunstein under the name Alpine Fliegergruppe, and has nearly 100 members. Almost half of the members are active pilots who use gliders, four-seat engines, or motorized gliders parked at airports in Unterwössen – and drones are not permitted to land there – and Schönberg (Kienberg).

Tournament is about distance

Some flying group pilots also participate in tournaments. These are held decentralized, so pilots start from their original positions. In the German Gliders Championship (DMSt) – to put it simply – the distance traveled by the pilot in question is assessed. The flight is recorded via a GPS receiver and can be read after landing. The pilot can then report their flight via an online portal. A nationwide ranking list is then generated from these reported tracks.

There is also a competition in which paraglider pilots from around the world can compare themselves: The Online Contest (OLC) is a decentralized popular sports competition that has been in existence since 1999. After landing, participants also upload their flight data to the OLC website, where the flights are included in National or international classification – for example for farthest or fastest flight.

Glider pilots at Fliegergruppe Traunstein teamed up with pilots of other clubs in Unterwössen to form a reporting community called Unterwössen Alpine Flight Center, in order to “appear further in the ranking in the international competition as a small association,” explained Marco Stader, president of Fliegergruppe. Alpine Flight Center pilots have flown the most OLC points worldwide in recent years. “Alpine Flight Center is also one of the clubs with more than kilometers flying across the country in DMSt,” the club president happily says.

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Not only does the flying group compare itself to national and international competition, but there are also many competitions within the Alpine Flying Center, such as the Walter Weber Cup in honor of a long-term member.

Before pilots can participate in competitions, they have to undergo extensive training. Fliegergruppe Traunstein offers interested parties the opportunity to fly, but the association itself does not train budding pilots. The training is carried out by the German Alpine Gliding School Unterwössen. The minimum age for a paraglider license is 14 years old.

“A license is permission to fly an aircraft,” says Andreas Trainer. At the same time an invitation to continue educating yourself. After all, there are always new regulations, new equipment, the atmosphere changes. “

The 52-year-old still remembers how he used a map, compass, and watch to navigate on his maiden flight by plane from 1942. “But accurate navigation has become more and more important. It’s simply good that the GPS shows you no-go areas and warns you before it comes out. You enter a protected area horizontally or vertically. ”Andreas Trainer definitely appreciates new technology. “Actually, you are stupid if you don’t use this comfort and safety.”

After all, safety for pilots comes first. Andreas Trainer likes to compare flying to a ski tour or a picnic: “There are weather or snow conditions that make him hopeless from the start,” he knows. But there is also an intermediate zone, there you can operate. Just like on a mountain, you have to adjust your tour accordingly, go to a different mountain or only do half the tour. Because for Andreas Trainer, one thing is clear: “There are brave pilots and there are old pilots. “

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This 52-year-old also explains that “none of this is rocket science”: “You just have to think about it.” Then flying is an “incredibly satisfying leisure activity” – and of course for women as well: “They can do it really well, but unfortunately we have very few members.”

According to Andreas Trainer, the most important membership requirement is “a certain reliability. You also have to have fun taking care of the equipment and not just being in the air. “Additionally, team spirit is important at the club – and not just when working together: take off with a windsurfer is hardly possible, and if pilots cannot return to Unterwössen, they have to rely on other club members, who have to accompany them with a trailer. In the event of landing outside the airport. Then the plane is dismantled and transferred to Unterwössen.

Andreas Trainer doesn’t mind that this includes not only regular flights but also checks that the flight doctor performs for a recreational pilot. “They are not looking for astronauts,” he explains, laughing. Former Fliegergruppe treasurer understands paragliding’s allure: “You can enjoy flying in peace and quiet. There’s just something about that skiing and seeing the world from above.”

However, he basically goes down the road with the kinetic machine – Cessna 182Q. “It’s nothing to the extremists, but you can also dare venture far from the airport.” After all, the range is about 1,400 kilometers. “It makes it easy to get to destinations across Europe or Morocco,” says Andreas Trainer. Glider pilots haven’t made it this far, but in 2001 there was also the first 1,000 km paraglider flight from Unterwössen.

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Andreas Trainer loves to use the capabilities of the powered plane – whether for visiting in-laws or for vacations and trips. The 52-year-old landed in Tempelhof in 2008 before closing, to spend a day in Berlin and return in the evening. He actually made a day trip to Hamburg by plane. He especially remembers “Every Journey to Venice or England”: “After all, you don’t have a chance to land over the canal for 20 minutes.” The recreational pilot has also traveled to Croatia, Norway or Hungary. And when Heidenhain’s employee was in the United States for work, he used the time to travel in the United States and Canada.

On board you have “time to search.”

“It’s nice to have time to look,” he explains. “When flying you have to focus differently than when you’re driving a car – you can’t really look at the landscape.”

However, a wholesaler and foreign trade doesn’t have to fly that far in order to be inspired by the scenery: he is always a pleasure to see the Chiemsee, Achendelta, or the mountains of the region from above.

For Andreas Trainer, it is not only the landscapes below that make the special appeal, but also the technology: “It’s fun to navigate in 3D space, to master technology and airspaces,” the pilot explains. “You can land quickly in an emergency, but you can’t stop or stop.” That’s why, for him, “healthy self-confidence is part of flying – but not much, not too little of it.” Jum