NOVA TRITON XC-Challenge 2015/16 Armin Leitner
Austrian Cross-country Ace
Twenty of the thirty highest scoring flights this season started from the Grente. Why did you launch from the Adler Lounge above Kals/Matrei?
I live in the Virgental, so Kals/Matrei is on my doorstep. It is a good cross-country site.
As a local you know the XC area the East and South Tyrol well. Are the chances of a big flight as good from Kals as they are from the Grente?
The Adler Lounge is a little more difficult to get away from than the Grente. Right at the start there is a big valley crossing across the Isel valley near Huben. It works most of the time but the risk of going down is greater than in the Antholzer valley. And in the evening, getting back is a lot more difficult. During a Grente triangle, you normally just glide back into the Antholzer valley from the Dolomites where cloudbase is usually high. Returning to Matrei, you have to cross the Staller saddle quite late in the day and the Defereggen valley is also prone to wind.
On the 28th of June, some other pilots flew slower but further. Could you have extended your triangle?
The turnpoints were ok for that day. At the final turnpoint I encountered large-scale shading and this made it difficult to close the triangle. My height would have been sufficient to get me to Matrei, but the evening north wind in the Defereggen valley was pushing me down. As I said, the Grente is easier than Adler Lounge.
The Grente has developed something of a reputation. The farmer is offering a shuttle-service so that even non-hikers can launch there. There have been more accidents. The woods are full of cars and the residents in the Antholzer valley are complaining that we don't spend any money there. How do you view this development? Is there a risk of restrictions or a ban?
The shuttle-service isn't really my thing, but that is how it is. I can completely understand why the farmer is running it. I know from other local farmers that the farming community isn't very happy with the current situation. And I can understand that as well.
I am also preoccupied by something happening within our flying community. I have heard that some pilots who have been critical of the shuttle-service have been pilloried on social media. It is definitely a difficult topic and I don't know what will happen in the future. I hope it is resolved to the satisfaction of locals and pilots.
We have also noticed your other flights this year, which included some with unusual "new" routes. What happened? Did you have specific plans?
I fly a lot with Alois Resinger and Egon Assmair. We have often spoken about the route from Hochstein to the end of the Ridnaun valley and then on to the Wilder Kaiser. It is one of my great ambitions to close this particular triangle.
A few words on the TRITON 2 - how do you like the wing?
I particularly like the agility and good climb rate of the TRITON 2. Accelerated flight using the Speed-brake risers works excellently and it is very effective. I personally think the TRITON 2 is the best EN C wing on the market. I couldn't find a better one anyway.
How do you fly it? Speed-bar? How do you normally turn it?
I fly it at the top end of the weight-range. I like crisp, direct handling. My harness has a three-step speed-bar and I use all three steps in flight. If it isn't too turbulent I often fly full speed, especially during long valley crossings. When I am turning, I adjust my brake use to the conditions. When it is smooth, I don't use the outer brake on the TRITON. When it is turbulent I don't do that, in order to get better feedback from the wing.
In the 2014/15 season you were flying the normal TRITON 2. What is the difference to the lightweight version, which you used during the 2015/16 season?
There isn't much difference, if any, it is minimal. The TRITON 2 Light climbs a little bit better and the handling is a little improved. But both versions are excellent wings.
Thank you for the interview, Armin. We wish you every success and nice flights during the 2016/17 season. All the best.