Sebastian Kawa about finale SGP 2018 in Vitacura


(OPENSOARING, 29. January 2018, prepared by Niko Slana)

Mr. Kawa congratulations for your fourth World title in GP. You succeed with hat trick – World title in Benalla 2017 with 15-m class, then another World title 2017 in 13.5-m class.

(OS) Do you still remember the race between you and Japanese pilot Ichikawa, which was tailing you in Benalla as your shadow? Also in Szatymaz on WGC 13.5 was very tide, so in Chile 2018 was nothing new for you regarding “followers” and crowded racing space.

S.Kawa ..selfie

(SK) »That’s nothing new and we will have to cope with following problem. In present rules, you need to accept it. Unfortunately, it is getting worse due to use of FLarm and in obligatory open, not stealth mode in competition. I have no idea what is that for but they required it recently in Czech Republic, South Africa and Chile. It has no meaning if the tracking purposes are considered because it is very easy to decode FLarm signals and it has a huge influence on individualism in flight. It favors followers over leaders. «

(OS) There was a lot of critics regarding two accidents that happened in Chile. Do you think that they will change rules of competition and increase the safety margin already on next GP final in Cerdanya? The terrain is similar to one you just flown.

Sebastian Kawa v Lescah

(SK) »In my opinion fatigue is deadly and it has to be taken into account also in SGP. In normal competitions, we have rest day after 6 competition days. In Chile, it was supposed to be 9 days in a row. Rest day has to be announced previous evening so you have a rest and you are not waiting on the airfield until 3 PM when eventually task is cancelled.

Other problem – we need to assure there is a selection of best pilots. In formula one there are special tests that qualify drivers. It is very risky to allow pilots not qualified in QSGP to participate in final round.

And at last – competition director has to take into account opinions from pilots. If they point out dangerous problems or technical problems – he should address that question better than just saying: ” you are best pilots in the world” you “have to take responsibility for your safety” or You can do it somehow or telling a joke. On the beginning, it was totally different. When Roland Stiuck or Bob Henderson were running competitions, we had meetings to solve do a brainstorm and solve difficult problems. Now it is one man show. For me it was almost sure something will happen last day. I had that thought previous evening. Unfortunately, I could not do anything about it. I didn’t like the task to fly lower in weak conditions and put 20 gliders next to the rocks in dying thermal. I popped a question how we should do it if we would like to turn back and climb behind start line but it had no answer.


Well I suppose who was responsible for that “show”. It is also unbelievable how can you ignore the fact that when I protest because we are forced to fly at VNE along a slope in rotors they just ignore it. It was the situation in Sisteron and they even had FUN! The problem with modern gliders is – if you put a task over a pass – they will have to much energy on final glide. In Chile it was considered, but a little underestimated.

 “They” will not invent any sensible rule that will prevent accidents. The continuous descending glide path and mandatory reporting point is a symbol of such useless rules. They have no meaning. In the end Brian also admitted that we will have a penalty for overtaking below – it is dangerous and it always made sense. So, we came back to the rule we had as a gentleman’s agreement in 2006 in New Zealand. Sticking your nose in instruments is never safety. After all the “continuous descending glidepath was never enforce. Penalties were only for flying below finish altitude.

Vitacura 2018 SGP

The big problem is also a start line. The way we have it now is dangerous. You need to concentrate only on your instruments and it is a danger to collide with other glider. I think we should use a leading glider or a plane like running start in car races. 

I don’t think this time we know the cause for the accident. I want to apologize if someone takes it directly to this accident , we don’t know, but I would like to see changes in the future GPX.«

(OS) Did you think before competition that you have any advantage knowing the terrain, in regards to the other competitors as you already won your second GP in Vitacura 2009?   

JS1 z oznako YU in Kawo za krmili

(SK) »Answering the question – no. I don’t think so. I had a big disadvantage being in such a place. We had to guess and take a risk flying there. I didn’t know and I still don’t know these mountains. In Juncal pass we were for the first time during this competition and I flew for the first time along watershed between Argentina and Chile. Also for the first time we had a task south so deeply in the mountains. Come back over dry lake was tricky as there is no place to land out. You don’t know also altitudes of many passes so you can’t calculate glidepath. All that is left is your visual reference. In this matter SGP in Chile was terribly difficult. If you look at the final results you will see best pilots in the world and best mountain pilots also on the last places. They had no appropriate practice and knowledge in these mountains. «

(OS) Will you open your gliding school in Poland or Namibia?

(SK) “Not planned yet. I have no time as I still fly in competitions. I fly with some pilots, I teach them but it is not my regular job. «

Fotografsko atraktivni finale v Nitri

 (OS) Lately we could see that you are more in to various gliding adventures, how about flying above the Adriatic islands?

(SK) «There is a plan to fly it in May.«

SGP Vitacura 2018

(OS) What you think about achievement of Perlan 2 project and altitude of 52.000 + feet? What was your max altitude that you have been flown on wave in Poland?

(SK) «In Poland I don’t remember as high altitude was never my goal. We need to activate TSA in order to fly so high. I flew at 9600m over Himalayas climbing form the airfield to such altitude without engine. I flew wit and Arcus and Twin Astir from a little slope in Kislovodsk to 10 km over Elbrus. It was a Challenge. To fly higher than current records it is crucial to have pressurized cabin as we need to stay for a long time at those altitudes. I think Perlan still didn’t say their last word and it is possible to fly higher. This year we have special conditions in Poland. It is windy, there is no snow and we have waves every week. Probably climate has already changed and we will fly in a wave more often. For me it is also very interesting to visit places where nobody flew with a glider before. This is not so dangerous and normal oxygen systems are sufficient. «

(OS) Do you still have presentations about gliding round polish schools?

(SK) »I still visit some schools if time permits. There are usually few visits a year. «

Ekipa Poljske v Vitacuri (z leve) Tomasz Kawa, Lukasz Wojcik, Sebastian Kawa

(OS) Mrs. Wieslawa Lanecka Makaruk (1933) has published in Poland the book about technic and basic gliding skills, do you have any book in mind that would revile the key how to become better glider pilot.

(SK) «Mrs. Wieslawa Lanecka Makaruk. We have a reprint with some actual comments and my pictures from fabulous places. It is a great book, necessary to understand gliding. My book was a step forward dealing with problems and questions the competing pilots have to answer. I need to update it soon. Some pilots did red it and I can see the difference. Unfortunately to my detriment. «

S.Kawa – Sky full of heat

Mr. Sebastian, thank you for your kind time that you took for, helping us to become even better. 


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