Sunday, 22 November 2015

Bahia Gliding 2015 (Starting a New Chapter)

Before coming to Bahia for the first time back in 2012, I dreamed of going to one of the premier gliding places in Namibia, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. I had read a lot of good things about these places and I had heard a few first person accounts from my friends (like Milan Petkovic) who had made the pilgrimage to some of these places. However, after four trips to Bahia my priorities changed a bit. While I would still like to visit Omarama and Bitterwasser one day, I see myself coming back to Bahia every year for as long as I'm able to. So far I've been staying for only a couple of weeks a year, but next year I'm planning to be there for at least a month, hopefully longer if I can fit it with my work and family obligations.

Each year that I come to Bahia Gliding I keep thinking that there's no way things could get any better. The weather is awesome and very reliable, the flying is out of this world, the company is fantastic and the food is on par with some of the best resorts I've been to. Yet, every following year I have to admit that I was wrong, that the things do keep getting better.

So, what makes Bahia Gliding such a great place for a glider pilot? If you have read any of my previous posts you'd probably know at least a part of the answer, but in any case, here it is again.

The Man Behind Bahia Gliding
Bahia Gliding resort came into being as a result of the vision, enthusiasm, and a lot of hard work by my Brazilian brother Guilherme Purnhagen - "Gugui". He first flew in Bahia in the Brazilian nationals back in 2010 and fell in love with the place. From then on, Gugui organized a yearly expedition with a few of his gliding friends from his home town of Rio do Sul, in the state of Santa Catarina, in South Brazil to LEM in Bahia, a three-day 2200 km journey. When I first came to fly with Gugui in Bahia in September 2012 we stayed in a little two-bedroom suite in the corner of a crop duster hangar (see my  article "Gliding in Bahia" in Free Flight for more details). Since then Gugui has continued to work hard on acquiring new equipment (gliders, tow planes, winch) and gradually transforming the Bahia Gliding operation into a premier gliding resort.
A selfie with Maicon

This year Gugui hired Maicon Leite as his helper. Maicon is a very fine and helpful young man and all of us visitors thoroughly enjoyed his company and appreciated the good work he put into helping the operation run smoothly.

Bahia Gliding 1 (2013-2015)
2015 was the third and last year that Gugi operated Bahia Gliding from a rented farm a few kilometers South of Luís Eduardo Magalhães (LEM), on the East side of the BR-020 road. The facilities at the farm have been adequate for the size of the operation, with a 1400 meter long dirt runway, a hangar with running water and power, a fridge with beer and coconut water and a tie-down area for the gliders.
Bahia Gliding 1 Hangar

The main issue with the current location is that it's on leased property. With the farm being so close to LEM, the lease is expensive and any improvements have to be negotiated with the landlord. Looking long term, the arrangement wasn't sustainable. So, Gugi spent the past few years looking to purchase a suitable farm where he could move his gliding operation and fully realize his vision.

Bahia Gliding 1
Bahia Gliding 2 (2016+)
A few months ago Gugui bought a 200 hectare farm some 90 km North of LEM. The new farm is located in a valley, alongside a small river which forms its northern border for about 2.5 km. The surrounding area is mostly covered with cerrado (Brazilian tropical savanna). The current facilities include a couple of farm houses and a nice gazebo by the river. The farm has a small plantation of pineapples and  a variety of other tropical fruits and vegetables, all grown organically.

The day after my first 1000 km attempt we all took a rest day and made a day trip to the new farm. After a two-hour drive, with the last 20 km on the dirt road through the cerrado, we arrived just in time for lunch. Gugi and Maicon prepared some delicious churrasco (Brazilian barbecue). After lunch we went for a walk and a swim in the river. The water was clear and warm, around 25 °C and it is like that all year.

The new farm will become the home of Bahia Gliding starting next year. In order for that to happen, it needs a suitable runway, glider tie-down, hangar space, and a few new bungalows for the visiting pilots (each equipped with air conditioning, TV and a full bathroom), and Internet and Cell phone infrastructure. This may look like a tall order, but the work on building the first bungalow was already in progress during our visit (see picture below) and, as of this writing, Gugui has cleared the first 400 meters of the future 2000+ meter runway. So, while not everything will be finished by the next season, all of the essentials for continuing the Bahia Gliding operation on the new farm should be in place.
Bahia Gliding 2 with the location of future runway highlighted
Gugui (left), Aleksandar (center) and Maicon (right) inspecting the wood frame construction of the first bungalow
The current fleet of gliders at Bahia Gliding includes a Nimbus 3T, Jantar Standard 2, Blanik L23, G103 Twin II and five KW-1 Querro-Querros. Only two of the five Querro-Querros were flying this year, with the remaining three de-rigged in the hangar in need of some AD mandated modifications. All five should be airworthy for the next season. On top of that, Gugui is in the process of acquiring a Nimbus 4, Jantar Std 3, DuoDiscus and Discus BT.

Towing Operation
This year the towing was done by a Zlin 42, UFM-13 Lambada taildragger and a Maule borrowed from Sergio, the neighbour. Gugui is working on restoring an upgrading a Tost winch and will likely add a Wilga to the tow plane squadron and a Cessna 172 for ferrying visitors and supplies to and from the farm.
UFM-13 Lambada
Soaring Weather
The weather in Bahia has two seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season starts around mid April and lasts till around mid October.

Gliding is possible all year round, with the best and most reliable conditions at the end of the dry season (mid September to the end of  October). During that period, the sky is full of Cu's almost every day with the cloud base usually between 3000 and 4000 meters ASL (2200 to 3200 meters AGL). This year there were several days with cloud bases up to 4500 meters ASL.

Due to the proximity to the Equator (11 ° Southern latitude), the day at Bahia Gliding lasts 12 hours. Thermal activity usually starts around 9:30 AM and it is possible to set off on a cross country flight around 10 AM. The Sun sets at 6:00 PM and by 6:15 it is almost totally dark. While it is possible to find lift late in the day, care must be taken to land no later than a few minutes after 6 PM. This provides for a maximum of around 8 hours of soaring per day.

The trade wind generally blows from the East, usually around 15 km/h, although on some days it can be stronger, up to 30-35 km/h (which promotes cloud streets).

By 11 AM the thermals are usually well established and it is possible to find 2 m/s up to 2500 meters ASL. By 1 PM the cloud base lifts up to above 3000 meters ASL and the thermal strength increases to  3-5 m/s. Some areas are a little better than others and the best conditions are usually found at the ridge between the states of Bahia and Tocantins, which provides an excellent trigger for thermals.

The weather throughout the Bahia Gliding cross-country soaring area is usually fairly uniform and reliable. On some days parts of the area may be dry and on some days parts may be smokey due to wild fires in the cerrado. This usually doesn't present a problem since these areas are easy to avoid. On the other hand, the wild fires produce very good, reliable long-lasting thermals, which can be seen from far away and which can be particularly useful towards the end of the soaring day. I almost made it a habit of climbing in smoke for the final glide.

Cross-Country Soaring Area
The new Bahia Gliding farm lies in the middle of a vast area (approximately 900 x 300 kilometers in size - see the picture below) ideal for long cross-country flights.
Bahia Gliding Cross-Country Area (highlighted) Orange shaded areas are landable.
The plains to the south of Bahia Gliding 2 stretch for about 450 km all the way to the southern tip of the state of Bahia. The terrain is flat with large areas covered by landable cultivated fields of mainly soya, cotton, and corn, with a large number of crop duster runways adjacent to many of the large farms. The same type of terrain extends for some 50 km to the east, after which some landable fields can still be found, but become more scarce. The Bahia plain extends some 80 km to the west of BG2,  up to the ridge on the Bahia-Tocantins border. The ridge runs north-south for more than 300 km, all the way to the northern tip of the state of Goias. The terrain on the East (Bahia) side of the ridge lies at elevation of around 850 meters, while the terrain on the West (Tocantins) side is about 300 to 400 meters lower, featuring small hills and cerrado, which is unsuitable for outlandings, save for several small airports and dirt strips.

To the north of Bahia lie the states of Maranhão on the west side and Piaui on the east side. The first 70 to 90 km immediately north of the northern tip of Bahia are unlandable. However, further north into Maranhão and Piaui there are many large areas with landable fields scattered within the cerrado, stretching for 1000 kilometers north of BG2.

Over the past 4 years I have made 4 outlandings, all in Bahia within 100 km from LEM. Twice I landed on a dirt airstrip next to a farm, and twice in a field, also near a farm. In all cases the people on the farm were very helpful and once I even got a guided tour of the farm and a dinner. The retrievals were also easy and straight forward - twice by aerotow the next morning and twice by trailer.

Arranging to Fly at Bahia Gliding
For the foreseeable future, only qualified pilots known to Gugi, and those recommended by them, may be invited to fly at Bahia Gliding.

Gugui came up with this system for two reasons. The first one is safety and minimizing the risk of accidents, especially given that glider hull insurance is currently not available in Brazil. The second reason has mostly to do with Gugui's life philosophy, one I fully share and support. According to this philosophy, the main objective of running the Bahia Gliding operation is living a good life and sharing the enjoyment of flying and having a great time with good friends. Of course, the operation has to make some money in order to be sustainable, but the costs to the visiting pilots will be much lower when compared to the other premium gliding resorts in the world.

This year there were three visiting pilots from overseas: Jeroen Verkuijl from The Netherlands, Aleksandar Veg from Serbia (his second visit) and yours truly from Canada/Serbia. Next year there will be probably be more coming.

Getting to Bahia Gliding
Travel to Bahia Gliding involves flying to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo or Brasilia and then taking a local flight to Barreiras. The new Bahia Gliding farm is about 2 hour drive From Barreiras, or a 40 minute flight in a Cessna 172. Whether arriving from North America (like I did) or from Europe, it is a long trip, so plan to stay for at least a week.

Plans for the Future
If everything goes as planned, the new Bahia Gliding farm will become a unique all-inclusive gliding oasis and resort. The qualified pilots will be able to fly many different gliders, as well as receive ground school and in-flight instruction on various topics related to gliding and cross-country soaring. This year both Gugui and I did several XC-soaring instructional flights, either in a the G103 Twin II two seater (one of these flights was over 500 km) or flying cross country in two equal performance gliders. Next year, with the arrival of the DuoDiscus it will be possible to do dual cross country flights of 750+ kilometers.

My Flight Stats
All of the best and longest flights of my gliding career have been flown at Bahia Gliding. Although I still haven't managed to break the 1000 km barrier, I have made many long flights over 750 km, including a couple in a Jantar Standard 2 and three flights over 900 km in a Nimbus 3.

Over the last four years at Bahia Gliding I have made a total of 46 flights, 236 hours, 23,700 cross-country kilometers and 23,100 OLC+ points. On the OLC+ Worldwide Daily Scores I have placed 1st 18 times, 2nd 8 times and 3rd 4 times. This year I collected 5120 points in the race for the 2016 OLC Champion, which is currently good enough for the 1st place overall (until the beginning of December when things start cooking in the South Africa and the Namibian desert). BTW, Jeroen Verkuijl was until a few days ago in second place with 4545 points, with all of his 6 flights from Bahia Gliding.

My 2015 Flights
You can find all my 2015 flights here on the OLC. For flight details check out the pilot's comments.

A video record of my two weeks of flying at Bahia Gliding in 2015

More photos from Bahia Gliding 2015 (in no particular order)
Yours truly by the river at the new Bahia Gliding farm
High above the Bahia plain with Robinson Rosa
Another one with Robinson Rosa
The view says it all
A selfie while snorkeling in the river at the new Bahia Gliding farm
A view from the river at the new Bahia Gliding farm
A selfie with Maicon Leite after our landout at a farm
The ridge ar Bahia-Tocantins border
Under the cloudbase in Junico's Jantar Standard 3
Late afternoon scenery with a medium smoke ahead
On final glide with the Nimbus
A nice looking cloudstreet some 300 km north of LEM in the state of Maranhão
Artêmio Frasson Junior - "Junico" in his Jantar Standard 3 (just to the right of the Sun)

Gugui pointing at something in the river at Bahia Gliding 2
Maicon Leite taking a photo of a rainbow
Final glide into the sunset
A few seconds after rolling to a stop after another long day in the air
A selfie with Maicon and Gugui, enjoying a beer after another great day
The river at Bahia Gliding 2
The organic pineapple plantation at Bahia Gliding 2

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Bahia Gliding 2014 in Retrospect

I realized that I never got around to making a post about my visit to Gugi and Bahia Gliding last year, so here are a few words about that,

I made my third trip to Bahia in September 2014. I met a number of new friends and made a lot of awesome flights. Last year also marked the first visit to Bahia Gliding by someone from outside of Brazil other than myself. It was my friend and colleague Dr. Aleksandar Veg, professor f mechanical engineering at Belgrade University and an avid glider pilot. I think Aleksandar fell in love with Bahia, as witnessed by his return this year for another week of flying.

Last year I made a couple of attempts at 1000 km distance in Gugui's Nimbus 3T-25.5m only to come up a bit short, with the longest flight at 930 km. However, I still had a lot of memorable flights, including the last one with the Nimbus on October 4. That day a brisk 25 km/h wind from the East produced a beautiful 250 km long cloudstreet which took me farther East than I've ever been in Bahia. That was followed with a 350 km downwind dash at an average speed of 153 km/h, finishing with a total of just under 800 km.

Gugui was running the Bahia Gliding 2014 operation from the same farm as in 2013, although the talks about the long term lease didn't seem to go very well. More about that issue later in this post.

Going back home I knew I would be back...

First day was good, but a bit complicated - 586 km and an outlanding

At a farm, after the outlanding.

A few days in early October brought overdevelopment and a bit of rain

No comment required

Surfing under big Cu's, thinking happy thoughts

A flight with Sergio Goretkin in G 103 Twin II

Guilherme Purnhagen - Gugui (left), Felipe Dantas in his Nimbus 4 and yours truly

Final glide after another great day in Bahia

Nimbus 3T-25.5 in the short final at Bahia Gliding

Friday, 27 December 2013

Bahia Gliding 2013 (Return to Paradise)

An Update on the Bahia Gliding Resort
Back in late 2012 these seemed (to me) to be very ambitious plans and Gugui’s target date of September 2014 for setting up a fully functioning gliding resort looked a bit optimistic. Fast forward to September 2013, half way to the target date and my second trip to Bahia and what a difference a year makes! The newly established Bahia Gliding resort is already up and running, and although all of the visiting pilots (save for yours truly) were Brazilians,  there was significant progress towards Bahia Gliding becoming one of world’s premier gliding resorts.

The resort already has its own airfield, located within the bounds of the “Alcatraz” farm (soon to be renamed to Albatroz, which in Portugese means Albatross) just outside of LEM, off the BR-020 road leading South to the nation’s capital Brasilia, about six hours drive from LEM. You can find it on Google Earth by entering these coordinates: 12°10'12.52"S, 45°48'44.44"W) The current facilities include a 1500 meter long grass runway, an open hangar and a tie-down area that can accommodate at least ten gliders. The current glider fleet includes a Grob 103 Twin II, Blanik L-23, Jantar Standard 2 and a Nimbus 3T. In summer of 2013 Gugui purchased a number of gliders in Europe that will be added to the fleet in 2014. These include another Jantar Standard 2, Jantar 1, Jantar 2B, Standard Cirrus, Open Cirrus, and a PIK 20. He is also looking for a high performance two seater, either a Duo Discus or an ASH-25.

This year the towing operation was conducted with a rented Piper Pawnee, which was more than adequate for servicing the current fleet of four gliders, plus a number of Brazilian pilots who came to do some practice flying prior to the 2013 Brazilian Nationals, which were held in early October at the new LEM municipal airport. Starting in 2014 Bahia Gliding should be operating its own tow plane (an already purchased Zlin Z-37T Turbo Čmelák) and a Tost winch, which is at present at the Bahia Gliding airfield waiting to be overhauled before being put back into service. By the way, the location is ideal for winch operation as the thermal conditions around the airfield are excellent and the reliable “house thermals” can be relied on most of the time. As an illustration, the release altitudes on all nine aero tows I took this year were between 200 and 400 meters QFE.

During my visit Gugui signed a lease agreement with the owner of the farm, thus setting up the stage for improving the airfield (lengthening the runway, building a taxiway, installing a runway irrigation system to eliminate dust, improving the hangar) and building the resort facilities right at the airfield. Considering the current and future work on the infrastructure, Bahia Gliding resort is making progress in leaps and bounds and it poised to be ready to receive its first official overseas visitors next season.

More about Flying in Bahia
After all this talk about gliders and infrastructure, you are probably eager to hear more about actual flying in Bahia. If you have read my article in Free Flight, you already have an idea about what was like in 2012, and it was awesome. But this year’s flying was even better!

For starters, this year I made nine cross country flights compared to five in 2012. During those nine flights I racked up 56:21 hours and 6273 cross country kilometers, for an average of 697 km/flight. All nine flights earned one of the top three spots on the OLC plus worldwide daily score.

The soaring weather conditions within the 300 km radius from LEM are usually fairly uniform and reliable.  The usual modus operandi for flying long FAI triangles is to initially head West, downwind towards the border between Bahia and Tocantins provinces, located some 65 km West of LEM. The first turn point is usually between 5 and 50 km inside Tocantins, depending on the weather and the planned XC flight distance. For the second leg of the triangle you either turn roughly due North or due South. On most days the sky looks equally good in both directions and you can easily go either way. When flying a 700 to 800 km FAI triangle, the second leg is usually around 250 km long usually with a moderate Easterly crosswind. The third leg, also around 250 km long, is to the Southeast if you took the Northerly route or to the Northeast if you chose the triangle to the South. The fourth and final leg of the triangle goes due West and can be anywhere from 80 to 150 km. The final glide into the setting sun is downwind, which can be helpful if you’re going for the maximum distance. Also helpful are the stubble fires which are a reliable source of very good and not too turbulent thermals even late in the day.

Days 1, 2 and 3 and my first outlanding in Bahia
During the first two days (9/15 and 9/16) the weather was a little less than ideal, with high humidity at the top of the convective layer causing the Cu’s to spread into a layer of stratocumuli in the afternoon. For this reason, and because I was a bit overly ambitious, I landed out about 90 km south of LEM after completing 672 km on the second day.

I chose a 1.6 kilometer long smooth dirt airstrip next to a large farm. No sooner I got out of the cockpit, a worker from the farm arrived on a motorcycle to check out what had happened and if I was okay. Thanks to my (and his) rudimentary knowledge of Spanish we managed to communicate enough for him to help me move the glider off the runway, after which he gave me a ride on the back of his motorbike to the farm’s main office. There I got introduced to Luis Evandro Gauer, the managing director for this and five other soy and cotton farms in Bahia, all owned by a company called FraNor and totaling some 40,000 hectares. After a phone call to Marcel to report the land-out and the coordinates, Luis took me to one of the farmhouses with a bathroom, a large kitchen, a dining room and a couple of sofas in front of a big screen TV and offered me to stay there while he attended to some of his duties. I crashed on the sofa, relaxing and surfing through Brazilian TV channels. Luis returned after about an hour and offered me a cold beer and a couple of tuna sandwiches, both of which I gladly accepted. After we finished the meal, and after I refused the second beer, Luis took me on an hour long guided tour of the farm showing me the twin cotton processing lines, huge soybean silos and a number of very large and very modern combines, tractors and various other farm equipment. Soon after we finished the tour, Gugui and Bruno arrived in the Bahia Gliding Jeep with the trailer. Twenty minutes later we were on our way back to LEM – a 130 km two hour trip. Gugui and Bruno brought a few sandwiches and a two liter Coke bottle that Gugui’s mother-in-law Araci filled with freshly squeezed orange juice. We made it back to the house around 11 PM, just in time for the third installment of the dinner.

At this point I should mention that landing out in Bahia is a fairly safe and straight forward affair. The area is flat with large cultivated fields and with a number of farms with adjacent dirt strips used by crop dusters. There are, however, some less hospitable areas. Most notably, the Tocantins province to the West of Bahia and the Goiás province to the Southwest feature hilly terrain at elevation of 400 to 500 meters QNH, covered in tropical shrubs and dwarf trees. The cultivated fields few in this area are few and far between and the road network is fairly sparse. However, if you stay within 20 to 30 kilometers from the Bahia border, you can always move back closer to Bahia and the landable terrain if you happen to be getting lower. Similar scenery is also typical in the Piauí and Maranhão provinces to the North of Bahia. On the flip side, there are a number of airports and airstrips whose coordinates I had in my Oudie and I would often check (and confirm) that I was within the gliding range of at least one of them.

The weather on Day 3 (9/17) improved, with only a few localized areas of cumulus overdevelopment. I flew a 599 km triangle to the North, because the XC Skies forecast was a little better to the North. At one point on the third leg, while climbing in a 3 m/s thermal under one towering cumulus, virga appeared from the opposite side of the cloud, producing a very bright and beautiful rainbow. During this flight the total energy system in the Jantar wasn’t functioning properly, which made things interesting when pulling up from a 180 km/h cruise speed.

Day 4, 5 and 6
The morning of Day 4 (9/18) brought overcast skies and even some rain early on. Gugui decided to call a non-flying day and troubleshoot the Jantar TE system instead. Given that I spent a lot of time in the cockpit the previous three days, right after the 30 hour trip from Vancouver, BC to LEM, Bahia, I was quite happy to have a rest day. After a few hours of troubleshooting the TE system we discovered that the culprit was the old PZL pneumatic vario, which appeared to have developed a leak. The problem was solved by swapping the PZL with a Winter vario from the back seat of the Grob 103 Twin II. By around 1 PM the skies cleared and the Cu’s started popping, so the day could have been a flying day after all.

Day 5 (9/19) the weather returned to normal, making for an easy 723 km to the North.

Day 6 (9/20) turned out to be weaker than expected (1.7 m/s average for the flight), but still good enough for a 589 km (568 FAI triangle) to the South.

Days 7 and 8
Day 7 (9/21) the weather conditions improved with cloud bases initially at 3000 meters, rising to 3500 m in the afternoon. I was also able to take advantage of cloud streets on several long glides. To top it all off, my last thermal was a stubble fire in which I gained 1415 meters of altitude in 2 minutes and 19 seconds, for the average of 10.2 m/s!  The tally for the day was a 767 km flight (751 FAI triangle) at an average speed of 126 km/h.  Not bad for a Jantar Standard 2 and the starting altitude of 200 meters QFE. Considering that I could have taken off at least half an hour earlier and that I could have landed half an hour later than I did, a 900 km flight should have been possible that day.

For Day 8 (9/22) the weather forecast looked great and I decided to go for the maximum distance. This time I chose to fly the Northern triangle, if for no other reason than to change the scenery. By midafternoon, the cloud bases rose to 4100 meters QNH, but the conditions were drier than the day before and with not as many cloud streets as I have grown accustomed to. Mid-way through the second leg I chose to deviate around a large area of brush fires in order to keep the wings clean for the remainder of the flight. The result was an 810 km flight (783 km FAI triangle) at still respectable 117 km/h, worth 1044 points on the OLC+.

Days 9, 10 and 11
For day 9 (9/23) the forecast again looked very good and the cloud base was supposed to be a few hundred meters higher than the day before. Marcel and I prepared Gugui’s Nimbus 3T-25.5 and this was going to be my first ever attempt at a 1000 km triangle. Exciting stuff! I made two flights with the Nimbus during my last year’s trip to Bahia, but those were in the 24.5 m “short” wing configuration. This time around the Nimbus was rigged with the long tips, bringing the span to 25.5 meters. With everything prepared and waiting on the runway, we got a call from Gugui that there was an overheating problem with the tow plane’s engine. By noon the problem wasn’t getting any closer to being solved, so we decided to call it off for the day and went to a local river beach instead. The water was just the right temperature and crystal clear and we enjoyed a couple of hours of swimming and had a few beers, all while keeping an eye on the Cu’s high up in the afternoon sky.

Day 10 (9/24) was forecast by XC-Skies to be even better than the day before, however the weather didn’t unfold as forecast. During the day a cold front approached LEM from the Southwest and a pre-frontal weather pattern with low visibility and significant overdevelopment affected a large are to the South and West of LEM. Soon after turning South for the second leg the sky got almost totally overcast and I realized that I wasn’t going to break any (personal) records that day. I still managed to cover 644 km and got in a lot of practice flying the long winged Nimbus, which compared to Jantar Standard 2 required a much different piloting technique, especially when banking in and out of turns.

The XC-Skies forecast for day 11 (2/25) was again very good, and it being my last flying day in Bahia for this year, I prepared for another attempt at a 1000 km triangle. Since the cold from the day before was stalled some 150 km Southwest of LEM I decided to try going North instead of South. I took off at 10:27, earlier than usual, but initially had trouble finding a good thermal and was back to 200 m QFE when I finally connected with a decent 2.3 m/s.  The CU’s started popping early, but as I was approaching the Tocantins border the sky started looking darker and darker with poor visibility and very little sunshine on the ground. I decided to cut short the first leg a few km before reaching the edge of the Bahia plateau and turned Northeast to try to get away from the area affected by the front. However, after about 50 km I reached the edge of a huge blue hole covering the whole Northern half of Bahia. I climbed as high as I could (to 2700 m QNH) below one of the last Cu’s and set off into the blue hole. The air was felt smooth, which was not a good sign. Further ahead I did manage to find a blue thermal, but it was only 0.7 m/s. At that point I decided to finally give up the quest for 1000 km triangle and turned Southeast towards where the weather looked to be the best. It was a good decision and I soon connected with a couple of 100 km long cloud streets, first one going Southeast and the next one due South. The remainder of the flight was effortless and very enjoyable and I ended up covering 808 km. The flight duration was 7:18 and I probably could have stretched it another half hour, which means that a 1000 km triangle is definitely possible on a good day.

Total Tally
Overall, I flew 9 days for a total of 56:21 hours and 6273 km (697 km average per flight). What these impressive numbers don’t show is how great the whole experience was for me. The accommodation, food and hospitality was fantastic, the company was fun, the weather was hot (up to 40°C) but quite  bearable due to very low humidity and the flying was safe, effortless and extremely enjoyable.
I can only look forward to September 2014.

Bahia Gliding airfield on the Alcatraz/Albatroz farm outside of LEM
Jonathan (the owner of Alcatraz/Albatroz), Gugui and I
At the farm where I landed out on Day 2 (9/16)
Day 3 (9/17) Rainbow in the distance
Day 3 (9/17) Closer to the rainbow
Day 3 (9/17) Abeam the rainbow
Day 3 (9/17) During final glide
At the breakfast table
Buying supplies on the way to Alcatraz
In Bahia, Alcatraz/Albatroz is a symbol of freedom!
Waiting for takeoff in the Jantar with Gugui and his brother Emilio in the background
Milton the tow pilot landing the "Green Machine" 
Day 5 (9/19) Mid day, some 200 km North of LEM
Day 5 (9/19) After rounding the last TP, Barreras at 2 O'clock
Day 6 (9/20)  Flying towards Bahia (in the distance) after the 2nd TP in Tocantins
Day 6 (9/20)  Close to Tocantins (left) - Bahia (right) border
Day 6 (9/20)  After landing, with Marcel (in the background) taking care of business
Day 7 (9/21) The Jantar laden with water, on the runway before take-off
Day 7 (9/21) After 1st TP, flying South through Tocantins (Bahia can be seen in the distance)
Day 7 (9/21) Back in Bahia after 2nd TP, "dolphining" through the perfect sky
Day 7 (9/21) Lovin' every minute of it!
Day 7 (9/21) After the last TP, heading towards the big smoke in the distance
Day 7 (9/21) Getting closer to the big smoke
Day 7 (9/21) Still getting closer to the big smoke
Day 7 (9/21) Inside the big smoke. The Oudie says VarA=+11.8 m/s, VarT=+11.1 m/s. Unreal!
Day 8 (9/22) Marcel filling the Jantar with water for another long flight
Day 8 (9/22) Lunch in Tocantins after rounding the 1st TP and heading North
Day 8 (9/22) Taking a detour around some big fires on the way North
Day 8 (9/22) Heading Southeast after the 2nd TP under beautiful sky
Day 8 (9/22) During the final glide of my first 1000+ OLC+ points flight.
Day 8 (9/22) During the final glide into the setting sun with the Bahia Gliding runway straight ahead
Bahia Gliding from the air
Day 10 (9/23) at the beach with Gugui, Carol and Hiki
Day 10 (9/23) at the beach, enjoying a cold one with Marcel 
Day 10 (9/24) In front of the Nimbus 3T 25.5 before the take-off
Day 10 (9/24) With Marcel before the take-off
Day 10 (9/24) Marcel's selfie portrait with the fumulus
Day 10 (9/24) The long wing of the Nimbus somewhere in Tocantins
Day 10 (9/24) Having fun despite the less-than-ideal weather
Day 11 (9/25) My last flight in Bahia in 2013
Bahia Gliding - the tie-down area
Bahia Gliding - a view from the hangar