Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Lions and Lambs

Today we flew fun cross country flights in the full spectrum of March conditions, from the most rowdy thermic leonine air at Kahana to the smoothest ovine air and the most beautiful cloudscapes at Makapuu. I was lucky to be involved in both missions, savoring a double scoop of aerial sweetness. I’m partial to thermals but I’ll take beautiful and smooth if that’s what it takes to get some company.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Northest

Conditions at Kahana on Sunday were even more north than on Saturday. At some times during the day it was a bit west of north. But a certain trio of die hard individuals refused to believe that it was too north to fly there, and somehow we made it happen. But not before a lot of kiting all around north launch, repeatedly launching, scratching, sinking, and top landing, until we got a lucky cycle to climb up and out and around the corner. I was glad to discover I can still do that!

Chasing Waterfalls

It’s always interesting to fly the day after a big rain. Usually it means a muddy ocean, a muddy trail, and damp or muddy gear. But on Saturday at Kahana it also meant extra waterfalls everywhere. For instance, there was a waterfall running down the cliff face of the valley between east and north launch, feeding the stream that usually trickles across the north trail. But on this day the stream was a raging whitewater rapid, four feet across. Four of us leaped over that maelstrom to score improbable flights in the northest of conditions, three of us making it across the bay.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More February Thermal Goodness!

On these tricky easterly winter days, even a small flight can be supremely gratifying. Today’s easterly trickiness offered us opportunities for small wing soaring at Koko Crater, brisk smooth ridge soaring at Makapuu, and a rock and roll thermic cross country mission at Kahana. Naturally I chose the latter option, from where I happily spiraled up to play over my back yard between wispy convergence clouds.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Crater Aviators

This February just keeps on giving up amazing thermic days. It’s been the best month for thermaling and flying cross country I can remember in many a winter. Maybe it’s global warming. Or just a perfect El Niño effect. Whatever it is, I like it. Today a slew of pilots flew Koko Crater in a variety of conditions. A few of us were lucky enough to bite into the chewy thermic center of that delicious Koko confection, spinning up to cloud base at 2,500 feet and then thermaling along a street of little puffy clouds all the way to the Makapuu lighthouse and back.


Hypothermals: the oxymoron of our winter condition. It’s strange how we can find ourselves freezing at the top of a rising column of warm air. Thom’s thermometer told him it was 58º F at cloud base yesterday, just above three grand. At a 20 mph trim speed, the wind chill made it feel quite a bit colder than that! We hit three grand repeatedly above Kahana, Kaaawa and Kualoa, as we topped out some super grumpy and chilly thermals on a perfect postfrontal day. A record ten pilots crossed the bay, most to Kualoa and back, on an unusually thermic day with very little ridge lift.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Three Wing Circus

Now that was a perfect day at Diamond Head. And of course it was also a complete circus. We can't seem to have a boring or uneventful day out there. Maybe that's why we love it! Conditions were slightly west of straight in, and quite light, good for regular sized wings, for most of the day. I went out super early and waited a few hours, but when Jorge arrived around 11, he declared I had already been missing it! He launched immediately and proved to be right. I followed and so did about fifteen others. At one point we had ten wings in the air at once!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lonesome Leesider

Today’s flight was not my farthest, but it may have been the most challenging twenty mile flight I’ve enjoyed in a long time. I was completely alone, and I had to dig deep for the motivation for a solo trek in what looked like treacherously beautiful downrange conditions. Sure enough, there was no ridge soaring possible on this stable southeasterly sea breeze day, so I had to figure out how to spin my way downrange in nothing but rough leeside thermals.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Friday February 27: Meeting and Awards Party!

Please join us for our first quarterly meeting and party on Friday, February 27, at 6 PM, at Thom's house in Kailua. We will be presenting awards from last year, and we will be celebrating a great beginning to this new year. As always this is a pot-luck, so please bring something to share, as well as your favorite beverages. Post up in the comments if you want to coordinate what dish to bring. Or just surprise us.

Welcome Home

It's not over, but in many ways this winter already ranks as one of our best ever. Looking back at the stories we've posted since November, we've racked up more hours thermaling and exploring every possible corner of the island than ever before. We've scored numerous personal bests for distance and destinations, and many of us have flown sites and routes for the first time. And in between the epic thermal and cross county days, we've enjoyed some mellow days cruising at our coastal soaring sites. Our fickle winter conditions haven't been easy to figure out, but a dedicated crew has been out there chasing it hard almost every day. So after all that, and after a morning chasing it to Dillingham and back, Sunday's sunset thermal flight between Kahana and Punaluu was the most beautiful welcome home.