Saturday, November 18, 2006

Annual Membership Meeting on November 18

Update: the Safety Specialist from Hawaiian Electric will begin his talk at 5 pm - please try to come a few minutes early to show him we appreciate his time. Also, please read the agenda below and feel free to join the discussion.

Our fourth quarterly meeting and party is coming up - please mark your calendars for Saturday, November 18 at 5 pm. This is the annual membership meeting where we pay our $20 annual dues and sign waivers for next year, and we also elect board members for next year.

We'll be meeting at Bob's place again (thanks Bob!), and we've volunteered Peter to round up some meat for us to grill (thanks Peter!). We'll be passing around a hat for funds to cover this.

Speaking of passing the hat, a couple of our upstanding members (the two Petes) were kind enough to advance us the costs of renting the space and buying the BBQ meat for the memorial gathering this past Sunday - please bring some extra cash for a good cause and we'll all pitch in to make sure they get paid back. Thanks to both Petes for their help!

Fourth Quarterly Meeting of the Hawaii Paragliding Association
November 18, 2006


I. Treasurer's report

A. We have $1,385 in the bank.
B. We will be passing out new waivers to be signed, and collecting annual dues of $20 for 2007.
C. We will be soliciting donations to help us pay back the pilots who covered the rent and the BBQ meat for Johan's memorial.

II. HECO presentation

A. Russell came up with the excellent idea of asking the HECO Director of Safety to come out and talk to us about safety issues regarding high tension power transmission systems. More specifically, we are curious about minimum safe distances, and what conditions (voltage, proximity, grounding, weather, etc.) allow an arc to jump from a high tension line to a pilot.

III. New Pilots and Ratings

A. New pilots: Randy, "Hillbilly" Bill, Alan, Bill McDonald, Christine, Rich, Alaska Greg, Jorge Atramiz, Hilo Ken, others?
B. Peter got T3 rating
C. Other new pilots, ratings?

IV. Accident Report

A. Jon will present the results of his investigation into Johan's accident. Jon has collected detailed eyewitness accounts from our pilots, and he has examined Johan's gear. He has also spoken with engineers at HECO, and has requested an autopsy report from the Medical Examiner.

B. We are considering asking Phil to make us a bronze plaque as a memorial for Johan. We would like to solicit your suggestions here online before the meeting:

1. What it should say,
2. Where we should install it.

V. Board proposes revised site guidelines for Makapuu

1. Discuss the inherent hazards of our power line launches
2. Downgrade all power line launches to NOT recommended (Cactus and Tomato Patch are recommended)
3. Improve the Tomato Patch trail and launch

VI. Fun events to be planned

A. Fundraiser flying event to benefit the communities we fly over (Waimanalo, Koolauloa, Leeward)
B. Big Island Trip

VII. Elections - nominate and select 5 board members for 2007 by popular vote.


Alex said...

We would like to start an online discussion of the agenda for our upcoming meeting. It took your hard-working board of directors three hours at our recent board meeting to come to any consensus on item V (proposal for revised site guidelines), so in the interest of saving time during the general meeting, let's get the discussion started here. We appreciate any comments or ideas you'd like to share.

I'll start us out with my thoughts on the board's proposal under item V of our agenda. After a long discussion, we resolved to propose that the club officially classify the three power line launches (Crazys, Manics, and the Juice) as not recommended. You may remember that a few meetings back we decided to classify Crazys as P3 for locals and P4 for visitors, but this new proposal would go further, and cover more launches.

In response to numerous recent accidents and close calls at these launches, and most of all to Johan's fatal accident, we are forced to admit that the power line launches do not meet what we would consider to be minimum safety standards: these launches require pilots to launch beneath the power lines and then fly closely alongside them in order to work the lift on most days. Power lines aren't their only fault, though -- these launches are also too close to the highway and too low over the ocean and rocky shoreline to be recommended for general use.

We know that these launches offer unparalleled convenience, and that many pilots of varying levels of talent, experience and luck have got away with launches there. But the inherent hazards bring the margin of safety down to a level that guarantees continued incidents and accidents. The odds aren't good enough for anyone that thinks they might ever need a little room to make any number of common minor mistakes: clearing a twig from their lines too soon after launching, fiddling with a twisted riser, adjusting their stirrup or harness, launching into an untimely gust or lull, or into unexpected turbulence.

Instead, we would like to encourage all pilots, but especially our new pilots and our visitors, to use the club's recommended launches of Cactus and Tomato Patch, which will get folks airborne in almost every wind condition they might want to fly in, with a much wider margin of safety, at least as far as altitude and high voltage are concerned. As part of this policy we propose that the club should get together to improve the hike and launch at Tomato Patch to make it easier and therefore more appealing for everyone to use.

The fine print: since we don't have permits at Makapuu, we all know we can't truly regulate or control the use of any areas there. This policy of site recommendations is the strongest measure we can devise under those conditions. Unenforceable policies like this work best if they enjoy a broad base of support and if everyone understands and agrees on their importance. I hope that these discussions will help us come to an agreement on a policy that could go a long way towards reducing the chances of injuries and fatalities at one of our best flying sites, without significantly reducing our airtime there. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on our proposal.

launch potato said...

I would be happy to live with such a policy recommendation. Although it may not be news to members, it could be especially informative to visiting pilots.

Also, it could be a protection against a non-renewal of Kahana site permit if another Makapuu incident becomes publicized. That might prevent HPA being lumped into a stereotype of risk seekers or whatever, if backed with such a statement of intent.

Well, I've got my check and waiver in an envelope about ready to mail to the club PO box # again. I guess that will condemn me to another year of anonymity...

firedave said...

I support the club proposal to encourage any pilot to use the Tomato Patch and Cactus launches. No one could argue that they aren't safer alternatives to Crazy, the Juice and Manics.

We would be doing our flying buddies a disservice not to encourage visitors and low time pilots to launch safer.

If you/I do choose to utilize a lower launch we do so without the HPA's approval. I am sure these launches might still get used, but now we have a better understanding of the possible risks. You don't want to be the second person to test the laws of physics.

Tomato Patch ( or as Slacker calls it " Sure Thing") is a fine launch that works in all but the strongest conditions. We are looking at improving it with carpet for the layout as well as making the trail more "hikeable", any input here is welcomed. There is actually carpet at the bottom waiting to go up.

Cactus is fine the way it is, a great, but rarely used launch that only works when the wind is on the lighter side.

I was working on a sight guide for Makapuu, should I omit all the lower launches? Are all launches equally bad? Is it just that they all have powerlines nearby?

Many pilots do enjoy a bit or measured risk, it makes what we do all that much sweeter. Whether it be sticking a tight landing, throwing a SAT, or getting up from the lowest place we can find,it is the nature of the beast. I know Johan would be bummed if he thought that he was ruining it for the rest of us. What we are trying to address here is getting the unwitting pilot in over their heads, and it is hard to argue that the better choice isn't higher.

I know this all sounds like hipocrasy coming from me, and it is, but you can't deny the positive impact it might have for our flying future. DAVE

sandy said...

I'm not in favor of carpet on T. Patch. Line snags have not been a major (if at all) problem for me up there (unless I'm mentally blocking those incidents ;-)).

Carpet will kill vegetation. No vegetation = erosion. That launch is steep enough. Erosion exposes vicious snags (see Crazy's). If the carpet doesn't work out, what will be left?

What I think it does need is new clothesline poles. I'm thinking rebar pounded deep into ground, leaving 1' exposed, topped by 3-4' 3/4" PVC pipe (painted/stained camouflage) with caps.

firedave said...

I think Tomato Patch is great as long as nobody uses it much, meaning in its current state. As soon as people start making the trek all the grass will be dead and it will erode more, all the snaggy rocks and stumps will appear. Carpet can keep in place what is actually there, a rock chute with some halekoa and california grass (which hitchhiked up the hill). Under the carpet will remain firmly in place. I myself never found the clips good for much.
What I picture is a two tiered launch. A relaxed slope for the glider to lay on, a steeper slope for the lines and a mellower slope for the pilot to stand on. We could build up the rocks below before laying down carpet, shadecloth,or whatever. The real trick would be to make it as camoflagued as possible.

sandy said...

Dave, I don't use the clips either, but rather lay the open cells over the line and tuck some of the body of the glider under the line.

It seems to me, for the usually nil to light air that is in the compression zone, it is quite advantageous to have the glider held up vertical (like we did for pilots at Kealia).

I understand what you're saying with the tiers, but I think it would be very difficult to pull up the glider in the typical light air from a flatter slope. I could be wrong. We do manage at Cactus in light air. And at DH, too, although pilots do benefit from the assistance of the wing being held vertical.

I also am leary of the tiers -- because it sounds like it needs digging ==> more erosion. Reminds me of Lanikai, which suffered after similar efforts there circa 1999.

Perhaps, as long as we're looking to upgrade the trail, perhaps the "new" trail will lead to a new location, where there can be digging, and tiers, and carpet, and maybe fewer tears. That would also be great for getting more pilots off the hill faster (like the multiple low launches at Kahana) which is more fun.

For the existing launch, I would like to suggest that folks make a conscious effort to avoid walking through the middle area, walk around the edges as much as possible (pretend a glider is already laid out) to minimize erosion. In other words: "Keep off the Grass!"

sandy said...

Okay, so not too much discussion here. Saving it for the meeting? Or just hoping if you say nothing, nothing will change. No rules. I'm not suggesting making rules here, and not just because I know you won't follow them.

I put this out at the last meeting, but I'm going to do it again, so maybe the seed will stick in your heads.

Up and coming pilots benefit from the assistance of more experienced pilots.

That assistance can take many forms:
- analysis of conditions
- demonstration of how to launch/land (learn by observation)
- demonstration of how NOT to launch/land (learn from others' mistakes)
- analysis of features/hazards of site new to novice
- critique of novice's execution (when requested or painfully needed)
- answers to novice's questions
- assistance with setup to reduce challenges novice needs to face at once
- etc.....

These can only happen if P2/P3/P4 are launching/landing from the same place.

New pilots can only learn so much from their initial lessons. Few want to pay so much that they can be guided through their whole P2 level. They've got to learn from you.

Now I'm not saying Tomato Patch and Cactus and Kahana are necessarily *easier* than Crazyman's, Manics, or Tomato Juice -- but I believe the stakes are lower, the hazards are less deadly. The former are certainly far different from the training hill, and novice pilots will benefit from others' assistance in learning how to launch from these.

Click here to see FireDave's great Rating system for the various Makapu'u launches.

I think his early assessments are very telling and help us make a distinction:

Cactus: PG13 (during typical conditions) , G (during rare light conditions)
LAZY MANS: R (due to strong winds and limited landing options).
TOMATO PATCH: PG (for difficulty in getting clean layout and hike)
TOMATO JUICE: R (X if you have an aversion to power lines).

(For modern day, the Manic Depression replaces LazyMan's.)
In my opinion, MANICs also gets an R due to the powerlines, rocky cliff over surging ocean, venturi effect, and road.

As implied, "R"-rated launches probably aren't the place for up and coming pilots. More experienced pilots may feel that their abilities minimize the risks and enjoy the convenience of these launches. But if novices are up there, and the experts are down there, there's not much mentoring happening. Also, if our experts are launching from down below, there's a silent (and maybe not-so-silent) draw for others to launch there, too.

And for more fun, look at Dave's early recommendations for pilot skill appropriate for the launches based on these ratings:
Rating .... Equivalent USHGPA Rating
G.......... P2
PG......... P3 or experienced P2
PG-13...... P3
R.......... P4 or experienced P3
X.......... P4 or suicidal tendencies

I guess Dave might change this scale now, if only just because so many P2's and low P3's do launch from the R rated launches. Or maybe he wouldn't. But doesn't it say something to you that this was his initial, carefully thought-out assessment?

So, in conclusion, what I am suggesting is that our higher-level pilots keep in mind that occasionally using the lower-rated launches will provide benefit to their less-experienced brethren.

Or, in other words: get off your lazy arse and hike up the hill when it can help the up-and-coming pilots!


!!!Special offer to promote use of upper launches by our hiking-resistant pilots:
To any pilot that gives me an hour of home-improvement assistance, I will give a voucher good for my carrying their wing up the hill (to Tomato Patch, Cactus, or Kahana) on a weekend or holiday. !!!