Sunday, November 05, 2006

On the hunt

After a week-long spell of dodgy weather, Saturday looked promising to swallow some sky. Blue skies and good winds from somewhere outta the south made DH the first choice for a look see. Jetflap and Dick dropped by at 8:30 and saw SW winds but nothing flyable.

I cruised by Sandy's and the wind was blowing SW at 15-20 - weird. I went over to Crazy's and the LZ to see what was happening - absolutely nuking. The wind was venturing through the Manix pass and creating 25 to 30 mph winds on the beach and the LZ - really weird. We all met at the parking lot for the Makapu'u lighthouse thinking maybe something along the road up to the lighthouse. We found a possible launch but the wind was kicking so we figured maybe DH may have filled in - we ignored Mariners as Jeff really wasn't in the mood for a hike. Back to DH but nothing doing - too SW and not enough. Dejected, we broke up at 11 and decided to do domestic duties.

Around 4pm Alex called with a two hour window to fly before a party. I was game and very bored with domestic details. We met at Mariner's LZ but the wind was cranking there and at launch. Desperate, Alex made the call to Renegade Dave to find out where to fly on a SW day - he already knew the answer - Koko Head. Of all the hikes to fly that is by far the best - all paved road. After 20 plus years of living here I never made that hike. I was surprised with all the foot traffic - hikers, joggers, pets, etc. We even had a truck drive by us on the way to the top - didn't even give us a look - I thought we were busted. It is advisable to keep a low profile though.

At the top we dropped down about 30 yards on the SW windward side to large expanses of lava. Compared to our other launches, this was heaven. You could launch 20 pilots simultaneously off that face. Conditions were perfect - 12-15 mph with a few spikes to 18. Only disconcerting thing was the LZ was not visible but with all the wide open spaces a side-hill landing is very doable. We called fire rescue as these residents aren't use to frequent flying in their backyard.

Alex launched first and went straight up and out - good sign - no scratching. I'd done that before on Tantalus with two other pilots and it gets crowded quickly. I launched and we both cruised in a 150 meter wide lift band - plenty room for two or more. Since we weren't sure of our altitude limit (4k for Crater and 1K for DH) we stayed in the 650-800 arena. That way we stayed outta visual of the Haunama Bay peeps. Once up the LZ is quickly visible.

I wish we got SW winds more often - this is a great flying location. With such a long sloping face there is plenty of room to fly without flying over houses. The sun set as the full moon rose for an awesome sight. If you got high enough you could make the jump over to Koko Crater to soar that face with plenty LZ in that area.

Alex and I both had cameras and got plenty of pix for your vicarious delight. Check out mine here and Alex's here.


Alex said...

Frank, wow, what a detailed write-up! This weekend was definitely a wind chaser. I flew three days starting Friday but all of them involved a struggle.

On Friday I hiked to the high launch at Nanakuli with Dave and Don and McStalker, with visions of top landing at aircrafts, but we just ended up scratching hard just above launch height until we couldn't take it anymore.

Then on Saturday, after hearing about Frank, Jeff and Dick chasing it all morning, I nearly gave up for the day, but finally scored a furtive but fun flight with Frank over Portlock. As Frank points out, it's an advanced spot with many hazards and a risk of law enforcement, but on the right day it's a world class soaring spot.

Then today we chased it to Mariners again, hoping to join Jetflap in the sky there, but by the time we arrived he was already gone and the conditions were strong and a bit too southerly. One Eye and Dick hiked up and down to check it out.

So we made the marathon drive to Tantalus where the southerly winds were just a bit too westerly, and we watched Dave pull off a backwind launch and a leeside scratchfest before tucking into the pullout below.

Finally we hustled back to Mariners again and hucked off in what seemed like better conditions than earlier, but I sunk out and had to watch Frank and Dave scratch back and forth on the ridgetop for an hour before they gave up too.

firedave said...

I was definitely more work in recent days finding a place to fly, but there is some reward in finally getting a flight.

With the tradewinds returning getting airborne should prove easier.

I do apologize for any wild goose chases I might have been part of.