Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Killer Day @ Kahana

It turns out Jim and I were simultaneously working on articles about the good time we had out at Kahana on Sunday. Since we shared some great air that day, we might as well share the article too. The following are our separate accounts of the day...


By the numbers, it looked borderline at Kahana on Sunday morning. Jim and I have been skunked by identical readings on quite a few occasions. It was about 12-18 on the Punaluu sensor all morning. But, the winds aloft reading was only 11 all the way up to 6,000 ft. Either the sensor was not to be trusted, or that extra wind strength wouldn't last. "Meet ya there in an hour"...

Sure enough, wind at the LZ felt great and I had the feeling that wind on launch might actually be lighter, since it was ENE and we'd be slightly in the lee of the opposite ridge... and that's exactly what we got. It was too light on low launch, so we kept hiking. Like Goldilocks, I felt mid launch was "just right"... I just love how the slope there is naturally straighter into the wind than at low launch, has far less snaggy roots than the high launch, and no octopus trees threatening to grab out at you in an unexpected lull (hmmm - "Goldi's" - new launch name?).

Airborne Ken, who had caught up with us before we launched, headed straight for the high launch - apparently not impressed with the spotty cycles we were feeling at the mid launch. I pulled up in the first cycle that had some oomph to it, and proceeded with my first butt launch. I've had a butt landing before, but this was a first... I stumbled in my turn around and wound up in a sitting down position, with a perfectly flying wing over my head. As if I were just kiting at the park, I simply pulled a couple inches of break and let the wing stand me back up and then carry me away. I'm sure it looked a lot less graceful than my description, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I climbed out immediately in what seemed like ridiculously smooth "all up" conditions. Jim followed me out of mid launch, and Ken soon after from high launch. Jim must have gotten a bum cycle and those perfect conditions eluded him (this time) - for 15 minutes later, he had to make an unplanned landing in a cow pasture on the Punalu'u side of the ridge. And, perhaps the only thing worse than bombing out into a rotory cow pasture is having to walk a couple miles back to Kahana. Unfortunately, Jim did both.

I flew around with Ken until Jim made his way back to Kahana Beach Park. I landed and convinced Jim to give it another try. A day like this just couldn't go to waste. Barely 20 minutes later, we were hiking back up. I went from the mid launch again (a traditional foot launch this time), but Jim wasn't taking any chances this time and headed to the high launch. We both chose wisely - we had terrific flights. And I mean FUN - you couldn't have smacked the smile off my face when it was all over. We made multiple trips way out over the bay and back, getting a taste for the true bay crossings you guys make look so easy.

Man, what a good time... Two flights for me - hour and a half each. Jim gets acquainted with the local livestock, and still musters up the energy for a 2nd hike up and 1 1/2 hour flight for himself. It was KILLER...

Waianae Jim:

Sunday was an epic day out at KNA. Jeff Mc (aka Stalker) was first off of mid launch (up by the lone pine tree) and after an interesting takeoff (stumbled, sat down then applied just enough brake to lift off) he was off and going up right away. As he climbed out easily I laid out in the same spot, while Airborne Ken had hiked up past us to the upper launch. My launch was uneventful, but once I launched I wasn’t finding the lift as easily as Stalker had...

I was flying with a different (Gin Genie II) harness, and am not sure if that was having much effect on my flying. Suffice to say I wasn’t getting it. I tried crossing over to the North launch to find some lift over there. Unfortunately once I got over there, I still wasn’t finding it. At that point the wind was just East enough to make me think I wouldn’t make it back to the beach if I turned around.
Since I was getting low I ran downwind toward the Punalu'u side, and safely landed in a cow pasture. While I was getting acquainted with the local cattle and they were checking out my wing to see if it was edible, Stalker was still skying out and Airborne made it off and up from the upper launch. Ken and Stalker continued to enjoy the sweet air while I hiked back from Punalu’u.

Once I was back at KNA, Stalker landed and we both went back up for another go. Stalker once again chose the mid launch, while for my second try I not only switched back to my normal harness (KI2Fly) but opted to go up to the high launch. Our second flight of the day was great for both of us. We expanded our comfort zone, took a few pictures, and cruised out over the bay and tried a few 360’s, came back around climbed back up. All in all, one of my better days in recent memory and a good three hours of flying for the Stalker.


Alex said...

A double header article! Very nice flight report. Sounds like your batteries got charged up nicely for a change. I hope Jim said hello to those cows for me, it's been a while since I've dropped in on them.

From what Don told me, you guys were lucky not to have launched yesterday before the air went ugly! Talk about dodging a bullet.

Bob said...

The effort's paying off boys. You've paid your dues and nobody deserves a better day than you. So glad that somebody is keeping Kahana warm while El Presidente is away. The day after your flight was fun as well but as Alex mentioned, it was a bit squirrely. Looking forward to flying w/ you both. Moooo

Brazilian Ray said...

good, fun story to read! keep up with the flights so we can hear more stories!