Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where's Frank?

over-the-shoulder blind shot of homeAnswer, on Sunday: N21' 30.852, W157' 54.966. Or more importantly now, where's Frank's story? Well, while you're waiting for that, I'll chime in with my tale of the day.

First thing arriving at Kahana Sunday, Submarine Steve tells me that he's just heard on the radio that Frank has deployed and landed safely on the other side! Other pilots start arriving (Bob, Ray, Randy, Reaper, Peter and Hiliary) and most of us try to figure out what Frank's options are for getting out (hiking? 4-wheel? tubing down the water ditch?), while Reaper goes to see if he can get a chopper ride, for Frank, of course.

After getting his GPS coordinates to the SAR guys, we all feel it's high time we get up the hill. Alex, Don, Airborne, and Russell and some others I don't know well yet have already been soaring around for quite some time. Scrappy at some point came zooming in after an almost-had-it bay crossing.

Peter and Hiliary have a nice tandem launch, but land for lack of vario. Scrappy who ambled back up with us also drops out of the sky for reasons unknown. Steve gives it the college try after a long absence, but falls prey to the very weak conditions. Russell, Don and Alex head downrange. Ray, Bob, and I work the light, thermic lift to get up to altitude. Pretty soon Ray throws down the gauntlet for the thermal challenge. And it was indeed challenging as it was clearly not the plain-ole Kahana ridge lift. I can see Russell and crew working the lift on other hill tops, but I just can't seem to find enough height to follow. Plus, now, without having had a decent lunch, I'm starting to feel a bit peckish, so I stay at home base playing thermal tag with Ray. With the sun fading away behind clouds, Ray gives up the fight and heads in for some kiting with Jiah. But I am just too mesmerized by this game of hide and seek lift to head in, despite a pounding head and freezing cold extremities.

The downrange crew have triumphantly landed around Pounders. I'm all alone, circling around under grey clouds. Finally, when I'm starting to get just lonely enough to head in, I spot more pilots on the hill. Yeah! Christine, Jeff and Jim are getting ready to join me, with Nightshift on the way. I was initially reluctant to head down to their level for fear that I wouldn't be able to find the up button again, but the lure of warmer temps drew me down to show them what the air was like. Oh no! things had surely changed and now it was doing that funny north thing again! I barely made it out of there alive (well, I did make some scary passes close to the hill). Woe to anyone not on the North ridge now. =-0

I did manage to find the up button, still a bit thermic, but filling in with ridge lift from the north. When word of the new direction reaches the cooler-flying crew, they start egging me on to try a bay crossing. With Alex's expert guidance and much encouragement from all (didn't I hear something about a case of beer???) I proceeded across. Quite luckily, I seemed to be like a marionette puppet floating across the bay, with occasional tweaks of some invisible strings pulling me up and down as I glided across. At about the 90% mark and 900 feet, the strings were cut and I was on my own with the lion's head nearly in my grasp. I reached his shoulder and a silent vario with just about 560 feet left. The wind lines on the water indicated that the direction was perfect for the lion to give me a boost, and it did. Yeah!! I'm going up, up, up, up, up, up!!! I think I hear cheers in the background. Russell hops in his truck to give chase. Thanks Russell, it was nice to have a friend along for the ride. I also heard tell of Alex, Don, and, Bob giving chase, too. At first I thought, that's a bit much, but I knew I'd be happy to see my friends at the other end. I forged ahead, racing with Russell to Kualoa. With Kualoa in sight, I paused to snap some shots (drats!, camera's in movie mode, and the battery keeps dying.) cruising along in new territoryI hear Ray's welcome to Kualoa on the radio, and sightseeing has led me into some rotory spots. Seems like a good time to land. Yippee!! I made it! Little did I know that Don, Bob, and Alex were actually planning to catch up with me through the air! I later heard there was vigorous hiking and flying (and laying down of beverages, oh my!) involved. Had I known, I would've surely waited. In fact, the ridge looked so lusciously clear, perhaps it might have been a day for a friendly sojourn further. But, alas, that shall have to come another day.

Thanks for a great day, folks! Alex's view; oh, but I wish it were mine


Alex said...

Sandy, I love your flight report. It was a day that will feature prominently in many log books. Thank you for showing us the way to the other side. When it's nice and north like that we get so excited - not even the coolor could tempt us to pass up a chance to follow you over there. I'm proud of you for heading over there all by yourself - sorry it took us so long to catch up!

Bob said...

Sandy, you were an inspiration to us all that day. The day started with what we feared would be very bad news and then we got to see Frank come buzzing back in a shiney helicopter with a smile in his voice. Then to really cap the day you led the boys to Kualoa. And yes, you did hear cheers from the beach. Good on you.

paliglydr said...

Once again I say, Well Done Sandy! It's one thing to have to listen to a bunch of, er, somewhat inebriated cooler-pilots tell you conditions are perfect for a bay crossing, but quite another to make that mental leap and decide for yourself that yes, you CAN get to the other side. And then pull it off with style, flair, and panache. Loads of panache. I hope to follow you in the air next time, rather than on the ground! :-)

Anonymous said...

wow sandy! congrats.