Monday, June 04, 2007

Reflections: two incredible days at Makapuu

Before anything, let me say that the Aloha shown by the Oahu club is off the charts. Everyone I encountered was super friendly and helpful. This gives me optimism for our planet in an otherwise questionable journey into the new millennium.

Having arguably the best soaring site in the world is a HUGE responsibility. How to manage the many visitors and the new pilots, etc, with an LZ located just inches from Kalanianaole Highway? You are in a fish bowl.

Your club does a great job. Alex and others take the leadership role. I want to applaud them for that. The coconut wireless knew within seconds that I had blown a solo launch at Tomato Juice, and within a half hour Bob was there to help get the A’A’ rocks out of my cells. Minutes later, I launched for an epic 2.5 hour flight from Crazymans. But without the help of Alex, Bob and Don, I’d still be getting my lines free from those twigs at Tomato patch.

During the weekend several tough calls needed to be made. Not easy, Telling a less experienced pilot that he needed to hike up to Tomato Patch. No one wants to say that, but it had to be said. Then Bob, hiked up to assist. That is leadership. A blown landing with a paramotor. Again, tough call. But the leadership acted to protect the best interests of the club. Congratulations to your group! It was an absolute joy to spend two days flying and interacting with you all.

For me personally as a pilot, this weekends experience was enormously invaluable. I probably had more flights (643) than anyone on the planet before earning my P-3 rating. But because the majority of those flights were powered, my free flight experience is still limited. I was pleased that I could find that Zen moment during a high wind launch and that I could stick a soft landing crabbing down K Highway into the LZ. But those skills are acquired through experience and constant practice.

It struck me that there are no easy bunny hill practice areas in Oahu for beginners. This makes the task of training new pilots extremely difficult. The leap to challenging launches and landings is abrupt. On the Big Island too we have our own limitations. Learning to paraglide in Hawaii requires a definite commitment.

Again, thanks to all of the people who make your club so special.

Onomea Eric


Nick said...


It was great seeing you flying our sun-swept skies again. It was great seeing a beautiful Sky wing in the sky. I fully plan on taking you up on your offer to get some motor time on the BI.

Alex said...

Eric, it is always a pleasure to share our sites with you! Thanks for such an effusive writeup - you definitely picked an exciting weekend to come over, and I'm glad you got some good flights in. See you next time!