Sunday, April 27, 2008

In search of perfect conditions

We enjoyed two great flying sessions at two very different sites today. As the trades started to fill back in and blow away the vog, the wind strength happened to fall into that narrow margin between not too light for Kahana and not too strong for Makapuu.

It was fun seeing lots of folks flying in the brisk conditions at Makapuu. Jorge and Ray on tandems, Steve, Mcstalker, Nick, Jim, Jetflap, Dave, Frank, Russell, Cliff, and Alan H., to name a few. Thanks to Jetflap for the advice to use Crazys launch - there was certainly tons of nice lift down there. I hope I didn't forget to mention One-eye Jim. He showed us it was possible to punch through to the east side of the lighthouse, but it was definitely a challenge to pick the right line and power through to where the lift was clean and strong.

Conditions at Makapuu were great for launching low and buzzing the tourists, getting up fast and throwing down tricks on small wings. Dave was in rare form on his Morpheus. But some of us who were flying normal sized wings were feeling a bit parked, and soon decided to cut our flights short to head out to Kahana where the sensors promised lighter conditions: the kind where you can comfortably make turns close to the top of the ridge, do some top-landings, and maybe even take a trip downrange. For all I know, the guys started doing all that stuff at Makapuu after we left: "Let's wait until those weenies head to Kahana and then we'll really start having some fun!" I hope everyone had all the fun they could wish for!

So Jeff, Steve and I left for the greener pastures of Kahana, to be joined by Ginny and Scrappy, and much later, by Czech Pete. I spent some time with Dorothy at her parents' house before coming back to check on the launch progress. It was definitely very light out there - not the right conditions for aerobatics on small wings.

As I arrived, Steve had already flown - I heard that he had masterfully plowed through the bushes below mid launch, only to find himself too low in the light conditions to get up - he hiked back up with me but then wasn't feeling well, and had to hike down again. Hope you're feeling better now, Steve!

Scrappy scratched his way up successfully and flew for a while, but then had to land early to meet some friends.

Jeff made a series of experimental launches, toplanding each time right back at launch, before picking a cycle strong enough to get him up.

I launched soon after, and joined Jeff above the ridge, where we dodged a bunch of huge low anvil shaped cumulus clouds that were lumbering over the bay in the very easterly light drift.

Ginny struggled with the demanding launch behavior of her new Mac Eden 3, and also decided to hike down after a while, promising to do some more kiting.

I toplanded (too fast) once while Ginny was still up there, and relaunched just as a perfect blue corridor opened up to point the way downrange for me and Jeff. We headed downrange with Jeff's family chasing for retrieve.

I was feeling very relaxed and nonchalant about the trip, and ended up leaving for each transition lower than I ever have before - I left Kahana with 1450 feet, and left Punaluu with 1200. Because of this I ended up working the last hill just before Pounders for a change, and I noticed two cute little white goats down there, just like the ones at Makapuu. It was fun to make a new challenge out of a familiar XC trip. Conditions were light and easterly with some nice thermals mixed into the ridge lift. And did I mention the towering clouds overhead?

Jeff later remarked that he used to be worried about the thermals at the front of the Punaluu ridge, but after his recent flights at Nanakuli he found today's Punaluu thermals to be quite gentle and easy to work. Jen picked us up at Pounders, and on our way back to Kahana we saw Czech Pete headed downrange on a solo mission, so I grabbed my car and found him just as he was landing at Hauula Beach Park.

What a fun day! Thanks again to Jen for the retrieve.


JeffMc said...

Nice report and pics Alex. It was a FUN day! I was desperately trying to not bomb out at Kahana on those first two attempts, since the family had driven out all that way to watch me fly.... AND Pounders was calling my name. Jen had a good time, and mentioned she might come out more often to be the "chase car" :)

The only thing missing at Kahana was One-Eye. Ginny and I remarked that it was "weird" to be out there without him :)


firedave said...

Two interesting things at Makapuu: I launch out of Manics, Alex is launching Crazy's and Jorge is pulling up his tandem at Tomato Juice. I think 3 launches at once might be a first.
The whales that Ray spotted outside Waimanalo, came around Rabbit and headed into the Bay. The water was extremely clear, so much so that you could watch them play underwater, I only wish I had a video camera.