Saturday, April 05, 2008

Strong north day at Kahana

After several attempts this past week, and after waiting out squalls and strong winds with my buddies all day today, I finally managed to harness these northerly winds to cross the bay, during a surprise lucky window this afternoon. It was beautiful over Kaaawa in the afternoon light, just like I remembered it! It would have been even sweeter with some company over there, of course. But it was still great to see everyone who came out today.

Jim called me early from Kahana, and I joined him around 9. I launched for a quick warmup flight in moderate NE conditions, and toplanded to avoid a massive squall. Jim almost got airborne, but decided to wait out the squall. Jeff and Don hiked up just as the squall hit. Suicide showed up not long after that and made his way up as well.

But after the squall passed through, the wind filled in behind it with a vengeance, strong and cross from the north. We waited up there another hour or so, before it seemed to grow marginally lighter and less cross. I executed what the guys called a creative launch, shooting between some trees and working the strong turbulent crosswind around the corner and up into the abundant lift. It was the stiffest north wind I've ever flown there. After quite a while waiting to see if anyone else would feel like launching to come up and park with me, I decided it was too strong to enjoy properly, and I landed - it was nuking on the beach, about the limit for kiting.

As I landed, Fireman Dave and Czech Peter appeared and hiked up, passing Don, Jeff, Jim and Suicide as they were hiking down. I talked to visiting pilot John from SF for a while at the LZ. Dave launched his tiny Morpheus as Reaper and Sony showed up, and we did some extreme kiting and beverage consuming at the LZ while watching Dave parked up there.

After Dave landed, Reaper, Sony and Suicide left to join Quentin at Piikoi's party; Jim went home; and Dave went to check out the kiteboarding. Me and Czech Pete hiked up again, because we thought it had grown a bit lighter, and we wanted to try and land at Piikoi's party to surprise the other guys. Sure enough, it was launchable, though still kind of strong and still super cross.

I got to 1900 and managed to just barely cross the bay, flying the last half on full speed bar, and finally squeaking low around the knob and into the lift over there. Czech Pete had to work valiantly to get up in the tiny Buzz, and got to about 1700 before trying to follow me across the bay, but ended up bailing for the LZ midway. I flew over Kaaawa for a while in very strong lift, before coming back to join him at the LZ - the guys had already left Piikoi's party so there wasn't much point landing there.

Dave ended up finding it too light for kiteboarding at Kailua, so he hiked up Lanikai and launched from the low shoulder there, flew for a bit in very strong northerly conditions, and then landed on the beach, where he happened to meet visiting pilot Chris from DC.

It was great to see everyone out there - maybe we can try again tomorrow!

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