Friday, November 07, 2008

A Tale of Two Sites

A bunch of us flew at Makapuu and Kahana today, in conditions that were so different it seemed like the sites were on different planets. Maybe this should be the tale of two solar systems.

The morning sensor readings and the high cloudbase suggested a good XC day at Makapuu, or at least a sea-breeze Cactus-launching and top-landing day. At around noon, I hooked in at Manics as Chopper Dave was measuring 13-15 mph, but by the time I was ready to launch it had increased to 18-20. So Dave and I went down and launched from Crazies instead, soaring above Makapuu bay and the lighthouse to get a feel for the conditions.

Meanwhile Jorge showed up and launched, blasting straight up and then straight to Greenwalls. He came back soon afterwards, calling it "mellow with light wind". But he had stuff to do, so he landed, urging us to go get some.

Brazilian Ray launched soon afterwards. Me and Ray got high at Ironwoods, and from there we made a couple of halfhearted sorties around the corner to check out Jorge's promise of mellow conditions, but to us, the wind seemed like it was nuking. Ray returned to the east end of the ridge and reported that he was "quite parked", and that the "windsock was full".

I tried to follow him back several times, but each time I found myself getting hammered by the strength of the turbulent lift in the lee of Rabbit Island, and returned to Ironwoods. Finally I got myself nice and low and snuck under the worst of it, but as I got to the other side and headed out between flat island and the lighthouse, I again found myself in inexplicably strong and bumpy lift. Where was that coming from? The wind lines were coming from the east, but the windsock was showing a more northeast flow.

Ray landed at the LZ where Chopper Dave was folding up, and reported north and funky conditions there, so I landed at the parking lot at the Heiau side instead, in a very strong and gusty airflow, elevatoring straight down.

Soon after we landed, Jeff and Mark from San Diego showed up, and we all went to watch One-eye Jim launch at Crazies. The visitors were properly horrified to see such a hazardous launch site. Jim got up and reported that he didn't like the strong and bumpy conditions any better than we had, and he landed soon afterwards. We met Reaper's new student Roland at the LZ. (I heard that Reaper showed up later, and Ray got to kite the FLX.)

I suggested that the visitors would have an easier time at Kahana, and they followed me and Jim out there to meet McStalker and Maui Doug. We all ran up the hill and launched just as the sun was sinking behind the Koolaus.

The conditions at Kahana were light and easterly, and incredibly smooth - it was like a different planet from Makapuu. Sweet! I toplanded a few times at high launch, and helped Doug and the visitors get airborne. The five of us then proceeded to fly all along the ridge in the fading light. McStalker and I were contemplating a twilight run to Pounders, but before we left, eagle-eye McStalker spotted a wide band of gusty texture on the water headed our way, so we all rushed down to land just ahead of it, as darkness began to fall in earnest.

McStalker procured a variety of tasty cold refreshments for us and we retired to Bobo's for a celebratory feast. Good flying with everyone today: Chopper Dave, Ray, Jorge, McStalker, Jim, visitors Jeff and Mark. (I heard Frank flew Makapuu after we left, staying low in the bowl.)

1 comment:

MauiDoug said...

Wow, that flight was absolutely amazing! I still am feeling the rush from it! Light conditions, butter smooth with enough lift for the newbie me. Thanks guys for your launch assistance :-)

It's really cool of the veterans to wait and assist the visitors and the new pilots with launching. It really helps with building confidence and peace of mind!

Also thanks for the beers and the great new grind spot, Bobos. That was the perfect way to end the day!

Thanks so much! MauiDoug