Monday, December 01, 2008

Round Top Round-Up

Yesterday started as one of those great blue sky, windless mornings that come after a grey rainy day like Saturday. I received a call from Don that the action was at Cactus and I made my way out there to fly a tandem visitor, that was itching to get airborne before his flight home. On my way out there, I got a call that the wind died at Makapuu and that Sandy's should be the place to go.

I arrived at Sandy Beach to find a super light south wind blowing in, surely not enough to fly Koko Head. Annika, Arvid, Regina, Frank and others had landed at Sandy's already, attempting to soar Koko after flying over from Makapuu.

Maui Jon was itching to fly or at least check out Tantalus, before his SuperFerry ride back to Maui. I bailed on my tandem and the caravan of vehicles headed to Tantalus. Scrappy, Scott, Jon and I arrived on launch to find it dead, with an occasional light cycle coming up one side or the other. Knowing that there could still be some action away from launch I laid out my glider, looking for a soarable cycle. One aborted launch wafted into the bushes, one line over abort and one time I was popped off by the thermal and I was off. It felt a little leeside, thermalling close to the hill, but there was some strong up in it and just got better as you went up. The clouds looked like 3000+ over the Koolau, but at about 2500ft it kind of looked and felt like you were bumping into an inversion.

Scott launched and I watched him climb up. I decided my plan for the day was to head east, hoping to make it towards Hawaii Kai. I came in low over the high rise dorms of UH's lower campus and finally hooked a nice climb back to 2200'. By then I could hear the boys on the radio all airborne, including Jon, who was going to miss his boat, but couldn't resist flying.

The lift was on, and I was climbing happily, except that there were "others" flying at 2 grand. I waved and gave a big mahalo to the big Mahalo as it passed by, gave up my plan of flying over Kaimuki and decided to link up all the inviting green areas on the way to Waikiki. Out over Waikiki, I could see Frank's boat anchored offshore, I chickened out on climbing up deep over the highrises, went out gliding over toward Kaimana beach and turned to land in Kapiolani Park, since the beach was so crowded.

By then, Scott and Scrappy were on the ground at Manoa District Park, Jon ended up at UH. I got a ride back up to my van on top by Patti, and watched Jorge and Scrappy flying around in the now smoother and more consistent conditions, top landing a couple of times. Maui Jon was out looking for me, after getting a ride up from Wayne, a new/old PG pilot from way back. Jon, Jorge and Scrappy all flew again to round out a busy day.

I am still looking for the big flight from there, as Kapiolani Park is turning into a trade route for me and some exploration is needed in the other directions. All in all, it was a nice afternoon of thermal flying and I hope to see it more this winter.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Yay! Thanks for writing the story, Dave. While I'm temporarily banished to the cold and dreary East coast, there's nothing better than daydreaming about nice toplanding conditions at Tantalus. What a crazy place to fly: the sweetest grassy launch on the island overlooking a spectacular urban island vista, for a flight powered by some of our most thermic air, with an air traffic approach corridor above and a dearth of easy or hassle-free landing options in the metropolitan sprawl below. It definitely takes some commitment to fly there. Glad to hear so many first-timers were ready to take the plunge. (If anyone got any decent pictures or video, let me know and I'll link it into Dave's story.)