Monday, January 19, 2009

Monkeys over Munchkinland

What a strange and incredible dream I had last night. I woke up feeling a bit groggy this morning, for some reason I can't quite remember, so I'll just jot down what I can recall before the details of the dream fade away into the oblivion of full wakefulness.

I dreamt that a great and powerful wizard was planning to pack up and leave these magical islands, and a bunch of crazy flying monkeys scheduled a goodbye party for him, and that the day dawned freezing cold with the highest postfrontal cloudbase ever seen, with a light northerly arctic flow that pumped the monkeys as high as they wanted to go into the freezing stratosphere, 4 grand, 5 grand, whatever they were dressed for, and around ten of them flew downrange from Makapuu, some out to the Emerald Walls and back, but most of them to Kaneohe and Kahaluu, with the wizard under a borrowed wing going even further and crossing the Koolaus behind Boogaland, then flying all the way across the central plains to his favorite Nanakuli bombout zone at Kunia Road, and afterwards all the monkeys and all the munchkins and even their dogs gathered back at Makapuu for more flying, including tandems for all the munchkins, and tasty barbecue and beverages and wild revelry until late into the night. What a nutty dream, right? The strangest part is, you were there, and you were there, and you, and you too! I guess there really is no place like home. A dream like that is a perfect memento of what a great place this is to live and fly.

By my count we had over 50 people out there flying and celebrating at Makapuu yesterday: 21 Oahu PG pilots, 3 Maui PG pilots, 4 HG pilots, and a big fat teeming multitude of family members, kids, friends, and dogs. We haven't seen a cloudbase like that with light onshore winds at Makapuu in at least five years, maybe more. The downrange vista was just glistening with cold dewy freshness in the morning sun as we started out on the day's big adventure.

In addition to Doug's milestone Makapuu to Kunia flight, Joey and Jim scored their first big Makapuu XC trips, with Joey landing at the mental hospital (along with Chopper Dave, me, and Maui Abhay - nice place to visit but wouldn't want to live there), and Jim making it all the way to Hygienics (along with Maui Jon). I was high, around 3,600 feet, as I started the crossing from Haiku into Temple Valley ahead of Jim and Jon, but somehow managed to get flushed back down hard, forced to join Dave and Joey in the swirling turbulent air above the loony bin.

Meanwhile Doug had blazed ahead at full speed on the Apco Lambada loaned to him by Jim, and decided to make an unprecedented hop over the back of the main range from about 4,700 feet above Boogaland. Even from that lofty beginning, he still encountered strong sink all the way over to Mililani - makes you wonder how much you'd really need to sail over clean. Not that we'll ever see a higher cloudbase than that in our lifetime. Dave flew out to Olomana and back, almost landing there but saving it in the nick of time to get back in the game. Scrappy worked on his tandem flying under his shiny new rig. Ray and Jorge and Dave flew numerous tandems as well, for friends and family, including a lot of lucky kids. Zillions of other great flights were made throughout the day by pilots from all corners of the earth.

Thanks to Dave for organizing the party. Thanks to whatever higher powers saw fit to grace our chosen day with the best downrange flying weather in a decade. Thanks to our trusty retrieve drivers, Thom and Hilo Ken - you guys are racking up massive points for when it's your turn to get a ride. Thanks to the kind folks who brought goodies to share, and a special big mahalo to Jamie for the scary punch - that was probably the fuel for my strange dream state. Thanks to everyone who came out and made it such a perfect day of flying and partying: Frank, Jorge, Maui Aaron, Bob, Rich, Berndt, Hilo Ken, Ginny, Jaro, Maui Jon, Maui Abhay, Oahu Jon, Chopper Dave, Joey, Doug, Caroline, Kaile, Noah, Matt, Shiloh, Scrappy, Mr. and Mrs. Scrappy Senior, Fireman Dave, Patti, Lani, Logan, Ray, Noell, Blanca, Jim, Jeff, Jen, Mazzy, Nightshift, Lori, Harris, Jamie, Brandt, Mike, Dale, Sam, Tim, Doug's friend Vicky, her kids, and everyone else who I'm too groggy to remember.

Doug - you will be sorely missed here! Thanks for all the great coaching, for your encouragement and inspiration over the years. You have raised the standard of serious flying here beyond what most of us will ever achieve - though of course we'll keep trying to figure it out. Anyway, I know we'll soon be hearing about that guy from Hawaii who is breaking all the state records out in the flatlands of eastern Washington. Maybe you can pioneer some nice easy routes for the benefit of your mere mortal Oahu buddies who are going to want to come out and visit. Or maybe we'll be hearing about that eastern Washington pilot who is driving his monster truck around to all the mainland competitions and kicking some serious hiney. Maybe you'll see some of us at one or two of those events. Stay in touch, and let us know how it goes out there in the big world! Come back and visit us when you can! We'll still be here, flying around in circles and wondering how we'll ever fill your shoes.

8 comments:

Dave Bean said...

Great recap Alex, Thank You

firedave said...

I hope Doug will take the time to recap his flight, I mentioned it and he laughed, but it sounds like there were some real "highs and lows", if you will. It would have been nice to be able to get out earlier and see what could have happened. As it was, I kept having party suck pulling me back toward Makapuu.
But shoot, the best Koolau flying day in years, and we have a flying party on it, everybody made it a rocking day!
NOTE: Jame "Death Wish"'s super high octane punch needs to be banned from future events. Public safety reasons.

Brazilian Ray said...

Doug: dad, husband, instructor, mentor and friend of all. We will miss you and "the gang", a lot!!
Have fun out there, try not to freeze and keep us posted on your big flights!

ALOHA
Brazilian Ray

Gravity said...

As I sleep here in the nest of the world's best pilots I am honored and humbled by our home grown sky god. Jesus Doug, did ya have to fly to Kunia road? That may be the deal breaker for all time on Oahu? Damn it, just when we had you in our sights, you blast off off into the sunset again...

Via con dios Amigo and Amiga's.

Reaper

sandy said...

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. ...
I'm clicking my heels frantically, yet when I open my eyes, there's still snow and barren trees outside. [sigh]

Doug, what the @#!* are you thinking???!!!??? No, no, sorry, it'll be fine. I'm sure a whole world of great opportunities awaits you and your family in the PacNW. If you all get a hankering for the lovely mountains and other sights of Utah, give me a call or stop by!

Thanks for all of your wonderful guidance and assistance over the years and best wishes for you and your family in your new world.

Congrats on a great flight -- sounds like you all had a day you truly deserved.

Aloha!
Sandy

Waianae Jim said...

Thanks for another great write up Alex. Glad I got in on the opportunity to go down range with Doug and have him school us all on the x-c possibilities yet to be explored. Mahalos to Chopper Dave for his encouragement on crossing to the Pali and Maui Jon for leading the way down to Hygienic store LZ. I'll miss Doug's advice, and guidance. I hope he and his family find many new adventures in their new home, and they keep us up to date on those. A big thanks to Hilo Ken for the retrieve and to Ginny for the chili to tide me over until the other stuff was ready to eat. Awesome party. Ahui ho! we'll miss you Doug, Caroline, Kaile, Noah & Matt.

Anonymous said...

How prophetic was Fireman's post last Friday on Windlines, 16 Jan.

"firedave: this sunday might be shaping up to be a big flying weekend. Maybe Doug will score THE flight before he leaves town?

firedave: i was referring to the Makapuu/OTB@Booga/Wahiawa/Kaena that we have been looking at as the end all for Oahu XC distance, 41m

firedave: need light winds, 4g+ cloud base and thermals"

No one has called it like that - not even the NOAA boys with all their satellites and software algorithms.

Alex said...

Good point, Mr. Anonymous. We appreciate Dave's spooky prescience in picking a day like that for our party. Don swears Dave only picked it because Don was sure to be out of town.

I also find it funny that I wrote in my Jan. 15th Diamond Head wrapup, "Now all we need is a good day at Koko Crater, maybe some North Shore or Dillingham action, and an epic Makapuu downrange flight, and we can call it a perfect winter." We managed to check off 2 out of those 3 criteria in one weekend - so now I guess we are only one Koko Crater flying day short of a perfect winter! But actually I imagine we'll have many more chances to round out this flying season.