Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Surreal Life

After my hopes of flying to Sandy Beach from Tantalus were dashed early on for lack of lift over Palolo Valley, I set out towards Diamond Head connecting friendly spots for a landing. I finally creep to the edge of Wakiki, to an easy landing at Jefferson, only to have my normal joy of flying crushed by the sight of a police blue and white cruiser with the lights flashing and one of Honolulu's finest walking to meet me. I had an idea what was next.

The day started earlier, when Jorge and I were headed to meet Alex at Nanakuli. The only problem was Alex couldn't lie to us about the deteriorating conditions out there. Tantalus was still ahead of us and it looked just fine. We arrived to find light cycles and little wind. Judging from the haziness on the horizon there was an inversion which would hamper thermal quality.

I launched first, followed by Jorge. There was quite a bit of lifting air but it was somewhat disorganized. I made 2600', and felt that that was all I was going to get, too low to go west downwind, so I decided to head upwind, with visions of making it past Kaimuki and turning slightly downwind in the SE wind. I had a great glide over to St. Louis Heights losing only 200', but over Palolo I couldn't find anything with more than a 360 of lift. I get a few beeps, I would turn as soon as it started to fade and would usually just find the sink nearby. By the time I was at 1000', I knew I wouldn't make it over the hill at Kaimuki. I basically made a run over Kapahulu Ave. because all the decent LZ's are on the right side. At 400'agl over Kapahulu and Kanaiana St. I bumble into a little ripper micro core, I yoyo up and down 20 multiple times trying to rein it in to climb out of my sinking path. I finally get enough to glide on to Waikiki and accept my fate and land at Jefferson Elementary.

Right as I ball up my glider and try to make myself invisible, the Police cruiser shows up. I walk over, trying to be cheerful. The officer tells me that he has been following me from Palolo and that they have received multiple calls about a "skydiver" over town. The funny thing is that he is smiling, he asks me about airspace restrictions, so I start worrying again. Then he lets me know that he is a private pilot and thinks that it is amazing that you can fly one of these things from Tantalus. We are just having a good time and he is asking a bunch of questions. He is suprised that I am suprised, and asks me why I thought I was in trouble.

At that time, a guy on bicycle, Omar, shows up holding a video camera, shot me flying over his house, he even films me and the officer ( with his permission) shooting the shit, lights still flashing, car blocking traffic.

The officer, Stan head on to crime fighting. Omar the yogi/bartender/skydiver gets my info and generously offers to send me the video clip. I will put it up here when I get it.

I talk Alex into detouring from Tantalus to pick me up on the way. I throw my glider over the school fence and trot across four lanes of the Ala Wai Blvd. I look up and three HPD officers on bicycles are racing toward me. All I can think of is that I just got busted for blatant jaywalking ( as my brother recently got a $100 fine for). The first officer passes within 5'of me on the curb and they all whiz by, obviously in a hurry to get somewhere else. What a strange 15 minutes it has been.

I find out that Jorge was behind me and backtracked to land at UH, Jim detours to pick him up, and we all get back up the hill. Conditions have changed and while it is still very light on launch, it is super thermally boaty out front.

Jorge, myself, Alex, Jeff, Frank and Jim all buzz around the area with everyone sucessfully ( maybe not stylishly) toplanding in the glass off conditions. Ginny and Rich were hanging out, enjoying the festivities, snapping a few photos, sipping a refreshment with the rest of us.

It really was a great day up there, with the most pilots flying in years. Jeff "The Cloud" had his first flight, and found out how hard it can be to come down. There are definitely a few grass stains on the bottom of some harnesses, but it was hard to wipe the smiles off everyone's faces.


JeffMc said...

Thanks for the write-up Dave! Man, I had an awesome time up there... What a great site, and a great day!! I'm happy to say that I don't own any of those grass stains, but I'm happy to claim one of those perma-smiles :)


Harris said...

Wow, good story!

Anonymous said...

You should hear and see Dave tell the story. That is even better.

Anonymous said...

AWOL said - I had a blue brush too Dave. While flying KKH Sat. a small red helicopter flew circles around me the entire 20 min. flight before I landed due to an approaching storm. 2 hrs later I picked up Berndt as he landed same place. Keystones arrived to pick me up for noise disturbance from flying a PPG. A resident heard the annoying helicopter and saw me and assumed a PPG. I replied "Ich spreche irhe sprache nischt gut" and they left more confused than me.

firedave said...

It sounds like one of Mauna Loa Helicopters little Robinson's, the student was probably supposed to do some flying drill out that way.
I love the PPG thing though. "Really Officer,I have no motor".

Jeff, how about some thoughts on your first adventures at Tantalus?