Friday, March 20, 2009

Tradewinds are Back!

What a beautiful day. You know the tradewinds are back when you're dodging squalls. And the sun is shining. And all your friends are coming out to play. And you get to fly to Pounders.

I flew with Ray and Jorge in the morning. They were flying tandem with an old pal of theirs from Hawaii Kai and his granddaughter from Florida. And Logan hiked up with us too, in hopes of getting in on the tandem action, but after a couple of hours waiting on the hill he got bored and hiked back down.

Actually I think he was bored from the beginning - after I first launched I came back to do wingovers just a few feet over his head, swinging back and forth right over him, and he never looked up from his text messaging. Kids these days. On one pass I actually tapped his head lightly with my boot, and he finally looked up and said "Ow." After he hiked down, as he was taking his shoes off, his grandparents happened to drive by, and they picked him up and took him home, leaving me a little more time to fly.

Big Island John hiked up the north ridge and launched from the upper launch over there. He had been talking earlier about wanting to try some toplandings for the first time. Today was definitely his chance - perfect strength and direction. His first one was a complete accident. He was looking for lift near the east ridge upper launch, and on a downwind pass he swooped in too close, and his feet touched down on the wide flank of undergrowth below the big dirt spot, so I shouted "flare, flare!" Which he did, but he was still running pretty fast, finally hooking his feet on my glider lines which were sort of in the way. He said it was like an aircraft carrier landing. His next one was on purpose, and he landed perfectly just below mid launch. His third one was on purpose too, but not as perfectly set up, and his approach landed him deep in the bushes between mid and high launch.

Scot hiked up with his girlfriend Shelly, and I told him I wished I could fly to Pounders, but I was running out of time before Logan and I were due in town to play a concert. He said Shelly was willing to retrieve us, so we made plans for a quick blast to Pounders. I flew into the clouds at around two grand and boated across Punaluu Valley, but didn't find much on the next ridge, only enough to head across Sacred Falls Valley to the next ridge. I heard Scot say the guys at Kahana were reporting that the wind had died back there.

I saw Scot pull into the Punaluu ridge and sky out - he said he got quite a rodeo ride. I worked the Sacred Falls ridge, and Scot soon joined me. We didn't find much there either, but finally got a nice boost up to about 1,700 feet and shot off to Pounders.

After landing, Scot called Shelly, but she didn't answer. We folded up, and crossed the road to try hitching a ride, as he continued to call. I called the guys at Kahana but they were all in the air. A bus passed us because we weren't actually at the bus stop. We kept calling Shelly and kept trying to hitch. Scot had a nifty sign that said "Glider Pilot Needs Ride" but no one even smiled at us. Finally we moved to the bus stop and waited for the next bus.

An hour after we landed, we got on the bus and headed back. Halfway to Kahana, Shelly called to see if we needed a ride. Oh well - apparently she hadn't heard the phone ringing. Thanks to Shelly for the retrieve offer - we'll take her up on it next time. Thanks to Scot for the bus fare. Note to self: stuff some dollar bills into my backpack for bus rides.

I jumped in my car, sped home, picked up Logan and dashed into town for the concert. Somehow we made it with just enough time. As we passed Kahana I could see four gliders in the air and two on launch. Looked like Jim, Jeff, Ray, and Thom, and two others. Maybe John, and Scot for a second flight? Or did anyone else come out? I'm glad to hear Thom got another good flight. And it's great to see that Jeff came out, and apparently still remembers how to fly! See you guys next time.

I didn't take any pictures today because I forgot my memory card. I hate when I do that. Hopefully someone else got to take some pictures. And maybe someone has a good story to share too!


Brazilian Ray said...

Nightshift came in early and Kona john hiked up for one more flight, top landing again after the wind died a bit...
Thom had a good 1 hour flight and practiced big ears, turns with ears, 360s and got higher than 1200!
this is his solo flight number 6 in oahu and maybe # 12 with tandems and maui flights. way to go!

we all waited at the beach for the blinkies and nightshift didn't disappoint! he top landed to wait for a squall to pass and flew after it cleared, making sure it was dark enough before landing :)

Anonymous said...

Actually it wasn't entirely Shelley's fault. Her phone never rang. F'in Verizon. :(


Alex said...

Scot, glad to hear you got to the bottom of the phone mystery. But I never did think it was her fault - we should never blame our retrieve drivers for being late no matter what - we need them too much! And when they happen to be your girlfriend - even more reason to hold her blameless! Seriously though, I started that XC knowing I had a limited timeframe, which was pretty dumb of me, so it served me right to be stuck at Pounders to think about what a dumb plan it was. In any case it was a super fun flight, and it was ages since I'd been down there, and who knows how long til we try again, so thanks again for the great company!