Saturday, May 23, 2009


Did I conquer Nanakuli today? In some ways probably so, in others probably not - but the simple fact that I was lucky enough to get off low launch there, work the somewhat ratty thermals up high enough to venture out and land on the beach is really satisfying to me.

I haven't flown that site in about six months, and to get other pilots to come out to the west side to keep me company is sometimes difficult (except Jeff). A big Mahalo to the crew that made the journey, although not everyone was lucky enough to get to fly: Ginny, Jeff, Laurel, Gary, Alex, & Berndt. We all carpooled up near a house where Jeff and I have had favorable interactions in the past. There's a super nice guy named Hana that lives there and who doesn't seem to mind if we park there, it also provides a more stealthy approach to avoid unfriendly interactions with some of the other neighborhood dwellers. One of these days soon I gotta run over and give that guy some beverages or something.

Alex, Laurel and Gary made the call for high launch and they all proved their hiking prowess by getting up there faster than most of the followers made it to low launch (Berndt arrived a little later and could likely easily keep up with them). By the time Ginny, Jeff and I arrived at low launch there were consistent cycles rolling in at about 10-12, and they seemed to be building quickly. I laid out as quickly as I could before the cycles got too strong and still ended up waiting a bit for a lull to pull up in. My wing didn't quite inflate evenly, and as I coaxed the uninflated side open I got picked up straight off launch. As I yelled "see ya later" while going right up over launch, I knew this day would be a challenge for my weak, low bump tolerance persona.

Alex had launched shortly before me and as usual was way up there (somewhere...). I had no problems getting up to high launch height and a bit higher, but the air was a bit bumpier than I cared for so I chose to make this a relatively short flight. Laurel was able to get off high launch while I was still flying around and we helped each other find some lift for a while.

But when Alex had a bad stall up over the peak and was struggling to get back in the game, as he headed out toward the water and beach I decided to follow. His intentions may have been to fly in that bumpy stuff for longer, and I apologize if I in any way dissuaded him from that pursuit by running out to land after little more than 30 min or so of flying. After Alex and I landed Laurel showed us both up - she got up well above the peak and rode some of those bumper cars for quite some time. It was a great time for me, and thanks again to everyone for their encouragement and support.

But the story doesn't end there. After a few post flight beverages we all made the call to go take a look at Makua. As I drove in Alex said "it's on" and he, Berndt and Jeff decided to hike up within minutes. I opted to fly the cooler since my goal for the day had already been accomplished.

Alex demonstrated his light wind soaring skills, launching from the top of the ridge. Berndt had a short flight (minus some important headgear). Jeff wasn't having much luck, having set up a bit lower down the hill than Berndt and Alex. I hiked up to try and help Jeff get off, unsuccessfully. Berndt hiked up again to retrieve the aforementioned headgear and got the last flight of the day from the top. Laurel, Gary, & Ginny had some good times watching the show from below. Hopefully Alex, Gary and Laurel will share some of their pictures - I didn't take any.



Alex said...

Thanks for the story, Jim! I got some good pictures - I'll post them up later tonight.

Thom said...

Awesome read Jim, did see a picture of your West side beach landing.

Hope to fly there soon to get some thermal schooling.

I think we got a good trade in the Big Island/Oahu swap.

Don Ike for Laurel. She's a good pilot and better looking too. Welcome to the Flying Monkeys Laurel.