Saturday, May 09, 2009

Nightshift goes to Pounders

Four of us were thinking about a cross country flight from Kahana today. I met Wayne, and visitors RT and Conrad out there, and we hiked up to check it out.

Wayne has never been downrange from anywhere, and he was determined to fly his first cross country flight today. After 8 years flying, and recently logging his 200th flight, he knew he was ready. I'll say! Reaper took me downrange on my 18th flight, before I knew any better, and it was a long time before I though I was truly ready for it. But 200 flights is definitely taking your sweet time.

The conditions were not ideal today - it was a bit strong, a bit east, and cloudbase was getting lower by the minute. I managed to get up high in a hole between cloud banks, and announced that I was going to go XC no matter what, but I warned the others that I thought the conditions were a bit advanced. So Wayne responded, wait for me, I'm in! Well, okay then! I waited as long as I could, until a huge super low cloudbank entered the bay and threatened to squash my plans, so I took the opportunity to head to Punaluu, and Wayne was not far behind.

That low cloudbank chased us from Punaluu to Hauula, and then again from Hauula to Pounders. At one point I suggested we might want to consider landing at Hauula Beach Park, thinking that it might be an easier landing for Wayne's first time, but he responded that he wouldn't settle for any landing short of Pounders. Well, okay then! But when we arrived at Pounders, I realized we were going to be challenged. The tide had risen to a super high level, the wind was howling there, and there were four fishing poles in the mouth of the crab pond river.

I aimed to land at the Kahana corner of the beach, and only realized at the last minute that there was tidal water covering the beach almost all the way to the treeline. Uh oh. But thankfully, the wind was strong enough that I was able to just elevator down right to the postage stamp of remaining dry sand, and kite my wing in that strong airflow to maneuver between the trees and down onto the grass.

I ran back out to see what Wayne would do. He opted to follow my example - oh no! I'm not sure I could do that approach again myself. But he made it work perfectly, the landing, the kiting, the dash between the trees to the grassy area. Wow! Way to go, Nightshift!

I caught a ride back with a nice kid from Kahaluu named Kaluna (mahalo, brah), and after I got there I found out that RT and Conrad had already bailed after landing in what they called sketchy easterly conditions. I returned to Pounders to pick Wayne up, and he sheepishly told me he'd almost screwed up his perfect first cross country day by trying to kite the sand out of his wing, and almost got dragged across the highway when a gust came through. Doh!

I ferried the giddy conquering hero back to Kahana and we enjoyed several cold refreshments there. What a great milestone for Wayne. Next time let's get out there on a truly perfect day when we don't have to flee from low cloudbanks, and we can loiter on each ridge as long as we want. Next time!


sandy said...

Hoorah! Congrats Wayne!

You know, I haven't even made it to Pounders yet; landed just one beach short to the South. Maybe you can show me the way someday :-)

nightshift said...

Thanks Sandy. A lot of fun following royalty! Da King is da man, leading my first XC on the island. I did a 30 km mountain hugger when I was a newbie in Pemberton a few years back while being supervised by Reaper. He sunk out with his tandem and I did the rest solo! But it was a piece of cake flying in Spud Valley. Potato fields everywhere, and not a skinny stretch of meager beach in sight. I was very happy to have Alex show me how it was supposed to be done in marginal conditions. I was also glad I had my little ball compass. A couple of times I came close to the white room.