Monday, May 04, 2009

Vog Day Afternoon

Thanks to our friends on the Big Island for pointing their volcanoes in our direction this week - yeah, we've really been needing that dose of sulfur dioxide. It looks like we'll be enjoying that acidic taste in the back of our throats for a while, as the light southeasterly flow is forecast to stick around for another week or so. But at least it doesn't keep us from flying!

Four of us soared for several hours in super light and miasmic conditions at Kahana today: me, Scot, Nightshift, and an uncharacteristically ambivalent McStalker. Poor Jeff was worried that we wouldn't get up, or that he might have a better time at Makapuu, but I cajoled him into coming out to join us, with promises of XC and Torpedoes. (Turns out he could have followed Jorge on an XC to Olomana and back, or danced on the lookout railing with Reaper. I hope he can forgive me!)

The Punaluu sensor was averaging a meager six miles an hour for most of the afternoon, with a minimal gust factor, which generally portends very weak thermals. Sure enough, the air was not rising with a lot of energy. But it was easy enough to launch and slowly work our way up. Sea breezes can provide some of the smoothest conditions we ever see here, especially when the atmosphere is as stable as it was today.

After we'd been up a while, the clouds dropped down to meet the vog, blending the ocean and sky into a perfect unbroken expanse of blue and grey. Scot said it was the ugliest day he'd ever flown - but I actually thought it was kind of interesting looking in a strange soupy way. We had high hopes for heading downrange, but only Scot got high enough to make the jump - he worked the Punaluu ridge for quite a while before finally throwing in the towel, heading down to land in a field below.

At the end of the day the Telluride boys showed up for a late session, but it was sled rides for all of them. The sea breeze was winding down, and by that time the vog had cleared up considerably. I managed to work my way back above the ridge as the visitors buzzed down to the beach, and I enjoyed some very nice buoyant air all around the ridge, finally coming down from behind the trees and soaring them for a while before landing.


MauiDoug said...

Alex, are you up for another sulfur dioxide fix at Kahana today? Let me know, I'm off today.
Thanks so much for your editorial work in converting my story. I'll get my PC going again to avoid the extra work!

nightshift said...

Thanks for the ride to Tantalus, Alex. I have to buy a Cobra now. I know I would have stayed up with you if I was flying one. Nothing to do with piloting skills, right!?