Sunday, August 16, 2009


Just want to do a quick recap of some nice flying out at Kahana today.I had planned not to fly since I started a 12 hour shift work a little over an hour ago and have to stay awake all night. But as most paraglider pilots know this sport is quite addicting and you never seem to get quite enough of a good thing.

So my new plan when I woke up early this morning was to go for a short morning flight, and then nap on the beach for a couple hours before going in to work. I got off regular high launch at Kahana around 9 a.m. and was having a great time flying around while I waited for some company from visitor Jon and Stalker Jeff. I got a call from Rich about 10 minutes or so after launch and told him it was good air out there. Alex drove by on his way to Kaneohe to run some errands and said a quick hello over the radio.

I kept flying around enjoying a great morning. After a while Jon made his way up to high launch, and as he was setting up Jeff called on the radio to say Hillbilly had made an appearance too. As Jeff and Hillbilly hiked up, Jon launched cleanly from the lower part of high launch (per my recommendation for the abundant lifty conditions at the time). Jorge snuck in somehow and made quick work of getting up; as soon as I saw him any plan of a short flight was thrown out the window. He was flying his M3 with the pod harness, and I was thinking (and saying on radio), now we HAVE to go downrange.

So off we went: myself, Jorge and visitor Jon, toward Punalu'u. I hit the Punalu'u ridge first and radioed back that there was good lift on the ridge. Jorge arrived shortly after and was so high he didn't even stop at the ridge. That was unfortunate for Jon, since this was his first XC attempt, and he was following Jorge, although at a much lower altitude. As Jon came in toward the ridge, I tried to convey to him that he needed to turn more left toward the ridge. He did ask on radio if he should go over the ridge, and I apologize if my directions were not clear enough.

Well, he ended up going over the ridge a bit low, and got stuck behind in some rotor. I helped him to push back out and land in a farm out past the Punalu'lu ridge. He had a safe, but "bumpy weird air" landing. I told Jorge I was going to land at Hau'ula beach park, since I needed to get back in time to catch a nap before work at least.

I made a very poorly judged approach to land, in wind that was quite brisk at the beach park, and as a result I ended up trying to land right between two palm trees. There was no beach to speak of, and I barely touched down on dry land. My wing wasn't so lucky: as it came down one tip hit the water, and soon almost half the wing was in the ocean. I was having frantic thoughts about having to cut myself free when some really helpful locals came running down the beach and helped me get the wing out of the water. I owe those people; they kept me from having to cut my way out. Jorge helped me dump the salt water and sand out of my wing.

After Jorge and I packed up we were waiting for a bus, and we got a great gift from JD and LeeAnn. They showed up with visitor Jon in their car already, and gave us all a ride back to the LZ. Stalker Jeff and Hillbilly did a short jump over to Ching's, landing there because the winds seemed to have gone quite east. The biggest lessons for me on this flight: when going downrange with someone new (like Jon), be very attentive to give adequate instructions; and, when landing in strong wind, approach a bit high and check penetration. If I had approached just 50 ft higher I could have used the speed bar to push to a dry landing.

Thanks to everyone for their help with my wing, especially Brazilian Ray, Jorge, and Ginny.


Alex said...

Awesome writeup, Jim! I made a few very minor edits - hope you don't mind. I am hoping to get time today to post my own quick recap of the last three days of great flying, along with a few pictures.

Sorry about your wing getting wet! I know that feeling - I guess most of us do. But it sounds like you received a valuable lesson with minimal damage or injury, and that's always a good thing!

Brazilian Ray said...

your wing is doing great and will be full recovered soon!

thanks for sharing your experiences!

Brazilian Ray