Monday, August 31, 2009


I've never been part of a group of folks more prone to celebrate every waking moment than paraglider pilots. The shortest sled ride is reason enough for a round of drinks. We'll even raise our glasses out of respect for unflyable conditions. But on the rare genuine special occasions that normal people might recognize as special, we've been known to stage long weekends of festive celebrating that would make Dionysus proud. This weekend's Baby Luau Fly-In, marking the first year of life for Hillery and Peter's happy little sand flea, will go down in memory as a landmark event even for our festive bunch.

Over thirty pilots flocked to Kahana over the course of the weekend. In an uncanny demonstration of clairvoyance, Ginny had voiced her certainty that the weather would be perfect on both days. And it was! I say we should sign her up as our new weather guru.

I counted over twenty pilots at Kahana on Saturday, including a surprise appearance by most of the die-hard denizens of Makapuu. We flew all day long, and at the end of the day, conditions lightened up for a perfect XC pilgrimage to PCC in Laie. I was pleased to have the company of both Jim and Scrappy (flying tandem with Lance) for that fun little trip. We landed in the soccer field behind the amphitheater - thanks to BYU security guard Gerold (Jarrell?) for his support. Thanks to Nick and visitor Jon for the rides back, and for the refreshments. What a great way to warm up for following day's major event!

On Sunday, the official party day, we saw even more pilots, almost thirty, with maybe 15 in the air at one time. It was an amazing sight. By the time I showed up, just after lunchtime, Jim and Joey were returning from Pounders, and Jeff was landing at Hauula Beach Park. After we ate some tasty hot dogs and sausages, Amelia played on the beach with Maile, Kalei, Mazzie, Pete III and Quincy, while I ran up the hill with Malaekahana on my mind.

But as I was stomping my speed bar at a vertiginous 2,600 feet above Puu Piei, in order to get back below cloudbase and start my epic downrange run, I heard a horrible snapping sound, and watched my entire outside A line on one side drift out of reach to dangle behind me. Eww. My wing was still flying okay, but it was kind of soft and wiggly on that side.

I carefully headed out and down to land, but I didn't realize until I was almost down that the line hadn't broken - the D link had somehow come unscrewed and detached from the riser. I heard that a bunch of other guys headed to PCC in a reprise of the previous day's flight - this time I think it was Jorge, Jim and Nick. Thanks for saving Malaekahana (or Kahuku for that matter) for another day - you guys are true friends. Here's to you guys!

While I'm raising my glass, let me make a few important toasts: here's to little P III and many more birthday celebrations with his wonderful family; here's to our amazing group of like-minded iconoclasts, drawn together by our shared fanatical passion for spending time in the air and celebrating every possible moment; here's to the sublime majesty of the mountains and valleys around these islands, over which we ply our strange craft; here's to the support and forbearance of the communities over which we fly and in which we occasionally land; and finally, perhaps most important of all, here's to our long-suffering but supportive spouses - without your support, we'd all be flying, um, without your support. And of course we would really hate that.

I guess I'll see you all at the next big party. Nothing's scheduled yet - but what are you doing tomorrow?

PS. I only took pictures on Saturday, and most of the shots were taken on my second flight, with my old point and shoot camera (because I was trying out Jessica's cool new reversible harness and couldn't figure out how to access my new camera). If anyone has pictures from Sunday's flying or festivities, post a link or send them over and I'll include them here.


Thom said...

Another great story Alex but I had to get the dictionary out to figure out the big words.

Gravity said...

Good party, great weekend, but (sad) it would have been fun to fly yesterday............

Alex said...

Well, thanks for helping out with all the new folks and visitors, Reaper - you definitely are accumulating points for that! It was awesome to see newer pilots Bonnie, Matt, Jessica and JD up there. And what a great surprise to see Rich, Sharky, Frank, and Alan G up with us at Kahana. Not to mention expatriates Chopper Dave, Suicide Pete, and Thomas Ku. Also great to share the air with visitors Jon, Brian, and the dude from Korea - anyone get his name?

Nick said...


Funny line about flying without support. Almost laughed my drink out my nose.


Anonymous said...