Sunday, January 17, 2010


Ok, so I took a little trip, and as requested, here is the tale. It is a long one, so get a cup of coffee and put your feet up, and this ain't no fish story.

Friday, as you have read in the story below, I had headed out at 8:30 a.m. towards Kahana, hiked up and being the only local pilot, got handed launch patrol duty. I was almost the last one off the hill that day, but was "karmicly" rewarded with a trip to Hauula guided by One Eye. It was not even an hour flight and I still did not get home til '0-dark thirty'. Donna was not as happy as I was because I had been there before and how did it take almost 12 hours to do that, "Your grounded!" I was suppose to have a quick flight so I could get some work done for the party on Saturday.

Saturday I had to make the reluctant post "I am out today, rug rat duty", Donna had actually snuck out before me and left me in charge. So I did not complain, I worked around the house and was getting near done when Donna came home, I called Brazilian Ray. "Not that great here at Kahana", he reported. I felt better about missing a flight if it was not too great.

Donna had given Reaper a call for some reason and I am not sure what he said but Donna gave me a green light and said, "Pete said it is working at MPU and you were good today, so why don't you go get a quick flight in". At first I said no, I have a few things to do yet, then I looked up at Olomana, I bet I could make it there again today.

I left asking Donna if I make a trip to Green Walls today it may be a one-way trip and she volunteered to pick me up, just be home early, was here only request.

On my way to MPU, Scrappy called. He was leaving MPU to Kahana to do a family tandem. He said it was epic at MPU go get some so I agreed to get some for Scrappy. After today it makes you really think about not getting a tandem rating.

When I got to launch it was just Pete, Bonnie, Maui Doug, Brent and Jack. I looked at Doug and said " I am going that way, pointing down range, and my wife said she would pick us up." Maui Doug said, "I am in, you go first".

It was another cake walk to Green walls only stopping to get lift just to see just how high I could get. When I made it to the Pali Look Out, I told Maui Doug, "This is as far as I have been", but Jorge would tell me to, 'Just, do it', so we did.

We crossed to Likelike and then on to the Stair Way to Heaven with no real effort, it was just perfect boaty ridge lift that Maui Doug and I simply enjoyed. We kept going mentioning firsts all the way, dumb move, Reaper heard those and said "Your up to a case of beer in firsts now", so no more mentioning of 'Firsts'. It was good to hear Reaper's voice on the really. After every little jump I would say going to the next ridge at 2800 or so. Reaper kept coming on "Keep going". He was so clear and would describe the next ridge, his voice sounded close, I thought thanks Pete he was following us along the highway like he did for my first Bay Cross, when actually he has a good antennae and was perched at MPU LZ with a beer.

I always told Don that I wanted to do my first trip to Hygenics with him, so I am saving that one, because I had just past it. But now the trip was getting a little more interesting, just how far are we going to get.

Then the other monkeys started clambering from Kahana, I heard the voices of encouragement from Brazilian Ray, Mad Dog, Scrappy, Joey, Ginny and ,still, Reaper, but now I knew where he was still at MPU. Wow I was talking to both sites, cool.

Then I made the decision to make Kahana my goal. The coaxing continued on the radio as I tried to go along the main range behind Pyramid Rock. "No, Good", I radioed to Maui Doug, "We are going to have to make it to the front of Pyramid and then get up from there". So we both headed away from the buoyant ridge, Maui Doug took the smarter route aiming for the beginning of the Pyramid finger that stretched to the Olomana Orchid farm.

I looked at the finger and decided that I was high enough to make a straight stab at it and charted a course over the finger from its leeward side. I am at 3200' this should be ok. I started out and as soon as I left the comfort of the ridge started sinking. I kept trying to calculate my distance from the lift to my goal, I remembered Jorge telling me about not going toward the finger at Olomana there could be some rotor there, "Always come around it, Dude".

Maui Doug was doing the right line but got way too low, so he did an interesting ground spiral landing at Olomana Orchid field. This was the longest feeling part of the flight, I was alone. Dam it where is Jim, he helped me yesterday, then his voice came over the radio, "Looking good, Tommy, I am watching you from Kualoa Park, just keep going". That helped but I was still getting low approaching the back side of finger.

I started looking down the finger for possible LZ spots and none were too promising. I was still not getting any rotor but wanted to think a head. Then I remembered Don saying you don't need an LZ, 'Sidehill'. Not a comforting thought but I do have a track record on that I hope stays in tact.

Maui Doug had radioed up that he was good and getting a ride from Brazilian Ray, good for you I thought but I am committed and it was do it or strange fruit for me. Then I heard it, one solitary beep, just one. I tapped on the vario, no more beeps, I continued to the notch in the finger hoping to slip through, finally I got beeps.

I got there at 1100' which I know seems like a lot but I swear that finger was just under my butt. I soared up topping off Pyramid at 2700' so I headed towards Kualoa. Ginny was at Kualoa, "Land here there is a crowd gathering", she radioed. I was sinking on the way but thought I could still get some lift out of the front of Kualoa. Mad Dog, radioed up. "Don't quit, keep going to Kahana, I will pick you up, our girlfriends are both pissed anyway". When I finally was able to grab my radio I corrected Mad Dog, "Ah, they're called wives now, don't you remember that is why we are having the party."

Lift was to be had but not easily at Kualoa. I got there at 600', but Bob was there, an Iwa, just off to my right. Sky-alis kicked in so I headed to Kahana. I have done this before so my comfort zone was good. When I came over Crouching Lion I yelled a hello down to Jayson at his new Hawaii HQ, I was now beaming, what a trip. I got to the regular East Launch at Kahana and then started in. Scrappy chirped, "Keep going, if your worth a salt" so to add some salt to his words I turned and benched up to 1400'.

Mad Dog was on the beach, I was getting cold, thirsty, hungry and was wondering which couch Mad Dog and I would sleep on tonight, it was really late. I turned to the bay spiraled down for a landing to Mad Dog and a cold Porter, that's right I drank a dark beer, hell I would have drank a Bud.

We headed home and making the phone call to the para-wife had to be made. "Honey, I am at Kahana, but I am already in the truck heading home." She said in a stern voice,"I thought you were just going to Makapuu, it is late and there are people here, I can't believe you drove to Kahana". I replied "Honey, that is where I started from" then a small silence, "Well it had better have been epic out there, I heard it was not that good at Kahana". I then said, "I took off at Makapuu and landed at Kahana". Then the said "Well, I guess that is epic, congratulations". The hot water was now cooling. I was still beaming and shaking when we picked up Maui Doug at Hygenics where Brazilian Ray had dropped him off.

It was awesome, words can not explain. To think for years I thought these monkeys are absolutely nuts, I will never do that, they are crazy. But it was all Don ever talked about and he finally edged me into it. Thanks, Don. Thanks to all the monkeys who have added to my addiction, it was very comforting to hear your voices while on this journey.

The wedding party was intensified by this trip and the late arrival of the groom. I received a framed certificate from the Reaper for my achievement along with his traditional toss into the pool. John 'Duck' Mallard saved my butt by taking up Suicide's old job as grill master, thanks man.

I won't be forgetting this day for awhile, until the next big XC.

Karma, give a little and get a lot.


Mad Dog said...

Thom your everyone's Hero! Epic flight way to go & Many Mahalo's to donna & you for sponsoring Jeannine's & My party at your pad.
Get High, Go Far...

nightshift said...

Congrats Tommy! I'm jealous sitting here in the cold rain. Some day I'll be back to fly that awesome trip, with you leading the way.
Mad Dog, it's about time you made Jeanine an honest woman! Wish I could have been there.

MauiDoug said...

Awesome Thom! Thanks for showing me the way downrange. I'm transferring photos and putting together a wingman's view of your epic Makapuu to Kahana sortie. Congratulations :-)

Anonymous said...

I saw you guys out at Kahana. My girl and I were chillin at the beach. Where did you guys learn how to paraglide? I think it would be something awesome to learn.

Puka Wai said...

Truly an epic flight Thom! It would appear that those aspiring XC pilots vying to fill Doug's large shoes here have a new wake to follow.
I dogmatically scratched up in every little bit of lift at KNA Saturday to make a decent little flight to Pounders, but clearly your karma ran all over my dogma... Rule one of XC, even above "never leave lift" is Follow the Karma!

Anonymous said...

great job Thom you could fly around the entire island with all the karma you have built up, hope to make that flight with you sometime Ike

sandy said...

Three cheers to Donna for giving you the green light for "a little flight at Makapuu"! (and for hosting so many paraparties!)

Great story!

Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

JaysonB said...

You are a true 'giver' Thom, and it was time for you to get some back!

I was home when you yelled down and am still shaking my head in disbelief.

Awesome flight buddy :)

Bon Bon said...

Sick flight, Sidehill. I can't wait to be where you are with your XC flights someday [soon]. I was totally cheering for you the whole time while listening on Reaper's radio, and a quick chime in, "Go for it Sidehill!"

Nice job, dude!

Bon Bon said...

Dude...that's my ranch! That's my fish pond! Sweet.

Doug said...

Nicely done! The transition from the main range to the Pyramid then on to Kualoa is an epic feat! I have tried that transition only to be flushed back to the main ridge several times....only a budding XC genius would be able to pull that one off.

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you "XC" ;)

Good job! :)

Jule from Germany