Monday, February 08, 2010


Nervous - like a weird feeling in the pit of your stomach… Nervous - like doing an eight ball off of the bumper of a parked police car… Nervous - like, is the pregnancy test positive???… Nervous - like doing Crazyman launches as your first ever free flight!! Yeah, that kind of nervous…

So, I met up with Reaper, Bonita, Maui Doug, Ginny, Matt, Courtney, Jeff Mc, JJ, Andrew, Berndt, Nick, and a slew of others today for launches and AWESOME Makapu’u flights. This was my first flight EVER and I have to say - it is an honor and a privilege to have had the chance to get to know the members of the HPA. You all have been a great inspiration and a great source of knowledge and sharing. It started with kiting, lots of kiting. But, I know that the kiting is extremely valuable. Then it went to towing - S-Turns, 360’s, forward and reverse launches, some bad landings and some very bad landings.

Luckily, I had good conditions for launch—I was on a low level rush since Reaper called me an hour before and told me that it was on and that he thought I was ready. I watched Bonnie launch and she was easily carried away to sail on ridge lift, a right turn, a left, and she was over Sea Life Park. Then Matt, Jeff, and Berndt, all went and they made it look easy. Then it was my turn. Reaper says “You ready?” “Nope”, I reply. Then I was setting up on launch. A’s & C’s - a fair inflation (I think - I was really jazzed at this point - the canopy could have been on fire and I might not have noticed it). I over turned to the right, corrected, along the ridge, a left turn, and then I was following Bonnie. I think it took a while to finally relax. Maybe it was the awesome show put on by the whales, or maybe it was the wind and the view; but, it finally sunk in. I was flying! One-and-a-half to two hours later… a landing I could walk away from.

For years, I have been watching you all above Kahana (as I went to work, as I came home from work, as I thought about skipping work and hanging out with you all), and above Makapu’u. All I can say is thank you! Reaper, thanks for all the great instruction so far (more to come). Bonnie, thanks for babysitting me (and warning me to turn to the right when I saw you hit that major sink!). Maui Doug, Ginny, Jim, Jeff, Alex, and everyone else - thanks for all the good advice!



Alex said...

Thanks for the post, John! You are doing great, keep it up. I still can't believe my luck to have a new flying buddy who lives 5 minutes from me and has a flexible work schedule!

Alex said...

John, one more thing: it's normal to be nervous. Most of us were super nervous on our first flights, and many of us are still a bit nervous at times even after thousands of flights. We just learn to control or harness that slight anxiety, or even to enjoy it. Also, I'm sure you know that Crazy Man is not a typical student launch area - a couple years ago (after Johan was killed there) we all got together as a club and recommended that pilots should have at least an intermediate rating before launching from Crazies, Manics or Tomato Juice (leaving Cactus and the dreaded Tomato Patch for P2 pilots and student training). Not that we haven't seen plenty of confident P2 pilots launch at those spots since then, after they get over their silly worries about the power lines, the rocks and the crashing surf. :-) Anyway, it's obvious that Pete is quite confident in your abilities as a student. I am looking forward to flying with you soon at Kahana! What about today? Give Pete a call!

Gravity said...

Ya did real good today Duck. All the kiting you did paid off and yesterday was a rare day that made it look easy. Alex is right when he says the these are typically P-3 sites, but on the right conditions and with proper RC from an instructor it can be good. Be cautious about Crazymans and manics as they are not very forgiving inthe wrong conditions.

I may be out to Kahana later today. Just kicking the morning cold I seemed to have picked up from my grandson...Ugh!

Pmac said...

Congrats Duck. The first solo flight is so unreal it takes the rest of the day to come down...if not longer. I still smile when I think of my first solo.

Kiting is the key to confidence, and confidence is the key to relaxing before, during, and after launch. Keep it up.

Hope to fly with you the next time in Oahu. Happy flying. Pmac from Victoria BC

JeffMc said...

Nice one Duck - your story was familiar to me in a lot of ways...

My first article was titled "The Jitters" and similarly described my anxiety when Pete finally said "today's the day". My very first flight was...short - I landed in a tree at Kahana after only a few turns. Right back in the air for a nice hour long flight and downwind butt landing on the beach. The following day (my third flight) the launch was from Tomato Juice, which is when the "jitters" really set in. But, with Pete's excellent radio guidance, I was up and out for a great first Makapuu flight.

Anyways, great write-up for a great flight. See you in the air!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great advice and encouragement!!! Sorry I could not hit Kahana with you today, but sometimes even I have to work..."baby needs a new pair of shoes". I look forward to flying with you all and I know Kahana will be my back yard flying site--someday I hope to be the Prince/Duke or even lowly serf of Kahana--allegiance to the King (Alex).

Reaper, thanks again for all the great instruction! I was just a radio controlled paraglider.

Alex, I am happy to have such a great pilot so close--I'll try not to bug the Sh^t out of you, but I do plan on flying with you every chance I get. I may not keep up, but I will fly within my limits.

Jeff, thanks for the kind words...I'll have to look up the jitter in the archive and read it! Appreciate your help!

Pmac!! Hey bro, I look forward to flying with you tell the rest of the BC crowd "hi" for me!


MauiDoug said...

Congratulations Duck! I feel fortunate to have witnessed your first flight. Your kiting looked great, keep it up! You are now truly a crazy man! I look forward to kiting and flying with you again real soon!
Aloha, Doug

Joey said...

Congrats and welcome to the club!!

Look forward to flyin with ya :)

~ Joey

Mad Dog said...

Nice smooth launch video was great, your a natural! Never too much kiting its a must for perfection & control

Thom said...

Duck, Duck, Crazy Man launch for your first time. It was that very launch that kept me from even thinking about flying. It is a launch that good pilots from every where say " You launch from here ??" They think we are 'crazy' so the launch can be tricky. I can vouch for Manics it ate me yesterday, always remember you are the pilot and if it don't feel right don't do it.

Psyched you had a great flight, can't wait to fly over your house with you. yah Reaper is awesome at the RC but when you have had a few flights and he tells you "Throw down" that is when you stop listening,,,hehehe.

John "Duck" Mallard welcome to the 'Flying Monkeys'

Puka Wai said...

Duck, congrats on you first flight - at a site I could only dream about for years before I got to fly there. I probably have some video of you as I was up high while Reaper was herding a bunch of you guys toward the hangie launch. What color was your glider?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warm welcome! I look forward to flying with you all.

Doug, thanks for all the tips and tricks-I know they will come in handy.

Joey I look forward to flying with you also.

Mad Dog--You were right on with the advice for taking additional wraps for landing--saved my knees.

Thom, I stopped listening to Reaper yesterday (hehehe)--Naw. I look forward to the Sport 4 club!

Puka Wai--I was in an Orange, White and Red glider. If you have anything, please send it to I had an awesome first flight!



Anonymous said...

Hilo Ken: Hey Duck excellent post and great job on the big flight. I do want to mention that as a paragliding pilot myself one of the things that brings excitement into the sport is a new pilot. To be around somebody that just made thier first solo and not to mention the first landing. We soak in the excitement through our pores just from being there. Welcome to the club and let me tell you the guys and girls you are hanging around with are a great bunch of pilots. I see so many selfless acts each and every time I fly with them. Wether its helping the newbies or the visiting pilots or us old guys that don't get to fly much. We all enjoyed your first flight and look forward to flying with you in the near future.


Hilo Ken