Monday, March 15, 2010

A Rooster, a Sheep, and a Duck

The first aeronauts were a rooster, a sheep, and a Duck (Nick can verify)! I am very proud to follow in that lineage as this weekend I was able to make my first XC flight from KNA to Hauula (flew over my house), I had a GREAT parachute/water landing class, and I was able to test and successfully earn my P-2 rating. So, this Duck is ready to fly!!

First off, I need to thank Alex and Reaper, for my XC. We students had spent the day at Courtney's sweet beach house learning parachutes and water landings and we got practice with both. Very Good class Reaper! After the class we spent some time deciding where to fly. Reaper called KNA and we were off. We arrived on launch about an hour later. All ready to fly!

Launch was a bit tricky, as I worked A’s and C’s to bring the wing up, it dove forward — I pulled aggressively on the brakes and was rewarded with a bungee launch…I headed out reverse and then swung around to make the take-off. After launch, I worked the regular launch ridge to make the rock and then headed to the Rhino Horn to make some altitude — after a few (like 8) passes on the Rhino Horn I had achieved about 1,800 ft of altitude. I was preparing for a low, out front flight, but then I heard Reaper on the radio, “Hey Duck, are you going with Alex?”. “Er, um…” I replied. To which Reaper said, “Duck, go with Alex!” I admit, I was conflicted. Alex was halfway to the next ridge with at least 2,200’; I was sitting happily at 1,800’ a little back from the Rhino Horn. As I dealt with the conflict, Alex chimed in with, “If you want to go, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Now, it is not that I don’t trust Reaper (he is MY instructor), but having Alex confirm that I could make the XC seemed to make the “idea” of the XC more achievable. After having Reaper tell me to “Go For It!” (typical Reaper) and Alex (The King) telling me it was good to go, I would have been off my rocker to miss the opportunity!

So, I chimed in on the radio (in response to Alex), “Sure, let’s do the XC!” (Alex, I am sure my actual response was more like, "Argggughnught!" which you took as an affirmative!) At this point, I was trying to make some altitude. I worked the bowl at KNA, and made it up to 2,200’; at this point, a helicopter flew right between me and Alex. Alex was relaxed of course, I remember looking up to see him parting from the clouds as if he was a member of the Starship Enterprise and the clouds were nothing but a nuisance. He moved forward, and then told me, “Choose a line to the next ridge.” Apparently, I chose poorly, because he came on the radio and said, “I am going to come down to your level and see what you are dealing with…”

This turned into Alex YELLING at me above the cross at Hauula (his radio had gone kaput), he was saying something about lift and how I was to find my lift above the cross — it was only fair, his radio had turned off! (He was very adamant, with many arm gestures. At one point, I think he told me I needed to have a baby peacock.) So, with Alex flying in very tight circles around me (thanks for trusting me!) we made a number of passes along the Hauula Ridge before deciding that we would land at Hauula Beach Park -- I followed Alex in a number of circles and lost the appropriate amount of altitude, then I hit sink and held on for dear life as I made my first landing at Hauula Beach Park!!

This was my first XC and I have to thank Reaper and Alex for the experience! If they both had not agreed, I probably would have spent the time on the face of KNA and would have just hung out in the “kiddie pool.”

I had the best flight of my life thanks to Alex and Reaper!! My first XC!!! At this point, I was determined! I tested and passed the next day for my P-2!! I am now a member of the flying monkeys – full fledged!

I hope you continue to welcome me with the same warmth and bravado that you have shown so far!! This is a great club and I am happy to be a member of it!!!

Thanks to Hillbilly for the retrieve!

Congrats to Andrew for his first flight and Jack for his great day at KNA!



Thom said...

Congrats again Duck, Hope to do an XC with you soon.

MauiDoug said...

Great job Duck, Congratulations! Now you have a new job, which is to fly as much as possible. Great photos Alex! Thanks again for the late shift motivation to get back out on the kiteboard, what a great windy glass off. Thanks again Mad Dog for inspiring us all to get our work done as fast as possible! Much mahalo and aloha guys :-)

Matt said...

"he told me I needed to have a baby peacock" ---HILARIOUS!!!