Monday, April 12, 2010


Sunday started out rainy and grim, but eventually it cleared up nicely and started to turn north and light. Seemed like potential bay crossing conditions to me. My favorite! Also, I'd heard that there would be live music at Uncle Bobo's all day, with Bobo playing bass, and I was excited at the prospect of landing across the street at Swanzys during the festivities.

I headed out to Kahana at around 3 to meet JD, LeeAnn and Maui Doug. I heard that Scot, Jim, Scrappy, Reaper and various students were having fun at Kualoa, but I couldn't convince them to come over and hike with us. When I got to launch, I could tell it was blowing even more north than the sensor suggested, and it wasn't easy to get up in the cross and turbulent airflow. I had to double back twice before eeking my way up and around the horn. I was glad I wasn't flying tandem, because I don't think I could have pulled that off.

Maui Doug and JD went to the beach on their first attempts, but because I was still up there making it look good, they both ran back up for another go as I was retreating from a failed bay crossing. After launching a second time, JD worked very patiently over the north ridge before heading around the rhino horn, joining me up there to watch as Maui Doug headed around the horn a bit lower than advisable. Of course it's always hard to tell from above but he looked pretty darn low. Sure enough, he ended up sinking out below the north face, into a pasture pretty much right below where we found Jim the other day. It's like a Bermuda Triangle over there!

LeeAnn retrieved Doug as I made a few attempts at bay crossing. I had been working extremely hard to get high, stuck between 1,200 and 1,400 feet for most of the afternoon, and the light north flow was not as lifty as usual. But I was determined to get a decent chance to cross over, and at the end of the day the lift actually seemed to improve just slightly. Finally, I tagged 1,600 feet over the front, in some nice organized thermic lift, and it seemed like I might just have a chance to get across, after over two hours of trying. The air over the bay was pretty lifty, and I squeaked over right at the height of the knob, without feeling any love until I passed right in front of it. I could hear kids in the pool at the condos. Thankfully it was all good once I pulled inside the knob there, and I cruised up over Kaaawa without any trouble. I considered heading to Kualoa for a landing, because I heard Scrappy might still be there, but I knew I was already late for dinner, so I spiralled down to hit Swanzys during Bobo's last set of the day. Thanks to Larry for the ride back.


Anonymous said...

Alex, great article, as always! Thank you for writing it up. It was interesting, after Doug and my sled ride to the LZ, we were discussing landing options if you get caught out there and he mentioned a pasture I had never noticed. That's pretty much exactly where he landed and I'm glad he knew where it was.

Watching the flight from above gave me a much greater appreciation for always having a LZ in mind. Thank you both for the lessons I learned yesterday.

MauiDoug said...

Wow, yes lots of lessons learned this weekend! I had some time today to reflect during the 2 hour de-mudding of my favorite airplane in a bag.

Thanks Joey for clueing me in on the pasture LZ. It's kind of a tight spot and I overshot it by ten feet and clipped the top of a barbed wire fence with my air bag. I was very lucky to land on all fours in one foot of thick mud muck. My gloves, knees and boots were now bronzed with mud. Thank God it wasn't manure or the bull pen. It was definitely my most squishy and soft landing to date.

My lesson was that now I know that 8 avg. at 20 degrees doesn't work for me and its real sketchy. It felt stronger than that, but that was the venturi wrap. Also, another big lesson is to be sure that I always have enough altitude to make it safely back to the KNA LZ!!! And maybe to learn enough patience to wait for a better day or better cycle.

I was making my way around the front of the Rhino Horn in what seemed to be consistent lift, then it just stopped. Now I was in to low to turn back land and spotted the small opening in the trees at the cow pasture. After my quad landing, I was so happy to see my wing draped on a a tree high above this mini mud swamp. My new tree saw made it pretty easy to get my wing down and away from most of the mud. A folding pocket tree saw is a must have!

Thanks Alex and JD for your eyes in the sky in guiding LeeAnn to the perfect retrieve spot. Thanks LeeAnn for the ride back!

My favorite flying machine is all clean again and my brain is sore from all of this weekend's learning! Good Night :-)

Alex said...

Sorry to hear about the mud, Doug! I've landed in those pastures a few times, and never with a good landing, and always in mud. There's some kind of permanent irrigation going on over there that makes it a swamp.

I've also gotten low over there and then just barely made it out to the fields by the shrimp ponds, where the landings are much easier.

I hope you don't rule out a 20 degree direction - each day is different, no matter what the numbers say, since there are other atmospheric factors that seem to play into it. We've made it work on days when the numbers have called it 350 degrees this past winter. My main advice on any north day is to work the launch ridge longer than you think you might need to, getting higher there before committing to go around the horn, and then be prepared to head out (to Punaluu or back to Kahana) before you're too low.

Welcome to the pasture club.

Waianae Jim said...

Nice story Alex - I just wasn't feeling up t it to join you guys out there.
Thanks for sharing you "mucky" story Doug - brought back some memories of my landings over there - especially the one where a longhorn was sniffing my wing and I was wondering how to get at it without getting gored.
Aloha, 1I

Thom said...

Doug, did not hear about the mud wrestling....glad you got all cleaned up. Possible name change to Muddy Doug or Muddy Maui. Nay,,,,,Maui Doug sticks.

Hope to fly with you and the Obsession soon.