Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

Er … flights. There are good days and there are bad days, and sometimes there are GREAT days … and every once in a while they are ALL on the same day. This was NOT one of them. My story starts after one month of not flying. I am newly arrived, back in Hawaii after many harrowing adventures (none of which included the terms vario, wind, thermal, or glide slope) over the past few weeks in DC.

I am on north launch. It is 9:15 in the morning on Saturday 17 April. I am watching the windlines change on the bay like a strand of spider silk blowing in the wind—Alex shows up just in time to see a cat’s-paw the size of Detroit meandering across the bay. The wind has gone from 7-17 MPH in the last hour, often gusting beyond 17 in quick violent bursts. After the cat’s-paw recedes, Alex remarks, “I would never want to be in the air with something like that!” Then he proceeds to launch…

I watched in wonder and awe as Alex launched from his nutsack and rose an immediate 500 ft, all the while out-rigging his speedbar with his right leg. It was an AMAZING show of dexterity! He jostled around a bit and then flew at about 1,000 miles an hour right towards the beach … he elevatored in, and I walked down.

Later in the same day, Alex, Jim, and I were once again tempted … SURLY MISTRESS … Alex found a quick albeit unnerving flight while Jim and I decided to hike down (after I had been dragged all over and Jim had wasted his energy saving my A$$ -- Thanks Jim!).

So, fast-forward a week—24 April. New wind, new sky, new promises from the mistress! This time she promised a day of difficult thermaling—which Alex has since termed Kahanakuli. I count myself lucky to have been able to fly at all on this day and have to say I really enjoyed the work of thermaling close in. It was a GREAT day for flying in less than great conditions! I had a great flight, and a good landing; everything in between was like a fight with your sister — you might get a few good licks in, but even if you win you lose!

Now, “Enough!” you might say. And I would tend to agree with you, but it gets better! On the morning of the 26th, I awoke to enough work to choke a horse. Luckily, I had Alex, Scrappy, Thom, and Mad Dog to talk me down - work can ALWAYS be done AFTER a good flight!!! Boy am I a rookie!

So we all launched into a good easterly wind that had Pu’u Piei working, and we decided to have a go at a cross country. I left at 2400’ and arrived at the next ridge at about 1700’ and I immediately entered my VERY FIRST thermal carnival ride! I was edging into the ridge expecting some ridge lift and a little thermal action when I got jerked up to the right and slammed down to the left (I understand that those of you with prior thermaling experience may think that this was a “RELAXING” thermal.) I was NOT relaxed! I flew in a series of passes above the red dirt spot before I hit my limit and followed Alex to the next ridge.

At the next ridge, all was copacetic. I gained the lift I needed to make a short, deep, downwind landing at Hauula Beach Park … I followed Scrappy and managed to land short anyways (even though Mad Dog landed right on him — I obviously need to aim better). Thom and Alex soon followed.

I then had the opportunity to make a quick, lifty, ridge flight today on the 27th. This flight was all that the others had not been. Launch was a little tricky, but the air was good (in comparison — there were still a few rough patches) and the flight was almost a “hands-free” experience. I got to see whales in the bay, Alex tandem, Maui speeding along and pulling a B-line, and Thom pulling big ears — all of which caused me to verify my own penetration and kick in half speedbar and big-ears myself! I was able to make a decent landing and am happy to now have HOURS of video to edit (newbie’itis)!

All in all it was a great week! Let’s do it again!

GPS and Videos to follow...



Dave Z from Apple said...

Great video! Thanks for sharing it.

MauiDoug said...

Great job on the video Duck! I love The Call!

Anonymous said...

Love the music! Who is it?


Anonymous said...


AlsoThanks--it is nice to see people appreciate the editing, etc...

Wayne--Music is "Let the day begin" by The Call

Thanks guys for commenting on the movie...