Friday, April 02, 2010

A Tribute to our Wingman

While the Eleventh Plague of Egypt, "Nuking Winds," threatens yet another weekend on Oahu, let us take a moment to thank our Wingmen, those not mentioned nearly enough in our journals of free flight. The term "Wingman" stems from a time-honored tradition within the Air Force flying community that essentially says, "Airmen take care of other Airmen."

Our logbooks tell captivating tales of majestic vistas, and voyages aloft that few outside the pilot community comprehend. Therefore, as yet another spell of high winds befalls us, let us pay tribute to our Wingman.

Who has not driven halfway to Kahana, Makapu'u, or any other paragliding destination without going through the mental checklist and asking "Did we get the radios? How about the camera? Sh!t, I think I forgot the cooler!" Regardless of our experience, or lack thereof, we owe a debt of gratitude to our Wingman who inevitably answers "I got the radios, camera and the cooler...we're cocked, locked and ready to rock!"

No matter how many times we hike the trails to Low, Middle or High Launch, there always seems to be an impending sense of urgency to launch into the prevailing wind and tip-toe from terra-firma as the perfect cycle lifts us to cloud base.

But, of course, on launch is left the weather analyst, launch assistant, retriever, financial supporter and, in most cases, unabashed endorser, who will be waiting, camera-ready, as we touch down at the LZ.

Our Wingmen are, first and foremost, weather analysts who relay changes in wind direction and approaching squalls we might likely ignore otherwise. Likewise, Wingmen go out of their way to assist us on launch, ever fluffing a leading edge or clearing a caught line, without a single thought of their own launch window or impending hike back down.

Who among us does not owe a debt of gratitude for a retrieve when the spontaneous cross-country bug bites us in the a$$? Few of us second-guess our chances of getting a ride back to the main LZ once we turn North, or South for that matter, in hopes of making a cross-country flight we can share with a captivated audience on

And we must not forget the Financial Supporter who forgoes the spending analysis lecture we are all overdue because of the spontaneous shopping spree on eBay, or any other on-line store peddling paragliding equipment for the habitual shopper.

But most endearing has to be the Unabashed Endorser who stands camera ready on launch and landing, retell paragliding stories in which we star as the main character at the next quarterly meeting.

Stealing another flight this afternoon from "Aeolus"...God of the Winds, gives me yet another pause to thank my Wingmen who make it possible for me to fly safely, and fly often.

Wingmen...I salute you...Reaper, Alex, Jim, JeffMc, Joey, BonBon, MauiDoug, Jorge, Ray, MadDog, and anyone else I may have forgotten in this late night post.

And of course, most especially, my lovely wife LeeAnn who has hiked up and down the trails at Makapu'u and Kahana more times than I can remember without a single complaint...I am indebted to you forever. Without you, my paragliding passion would be nothing more than a wish, a dream, and an unfulfilled desire to escape the surly bonds of Earth.

As corny as the quote may sound..."I'll be your Wingman anytime."


JD said...

Alex, if you can help format this article, I would greatly appreciate your assiatance. I don't know how to get the videos fully aligned with the paragraphs.

Waianae Jim said...

Great story JD.

Mad Dog said...

Great write up JD! You sound professional, like Mark Twain or somebody that makes you get into a good book & dream of the Heavens...
Keep it up. Nice launch/landing

Aloha Mad Dog

MauiDoug said...

Great story JD and great film crew LeeAnn! Perfect launch and landing. See you in the air soon!

Gravity said...

You can be my wing-man any day JD! Leann you're the best, you will be especially rewarded at the Rat Race...