Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Tandem Tale

I've been slacking in my posts and videos for months, so I'll post a short one about my downrange tandem with Mike and Nick.

It was a really nice day, with pilots getting nice flights at both Makapuu and Kahana. I was torn between the two, but I was down at Makapuu to get a tandem flight in for a friend who didn't show, so I called Mike Ernst to see if he was free.

He's flown with me a few times, but not since Bob's Memorial day, where we had to land on the trail when the airflow reversed out of the Valley at Kahana, and we had to land next to the trail above the lower tree line in a pretty sweet save. Unfortunately, after stuff sacking the glider and walking to the trail head, we got the full waterfall-scale downpour on the way back to the campsite, and showed up SOAKED to the applause of all campers.

We had a nice launch on a nice day. There was some really nice lighthouse flying with Jared, Frank and Jim. This was the day with the mother and calf humpback whales hanging out just offshore, so we could fly right over them. I got some video and there were lots of picture posts of them from multiple pilots.

We had all day and Mike is always down for an adventure. Nick had joined us in the air, and we decided to go check out Greenwalls. We tanked up and pushed our way down there without much of a challenge. There were hikers at multiple peaks on the way down we waved at. When we got to Olomana, I tanked up and waited for a cloud to approach, and I tried to push out to its peak without much success, even though I pushed the edge of the white room a little.

We ventured back to the main ridge and debated Maunawili, as the clouds were not that high, but still passable at 2,900 ft. I convinced Nick to go first, as I didn't want to bomb out tandem if I could avoid it... "Thanks NICK!" He made it to the north face of the valley and made the easiest transition to the front of the Pali I have seen yet, flying close to the face, just climbing the entire way until he was in front of the lookout.

I made the crossing and never turned once, just climbing all the way until I could see the lookout. By this time, Nick was almost over the Likelike. I made a few passes till I hit CB, and crossed over the Pali with an amazing view of Honolulu down the valley. Next, I cored a nice thermal for about 5 complete turns that didn't end up on video, at the next peak after the lookout, to CB again at about 3,000 ft, before setting off on glide to the top of the Stairway to Heaven.

At the stairway we did about 3 passes to about 2,800 ft, before gliding across H3 so I could catch up to Nick. He was trying to bench up on the other side before heading into Temple Valley. It was noticeably lighter at this point, and I was having to work for it now, and had a definite ceiling of about 2,900 that took some effort to reach.

Nick bailed on us again and took the lead. It was pretty much an easy glide to the ridge before the Hygenics football field. At this point I usually like to head one more ridge over just past the field. This is the place I was at when I last saw Sidehill on his trip to Pearl City a few months back.

I am not doing so well on this last transition, when I reach the ridge above Jean-Paul Renoir's farm, and I'm losing altitude. Nick is up higher on the ridge than me, and doing ok, but I have to make a decision fast, as I am at about 1,600 and not going up. I file Jean Paul's place as a possible landing option, as I go past this finger and right against the Koolau ridge, which is a vertical wall that I was sure was facing into the wind, which was SOOOOO light at this point.

I trim in as slow as I can, and scratch as close as I dare to this vertical face at 1,500 ft, keeping an eye out for my landing options. I have to say it took a long time to get back to ridge height. I have no problem admitting a slightly elevated stress level for 15 minutes or so, flying back and forth with less than a wing span clearance at min sink. We climbed back up to ridge height eventually, and decided to push on even further.

Nick had maxed out his climb and decided to go for the pyramid while Mike and I were working it back up, and he wasn't finding any thermals to assist him. Mike and I pushed it to the absolute edge of BoogaBooga Land behind the pyramid, to the point we could see straight out of the back of Kualoa and Kahana Valley. I was listening and watching Reaper guide some students in for landing over the pine trees, and could see other pilots over Punaluu. Oh MAN I wanted to connect with that so badly, but lift was sparing in front, and I was really worried about what would happen pushing too far behind all the mountains in front, especially with 0 thermal action to be found.

Nick, in the meantime, has reached out to Kualoa ranch area, across from the mac nut farm, and has to put in for a landing due to a total lack of lift. Mike is wearing shorts and a sweatshirt. This seemed adequate for a short flight, but we are both cold, hungry and tired at this point.

We head back a little ways before setting off on glide to Waiahole Beach Park. I put it into the park with ease in the very light wind. As I come into land, I tell Mike to walk out the landing, but as soon as his feet hit the ground, his frozen legs do pretty much nothing, as we crumble into a ball. As we roll in, a dog comes charging at us from the beach, REALLY pissed off that we landed there. It gets a nip at Mike that you can't quite make out in the video.

We pack up and head to the road. In the meantime, Bonnie has picked up Nick in Reaper's RAV and dropped her off at Kahana for a flight. He picks us up, and we head for Makapuu to retrieve our rides in the fading daylight. We pick up my roommate Andrea so she can drive my car back home for me.

As we clear the bend around Sea Life Park, we see Jared's tandem wing come up from Crazys, and we speed to the launch to watch and laugh as he beaches it with Mike's roommate Sean in the light wind, just as it's starting to get dark.

Nick and I head over to Reaper's for some steak dinner and stories.

I got lots of video, but I forgot to turn the camera on at the back of the pyramid, so there no shots from that.

I'll get back to finishing some more stories that I have neglected.


Alex said...

Great writeup, Scrappy! You have a knack for conveying the feel of the flight and your thought process. I was wondering why there was no pyramid footage! I remember being over Sacred Falls and seeing you really low back there, and wondering how you were going to get out. Next time please make sure the camera is on the whole time! And next time hopefully I'll be flying along with you. I just couldn't pass up the sweet Kahana conditions that day, lots of people there, really high clouds, and I ended up making it farther than I ever did before (Gunstock Ranch), accompanied by my little malted friend, the one you've inspired me to bring along for thirst quenching reward after landing.

Anonymous said...

oh wow I really miss the flights in Hawaii :( great video! Greets from Germany, Jule :)

Sharky said...

Awesome Vid Scrappy! Great music and great transitions and editing. Really gives a feel for the journey...The Dog at the end is a trip.

Gonna share with friends, really shows how fun flying can be...

Gravity said...

Nice video Scrappy

But that's no way to attach your reserve bridle. You need to attach it to the spreader bars via D-links.

I have an extra pair if needed?


Scrappy said...

That's so true! Who gave that guy his tandem rating... I'm calling USHPA..!