Sunday, July 18, 2010

Die Hard

A few die hard pilots made it out to Kahana this weekend and scored some airtime in between the numerous rain showers generated by an unseasonable summer cold front. And I was forced to retire my trusty old Magic 4 after Friday's flight, due to age related complications, so during Saturday's rain, I dug my neglected Cobra out of the closet and got it shipshape in time for some nice flying on Sunday.

Maui Doug, Jim, and Bonnie joined me for some squall dodging on Friday, while Ginny, grounded on the advice of her physical therapist, watched from the beach. We all waited for a big squall to pass by on the Punaluu side, then we scrambled to get into the air from north launch, flying over the north side for a while before another identical system bore down on us, whipping up some whitecaps in a gust front. I watched everyone zooming down to land at the LZ, and I was intent on getting down quickly to follow them.

As I was beginning to wind up into a nice spiral dive, I heard a loud snap and felt a little jolt. I carefully eased out of the spiral and glanced at all my connections with dread, hoping I wasn't about to fall out of the sky. I soon spotted the damage: the webbing on the middle (B) riser of three on one side had torn completely apart, leaving the wing a bit mushy in the middle of that side, as it was only supported by the two remaining outer risers. I landed uneventfully, but it's a bit sad to think the wing may be finally ready for the knackers.

Talk about a die hard wing. I got it in August of 2006, and flew the heck out of it until late 2008 when I ripped it badly at Diamond Head. That's almost two and half years. I replaced it with the Cobra, which I flew for a year until I finally motivated to send the Magic 4 off to get the rip fixed. I've been flying the Magic 4 again for about the last five months, and really enjoying it, but I guess it's finally time to say goodbye. I should be thankful it didn't blow up during the Rat Race last month!

On Saturday I got the Cobra out and worked on finishing some long overdue repairs. Dorothy's mom sewed on a new line attachment tab for one of the stabilo lines, and I brought over a little pink upper brake cascade line I'd ordered to replace a torn one. I didn't get time to attach that line, but I met Maui Doug for some kiting at Punaluu. While kiting I was checking to see how much I could shorten my brakes to work around the parts that are badly frayed from the sharp swivels.

Today I retied my brakes about an inch shorter, and then I remembered I had left the pink replacement brake line at Dorothy's mom's house. I called over to ask if she'd seen it. Amelia was at her house, having spent the night, and just as I asked about the line, I heard Dorothy's mom shout "Amelia, don't cut that!" But it was too late. The line is now part of some stuffed animal panorama over there. Sigh. I guess I'll have to order another one.

Later today, Maui Doug came out for a sweet afternoon of soaring in the brisk northerly postfrontal flow that followed the last shower band. I was happy to remember how fun the Cobra is for toplanding and general winging around. We tried numerous bay crossings, but it was hard to make much headway with the wind that strong. I think it backed off slightly for my third try, and I finally made it across the bay to soar in wind that was still pretty darn strong above Kaaawa - I was going up everywhere over there, even above the coastline.

It was great to get the Cobra flying again, and it was nice to put it through its paces on a difficult bay crossing. It's actually a pretty fun wing, a bit more agile than the Magic 4, and more fun to throw around, although the brakes are softer and they require more travel to get the wing going. The wing only has a little over a year of airtime on it. It certainly seems to have some life left in it - I'm hoping for at least another year. RIP Magic 4 - Viva la Cobra!


Anonymous said...

Alex, a year of your air time on a wing is alot of time!!

Your due for a new ride, what will it be?

Thanks for my morning read, hoping to get some Big Island Air again today,


MauiDoug said...

Hey Alex, here's a link to the one good photo I got of you the other day. The other photos came out blurry, maybe because your Cobra is so darn fast. It's great to see the Cobra airborne again.