Monday, July 26, 2010

Sweet Summer Weekend

Dozens of pilots enjoyed an amazing three long days of flying at Kahana this weekend, in perfect summer conditions. After what seems like weeks of squall dodging weather, the atmosphere has settled back into the more typical dry and sunny summer tradewind routine. The weekend marked some exciting milestones and firsts for many pilots.

On Friday I snuck dowrange from Kahana with Scot in a lucky window that apparently closed right after we left. Cloudbase was super low, but it didn't keep us from working our way to Pounders in very light conditions while Jeff, Aron, JH Matt, Sharky, Bonnie and JD soared the ridge back at the bay. It was Matt's first flight at Kahana.

Scot punched out from Sacred Falls to fly over Hauula Beach Park, arriving with about a thousand feet, and then decided to try and glide to Pounders from there. I took the typical foothill tour behind Hauula, and watched from a safe altitude as he got lower and lower over the coastline, but a last minute pop over the mansion delivered him safely to his destination. I followed him in and enjoyed some ballast while we packed up. LeeAnn gave us a ride back, and Scot hiked back up for a tandem with Bonnie. Thanks, LeeAnn!

On Saturday, I met Big Island Charlie for an early session, his first flight at Kahana after many years of visiting here and not getting the timing right. The wind was a bit sporty on launch but we made it work. Soon after we launched, we noticed a hiker waving to us from the north ridge. We found out later it had been new pilot Alan, finishing the fabled launch ridge loop hike (up the regular launch and down the north launch). After waiting out some passing low cloudlines, we flew a brisk ridge lift tour to Pounders. The wind was a bit spicy at Pounders, and Charlie had to fight to keep his wing out of the crab pond. After landing we enjoyed a little ballast while waiting for a ride back. Thanks to Berndt for the retrieve!

Many pilots flew throughout the day, including Kaaawa Larry, JD, and Rich. Scot did two tandems with LeeAnn. There were around ten gliders in the air just as a rescue chopper came zooming across the bay and into the valley to pluck a hiker off a low ridge back there. I hiked back up with Logan and we flew tandem, borrowing back my wing from Maui Doug, and hoping for some downrange action. Berndt blazed the trail, and Ray suggested we both follow in our tandem wings. We flew past Pounders to PCC, following Berndt in for our best tandem XC flights ever - and Ray's first. Logan was stoked. Thanks to LeeAnn and Jason for the retrieve!

Maui Doug was on his way to Pounders just as we were getting our ride back. Pete had been at Kualoa working with students Uli, Kevin, and Alison, and at the end of the day they all showed up at Kahana to hike and check out the launch scene. Finally it was twilight full moon flights for the late shift, including Reaper, Bonnie, and Maui Jim. They launched in the last light of the day, staying up as the moon rose over the Kaaawa ridge, and landing just as it was getting dark.

Sunday was truly a pretty postcard of a day. I flew the early shift with Hillbilly, flying his last flight on the P44. It was blowing slightly north so we made many attempts to cross the bay. Finally we had our chance, at 2,400 over the front due to some nice cloud suction: I started across, with Bill right behind and above me, and our line seemed like a good one. Sure enough, I made it across and pulled in front of the ridgeline there, but found nothing but strong laminar flow over the Crouching Lion. We both turned back and retreated to the LZ to drink some ballast and call it a day.

Later on, Joey, JH Matt, and LarryMc hiked up as I was leaving. I also saw Maui Doug and Bonnie as I headed to town for a party. I heard Sidehill Thom, Sharky and others flew later too. I also heard Maui Doug got his first tandem training flight with Bonnie! Way to go guys!

I know I've left lots of people out of this story - I named as many as I could bring to mind. Please correct me if I got any details wrong, or left out any exciting milestones or adventures. If anyone else has photos or video, send me a link and I'll include it.

No comments: