Friday, August 06, 2010

Cloud Appreciators

The last two days saw the return of superb flying weather to our fair shores, after a long cruel week of misery and deprivation. Happy pilots flocked to Kahana and Makapuu and flew many great flights on both days. Thursday's flying certainly looked amazing, but I'll leave the storytelling to those who flew. (Like someone who flew a special slingshot flight from Kahana to Kualoa to Pounders.) My story is about today's flying. And today's flying was all about clouds.

Mad Dog and his visiting pilot friend Chum were on dawn patrol this morning, and called me out for an early start. Jared and his dad Duane were out there early too.

Cloudbase was low, but the clouds were scattered sparsely enough that we could fly between them and bench up above Puu Piei, looking down as little cotton balls formed in the air below us. I climbed up to three thousand feet, and caught glimpses of Pearl Harbor and the Waianae range through the clouds that were hanging over the back of Punaluu valley. Duck and Thom joined me for an extended cloud soaring session over Kahana, and we had a blast playing in and around the misty goodness.

After a while the clouds began to clear out and the cloudbase lifted, but the wind and lift also got light. Duck and Thom had to leave, so I toplanded to say hi to Ray and Dave, as they hiked up and prepared to launch tandems with Ray's work pal and Dave's brother Matt. Maui Doug was working on tandems too - I think he got two or three in today.

Later on, Jeff and Jim hiked up and joined the fun. By that time the clouds were getting low again, but now they were more thick and widespread. Maui Doug, Ozzie Curt, JH Matt, Kona John, and Berndt hiked up just as I was hitching a ride in a cloud to head off toward Pounders. Thanks to Duck and Ginger for the retrieve, and for the tasty Celebrator, and the snacks. Thanks to Kona John and Jihana for the Torpedoes.

I ended up flying for a personal record of six hours today, with a few top landings in between to break things up.

After I got back, Bonnie hiked up for the last session, flying until the sun started to sink behind the mountains, lighting up the cloud tops.


Thom said...

It was fun, clouds still give me the willies, I got a evening flight in at MPU after work too.

Maui Doug, i want to hear the tale of Thursday flight

Mad Dog said...

Way to go Maui on your full coast tour, that must have been awsome! Reaper...Full Stall NOW!!!Your an animal. Nice wing dude. Wish you both were coming to Chamonix so we have more monkeys to chase down range

Duck said...

Gread writeup-Awesome picts! It was a really good flight with really good company. Congrats on your two tandems Maui, I would also love to hear the tale of the epic slingshot.

MauiDoug said...

Great photos Alex! I love the bird trio photo. Soaring with the birds says it all!

I got lucky on Thursday as a cloud street led Reaper and I across the bay. I really didn't think I was going to make it, but I kept getting those zero's that made all the difference. I started getting good beeps at 800' and looked up above me an saw Pete skied out on his new bay crossing machine. It was super lifty with rdge lift and great cloud suck. I followed Pete to Kualoa Ranch ridge. The easterly side was working great and we soon found ourselves skied out in super smooth lift.

I timed my trip back to Kahana with a huge band of clouds and only lost 100' from Kualoa to Crouching Lion. I knew it would be a great day for a trip to Pounders, so off I went. It was just another one of those perfect days where the conditions were just right.

Thanks Alex for keeping an eye on me and the perfect timed ride back. It's really cool to see the chase car pull into the parking lot at the same time I was landing. The perfect ending to an awesome flight! I am so addicted to this amazing sport :-)

Bon Bon said...

As always, great write-up Alex. Congrats on your 6-hour flight, that's awesome!

Those are some awesome pictures! I love the color contrast of the clouds, the water and the mountains!