Monday, September 13, 2010

Low Hanging Fruit

I powered through my morning chores on Sunday and headed out to Kahana by around 10 to meet the guys out there. It seemed like we would finally get a day free of the easterly curse. I flew a fun downrange flight, with Jorge who was demoing the Delta, and Jim, and Thom who was flying Don's Mustang. It was my third landing at Hauula Beach Park in three days. This time there were no crazy park people bothering me - I think we had a critical mass of pilots to discourage the panhandlers. Note to self - don't land there with fewer than three buddies! Thanks to Ginny for stuffing us all into her little car for the retrieve. Jorge enjoyed the demo, and said it is a wing that will just not collapse. I guess that's a good thing.

We got back in time for another session. Jeff flew the Delta this time, and JD flew Jeff's wing. Ray flew for a while in his elderly comp wing and then toplanded. I flew for a while too, and then toplanded to wait for Jeff to topland, so I could have a chance to try the Delta.

In the meantime I was feeling a bit cocky about the whole wing swapping thing, and I figured, what the heck, I should take Ray's wing for a spin. No, not that kind of spin. Ray said go for it. I hooked in and tried to kite that beast up the hill but it wouldn't behave nicely for me. Maybe I should have taken that to heart. But instead I muscled it overhead and finally took off. The wind was very light at that point but I knew I was probably on the light side for the wing so I wasn't too worried.

Sure enough, I made a couple of passes just above launch, but wasn't skying out, so I figured I'd buzz in for a toplanding. I approached from the rhino horn side, and just as I was preparing for a stylish swoop onto launch, I found myself sinking precipitously toward a grove of octopus trees just beside and below the launch area. The guys on launch said they could see my eyes bulging out as I looked at them and then down below me as the trees rushed up to engulf me. I managed to avoid any big branches, and as the wing draped the tops of the trees my descent was slowed considerably, allowing me to touch down gently on the slope underneath the trees.

I didn't feel like I had been using that much brake at the time. The guys on launch said nothing looked unusual, no massive trailing edge deflection or anything - the wing just stopped flying and sank straight down into the trees. Later on, Ray and I discussed it, and we think I was actually way below the minimum weight for that wing, a size ML. He is at the bottom of the range, and he weighs a good deal more than me, so I was barely even holding that poor wing down. No wonder it went parachutal at the slightest crooked glance.

The guys on launch leapt into action to rescue the wing from the octopus trees. Thom, Allan and Ray jumped up into the trees with true monkey style, and I followed them up soon afterward. Hilo Ken and Jeff directed the operation from the ground. A few dozen broken branches later, and we had that wing on launch with its lines sorted and ready to relaunch. Thanks for the rescue, guys! Sorry to treat your wing that way, Ray! I guess I'll stick to serial wings from now on.

After that Ray launched his glider, Jeff tried my glider, Thom was again on Don's glider, Ken stubbornly flew his own glider, and I got to try the Delta. I was a bit gunshy after my recent plummet to earth, but this wing felt a lot easier to fly and it was certainly the right size for me. Ray and I got pretty high over the front and tried to cross the bay together but we didn't quite make it, and we soon landed to join the party at the LZ.

1 comment:

Thom said...

It was nice of the President to sacrifice himself to the trees as so many of us have done, just to prove that he is human or at least just a monkey that lands in trees.

Thanks for the entertainment and the great coffee read.