Sunday, September 26, 2010


Another light but amazing day at Kahana. This is getting to be a habit! I met Gavin out there, a very experienced pilot who has just moved here from Houston, and has flown in a few comps with Doug. He hiked up north launch with his wife Lisa and their two cute dogs. Scot, Harvey and Ginny joined us up there. It was super light but I had high hopes. Thom and Don arrived but waited on the beach for evidence of easy lift before hiking. There would be no such evidence today! The sensor was reporting around 6 mph when I launched first and scratched my way up, followed by Harvey, Scot and Gavin.

There were some nice thermals working over the rhino horn, and I managed to work my way into the back and above Puu Piei where I got a super nice thermal up to 2,500. I considered heading out of there right away, but I really wanted some company, so I headed back out front to see if anyone was coming. From up there I could hear Frank on the radio at Makapuu, talking about flying to Olomana, and I heard Chandler and his pals, and maybe Dave. The TFR was in effect for the Blue Angels and the airshow, otherwise it would have been an incredible day to head downrange from Makapuu. The clouds were super high!

The clouds were super high at Kahana too, even higher than yesterday. Scot was slowly working his way into the back, so I made my way back above Puu Piei again in another nice thermal, and this time I took it directly over the back, from about 2,400. I headed straight over to the Punaluu ridge, connecting with a perfect flatland thermal well before I reached the ridge, making turn after turn until I found myself high above Sacred Falls. Wow that was fun!

Scot soon joined me and we worked our way up to around 3,000 back there, until we found ourselves enveloped in clouds. So we left the Sacred Falls headwaters and burned a direct line towards Kahuku without heading back out front. We paused a few times to work some super nice thermals along the way, notably behind Hauula School. Scot worked one really far back behind Hauula, and I commented over the radio that his gonads must be really big for him to be willing to drift that deep. I hope I didn't cost him an epic flight to Dillingham, but he worked his way back out front and took a more conservative line after that.

Once we got to Laie, Scot continued on a line that took him a bit more out front, but since he didn't look like he was finding much, I headed around the back, behind the Temple, in hopes of finding some lift off of the brown fields back there. Scot ended up connecting with something decent over BYU, while I was struggling to hang on to the rough bubbles popping off of the fields. I had never flown this deep in the foothills back here before, but it seemed like a good day to be trying it. Pretty light and thermic and not too windy.

I continued on, but eventually I had to start picking out landing areas, and I got low near a nice little hill with some cleared areas and made my approach. It turned out to be pretty darn windy after all, and I struggled to make my spot and kill the wing. After I landed I looked up to see Scot super high above me, heading out front to find a decent spot to land. I heard he landed in a paddock closer to the highway. It turns out we had both landed at Gunstock Ranch, between Laie and Kahuku, and behind Malaekahana State Park.

I packed up my stuff and walked out, past numerous cows and bulls, who were thankfully not interested in a downed paraglider pilot. Scot was out way ahead of me and hitched a ride back. I finally made it out myself and managed to catch a ride almost right away, with a nice surfer named Brady returning from the north shore. I told him to call me for a tandem after my gear gets here. When I got back I found lots of other folks had showed up: Ray, with Noell and Chelsea and the dogs, Donna, Maile and Kalei, Duck and Ginger, and Bonnie.

So what's up with the title of this article? Well, as I was walking out of the ranch, Mad Dog called on the phone to see what he was missing. I told him I'd thought of him many times during this flight. I'm normally a big chicken and will often leave lift too early because I'm scared to see how high it will take me. But today I carefully milked every foot out of each thermal, thinking of my recent flights with Mad Dog, remembering how he would go after every thermal and max out his climbs, before going on glide to the next one. Today Mad Dog was working and couldn't join us, but I felt like he was up there with us and egging us on. So every time I wondered if I should stay in a thermal just a bit longer, I kept asking myself, What Would Mad Dog Do? He would stay in it!

So that's what I did, and I ended up making my longest flight ever from Kahana. Only eight miles of straight line distance, but it felt like many leagues by the time I landed. I don't know if the air was just super nice or if I was just really on my game, but the thermaling I did today ranks up there with the best I've ever done on this island.


JeffMc said...

Awesome flight and story Alex! Wish I could've made it out today.


Mad Dog said...

Wow big Al truley an epic flight! The King does it again, hope I can join you tomorrow. No TFR's from MPU. Get your gear & go a good friend always says. Meet you all in early pm after La Peste becomes a US citizen. You Monkeys are the best...

Thom said...

I hope you all know that Alex has a new ride coming and what I think happened is that his trusty Cobra got wind of it and just wanted to prove to him that she's still got some left and took him farther than he's ever been.

Now when the new ride comes in he may have to radio Dillingham for a flight path.

Good Story Alex and good flights for the both of you.

Anonymous said...

Great flight Alex, would have loved to join you down there. I had a bunch of tandems and the TFR, but I was extremely tempted to blow off both and go for it. I must be getting soft.