Saturday, December 11, 2010

Diamond Head Heroes

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Surely that means a video is worth a million. So I guess the one that Scot made from Thursday's antics at Diamond Head makes up for years of writer's block. Be sure and click the button on the lower right of the video to see it full screen.

A dozen pilots flew the crown jewel of our island ridge soaring sites on Thursday, three of them for the first time. She showed us her strong and spicy side, and we clamored for more.

We flew her all day, and it was just like we remembered it: lots of blown launches, wings in trees, pilots dragged all over, crazy downwind beach landings, and even crazier spin and stall landings back on top, courtesy of the hardest core risk assessors, I mean, extreme sportsmen. Thankfully, and surprisingly, no flying monkeys or wings were harmed in the process! Most folks had the sense to fly their older wings, but a few of us actually risked exposing our nice shiny new XC machines to the very rough elements out there. We got away with it, but that doesn't mean it was a good idea!

Congratulations to Maui Doug, Allan and Thom for their first Diamond Head flights. It was one of those strong days where the most fun to be had was down low, right near the terrain, buzzing around the low cliffs surrounding the launch area with no concern about sinking out. On the other hand, if you did venture up high there was plenty to be concerned about, especially by the end of the day when the wind was increasing and folks with real jobs managed to make it out. Berndt and Scrappy showed up late to demonstrate what strong wind ridge soaring really looked like. It looked like an elevator straight up and back, and it looked like they were lucky to make it down safely to the beach.

Diamond Head Thursday HD from Bob Hammond on Vimeo.

On a more serious note, however, when I refer to heroes in the title of this story, I don't just mean the foolhardy souls who were willing to launch through the treacherous Keawe trees surrounding the launch area, or even foolhardier, the ones crazy enough to land there. I also mean the guys who helped out with the victim of the tragic diving accident at the end of the day. Mad Dog spotted a couple of surfers paddling in through the waves with an inert figure between them, and called 911 from his aerial vantage point. Allan, a former lifeguard, ran down to help with CPR. Thom ran down to help as well. As it turned out, it was too late to revive the victim. But let's recognize the brave actions of the three pilots who acted so quickly, as well as the usual heroic duties performed by the army of HFD, HPD and EMS personnel. Our thoughts are with the victim's family and friends.

This must have been one of our most well documented flying days ever. We were lucky to have bystander Christopher on the scene shooting HDR pictures of our launches and landings. And Scot wasn't the only one shooting video - I saw Allan and Jorge with helmet cameras, and Thom and visitor Torrey Bob were also shooting pictures and possibly video. Plus, in my pictures I have included a video from bystander Bryant of Scot's very exciting launch. (The launch was way more exciting than you can tell from his video. And Bryant is a local guy who happens to have taken some paragliding lessons in Japan.) If anyone has any more good pictures or footage to share, please let me know and I'll include them here.

And finally, thanks again to Mad Dog, Allan, Frank, Pete, Berndt, Bonnie, Thom, and Rich for their recent heroic labors to improve the site. Hopefully we will enjoy numerous more great Kona days this winter, and we will all learn to appreciate the fickle favors of Oahu's crown jewel.


Thom said...

That's why your the President. We can always count on you for a story. These days the stories maybe the only deadlines your accomplishing and I know I appreciate it.

I was so glad to fly this spot, many times I have been there to watch others fly before I was a pilot and a few times after. I think I am going to kite some more, Scot handled his entertaining launch much better than I did.

I brought it up and took the same step to the left, went off the ground over corrected and into the bushes to the right. After I checked for injures I looked up and my wing was still flying over the trees, someone yelled, "Brake". I did and re-launched within minutes to the applaud of the on lookers.

I had to land to pick up kids but before I hit Kapiolani Park my wife called and said she would get them. Elated, I headed back for more. This time a little more relaxed. Great flights I am stoked to log.

We did have some wild launches and landings but managed to come out with out injury. Even a close mid-air that was averted.

I hope everyone that landed on the beach cleaned the coral out.

On another note Allan C was the hero he gave the guy CPR for over 15 minutes till the EMTS arrived. Our sympathy to the Family.

Some good may have come from this for HPA. A female HPD officer, Carrie, is very interested in taking a discovery flight and possibly becoming a pilot. Hopefully she will contact one of you lucky tandem pilots.

Thanks for all the help on launch and Chris's photos are so cool. Big thanks to him and we hope you will hang with us again soon.

MauiDoug said...

Wow, what a fun place to fly. That was definitely worth the two year wait. Thanks everyone for the launch assists! Great job guys with helping the swimmer, my condolences to the family. Here's my photo link...

DaveZ said...

This video is actually worth 12,720,000,000 words. I did the math. :)

Pavel said...

I took a 3D HD video of these guys, if anyone is interested: .