Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Airsickness is a terrible disease. No, I don't mean the nausea and emesis our inner ear inflicts upon us when unsettled by the motions of air travel. Quite the opposite: I refer to the symptoms of lethargy, depression and listlessness suffered by pilots who are deprived of airtime, during extended spells of bad flying weather, as well as business trips to unflyable destinations, convalescence from injuries, and TFRs. Of course, we can't cure this dread affliction. But when we can anticipate its onset, there's nothing like a healthy injection of preventative airtime to help us make it through the roughest symptoms.

Yesterday, the weather forecast predicted (quite accurately, it turns out!) that a high pressure system would arrive today, boosting the tradewinds to unflyable levels, and possibly lasting for up to a week. A frontal passage and rain is also part of the package. A swarm of pilots responded by scrambling for airtime like it was their last chance to escape the plague.

The early shift got their injection at Makapuu: I heard that Thom, Don, Mad Dog, Scot, and Jack got a nice shot of airtime out there. I heard Thom on the radio saying something about a stall or an asymmetric collapse - hopefully there are no further incidents to write up!

Meanwhile, I met Maui Doug for an early Kahana XC mission. Longtime airsickness sufferer LarryMc showed up for a quick dose of the vaccine as well, just as Doug and I decided to head downrange. Even though the clouds were incredibly low, ranging from 1,500 to 1,700 feet in various places, we skimmed the base of them all the way to Laie, both of us making it past Pounders.

Doug pioneered a new LZ option in the empty lots around the corner from Pounders. I hoped my new gliding machine might actually take me across Laie Point, to land at Hukilau beach on the other side, but the strong onshore breeze degraded my glide a bit too much. As I got close, I realized I'd be kicking trees and solar panels if I tried to cross the point, so I landed just short. I bet a pod harness would have boosted my glide just enough to get me across! But that's a different disease, which I'll save for another story.

Thanks to Duck for the quick retrieve. The poor guy had been trying to get work done while we were flying over his house. That can induce a special form of airsickness right there, one I know very well. As his doctor, I had to recommend an immediate XC vaccination to fend off the nasty bug that was sure to be going around in the coming week.

As we arrived back at the bay, Doug and I discussed the option of hiking back up for another XC flight. Exceeding the recommended dosage could be dangerous, but we decided to take our chances, and we ran back up the hill along with Duck. We joined a big group of patients who were there to take the cure: Pete, Bonnie, Andrew, Scot (for his second dose?), Jorge, Alison, Jeff, Berndt and Tommy.

This time Pete led the charge downrange, heading out under the low clouds, much thicker and greyer now than they had been earlier. He was followed by Bonnie, Duck, me, Maui Doug and Berndt, strung out at cloudbase and spread out over the course of about an hour.

Pete and Bonnie headed to Hauula Beach Park, while I followed Duck further along. I arrived at Suckers Hill in Hauula high enough to make the same attempt to cross Laie Point, but my odds didn't look any better than before, and in fact the wind was a bit stronger now, so I joined Duck at Pounders, followed by Maui Doug. Duck boldy propositioned a couple of beautiful girls who were with a guy in a pickup truck, and scored us a ride back in exchange for possible tandem flights at some later date. We watched Berndt fly over us, the last guy in the air headed for Pounders. I drove back to pick him up, and Duck graciously came to pick him up at my house so I could stay there and get dinner ready for the family.

A double dose of cross country flying is some pretty sweet medicine. I hope it can keep my symptoms to a minimum while the winds are blowing this week!


Anonymous said...

Snivelling spoiled brats, all of you!!!
Two or more days of not flying and you turn into a bunch of grumpy whiners. Welcome to the real world you jackwagons!
Bunch of crybabies!
Wah,wah,wah.Sniff, sniff. You're killing me!!

Love ya' all-

Alex said...

Ha, ha, Larry. Perhaps you didn't notice I wrote EXTENDED spells of bad flying weather in my intro paragraph. Of course we wouldn't complain about a couple of days of downtime. I'm talking about three or four days, or god forbid, five (I'm quaking in my seat now at the thought). Now that's deprivation for a Hawaii pilot! Where's my vaccine? I need a shot!

MauiDoug said...

I'm not one for vaccines, except the one yesterday for lack of air time sickness! That double dose hopefully will work for the next few days. So far, so good!

Thanks for the great photos Alex! Very cool to catch the flock of Ewa's on video, it looks like they were following the King bird on migration :-)

Anonymous said...

Im suffering from extreme deprivation!!! found a few flying sites here in Okinawa, one is a winter season site..and I cant go :(
Im gonna really need my meds when I get home, need that cure for this disease we all seem to share..


Thom said...

Alex, we need to get all your stories into a book so all pilots can read them......ha forget it, they probably already have.

I couldn't wait till coffee time so I enjoyed this one with a glass of red and an Ibuprofen. Glad I got my shot at MPU before this weather came in.

After 3 days without flying even my wife can't take my withdrawals and prays for flyable weather.

Still hoping for a Kahana Sunday.

See you at the garden party.