Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Between Cold Fronts

Yesterday, a fast moving cold front passed over Oahu, drenching the island with rain. Tomorrow, another cold front is forecast to swing through, with gale force winds and torrential rain lasting two days. But between those cold fronts, we received an unexpected gift: a bright and sparkly, glittering jewel of a post-frontal day.

On the previous day, Dave and Jorge scored a few short morning flights in the strong SSW flow at Diamond Head before it got too wet, surfing the very leading edge of the front, but they didn't make it sound too fun. Of course that didn't stop me from dashing out to see if I could join them. But when I got there, they had just given up, and the sky was black and ripe with rain.

Today dawned clear and cold, and over twenty pilots flocked to Makapuu, soaring light ridge lift and searching for thermals, and a lucky few of us enjoyed some exciting cross country adventures.

The post-frontal conditions featured a super light north flow, with a sea breeze filling in around 11:30, and the atmosphere was very stable, with very few clouds all day. Conditions were light along the ridge, and it was tough to get very high.

Mad Dog dove into the back right away for a taste of the XC conditions, but he soon came back because he had to leave for work. Dave led JK to Greenwalls later on, and then Dave headed out over the flatlands after finding that the ridge just wasn't collecting much lift. He ended up at Ben Parker Elementary School. JK landed somewhere in Waimanalo. Nice job, you guys!

Later on, Scot and I tanked up to almost two grand in a surprisingly nice organized thermal over Three Poles, and headed over the back to Koko Crater. There we caught some amazingly strong and rowdy thermals, which were pretty widespread and consistent, in stark contrast to the weak sea breeze bathing the Makapuu ridge.

As I passed two grand without stopping, I have to admit I bailed out of the lift and headed away from the crater, because I was feeling a bit chicken. I wasn't really sure I needed to be that high over there. I'd never seen the top half of Rabbit Island so clearly from above Koko Crater! On the other hand, Scot was wholeheartedly committed, and he rode that monster to the top, probably getting close to three grand. He was specked out above me. I bet he saw all of Rabbit Island from there. Eventually we came down, or tried to, as we kept encountering massive lift even way out over the ocean. Thanks to Bill for the retrieve!

Return visitors Bernie and Louise finally scored some easy Hawaii-style airtime today, thank goodness, as did Jayson and Natalie.

I know lots of folks took pictures today. I only took one, to show Amelia that I took her little rasta dog flying in my new harness. Bill's pictures are headlining this little story. Jayson's pictures are featured just above. I can't wait to see Scot's video, and Louise's pictures and video. If anyone has pictures or video to share, let me know, and I'll include them here once they're uploaded somewhere.


Thom said...

All I can say is that was fun.
Couldn't find Ike for awhile in the gaggle because he went stealth in Demo Cobra that he may be adding to his quiver.......good now another wing I can sneak out with when he is gone.

Felt good to be back in the air for more than 2 minutes.

Looks like we will be grounded for a few days.

Anonymous said...

That was my first XC on Oahu, and I don't know why it's taken me so long to resign myself to ending up away from my car. I suppose I was prepared with $3 for bus fare.

Yes, the wall in the back held still air and not a lick of lift. After spending most of my altitude from the point figuring that out, I left it near the reservoir to look for lift. I got one OK thermal for about a dozen turns that put me back in the game. Then there was nothing... then sink. I was flushed in the farming area there and had a 10 minute walk to the 7-11 in Waimanalo town. Google maps showed the next bust to be in 40 minutes, so I stood there with my thumb out and finally got a ride back to Maniac's. That led to a hike up Cactus with Thom and a launch in light conditions. The scratching session was a challenge, but fun. It ended with a top landing near the car.

The conditions turned ON right after I landed and "Lazy Man's" was perfect (NNE at 8-10). Reaper and Bonbon opted to skip the hike, while Scratchy and his brother scrambled up to Cactus for a tandem. It looked mega fun as I drove off with a half dozen wings cruising in super smooth lift.

Had a great day out! I saw so many smiles! Somewhere along the way, I forgot how exciting flat-land flying can be. "Zen and the Art of Thermalling". Isn't that what they call it? I have have to knock of a lot of rust there. Amped to do more, next time with some flat-land regulars to show the way.


sandy said...

That Rasta Dog is one lucky bugga gettin to fly li dat!

Anonymous said...

I finally had a full day off to screw around and go fly. Jorge had his Hawaiian Tel footage to take care of, so I helped him with some in air action. I was flying the Delta in the light conditions, and he had his 69 with the camera attached. The wing walking shot over the lighthouse turned into more of Jorge sinking through my glider. I heard the footage was great.
After we were finished, I wandered off to try down range with the rest of the gang. MadDog reported it good before zipping off to work. The rest of the gang seemed to be trying it but not liking what they found.
Even though I was pretty low I figured I would head off to the house thermal by mariners ridge. I managed to get a climb off the old 'cow shit' thermal and headed off down green walls. I flew for a long while sinking the whole time. I bailed out front for what I thought was the end and found a light thermal. I headed to the back again and sunk again. Found another thermal out front, head to the back and sink again.
Around that time JK appears high over Puu'okona and begins his sink onto Greenwalls. I head out toward Olomana golf course, since I am too low to head to Olamana. At about 500' I find a weak thermal over the rodeo. I patiently turn and turn, with no drift at all. I catch a glimpse of JK, in the back of the valley high above me. After about fifty more turns I look back and he is gone.
My current goal is to be the first to land in Dave Goto's backyard, but as I circle my way a long Kalanianiole I hook into a real thermal above his house, not strong but consistent, maybe convergence looking at the clouds forming above. At about 3100', I try to figure out where I am headed. Laninkai is on glide but seems like the end of the road. I don't have much faith in getting up on the Pali, so I glide over to the dump, I fly a bit and find some weak thermal activity and glide past the quarry and over Don's house. I head back into Kaneohe and try to get high again, but lift is light and my focus is getting weak. I fly around for a while and land at Ben Parker Elementary.
Great light thermal day, I felt like I was landing thirty minutes into it, but after two hours I was still up.
I love not working.
Fireman Dave

JK said...

I got it wrong.. it's Zen and the Art of Circles