Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Non-Jobber Bay Crossing

Everyone seems to hate Mondays. I don't! And at least three other pilots thought Monday was more than just an okay day. I guess it does help when you can position yourself out of work just at the right times, and Monday was one of those times. The elusive bay crossing has not been obtainable lately; the only other story of one was by Big Island Ike, the King of Non-Jobbers, a few weeks ago.

Monday started slow, and again it was Kaaawa Larry that rallied the troops. He and Alaska Rick were just landing when I arrived, but both stated that they took off in lighter cycles and just couldn't scratch enough. Larry was still feeling the cold that a few of us are fighting, and threw in the towel. Alaska Rick decided to hike back up with me, joined by Dr. John, Logan and Alex. Logan has started a Sherpa College Fund: for 10 bucks he'll carry your gear to launch. Most likely that won't last long because he'll be carrying his own gear soon!

While we were on launch para-waiting, Frosty and Mad Dog showed up. Mad Dog said it was perfect, and laid out above Dr. John on upper east launch. He pulled up and left. Well, he ended up pulling off an awesome top landing at low launch, balled it up, hiked back and laid out again. This time he entertained us with the lowest scratching ever. Even Alex said, "Oh, my God, I can't watch!" Which made us all stand up to view Mad Dog performing a tired butt slide into the LZ.

Finally, it started to fill in. Dr. John said, if anyone wants to cut in, go right ahead. Alex, being a good coach, coaxed me into position. I had bombed out on Saturday in similar conditions, but today I launched, scratched and made it up. I looked down at launch and it looked like a fire drill as wings started patch-working the hillside, while others clambered up the trail.

My plan today was to get some more airtime on the Synergy4 out over the bay, and yank down some lines like Duck did last week. It was some work to get up, and when I finally did, I felt a few raindrops, as did the others who were yelping over the radio. The drops were small and few, but I headed out over the bay with a new plan to drop down and land. Well, plans change! Alex yelled up "Guys, the sensor has been reading 38 degrees for a while, perfect for bay crossing!" I immediately turned and went back for lift.

Everyone was scrambling to get up and cross over. Maui Doug and Mad Dog led the charge, with me, Duck and Frosty close behind. Maui Doug went way out over the bay under cloud suck, and like a good wingman, I went with him. Mad Dog and Frosty did a run straight across the bay to the Crouching Lion.

Maui Doug caught up to Mad Dog, and both of them reported that there was lift on the ridge. I knew I had it, because I was so high. Frosty was to my right and just eked over the knob. We knew there were others on our tails, but we were working hard just to make it. Duck got pinned in the venturi above the knob and dashed back across to the main range to give it another go. Dr. John came in low behind the knob and scrambled to the beach.

So four non-jobbers made it across. (Actually, Mad Dog had called in sick today!) We bounced around on the ridges above Swanzys until the cloud suck started to get strong. Maui Doug was above me and getting whited out; Mad Dog was high over the bay out of my sight; and Frosty was just a voice from the clouds high behind me. Determined not to go into the white room, I grabbed big ears and surfed just below. AirBoss had followed us in the chase car, and provided comforting air control, stating everyone's ghostly positions.

After the cloud passed, we decided to head to Kualoa, and from there possibly to Maui Doug's kite park. I led the way over to Maui Doug's kite park followed by Maui Doug and Frosty. Mad Dog -- well, you know, he had to go just a liiiitle bit further, and made it to the park by Hygienics.

Landings were safe and sound, with AirBoss guiding us in and filming with his phone, so I am counting on that video to be added to this story. AirBoss left to retrieve Mad Dog and bring back the celebratory beverages. BonBon showed up with little Frosty: she had volunteered to watch Riley on her day off so Frosty could fly. Frosty made his first bay crossing and topped it off with a memorable XC to Maui Doug's kite park. I think he might just owe BonBon BIG time.

This landing was a real connection of the dots for me. I had arrived at this very spot from the opposite direction a while ago, flying with Jorge and Fireman from Makapuu. And Maui Dog called me on the way home to say, "Thom, I think we could have made it to Makapuu today!" Yup, looked like one of those days -- next time!

Just a note: AirBoss has had an incredible attitude during his forced hiatus. He has hiked up and coached launches, directed air traffic from the LZ and the road. He has retrieved us from our XC adventures with genuine excitement. I have a feeling the wind gods will bless him with some epic flying once he is mended. So, if you are a betting pilot, plan on taking some vacation time right around Alex's medical all-clear, because it will be declared an HPA holiday.

But for Now It's Time to Fly Get Your Gear Call in Sick and Go!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Great story Thom, I hope i'm around for the holiday.

Sharky said...

Nice story Thom!

Looking forward to AirBosses return to the Throne. I'll definitely take time off and have been holding off on my first XC to go with him and some of the France Monkey Crew just to make it special!

You guys...get a frickin job already!

Thom said...

Again, thanks for the edits Alex I actually enjoy reading my own stories after your edits......still waiting for those landing vids though.

Thanks also for retrieve and beverages, the gods are watching!!!!

Frosty, I think you owe Bon for that one, I hope she scored a p.m. flight.

MauiDoug said...

Great story Thom! Thanks for taking the time to write it! What an adventure, can't wait to do it again and again and again! Thanks Air Boss & BonBon for the retrieves! Well back to my non-j*b, until its flyable again :-)

JK said...

Nice write up, Thom. I enjoyed that! Was able to re-live my one-time Bay Crossing (solo). If I could only have been in that gaggle on Mon.... Haven't flown since the day of our last HPA meeting. This eases the pain. I'm a double-jobber these days, but will hopefully change that soon. Way to charge it, guys! So sweet....

Brent said...

Thom...thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading your story of that day. I was there that day and got to watch the flyin monkeys gaggle-up and charge across the bay. What a beautiful sight to see.
I love hanging around you guys because I learn a little something every time. Thanks and one of these days I hope to see you in the air.

Anonymous said...

Great story Thom. Man I miss the HPA Monkees, as well as, the flying and adventures, but your stories help me plan my future vacations. BTW I hope you have finally finished you bathroom Thom!!

Pmac from BC