Monday, May 23, 2011

Please Don't Take it for Granted!

Many of us have worked hard to keep the Kahana permit in place, not only because we prefer to fly without the risk of getting ticketed or having our gear confiscated, but also because we believe our whole flying community deserves a place where they can feel comfortable flying in a completely legal manner.

But I am the one who has to sign my name on the permit, and I am the one who has to explain things to the Director of State Parks when he hears about any complaints or problems out there. I don't like that job, but someone has to do it, and you guys keep electing me. So let me point out a couple of issues I'm hoping not to have to hear about from the Director.

First, DO NOT fly at night at Kahana. Of course our club does not condone or support any illegal flying activity by our members, but this particular issue puts our one and only permit for flying at risk. I am not talking about any risky decision an individual pilot chooses to make for themselves, either in terms of flying dangerously or breaking the law. I am talking about keeping the permit in place so we can all enjoy one place where we can fly completely legally.

Under FAR 103, federal law prohibits flying paragliders later than a half hour after sunset, and even during that half hour you have to have a very bright light. Please do not subject our one and only permit for flying to any undue risk or scrutiny. You may tell yourself that no one will ever know about your nocturnal adventures, but believe me, everyone will know. Residents of this area are a very small and tight community, and everyone notices everything, and news about what they see travels fast. I hear reports from my neighbors about what they see us doing all the time.

Second, we need to be more careful about landings. During this past weekend's celebration of Bob's birthday at Kahana, one of our pilots landed a tandem quite a ways short of the center area of the beach, very close to a family. The family was extremely upset and threatened to call the police. Apparently this was the third time someone has landed near them. They are very frequent visitors to that beach. We spoke to them at length and did our best to reassure them that they were never in danger, but it was tough to convince them when they felt that scared.

This is a huge problem for us. There is no excuse for us to land near people on the beach. Not even for our own personal safety. Our permit clearly states that we must yield to all beach users. If we don't know for certain that we can land in an area clear of beach users then we shouldn't be flying there. This is our most basic requirement.

The best solution is to plan your approach with a lot more margin of height, to give yourself time to adjust your trajectory and make it to a clear area. That might mean leaving the hill a lot earlier than you think and heading in. Our typical approach is from the boat ramp along the beach. If you only know one approach, and that approach is down the beach, you will one day land near other beach users. I suggest we all start practicing another approach for days when the beach is crowded: it's not that hard to crab your way down to a clear area (generally the center of the beach) from over the water. Please practice this approach. Ask me or any of our instructors if you want advice on how do do that safely. Another good alternative is just not to fly on days when the beach is crowded. There are plenty of other days when the beach is deserted.

Just because our permit has been in place for 10 years, it's not time to take it for granted. This permit is always ONE COMPLAINT away from being lost. Please don't be the reason we lose it. Help me keep it going for another 10 years. Thanks for your support in this effort.


JeffMc said...

Alex - first of all, THANK YOU for everything you do for the club and especially what you've done over the years for the Kahana Permit.

Just wanted to say that I agree with you 100%, as I'm sure most of our club members do. We need to always recognize that we are guests at Kahana, and that privelege can be taken away at any time. I'm sure it'd be no skin off their nose just to cancel our permit and never talk to us again. It'd literally be the EASIEST thing they could do to protect themselves from liability. We can't let that happen.

Ka'a'awa Larry said...

It has always seemed to me that we are at best "unwelcome guests" from the evil-eye I get from some of the "residents". It's important to remember that "they" have a LOT more clout than we do when it comes to ancestoral territory. We're on really shaky ground here and it wouldn't take much to get us banned from KNA forever. For me, that would pretty much mean I would have to give up the sport since KNA is a whole lot closer than MPU and we don't really have a clearly stated release on that site. Think what that would do to all the really awesome visitors we get to fly with annually!!
Alex- I wouldn't want your position for all the tea on Oahu. Thanks for all you do on our behalf!!

Love ya man-


Alex said...

Thanks, guys. But I'm not fishing for pats on the back. Maybe I shouldn't have whined about all the hard work! Mainly I'm just hoping for a little proactive effort and support to keep the permit in place. I know it's easy to take it for granted but I don't think we can afford to. We are super lucky that most authorities allow us to self-regulate our activities, but it only works if we actually do some self regulating.

JeffMc said...

Alex - don't think you were fishing at all. It was just hard to add to your well written plea for COMMON SENSE. Which is to say - Don't jeopardize our hard-fought permit for a fleeting moment so-called "fun" or simple carelessness.

Just wanted to throw in my support, so you don't have to always play the club "heavy". I'm sure 99% of the club agrees, and abides - and I hope they chime in here too.

@Larry - I've had nothing but a positive experience and aloha from the Kahana residents. I don't feel unwelcome at all. It's vital to the club to maintain and even foster that relationship. And that will be much easier by simply respecting the rules of our permit and the beach park.

Rich. said...

Thanx Alex, I couldn't believe it when I saw that posted! Seems we need a good reminder every so often of the delicate nature of our privilege there.

allanc said...

A healthy reminder to think about our actions from time to time is welcome, especially when we tend to forget that we are really privileged to be flying without much regulation.

Will do my best to be an ambassador of the sport while showing aloha and respect for all of the varying viewpoints of people we interact with. I really feel that this will go a long way and that if an accident does occur it will not be the last straw for people but rather an unfortunate occurrence that does not define our flying and how responsible or respectful we are as a community.

Anonymous said...


Brazilian Ray said...

AlanC, thanks for reaching out!
we all need to show not only respect and safety but remember we are representatives of our small group at all times we are at a flying site. drive slow and courteously in the neighborhood, leave no trash behind, help with community projects and such things can help us out as well. ok, you don't have to go that far, but at least do your part to keep it open to all others!!

Brazilian Ray

Thom said...

I am not a proponent of night flying because frankly dont care for it so I have a biased opinon of it. But here is my 2 cents.

Flying at night is not allowed via USHPA/FAA rules. If you do it lets not hear about it, AT ALL. Lets stop posting, storying, scolding etc etc.

If you really need it, you really want it, remember it's outside the lines. We all need to be prudent, especially at this time with all the accidents with the trikes on Kauai.

Oh, it will never come to us......just wait, its easier to ban a whole than to give single groups permission.

If Government gets involved in our flying. We might as well tie ourselves to a merry go round.

Its Time to Fly Get your Gear and Go !!!!!! (at least somewhat within the rules.....yeeeehaaa!)

MauiDoug said...

Thanks Alex for the common sense reminder! We all need to do all that we can to preserve our flying sites. Especially keeping an eye on visiting pilots to make sure that they also respect our sites and understand those easterly questionable days!