Friday, August 12, 2011

Monkey Scratch

We can tell Woody is in town because we have had nothing but flyable weather. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean it's good, but at least we'll get a flight. However, today was actually brewing to be good. I arrived at the Kahana LZ to find Woody packing up after a two hour solo flight … no non-jobbers around -- they must have been w**king. Woody had a quick snack and off we went up the east ridge.

Today's conditions were light, as many will attest, a real scratcher. Woody launched and got up over the Rhino Horn. I launched and had to scratch my monkey butt off to get there. Up ten feet, then down nine, according to my poor vario, and my aching back. Others soon arrived, and were asking for conditions. I did not answer, and the theory was that Sidehill's radio must be broken. Alright! A peaceful flight! Funny, guys -- when you don't hear me on the radio, it's because it is an active day.

Alex arrived and chirped up the sensor readings, and it was light and north. We tried to cross. Woody made the longest attempt, but when he turned to come back, I knew I wouldn't make it, so I u-turned back to the rodeo.

By now, the King was in the air. There were no red carpets for him today, so he had to earn his elevation. But he scratched up quickly, and topped off at Pu'u Piei. Then the wind gods realized: Oops! This is the King! So the carpet was unrolled, and he crossed on his first attempt. Son of a $!*@!!

Being a loyal subject, I just couldn't let him fly all alone over there. I made it across, and watched my vario continue to drop, even after crossing the knob at Crouching Lion. I sank lower than my comfort turn-and-burn number. Swanzys LZ looked a million miles away, so I just had to scratch.

Scratch, Scratch, Scratch, freaking Monkey Scratch. Finally, I was able to verify to all that my radio was not broken. "OK, Alex, I am finally up, where have you been, and where are we going?"

Alex told me that reaching the Pyramid may be possible, by soaring down Kaaawa Valley. He also said that he had already been halfway down and came back, for which he will be asking for a Presidential Pardon. [editors' note: Oh yes I did. Okay maybe not half, but perhaps half of half!]

I tried going down once, and got slammed, so I came back, and oh, I was no way near halfway. Alex and I turned in thermals for quite some time. Later, Alex told me that he was going to say it was a right hand turn day, or a left, but please, pick one. I was all over the place, chasing the little black dot on the B1 that showed me my last thermal. Unfortunately the B1 doesn't track bullet thermals that disappear without a trace.

It was light, but finally I caught one and headed back, this time skimming over the ridge tops. I hate the fact that I had object fixation, but once I committed to going, I knew there was no turning back. First and foremost, I had an LZ 99% of the way, Kaaawa Valley road, although it would have been a long walk to the main road.

It turned out to be cake all the way back, smooth with no rotor, but I was losing my hard earned elevation. I constantly stared at the Pyramid, and it kept getting bigger, and taller, and the valley road got closer and closer. Anytime now I was going to hear Alex say, "Dude, what are you doing!!!???"

I arrived at the base of the pyramid and heard a joyful beep on my vario, and I turned to beckon Alex down the valley. But I didn't have to -- he was right behind me! Now that is a good feeling. You know when you're doing something you feel is wrong … not checking penetration, just pointing and going. The bad feeling all goes away when there is another monkey following, giving you a nice (though perhaps false) sense of security.

We both started on the ground floor at the Pyramid, and were rewarded with the most lifty air of the day. I was actually able to chat: OK, what should we do? Cloud base doesn't look too bad. I was tired and hungry when Alex said he was most likely going to Maui Doug's Kite spot, so I was relieved.

I turned back to get a final look at the pyramid and bench up a little. When I turned, a big white mass was on a collision course. I looked below and there was Alex, who had seen it coming and had pushed out to stay low. I hate the white room, no fond memories for me there. I relaxed, since I had plenty of penetration, and could still see a sliver of ground. I got sucked to a little over 3,000 feet.

When I came out, it was an awesome sight -- the view was great. Alex was still thinking of the Kite spot, so I headed out over the bay. But then he started pulling a 'Mad Dog', and went way inland. "What are you doing?" He responded, "I think I am going to Hygienics." OK, I had it on visual glide, but my B1 did not confirm, so I was a little worried. I think I need another B1 class.

We arrived at Hygienics to watch several squads of red helmets practicing below. There was an open corner and we tucked it in. Alex was smiling when he said, "Thanks for leading the way!" I was still shaking but pretty happy with most of my decisions.

Lesson learned: don't object fixate, and always keep an eye on your horizon. Clouds Suck -- I got lucky this time.

As always, hopefully, It's Time to Fly Get Your Gear, Bus Fare and Go!!!!!!


Alex said...

Thanks for the detailed and funny writeup, Thom! What an amazing flight that was. I really don't think I would have gone if you hadn't blazed back first. I am happy to hitch a ride on your balls anytime. Oh wait, that doesn't sound right. Anyway, thanks for leading the way. I look forward to more exploration of the legendary pyramid, otherwise known as Puu Ohulehule. I think she has a lot to teach us.

At least thirteen pilots were out there during the day. And there were a lot of other exciting stories that might be worth telling. Jim and Duck both crossed the bay later on, Sharky had his best ever thermic scratchfest, and there were several minor incidents involving water and trees and pilots. We celebrated our milestones and mishaps at the LZ until the ridiculously late hour of 9 PM, after which we broke up into two camps, one retiring to Thom's house and one to Duck's, where the parties continued long into the evening.

Brazilian Ray said...

cool, I am glad you are pushing it and changing the rules.... pretty soon makapuu will be the new hygienics!
party on!!!
Brazilian Ray

Mad Dog said...

Very nice flying both you monkeys! So nice to have a morning coffee read, now I know what you mean Thom. Thanks again...We all are learning a lot about our area & its a lot of fun,be safe & fly far!

Aloha From Annecy