Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Solitary but not Confined

Finally, we got a normal flying day. None of this unseasonable northerly bay crossing nonsense. Just moderate easterly trades, and a partly sunny sky with low clouds. I held off as long as I could, but by mid afternoon I was chomping at the bit. Some guys were heading to Makapuu, but for once I couldn't get anyone to join me at Kahana. I don't really like flying alone, but I just couldn't see myself passing up this sweet looking day. I dropped off Amelia at her grandma's house and scrambled up the hill, thinking about a classic downrange mission, although I was a bit concerned about how I would get a ride back quickly enough to pick her up and get home to make dinner.

I launched and quickly climbed up to cloudbase. Now I could see the low clouds were dropping some misty rain offshore, and I was worried about getting wet. I figured it might be a good time to dash over to Punaluu and start my downrange tour. I flew up and down the ridge there a couple times, peeking into Sacred Falls from cloudbase, which was keeping me lower than I would have liked in order to make much distance. Also, I noticed that the squalls all seemed to be passing by and heading for Laie and Kahuku. That was good for me but bad for my downrange plan.

So I decided to see if I could surf the cloud bellies back to Kahana. If I got low, I would just force myself to land at Chings store for refreshments. But I made it back! I checked the wind reading as I pulled around in front of the rhino horn, and it was holding steady at 68 degrees. Uprange really is the new downrange! Now I could land at the LZ where I had parked and go pick up Amelia. As I patted myself on the back for such cleverness, I noticed an Iwa had followed me from Punaluu and was continuing across the bay.

And of course, now I was wondering if I could continue my upwind success by crossing the bay in this easterly flow. It turns out I could! I sailed across on the boatiest line ever, and pulled around into Hidden Valley above Bobo's. While working my way up there, I noticed my radio was losing power. I wanted it working in case Duck got off work early to join me, so I pulled off the battery pack and started replacing the batteries inside. I got all the new AA cells loaded, but as I tried to reattach the pack, I fumbled it, and it flipped out of my grip. I watched in horror as it shrank below me and finally disappeared into the jungle above Kaaawa. More technology those wild pigs just don't need.

I knew I was running late, but I couldn't resist continuing on to Kualoa as the sun was sinking low behind the mountains. I was able to fly further around the ridge there because the flow was more easterly than it is when we typically find ourselves there. Another Iwa, or perhaps the same one, worked the lift with me and kept me company for a while, before he set out across Kaneohe Bay. I knew my mission was over, but I watched him wistfully before finally turning back towards Kahana.

What an interesting and fun flight: pretty much the exact reverse of the fifteen miler I enjoyed on Sunday, though even more solitary this time, without even anyone to greet me at the LZ. And this was my third double out and back flight in just a few weeks. Not such a normal flying day after all!

1 comment:

Thom said...

I had a solo flight at Makapuu the day before but was greeted by Dave at the LZ and got a lift back to my truck.

Solo flights are not my cup of tea either but I stayed local and did not venture off, alone like other have....hmmmm.

It was great at MPU too and only 4 flew there and Fireman Dave called me from the air at Lanikai. I guess the pain of not flying has worn off all the other Monkeys. Did they find an antidote???

Thanks for the read I ordered some battery packs this morning. I will try to meet you half way today when Woody and I leave MPU around 11ish.