Tuesday, September 06, 2011


The morning dawned hot and still. There were lots of big booming clouds on the mountains behind my house, and they were just sitting there, with a barely perceptible tradewind drift. I had work to do, but it was too hot to concentrate, and all I could think about was where to fly in weather like this. It was the kind of day where a dozen sites might work, or none of them. My poor sweaty little monkey brain was racing.

My first thought was about the west side. It seemed like a light and variable day, which should be perfect out there. But in reality it was more of a light tradewind day. Either scenario generates a sea breeze, but I think the light trade version of the sea breeze makes for better flying at sites facing anywhere from north to east. Checking the sensors, I noticed that Mokuleia was showing flyable numbers early on, a light north-northeast flow. It's been nine months since we've flown at Dillingham, and I have sorely missed it. We know so little about what conditions work out there. I feel like we've barely scratched the surface of that site, in terms of flying conditions and cross country possibilities. I know we've made it work out there in a sea breeze before, so I was hopeful about today's chances, but sea breezes are always fickle creatures.

My favorite crazy canine agreed to meet me out there, and his lovely, generous and tolerant wife wanted to come along too, for some beach time, and possibly to help out with any retrieval needs if she got bored of sunning herself. Maui Doug said he'd meet us out there a bit later. Jorge and Allan were on the fence but didn't end up able to make it out.

I met the wacky woofer (and his winsome woman) at Mokuleia Beach Park. It had only taken him 45 minutes to drive out there from Diamond Head. (New Dillingham slogan: It's closer than you think.) But I guess that short ride with his firecracker spouse was enough to wind him up into a state of high dudgeon. I had to listen to him complain about my excellent weather sleuthing. "Look at those whitecaps! I wasted my time coming all this way! It's wind surfing weather! I knew I shoulda went to Makapuu! I hate this place -- there's nothing good about it!" I wish I could say I kindly ignored his negative attitude, but I have to admit I fired back with a threat to take him off the Dillingham invite list. Of course we all know that's an empty threat. Otherwise, who would I fly with on perfect days like this???

We parked at the climbing wall trailhead and the lupine lunatic begrudgingly admitted it seemed like it might be okay for flying. We ran up the trail and found our launch spot massively overgrown since the last time we were there nine months ago. After tramping down the california grass clumps, I popped up my wing and dropped it on my buddy, and then I waited for a nice cycle. That poor launch just doesn't get much airflow, even on a day like today when there's some wind. I launched and shot straight up, wondering if I wasn't going to be sucked up and over the back to prove Mad Dog right about his wind surfing quip. But I was penetrating just fine. Whew! There was massive lift but plenty of penetration. What an awesome combination!

After quite a while struggling to lay his wing out and launch, Mad Dog joined me in the air, and we both started to explore in the direction of Mt. Kaaala. I found myself higher than I'd ever been behind the drop zone, without even turning, but I was still able to make good progress into the wind. This must be some crazy convergence. Mad Dog said he wanted to head towards the center of the island to get under the huge ugly black cloud forming there - he said if we got sucked up under that thing we could fly anywhere. I have to say that was the last place I wanted to go. But then again, I'm always happy to follow the crazy guy. From a safe distance. So I can watch as he gets hoovered to heaven, or vacuumed to valhalla, under a big black suction machine, and then I will turn back and land and start the search for his body.

We made it as far as the foothills of Mt. Kaala, farther than we've ever been, but we arrived under the cloud too low to experience the wonderful sucking feeling. That black cloudbase must have been four or five grand. At one point Mad Dog was low over the pineapple fields, just below a grand or so, and he said: "I can feel it! It's sucking me up! Here I come!" But really he was just in some nice zeroes, boating above the fields and looking for a landing zone.

We headed out toward Waialua High School and ended up landing together just behind the school, in a seriously sporty headwind, elevatoring straight down in the nice mechanical turbulence behind the buildings and trees. Only seven miles but it felt like a hundred. Wow, it was a lot stronger on the ground than up in the air! Jeannine graciously interrupted her sunning session to drive over and pick us up. What a sweetheart! By that time Maui Doug was skying out over Dillingham airfield. We arrived back at the trailhead to meet some nice climbers who we'd seen at the climbing wall, and we shared some beverages and conversation, as we watched Maui Doug cavort in the sky above our heads. Finally he landed and joined us for some refreshments. What an amazing day at the Dill!

As I drove around the town side to Logan's school, I could see the Koolau range looking really crazy and crystal clear of clouds from the backside. As Mad Dog had snidely sworn earlier, Makapuu surely would have been a great option today too. I wonder if anyone got any cross country action in over there! Hopefully there are some east side stories to be told.

So, I don't want to end this story on a somber note, but I'm afraid I have a very serious message to impart. We have a week of very light trade winds on our hands. A little preview of winter, but just a bit hotter. The thing is, our flying conditions just don't get better than this. You need to call in sick, cancel your appointments, skip your workout, hire a babysitter, and otherwise just make sure you get out to fly as much as possible the next five days or so. No excuses! Or you very well might miss out on the flight of a lifetime. Like you did today. You have been warned!


Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Seriously saccharined story, sir. You and the rabid mutt make for raconteurs without equal. I anxiously await the next five days worth of installments from AleXC and the berserk barker.

JK said...

I have taken your advice, Alex. I shifted my w0rk schedule to the left. I now finish at 2pm rather than start at 2pm for the next two days. I'll be late to the party, but I will arrive. Post up so I know where to go! Great write-up! How about some track logs? JK

nightshift said...

Oahu's newest Dynamic Duo: Dill Man and Loony Pooch! And their getaway driver Pestilence. (aka La Peste)

Thom said...

A very Kosher story. A muzzle should be fitted on your pessimistic pup.
I can't wait to be in the pickle barrel someday, it has alluded me every time so far.
I have fallen off the non-jobber list after missing this day and the Makpu'u run you all had today.
It has made me very 'sick', I had to delay some 'appointments', I will never 'skip a work out' that includes hiking and flying. The best thing is GRAMMA came home today...I have a 'sitter'.

The worst thing is I started my bathroom the last time flights were made at the Dill, mine only a sled ride, and it is still not done....ouch.

Oh, well, see you on the hill Thursday, Friday, Saturday........!