Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beam Me Up

Everyone knows I like to take pictures. Over the years, it has become a part of why I fly. Dorothy was astounded the other day when I told her I had taken over 300 pictures during a flight. (It was a 5 hour flight, but still, that's a lot of pictures.) But pictures aren't the only reason I fly! So Dorothy suggested I make an effort to put my camera down, and just gaze at the beauty of my surroundings.

I tried it today. It was an amazing feeling to just put the camera down, and to see the mountains and clouds and the beams of the setting sun in all their glory, from my vantage point of three thousand feet over Kaaawa and Kualoa!

Then, I took a bunch of pictures. Only about 65 in a couple hours! But seriously: I think the pictures I took today go a long way to explain why I fly, why I fly where I do, why I take pictures, and why I prefer to fly in the late afternoon! I fly because I get to see the most amazing and beautiful landscapes! And I'm lucky to live near a flying site that's nestled in the most lush, green, and eroded foothills of this island, where the landscapes are unsurpassed, especially in the late afternoon when the sun is putting on a show.

When Bob and I took a photography class together at UH, they had a contest at the end of the class to choose the best photo from among any that we had taken before the class. The one I submitted was a picture of Scrappy limned by beams of the setting sun breaking through clouds over Kaaawa Valley. Everyone voted for that picture without hesitation. I truly don't think it was anything special I had done -- there is just something about that landscape at that time of day that is ridiculously breathtaking. The pictures I take with my phone barely do it justice. One of these days I'll get a new lens for my DSLR and then I'll really start having some fun! In the meantime, I hope these pictures give folks some idea of my motivation.

Today I only had a couple of hours to spare after spending the day at Logan's kayak meet. But I had high hopes for a bay crossing afternoon. A lot of guys had flown Makapuu in the earlier part of the day, and some of them came out to Kahana afterward, along with a few folks like me who had put all their eggs in the Kahana basket.

Sure enough, as I passed by the bay to drop Logan off at his grandma's house, Maui Doug was just making his way across the bay to Kaaawa. I dropped Logan off and then sped back to chase Doug. Thom and Travis were struggling to get airborne in the light flow on upper north launch, so I hiked a bit higher to get myself started. I had to scratch quite a bit but I finally got up and crossed the bay in pretty short order. Thom and Travis both ended up getting off just fine, followed by Bill and Sharky a bit later. Nightshift flew a sledder from east launch and then tried again from north, but had to hike down. Three couples, Duck and Ginger, Ray and Noell, and Gaza and Laurel, came out to spend the afternoon at the LZ with us.

Jim made it across the bay but wisely chose to retreat when he found he wasn't getting high right away. JK made it across the bay as well, just moments before I did, but he pushed forward too low in that light flow, and ended up having to land in some tall trees at the foot of the cliffs just before Hidden Valley. Thanks to Duck, Ray and Gaza for getting him out of there! And thanks to JK and Sharky for the beverages.


Thom said...

Presidents Log, Star Date: September 10, 2011.

Alex, I hope you really know how much we appreciate these write ups and your pictures. Some of us are old enough now to realize that we will not always be able to fly. We will always have these stories to reflect on the lives we have had when we could.

No matter how time consuming these may seem and the jabs you get for your log, I think alot of us will find them essential not only now for our coffee reads, but in the future which comes to fast.

Someone mentioned a book the other day. Not a bad table book no less.

Thanks Again

JK said...

Bless your heart for making my landing a mere footnote to the story today, Alex. Your readers should know that just because it wasn't highlighted doesn't mean it was trivialized. There was a detailed debrief. The bottom line is "pull it back a notch", and I agree.

The wing was minimally damaged by the artful extraction (one cleanly broken line, one line with broken sheathing, a one-inch ragged tear on the trailing edge - taped up. ). The pilot unhurt. The pride, well that's another thing.

Even though Alex directed an immediate do-not-respond call to the Honolulu FD, a passer-by saw the landing and drove to the Kaaawa Fire Station to report it verbally, bypassing the central dispatch. I walked to the Kam Hwy just as they arrived and thanked them for their response. Once again, I owe. Instead of one-sies and two-sies at the LZ, maybe Thom ought to just have a gathering, and I'll get all the beer.

Thanks to the expert HPA Wing Extraction Team, and as Thom said, thanks for the write up Alex. It's always a good read and saves me from having to keep a logbook. :-)

Alex said...

Well, JK, Dorothy read this article today and her comment about your tree landing was this: I guess the transporter must have beamed him to the wrong coordinates! You can just blame the transporter techs! Those guys are lame, right?

Sharky said...

Thanks for the write up Alex! I really enjoy the late afternoon flights for the views as well.

It was light and poopy for me. But I hiked and launched at least (With help from Nightshift on multiple pull ups on Saturday..Thanks!)

I didn't scratch up but I did make it up to lay out solo at KNA twice in one weekend (and do a secret wing cleaning/kiting session at MDKP sunday).

It's through posts like Alex's and everyone else, that I stoke the fire to learn more so I can fly more...and to safely learn through the lessons of fellow monkeys to know and respect my own personal limitations as a pilot.

We have a very cool barrel of monkeys to hang with....

=-) Sharky

Thom said...

As Chief Engineer, Scotty, would say, "Captain, I given her all She's got, the lack of thermal nuclear activity is jamming the damn anti-matter inducer, we'll have to set that lad down in a tree."

Duck said...