Friday, September 02, 2011


After three days this week trying over and over to cross the bay, and not making it, I was ready for a decent XC day. In fact I was downright optimistic. Our good flying buddy, World Champion Alaska Jack, was in town for a 24 hour layover, and he was hopeful for some airtime, though still smarting from the schooling we gave him the last time he was here, when I was flying tandem with Amelia. Jack posted up on the chatterbox: "I expect more hospitality today than last time, when you climbed right up through me with your 3 lb 'load' of cute smiles and giggles, and then EVERYONE crossed the bay and left us!"

It was super strong and super east all morning. Not the most hospitable of conditions. But still, I was hopeful. I met Jack at the Kahana LZ around 11:30, but it felt too strong. Sure enough, the average on the sensor was 17 mph. So we headed to Surfin Tacos to eat lunch and wait for it to back off. It actually did start to lighten up while we were eating lunch! But it still felt a bit strong as we hiked up, with Harvey and with Scot, who had cleverly brought along his mini wing. Scot launched during the gust front of a squall line, and buzzed high up and all around, top landing just before it started to rain.

His first top landing was … death defying, the lowest I've ever seen. It was closer to a bottom landing - just inches above the tree line. His second top landing, at low launch, was … textbook! And by that time, lots of whitecaps had filled in behind the squall line. It really looked like we would have to make the best of a mini wing kind of day. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Scot very hospitably offered Jack a chance to hook up with his hot little number. I wondered if Jack would be up for that kind of action. But he politely declined the opportunity - I guess he thought he might be too old, or too big. C'mon, no way! I am sure she would take great care of any interested gentleman, no matter what age or size!

So Scot let me take her for a spin. Thanks, Scot - you know I love that little tramp! After I buzzed over to the rhino horn and back, and top landed the saucy tart, Harvey decided the conditions were starting to get good for regular wings, so he manhandled his Gangster up and out of there in some very gusty cycles. I followed on my Niviuk, less than gracefully, and after a couple of false starts, so did Jack, in his crispy Mantra M4. JK hiked up as we were buzzing low, and Scot launched the mini wing once again. It seemed pretty strong at first, so I stayed low, doing touch and goes on both ridges. Jeff and Jim hiked up and got ready to join us. At some point Jack decided it was okay to explore higher up, and he started to sky out. JK and I soon followed.

It was very strong up high. I was fairly parked at times, just staying out front. JK boldly blazed into the back to climb super high over Puu Piei, I'm guessing to 2,800 feet or so, and then he very slowly crawled his way out front. The amazing thing was that he kept going up, even as he crossed the shoreline and headed out over the water past Punaluu Beach Park. I wondered if he was going to make a break for a downrange run. But just then, I noticed that the sensor had clocked over to 54 degrees at 11 mph.

So I followed JK out, but I veered to the right, out over the bay. And I kept going up all the way. I was at 2,500 feet, way out past the coral head in the middle of the bay, when I turned toward Kaaawa. I have never crossed from that high before! I was laughing out loud and wondering what the heck was going on. I headed straight for the shoulder of Hidden Valley, and soon after I got there I saw that Jack was following, taking a line directly from high above Puu Piei.

After he joined me, we worked our way up above the edge of Kaaawa Valley together. But soon Jack drew close, to shout over that he had run out of time, and he needed to land and hop on a bus back to Waikiki to catch the shuttle for his plane. I led him to Kualoa, and pointed out the park where he could land and catch the bus. I watched him land, and then flew above Kualoa for a long time, taking a picture of Bonnie on her stand up board in the fishpond.

Finally I headed back to soar for a while at Kahana with JK, Five-0 Mike, Maui Doug, Jim and Jeff. Turns out JK tried to follow us across the bay earlier in the day, but he came in low and had to burn for the LZ. But he hiked back up for more, and was still in the air when I got back to the bay. And it turns out poor Harvey tried for the bay crossing too, but he pushed it even further, and got even lower, and then he had to burn super low around the Crouching Lion knob, like halfway below the knob, kicking trees over the fishpond and hoping to make it to any part of the beach. But he splashed into the river mouth between the fishpond and the beach. Ouch! Another wing for Thom's Nylon Launderette.

Thanks to Five-0 Mike for the refreshments. I'm just sorry that Jack wasn't able to stick around to enjoy the hoppier aspects of our hospitality. Next time we'll just have to land sooner!


JK said...

What a FUN afternoon! Thanks for the recap, Alex. It was amazing how close to reality the WRF model animation (on our weather page) predicted the winds today. I'll have to watch that forecast tool more closely. Thom, thanks for the hospitality at the wing wash tonight. Really enjoyed my time with the ohana.

Thom said...

Yup, glad you guys got flights. AKJack deserves some good hospitallity after we left him that day. I think it was Alex & Amelia, MauiDoug, me then Harvey.

I elected to stay at the house today and chip away at my bathroom it is still not complete.

On another NOTE: Any-one splashing down and needing a wing wash due to pushing it to far will be charged for wing wash, from now on. Maybe this will entice a turn back. HOPEFULLY. Getting ludicrous and we are lucky no injuries from it....yet. Play it smart, or you'll be opening your soggy wallet for more than just electronic losses.