Thursday, September 15, 2011

The King's Red Carpet

Do you ever feel like some pilots get all the lucky lines, or best pockets of lift, and just make it look easy to cross the bay? I guess the word pilots should not have been plural; there is only one King. I had picked up Reaper, and was bringing him home, when the call came from the King. "I am hiking up. It's perfect." That was all I needed to hear. On the way, at a red light, I checked the wind sensor. It was 4-8 averaging 6. WHAT?! I sent a text to Alex asking him why he was hiking, if the sensor only showed bug farts. But I had to drop off Bonnie's new wing, so I kept my heading to Kahana anyway.

Rounding the Crouching Lion is always my favorite, especially when you see wings skied out. Today there was only one, and it was the King. I wasted no time hiking, but when I arrived at east launch, Alex had already crossed to Kualoa, and there were some ominous squalls approaching. He told me to keep an eye on them. They appeared to be tracking right up the hill. Alex came back and elected to land at the LZ. I tried to launch and head down as well, but I had a stick and then a few snags while trying to hurry off launch. At that point I was stuck, so I hid under a tree.

The big one missed me, but I got pelted by one of its little sisters. While I laid out my damp wing, Alex started hiking up, but he went to the north launch this time. It was dead on east launch until the King crested the ridge, and only then did the wind gods unroll the 'Red Carpet'. I launched and flew past Alex as he was setting up on north. Got high quick and had one of my best scratch sessions.

Alex joined me above Puu Piei, but it took him a while to get up to my height. That felt pretty good, but it did not last long. I took another turn to get the last bit of altitude, and when I came around, Alex was on glide across the bay, straight across, directly from Puu Piei to the Crouching Lion.

I started to follow and sank like a rock. Ha! Commoners are not allowed on the 'Red Carpet'. I turned back to bench up, and choose a different aisle, but the air had turned off. My penance for walking the King's Trail.

Another monster squall was developing and approaching fast. I headed for the beach, and Alex swooped in from Kaaawa shortly after. Twice he had made it across, with no apparent effort! It is frustrating sometimes when you see him just whip over like that. And that damn carpet got rolled up before I could get across. Well, next time maybe.

Lesson of the day: don't walk on the King's Red Carpet, or it might get pulled out from under you.

Felt good to get back in the air after a few days off due to w**k.

Its Time to Fly, Get Your Gear and Go !!!! BUT Stay off The Red Carpet!!


Alex said...

Thanks for the story, Thom. Sometimes it does feel like there's a red carpet laid out across the bay for me! Probably it's the wing, but keep in mind I've been doing that bay crossing research for many years and perhaps I've actually learned something during that time. Nah, it's the wing, and the pod doesn't hurt either.

Next time I'll be sure to include you in the royal entourage as we make our bay crossing procession.

Nice to see Duck and Sharky and Bonnie out there, but it's too bad the threat of squalls during the small late window kept them on the ground.

Thanks to Sharky for the refreshing cold aperitif, and thanks to you for the royal golden ambrosia, Thom. Man, that was tasty. And pretty strong too - I'm still a bit groggy this morning!

allanc said...

I have a seeking suspicion that the the number of hours flow, variety of conditions, and close attention that Alex pays to the windows of opportunity get him across the bay. It is no accident when he shows up to fly, this is the advantage an experienced pilot with a passion for the sport who lives down the road from the flying site has. Personally I am stoked to see Alex take advantage and really fly well based on all the experience and careful testing he has done over the YEARS there. Oh yeah AND he is on a great wing with a pod, really an inspiration for the rest of us.

Go Alex Go............