Saturday, October 22, 2011


Mad Dog called me today and said it looked like it would be cloudy and rainy on the windward side, so he'd probably just play golf rather than come out to fly. He cited the Koolauloa forecast of 100% chance of rain. I said, whatever, they always says that, just so people planning parties will be sure to set up tents. But we're not worried about a few squalls, are we? I convinced him that it was worth coming out.

It was quite cloudy and rainy all morning, and the afternoon was barely much better. We met at around 2 pm, and Thom joined us soon afterward. I knew I had to leave at 4:30, to take Logan to town for a kayak team dinner, so my window was going to be tight. At the same time, I had a strange feeling that the flight was going to be epic. Mad Dog did too - he said, this is the greatest looking sh!tty day I've seen out here in a long time! By which he meant, it's grey and overcast and drizzly, but we can probably go pretty far with the aid of the suction provided by that kind of cloud ceiling! I egged the guys on by promising that we were all going to make it to the golf course in Kahuku.

Sure enough, we were getting super high at Kahana, up to 2,800 feet or so, above some of the cloud layers. There was a bit of drizzle in the air while we were setting up to launch, and again as we were working our way up. But it never seemed like it was going to turn into anything serious. And I was in a rush to beat my deadline, so I blazed downrange first. Mad Dog was just coming back to Puu Piei, and he radioed over his disappointment at my premature departure. He said that he was not going to fly with me anymore!

I got high quickly at the Punaluu ridge, and Mad Dog soon joined me, followed shortly after by Thom. Just as Thom arrived, I was heading out to avoid a low band of clouds approaching, and I was getting a nice boost all the way out. I knew it was my moment. And I was getting drizzled on again. Mad Dog was at about the same height, and I encouraged him to follow me. We set a course for Kahuku just as a whole bunch of rain started to fall on the ridges just slightly downwind of us. We were surfing the edge of the rainy stuff, under a grey blanket, just barely staying dry and hoping the dark bottomed clouds would hold us up as we skated downrange.

I arrived over Pounders with 2,000 feet. That's probably the highest I've been there! I continued to Hukilau, with Mad Dog slightly behind and below. As I crossed over Hukilau I knew I could make it to the golf course. Mad Dog was quite a bit lower by this time and was not so sure. I egged him on and he went for it, crossing the little forest at Malaekahana State Park to soar the tree line on the bay beyond. Thom came in at about the same height but wasn't sure he could cross the little forest, so he played it safe and landed at Hukilau. Mad Dog landed at the far end of Malaekahana Bay. And I made it to the far end of the golf course again. I am really starting to like landing there! It was sunny and beautiful on this tip of the island, an oasis of sunshine on such a cloudy and rainy day.

But now I was in some serious trouble. I had neglected to carry any cash for the bus with me. And it was 3:30. I had an hour before I would have to leave Kahana to pick Logan up. Mad Dog said if I walked back to where he was, we could ride the bus together and he'd cover my fare. That would probably take more than an hour! But fortunately for me, while I was flying, I had missed a call from Duck, who was at home working, and when I returned the call, he said he would be happy to take a break and pick us all up. Not only did he arrive promptly, but he had a wonderfully refreshing cold beverage for us to share, and a fresh batch of orange chicken he'd just made. Thanks for the ride, the food, and the rare elixir, Duck! You are the best friend a cross country pilot could have. I owe you many rides back from that golf course!

When we got back to Kahana, Doug and Harvey were in the air. Berndt, Jim, and Hendrick were on launch, and Pete showed up just as I was leaving. I heard some squalls blew through, and Pete cut his hike short, but hopefully some folks got at least a little airtime for the late session.

No comments: