Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Humble King Helps His Minion...

… or, The Plight of the Previously Polluted Pilot, Poorly Prepared for Paragliding Pleasures.

It's about time I wrote something, and today's antics on launch and landing are a good lesson to me about the perils of drinking with friends whose livers have been punished much more frequently than my own. Let me share my tale of woe: how the Humble King of Kahana came to the aid of his poor minion, who had displayed some of the worst launching skills since getting serious about flying again.

Rather than start with today, it started yesterday, at about 8:30 pm, to be exact. I had just received my bright shiny new 64GB iPhone 4S from the weary UPS men on their quest to put bright shiny new technobaubles in the hands of the unwashed masses of the island. I had refreshed my UPS shipping status countless times since it first showed it's status as "Out on Delivery" at 8 am that morning.

A good friend, former co-worker, and fellow liver punisher (AKA drinking partner) was at Side Street Inn Kapahulu and had gotten his shiny new Verizon iPhone 4S earlier that day (by just walking in no less). He offered tasty morsels and libation if I were to come forth and share some of my mystical skills of tech and to celebrate the acquisition of our new "Familiars". Not wishing to let down a comrade in arms, I agreed heartily and made my way posthaste to the Inn to begin a night of celebration, gluttony, libation, debauchery and wenching (minus the debauchery and wenching).

At some point after a bit of gluttony, consisting of Deep Fried Ahi Belly, Fried Chicken, Big Island Smoked Pork and Poke accompanied by frosty malted beverages. I managed to set up his gmail and contacts and work email as well as show him some of the basic features of the iPhone. To wit he says "I'm too drunk to remember all this stuff, you need to catch up!"; a wiser individual would have taken this as a sign to leave (like seeing catspaws or an incoming gust front before you get blown back). An unknown number of Grey Goose Citron shots were consumed and I vaguely recall dropping him off at home at 2am and relying on auto-pilot to get home … and so the night ended.

Ahhh … my story … well, I woke up around 8 am on Saturday and all was well … til I stood up. At which point a large number of TOUS's (Trolls Of Unusual Size) attempted to breach the back of my head, wielding Large Gnarly Hammers of Hangover +5. I could not see my foes. They were in back of my head of course, sneaky bastards, and I battled them for a good 5 hours. By then the sun had risen high into the sky, and the King's messenger had left at least one summons to the Kingdom of Kahana.

Still weary from battle, I quaffed as much water as I could and packed a ham & cheese sandwhich and banana for my journey …

---------------- the real story

I arrived at the kingdom of Kahana late in the day and was greeted by the sight of many squires kiting their wings under the tutelage of the Swarthy Lord Reaper. It was a beautiful site to behold, especially since the LZ had increased in size by a magically large margin.

Knights were in the air cavorting about in the air currents above, and I could see Sir Duck pulling some quite manly wingovers on his steed, and deftly reigning in when needed. Sir Joey was in the air, along with Sir One-Eye (he has two, it's just a nickname), Sir Mike of Romania, and others I could not recognize.

Ms Ginny was already at North Launch and calling it "doable", and the winds looked inviting. Despite all the positive signs, I was still weary from battle and feeling a bit ill at ease, but did not let that deter me from hiking up to launch.

While enroute to launch I heard Joey report that he "just wasn't feeling it", and declared it was a bit bumpy and just "not enough fun". This was the first sign that things were different, but I just assumed that Joey must have had a lot of good fly time and was jaded by good air on previous flights.

Once I got up to launch, Ginny had taken flight, and Sir Ken of Hilo was preparing to take to the air.

I was still moving sluggishly and I took my time unpacking my gear. I heard His Highness (Alex) on the radio announcing he was passing through the kingdom and would be returning shortly to take to the skies. I knew this would have to mean that conditions could only get better and watched Ken's launch.

This was my second sign that conditions were not quite what they seemed. Ken brought up his wing and it did a bit of a shift and watoosi and ploopped down which looked a bit awkward, but was still positioned OK. Then the next time he brought his wing up, it seemed to get and lose power and shifted from side to side as if the wind was shifting and snaking. After wrestling with it, he got it faced correctly and dipped out and made an awkward looking departure from the hill. Ken stayed out front, and made a few passes, but he didn't really go up much, and then decided to head for the LZ. There was no radio chatter from Ken that I recall, and Ginny also decided to take it in.

By now the King had arrived with an emissary in tow (Mike the Documentor). I realized I needed to get my collective poop in order and get launching quick. My wing was already removed from the magic bag and sitting about 6ft from the "rock" at mid launch, about the same spot that Ken had laid out. I rushed to try and get set up as quickly as I could (which means slower than any normal person) and promptly had an issue with the wind and my wing wanting to do things other than intended. Eventually I had the wing squared away and laid out, and it just got weirdly light...great a lull while the King was waiting on me...bad, very bad...need to get off hill quick was all I could think.

Alex was kind enough to help with multiple taco's and untaco's of my wing and even bringing it up and plopping it in GOUS bushes (Gorse Of Unusual Stickiness). I tried bringing the wing up in what seemed to be good cycles and it would come up and just feel listless. All the while Alex was encouraging me to use A/C's to try and test the air and walk the wing up the hill to get better airflow.

And then a gust hit, right after I had moved up a few steps and my wing was almost at the crest. I was only holding my A's at that point and I just yanked it and in that one moment, got plucked up to the top of the crest, but still had the wing inflated. Alex told me to fly it and keep it going, and I in turn, reacted by giving some break and sitting down which did not provide the flying take off I'd hoped for. Instead, the wing pulled me up and back and luckily for me, draped itself squarely over two octopus trees. :(

Duck radio'd his concern. I replied back that I was safe and then surveyed the damage (not sure if Alex got a strange fruit picture) and Alex and Mike came to help. It really wasn't too bad and we got the wing back up and squared away back on launch without much trouble. Alex was kind enough to check to make sure my lines were OK and nothing had gone awry after my mini OTB experience. My mouth was dry and I was just feeling that the Trolls I had faced earlier in the day may have won the battle after all.

After all that, I squared my wing, waited for a good cycle, and again got a rather strong gust that bungied me while I was trying to A/C control my wing up the hill. I was twisted and going up, and I decided to just twist around and fly the dang wing out already. Once I got away from the hill, things were fine and I was able to bench up from there and actually got a pretty good track and got up to about 2000ft over the Rhino horn. I watched the airflow that Alex was taking once he got up and tried to emulate his patterns to get up higher.

Alex was kind enough to cruise around me a bit with his new iPhone and shoot some video and I was comfortable enough to fly closely with him, despite what seemed to be random strong "ribbons" of air that would give great lift interspersed with lulls or dead air (at least that's how it felt to me). On days like this in the past I would have given in to my conservative side and headed straight to the LZ, but I decided to try and stick it out and learn something new since my bump tolerance has increased slightly.

Lord Reaper radio'd from the LZ that the wind had gone quite east, and that it was light. Odd considering what the air was doing around me at mid bay with the weird strong ribbon of air thing that was still happening here and there. Was even getting upward beeps too.

I got 1800ft over the bay and it "felt" like I could have crossed. I even saw Alex way over Swanzy and contemplated it. At about this time The Evil Lord Reaper suggested that now would be a good time to do a Full Stall...Hah! I knew better than to fall for his wily trickery! I had made a fool of myself enough for one day, and I was still feeling queasy. He even made an attempt to get me to B-Line stall, but today was just not the day...

Alex then radio'd that he was going to come back and then land at Punaluu and I jumped at the chance to pull my 2nd landing there and 2nd XC. Alex headed out over the ocean and out beyond the reef towards Punaluu. I was still very high above him and was wondering about his altitude and he relayed he was at 1200ft and climbing! I wasn't losing too much altitude so pushed my limits and went out as far as I dared, and made the edge of the reef as well. Sandy & Romanian Mike were coming to join us to land at Punaluu and it was getting dark.

I closely watched Alex's approach to land, and tried to emulate his approach and came in pretty nicely but upon landing my wing overshot me a bit and plopped unceremoniously in front of me to get picked up by the stronger winds building on the beach. Whatever! I got my flight and I got an XC, and the Trolls did NOT win in the end!

I've had many good launches and flights this year and I have been pretty happy with my progress. However, I should have not punished my body Friday, or rushed my launch and forget about controlling my A&C's.

On my OTB, after debriefing with Alex, I'm pretty sure I could have launched, if instead of brakes and sitting, I should have flown the wing and put weight and torpedoed forward to get out. I'll try not to forget this, lucky mistakes like this are a good teacher.

Thank you Alex for your patience and sharing the stoke today. Once up it was a great flight and it was fun to fly after missing out last weekend. And yes..If I'm that high again over Punaluu, I will take it one more notch further. :)

The End …

1 comment:

Thom said...

Many Thanks Sir Sharky for your well weaved tale.

Lesson to be learned as I have also recently missed a great flying day due to trolls in the attic.

Lesson 2 torpedo launches "not lunches" have been my down fall as well and I too must work on them.

Great to see you as a Core Monkey Regular. Hope to fly with you across the Great Bay and Beyond soon.

It's Time to Fly Get Your Gear and Go!!