Tuesday, October 11, 2011

XC to Pounders

Aside from the wonderful massage I had just received from Fabulous Kneads, I was not having the best day. I had to run a couple of errands, and passed Maui Doug at his kite spot in Waiahole. I stopped to chat for a minute and we both agreed that it was gonna be nice today. I regretted having to run errands (and even put one off til tomorrow), and quickly headed back to Kahana. I knew I would see someone over Ka’a’awa and sure enough, there was Scot. Alex, Mad Dog, BC Mike, MI Wayne, and Kevin were already in the air. As I pulled up to the north launch trailhead, I saw Maui hiking up. I heard Duck on the radio saying he was just passing by, and he hoped to go home and finish up some work and come back out to fly with us. I pulled up behind him at the trailhead. He told me to have a good flight and he’d catch up with us later.

As I arrived at low launch, I could feel it getting a little lighter. I rested and then hiked to high launch. Maui was getting ready to launch. We both decided it was getting pretty light, and I even pointed out an ʻIwa bird flapping its wings in front of us. But after a few minutes, we felt it filling back in. I launched shortly after Maui and we both got up easily.

I was flying around the Rhino Horn with Alex, Maui and Kevin and noticed an ʻIwa bird flying right between Alex and me. I was a little late, as it flew further out, but I snapped a photo of the ʻIwa just above Alex. A little while later a big cloud rolled in and began to rain a little bit while we were flying. We could see that it was light, and it was going to be clear after the cloud passed. Scot had made it to Hukilau, and Kevin decided to beat the rain and land at Punalu’u. Fireman Dave was launching just as the light drizzle was coming through.

Once it cleared again, we decided to try to get high and go somewhere. Alex, Mad Dog, Maui and Fireman Dave were attempting a bay crossing, and I was just behind them. I noticed them taking a huge lead in front of me and I felt I was going nowhere slow. Maui made it about three-quarters of the way, as Mad Dog, Alex and Fireman made it look easy. Mad Dog said he didn’t like it over there, and he came back to land. (He had already crossed the bay once to Kualoa, then to Punalu’u and back.) Fireman Dave said it wasn’t really working, so he came back to Kahana. I was about halfway across, and I turned back too.

Andrew was launching about this time. After posing a bit while Flash took pictures of me, I was working my way up again, and I heard Fireman and Maui talking about going downrange. I told them to wait for me; I wanted to go, too. So we benched up at Pu’u Piei and got to about 2,000-2,200 feet. It was butter smooth back there. Andrew and BC Mike were benching up, too. Maui had already started going downrange, and Fireman was just behind him. I pushed out front and left the ridge from about 1,800 feet. BC Mike left just before me, and Andrew decided not to come with us. I could see Alex above the Crouching Lion area, and he decided he wanted to come with us. He crossed the bay and benched back up, and told us he was on his way. We were at Punalu’u at this time, and I was trying to work my way up out front, unsure if the back was working or not. Alex came over and showed me where I could find the lift. We left for the next ridge, way behind Fireman Dave and BC Mike.

Maui said he was ready to go in and that he had Pounders on glide. Alex said he was just behind him and I explained that I was ready too, but I wasn’t sure what any of the LZs looked like from the air, and Hau’ula was the furthest I had been. I asked the guys where Pounders was, and they explained it was a beach with a large rock between it. I said, “Oh, the one glowing in the sun right now?” They said yes, and I explained how far away it looked, and I wasn’t sure if I could make it. Alex assured me I could.

Fireman and BC Mike were landing at Pounders and I heard Fireman say, “Oh, this helicopter flying around me has a camera on it, and is taking pictures of me!” I could see the low flying helicopter and saw it hovering over Hau’ula.

I came in to Pounders a lot higher than I thought I would. Alex was super high and considered going to Hukilau, but didn’t want to go alone. I told him to come back and land with the cool people, so he did. I watched BC Mike and Maui land, and just as I pulled over Pounders, I saw the heli flying towards me. I made sure to smile for the camera. Just after it passed I snapped a photo of it. I also caught a few pictures during the flight and just before landing. It was cool to look back and see the view towards Kahana and Mokapu. It was a beautiful point of view, and I was excited to be there.

When I came in to land, I was coming in a little high, so I made some last minute, small, fast turns, and a quick turn into the wind at the last minute, landing perfectly on the beach next to a lady. I could hear another lady cheering for me. I had a huge smile on my face, and was so excited for my furthest XC and first time to Pounders. Maui and Fireman were there rooting for me, too. Alex landed perfectly right next to me and kited his wing to the grass.

Fireman Dave ran up to me with his phone out and said, “Check out this text!” It was from Marathon Mark and it said, “Smile, you’re on camera!” He had been in the heli filming for Hawaii 5-0, so we are all excited to see which clips they may use in upcoming episodes. The lady that was cheering for us explained that she lives across the street, and she said we can land in her yard whenever we want. She said it was awesome to watch us, and she wanted our email addresses to share the photos that she took. She told me that my landing was “so cool” and “the best” (I was thinking I was lucky I pulled it off at the last minute), and she thought it was cool that there was a girl flying, too. She told me I was her hero, and that was the coolest thing ever. Wow … I have been called a hero twice in two days!

Thank you very much to Duck for coming to pick us up … with beverages! And knowing I’m not a fan of the usual refreshments … he brought me a Coke! What a great guy! Thanks, Ducky!! We went back to Kahana to meet Mike the Romanian and his wife, and watched the full moon come out of the clouds. Then we felt the wind die. I said to Alex, “Watch, it’ll come from behind us in a minute.” Sure enough, it did. Thanks everyone, for helping me along the way. After a great, three hour flight … it wasn’t a bad day after all.


Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Way to go Bonnie!!! I am excited for you and felt the excitement through your words. You always write well and I look forward to your posts.
Now that you've been there, I will come to you for guidance and enlightenment.
The "house across the street" has always been my favorite and I tell my kids that it will be my retirement villa where we can all live together (HA!).
Keep up the trail-blazing.

Thom said...

Bonnie, two in a row. Alex is pretty happy with this it gives him a break and Dave can't needle him.

I read that you smiled upon landing, you got to do that more too. Last one I saw is when Pete commissioned me to deliver your new Hook.

Now that you have the XC bug, I am looking forward to stories and a few more smiles.

Great write up and pictures. Made my coffee tolerable. Hopefully I get to cruise with you soon, actually I will probably be following you.

I am very happy to see that the community is realizing that we have 'girls' flying too. You make us all look better when they know it's not just a bunch of crazy guys.

I look forward to my read tomorrow morning. I will be working in Haaula till 4pm or so, so give me a call when you land, I owe you a few retrieves too!

Maui Doug said...

Congratulations Bon Bon on your tree soaring record and 1st of many XC's to Pounders. Great write up and perfect spot landing! Awesome :-)

Alex said...

Thanks for posting the report! That was a super fun flight, Bonnie. I look forward to many more XC flights with you.

Flash said...

Congrats Bonnie! Here are some pics of your new wing:

I never managed to get close to you yesterday -- you just keep flying circles around me in that speed machine of yours. You'll have to take it easy one of these days if you want a shot from above ;-)

See you up there soon!

DaveZ said...

Thanks for the great stories Bonnie - I'm always eagerly reading the Monkey Tales, to pass the time until I can return and fly there again. Cheers!

Nick Johnson said...


Great story! I remember my first trip to Pounders...wondering where the heck it was.

I have a closet "HPA records" project in development...and yes you hold the Kahana tree soaring record by a mile.

Keep up the nice flying...Hero.