Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Return to the Dill: the Story of a Two Minute Flight

Those of us who fly here on Oahu "know" that we will most likely go up immediately upon launching, 90% of the time, without much difficulty. The trade winds make this possible, but they also limit the possibility of flying in the lee of the northeastern faces of the island. On the rare days when our trade winds calm down and a sea breeze kicks in, flying sites open up on all sides of the island. These are by far my favorite flying days, because of the endless possibilities of exploring otherwise "non-flyable" territory.

Having been focusing on things other than flying (jobber status), the opportunity of chasing one of these special days really got me excited. Checked the WRF wind simulations, wind sensors, radar images, satellite images -- where to go? Makapu'u was working, but I had gotten several reports of 1,800 foot cloudbase, and I know that typically the cloudbase on the Waianae range will be much higher. Heading down the H1 freeway, deciding between Nanakuli and Dillingham, I observed a clear Mt. Kaala, and a line of convergence running along the range from Kaena Point to Kaala. I made the right turn up the H2 towards Dillingham with aspirations of getting into the convergence line and flying towards Mt. Kaala. At this point Alex and Bonnie were en route as well.

Upon arrival the wind was blowing from the West at 2 to 4 mph, and it did not look to be producing much usable lift. The three of us figured that we would hike and take a look from launch. Alex and I were still dreaming of getting into the convergence line and really going somewhere. Conditions on launch were exceptionally light because of the light wind conditions, and the westerly direction that was partially blocked by a small ridge to our west. As the three of us cleared the tall grass from the launch, waiting for some stronger cycles, Dave joined us.

With next to no wind on launch, and unable to determine the direction of the little wind we felt, a nearly no wind launch would be required to get off the hill. Waiting for better conditions was not paying off, so Dave decided to give it a try. By this point we were fairly certain that this would be a flight to the beach, and that our dream was not possible from the chosen launch location. "Bugger, should have gone to Nanakuli". Dave gave it a few attempts, but the wind just did not cooperate. I felt the slightest breeze, and decided to give it a go. I set up the wing high, and really gave it a committed tug to get it into the air. The small cycle I launched into was enough to pressurize my wing as I left the hill for a safe launch.

As I flew away I pointed into the light west wind, but only encountered sink as I made one pass along the ridge, before heading to the beach. The flight was less than 2 minutes, but quite an adventure. What could have been?

Following my landing near the cars, Alex launched and flew to the beach. Dave helped Bonnie give launching a few tries, and then they ended up hiking down, because the air had started moving offshore, making launching very difficult. The four of us hung out and watched the gorgeous sunset, dreaming of our next chance to fly somewhere new.


JK said...

Two minutes or two hours, it's the clean launch that counts. The Dill is different every time we fly her and we never fly there at will... only when she lets us. Thanks for the wrap up, Alan! Hope you score some good flights there on the next TFR.

allanc said...

@JK - it seems like it may be time for some new lines after that video of launching at the Dill. Hope to get up in the air soon with you.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why my car veered onto H2 when I was headed to nanakuli, I guess the social aspect, had to check out the climbing wall launch.

Fireman DAVE

Thom said...

Thanks Allan for your write up. You haven't flown in awhile and did not get an epic flight but still you were able to muster up a great write.

Wish the rest of our monkeys would share their flights.

I need stories even more now so get out there get a flight and jot it down.

Thanks Again Allan,