Friday, December 30, 2011

Dillingham Dozen

It occurred to me today, that after all our moaning and whining about the TFR, it actually hasn't cost us a single day of flying yet. The real culprit has been the weather. Typically we expect the trade winds to be interrupted by flyable frontal passages as winter sets in, but so far this season, strong and wet trades have dominated the weather picture. After a record spell of flyable days this summer and fall, we have seen only a handful of decent flying days over the past two winter months.

But that dry spell ended today, on the second to last day of the year. A dozen pilots few fourteen flights at Dillingham. Twelve of those flights were long soaring flights, with at least eleven pilots airborne at once. I'm pretty sure that's a site record. We flew the entire length of the TFR penal colony, the full ten nautical mile diameter of our circumscribed cylinder, from the tip of Kaena Point to the foothills of Mt. Kaala.

After two sinky sledders to the beach early in the day, the northeast flow kicked in around 1 o'clock, and it was all up after that. Veteran Dillingham pilots Frank, Dave, Maui Doug, me, Harvey, Don, and Jorge were joined by five first timers: visitors Cherie and Michael, student Lake, Tommy RD, and Chili Brad. Everyone launched from the climbing wall launch except for Dave, who launched from the Kealia launch.

Dave braved a low drizzly cloudbase to explore the strong lift all the way to Waialua, while the rest of us flew scenic laps to Kaena Point and back, dodging the occasional drizzly and misty bits. Dave almost ditched his buddies to land at the Drop Zone, but at the last minute he veered back to join us at the beach after I told him we had tasty cold refreshments to share. That's how you know who your buddies are. Thanks to Frank and others for the frosty drinks.

Speedflyers Carson and Jake were ready to run up the hill just before 5:00, which is the deadline for flying under the TFR, until Jorge explained the situation. Thank you, Jorge!

It was great to see everyone out there, especially the first timers. I am optimistic about our chances for more days of spectacular winter flying. Especially after what's-his-name heads back to DC. Oh wait, am I whining again? Guess I just need to fly a few more days to get that out of my system -- flying is the surefire antidote to whining! See you up there!


Thom said...

I couldn't wait till coffee time. No wind in Kailua caused me to get hot and awake at 2:30 am.

So I read this update. Good job guys & gals. The Dill may have been rode to her breaking point. The Dill has always been a wild stallion for most shedding a few off its back. Sounds like a 100% hiked and flew.

Maybe the Dill will allow me to grace the skies soon as well.

Now back to sleep if I can. I hope to see you all and more on the last day of the year.

frank said...

Good point Thom, that was an amazingly rare day when you get a 100% hike/fly ratio. As someone who's done the "walk of shame" many times, that's the first time I've ever witnessed that for the finnicky Dill. We must've caught her sleeping - she'll be on guard now. Too bad we didn't get any Kaena point drive up passes for the forcasted lighter conditions. It's going to be back to business as usual for the Dill (i.e. who can pluck their wing up in that perfect thermal). Maybe we can snub her and fly Makua Valley - psych!