Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Fledgling Flight

Before I say anything I need to thank some people. Papabird Reaper, thank you for your time and patience. I couldn’t ask for a better instructor…well I could ask…but I’d be hard pressed to get better than Instructor of the Year. Thank you Reaper.

Thank you Maui Doug, it was you flying Diamond Head the first time I ever saw a paraglider. I stopped and watched you fly and soar and then top land at the lookout and it was right then and there, I knew I wanted to fly...knew I was going to fly. You gave me your card and a month later you took me for my first tandem at Makapuu. I guess it was only fitting that I make my first flight at Makapuu as well. Then you gave me my first lessons on kiting and ground handling, thanks MD.

Mike 50, thank you for the assists on towing I know you went out of your way to be there for me thank you. Scooter, big mahalo to you for your help on kiting and towing, come back soon bro at least for a few days so we can fly together. Thank you Joey, Bonnie, Tom, Duck, Sharkey, Alex, Jorge, Harvey, Woody, Chili, Fly Strong, Ginny and the list goes on, thanks to all of you for your input and guidance and especially the encouragement. You all offered me something. I took what I could and what made sense for me. It was all of that collective support, input and kokua that got me off the ground yesterday. Thanks Monkeys.

I’ve waited for this day for a long time now. It’s been on my mind every day now since I first knew I wanted to fly. Honestly I even dreamed about it. It just permeated my thoughts, I’d be doing something totally unrelated to paragliding and all of sudden out of nowhere I’d be thinking about my first flight. What would it be like? How long would I fly? How high would I get?  How well would I do? How well would I land? Who would be there? And the number one question was always, when would it be?

These thoughts and others like them had sort of taken up permanent residencein my brain and echoed off the hollow walls over and over and over again, especially at night when I would lay down to sleep. And then when I couldn’t sleep I’d get up and watch paragliding videos on the internet until I could sleep. Sometimes I felt like I was a 15 year old dreaming about his first girlfriend, less the videos of course.

I began having second thoughts on the hike up to Cactus. Am I really ready? Maybe I need to kite some more? A few more tows would be nice. Are the wind conditions ok? Is it too windy, maybe wrong direction? Maybe I might blow my launch and get dragged through the bushes and across the rocks? God what if I did a frontal or collapsed my wing on launch and crashed into the cliff? I sure picked a hell of a time for stage fright didn’t I?

I try to stall for a little time, Pete anybody else launching?  Pete someone’s hiking up, why don’t we wait so I can see how it’s done first? Pete the wind feels stronger now, maybe it’s too strong? Pete??? Damn brain shut up already!! God I wish I had an “OFF” switch. This is what I’ve wanted for so long now and worked so hard to get, I’m not stopping now! If Papabird says go, I’M GOING!! So Papabird holds my wing up, we wait for the right cycle, I pop it up, let go the C’s and get under it. The wing starts to go left, but once I turn around I feel it come back to center, a few steps forward and a push from Papabird and I AM FLYING!! YES!! FINALLY FLYING!! I DID IT!! I’m in the air and it is beautiful up here. I can’t say if I’ve ever had a religious experience in my life or not, but what I had yesterday was damn close.

I know it was a hazy voggy day to most but to me it was a most beautiful day, really I thought it was so awesome. I made a few turns basically doing a figure 8 between Sealife  Park and Cactus like Papabird wanted. I kept getting higher and higher and tried to not look down too much but the higher I got the more my fear of heights kicked in. Whoa wait, fear of WHAT? Yea you heard, fear of heights, but I just kept telling myself “Oh well I am already up here, just enjoy the ride, and besides, I have a reserve chute for emergencies right???” Oh oh, wait…Oh Chit!! I just remembered, Papabird never taught me how to use it. CHIT! Oh well it’s ok, I’ll be all right, I  won’t need it. Nothing is gonna go wrong. It’s OK!! My wing is good, it flies great. I got nothing to worry about so just fly and enjoy and I’ll be just fine.

Then I hit my first turbulence AH CHIT!! Crap what the hell am I doing up here? Ok wait now, calm down, calm down. I know its not bad turbulence. Otherwise someone would have said something about it, right? Yea ok that’s right. So it’s not too bad it’s just a speed bump in the sky, so just treat it like any other speed bump and go around it! It must be coming from Rabbit Island, just make my turns a little sooner and stay out of it and you will be fine. So once again I’m up here and I’m ok, so I might just as well enjoy it, and not let my stupid phobia ruin it for me.

And that’s pretty much what I did for the rest of my 2 hours up there. Figure 8 close to the cliff, practice crabbing a little, fly out over Makapuu beach, bleed off some altitude, and the back tocliffs to gain it back. My landing wasn’t anything to write home about but I hit the LZ and I managed to stay on my feet, it works for me, especially since the next two pilots (I won’t name anyone even if they do have a kiting spot named after them) both did butt landings. 

I know my education is just beginning, and I have so much more to learn but I’m on my way and that just would not be, not with out all of you, so again…

Thank You All Mike M


Thom said...

Congrats MikeM,

Thanks for the coffee read.

Waianae Jim said...

Glad to see you up in the air MikeM, all that persistence paid off. Conditions look promising for the near future, so get out and get some more soon.

Brazilian Ray said...

Congratz! Hope you have many more good flights and coffee reads for us, good job!

Brazilian Ray

MauiDoug said...

Way to go Mike! Congratulations on your first soaring flight and first story. Well done! All that kiting is now paying off with lots more flying to come! Your bump tolerance will increase with each flight. Looking forward to seeing you in the air again real soon! Aloha, MDoug

firedave2 said...

It is great for me to remember how it was in the beginning, how awesome it can be. Every flight from here on out will be just a little less awesome, but definitely special. Don't worry there a ton of new things to do still

See you in the air.

bfalk said...

Its so outstanding to hear about your flight Mike. And here's to many more in the near future. I hope I can be there with you flying high near the clouds.