Thursday, February 02, 2012

Back in the Air Again

Gung Hei Fat Choy! Yes, this is the year of the Dragon, my Chinese birth year. Last year ended with a mishap landing that took me out of the air for several weeks. My back is straighter than before, thanks to an awesome back brace. After several weeks of being grounded, I got clearance to fly, with a two week window before an elective knee surgery that had been rescheduled because of my mishap. The weather did not permit flying, so kiting had to do.

The surgery went very well. The next six weeks of physical therapy, as well as a lot of homework PT, got my new Cobalt/Titanium knee back to moving in its normal range of motion. On Friday I got clearance from the doc with a warning: just don’t break your new knee.

Today was another life adventure test for me. I waited a long time for this day. First, I kited at Maui Doug’s spot for 45 minutes. The wind was perfect there, so I packed up and headed to Kahana.

Upon rounding the Crouching Lion point, I noticed there was no one in the air or on launch. I thought, oh no, nobody is here, or they all went downrange already. But then Ces and I found the gang hanging out and chilling on the beach … all right, some of you were catching the afternoon sun.

Joey and 1-I related that the wind had turned very east. So, it was para-waiting. I thought, well, if I don’t get to fly today, at least I got to kite. Later, Alex came by and related, who wants a ride to the trailhead? Joey, Lake and I piled into Alex’s vehicle for the ride to the trailhead.

Boy, am I out of shape to climb hills. The new knee worked excellent going up. No more pain. When I finally made it up to low regular launch, Alex had his wing laid out and was in his harness/pod. The wind condition was a steady 15 with an occasional gust of 18 plus. It was way windier than the beach.

Alex was first off in the 15 mph wind, and had a small cravat on his left wing tip, but cleared it as he moved away from launch. Joey was next, but gave Lake and I some advice, pointers and caution since there were wind cycles down to 10 mph while we sat and waited. 10 - 15 minutes after Alex took off, Joey was able to get up during a light wind cycle.

I laid out my wing, checked and double checked my harness, and Lake helped out, making sure my lines were clear. Grabbed my As and Cs, a low wind cycle came up the hill and I popped my wing up from a rosette to form a wall. Looked at my lines to see if they were clear and not snagged on some brush. The wind had picked up again.

Standing on launch at the ready, my brain was echoing the lessons from Reaper, Woody, Maui Doug, Jorge, Alex, Joey, Duck, Bonbon, SH, 1-I. I'm sure there are many other seasoned pilots I failed to mention, but your name escapes me at the moment; I’m sorry, but you know who you are. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience to get me where I am now.

I knew I had the option to walk back down anytime. I decided to wait for another light wind cycle. I watched the rubber tree below me, and the one above me, doing the hula in the wind. I looked back to the bay, at the water for texture, and the coconut tree fronds down by the beach. I waited and kept checking the wind conditions. Finally the coconut tree fronds went slack. I turned and waited until the rubber tree below me slowed her hula wind dance, then looked back up past my wing, and that rubber tree also slowed its hula wind dance.

This was the lighter wind cycle I had been waiting for. A tug on the As and my wing leaped to life. A slight tug on the Cs and the canopy was flying directly overhead steady and straight into the wind. A quick look at my wing and lines: good. The wing was alive, and I felt my harness tighten around my body as the pressurized wing wanted to fly. I turned to face the wind, leaned, took a step, and was airborne. I flew away from launch. I was in the air again… Hooyah! Happiness, and I passed another life adventure test.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely and a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, favorite beverage in hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming, Hooyah!...what a ride!"

5-0 Mike


Mike M said...

Congrats Mike...Good to see you back....Mike M

Stalker said...

Welcome back Mike!

Alex said...

Mike, great story, and great to have you back in the air with us. Thanks for persevering with the blogger sign-up to get this thing posted. Welcome to the club: the writing club with a flying problem.

Brent said...

Congrats Mike. I watched you launch that day. Good control of your wing in the strong conditions. Brent

frank said...

Welcome back 50! Goto and I miss your face and salsa at the MPU LZ.

Thom said...

5-0 I hated to be the negative nanny on the hill with you that day. I was just nervous of your knee and you just getting back after such a long time off the hill.

Congrats, your launch was picture perfect. Glad your in the skies with us again. Keep it up,

Brazilian Ray said...

Hooyah! Welcome back

MauiDoug said...

Welcome back Five O! Great to have you and Ces back at it again! I'm glad you are back in the air so fast! Way to go! Much Aloha :-)

Kevin said...

Great to hear you are back flying again. Missed you and Ces. Cant wait to see you guys.

Duck said...

Good to see you in the air again Mike and good to see Ces looking out for you!