Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beautiful Day for a Bay Crossing

I woke up late, not really expecting to get to fly today, and looked at windlines to see if anyone was flying yet. No one was. I checked out the sensors on iwindsurf and I noticed the numbers were dropping. They looked good -- 10-13 at 62. Alex noticed the numbers dropping, too, and posted up. Joey and I had talked about either hiking or flying earlier, so I text him and said, Kahana looks good, let's go! We decided we would fly, then go to Brazilian Ray's birthday party after. I posted on the chatterbox, "party at Kahana, let's go fly!"

Just by looking outside, I could tell it was gonna be a good day. I arrived at Kahana and Joey was there just before me, getting his tandem passenger ready. 1i Jim and Woody were already up. Joey, his tandem, Jason, Flystrong and I hiked up regular. We found Skydive Mike on mid and Joey decided low-high launch was cleaner and better for a tandem, so decided to go there. I told him I would help him out. I helped Flystrong set up at low-high and he waited for a good cycle and took off. Then I assisted Joey and Jason as they waited for a good lull, as it was a bit brisk. I told Joey it felt good, he pulled it up, turned around, pumped out the left side, and off they went! I think we got a new student ready to sign up, as Jason loved his first flight! I looked down at mid launch and Skydive Mike was still there. He yelled up at me, "I need help, Bonnie!" I gave him a thumbs up, said, "Here I come!", grabbed my gear and hiked down to mid launch to assist him. It was 'Snag City'. He kept getting so many snags. I knew I would have trouble getting out of there without assistance, but also knew it was my best option. I "unsnagged" him several times and he waited for a lull and pulled it up slowly and had a clean launch. I quickly began getting my gear out and ready.

Just by laying out on mid, I was getting snag after snag. The lines kept getting tangled around little twigs/roots and I had to climb up and down the hill to get them out before I even hooked in. I kept listening to everyone chatter on the radio about their flight and taking pictures and I was anxious to get in the air, too. I finally got my wing layed out to where I thought it would be good to launch. I connected my phone and music to my helmet, hooked in, began recording video, and was ready to go. I pulled it up slowly and it was clean, I was yanked off of launch, spun around and was going up easily. I quickly joined the rest of the guys and joined in on the picture-fun.

Flystrong was hovering over everyone, tryin to get a good shot, as usual. Joey had specifically asked him to try to get a "money shot" of him flying tandem with Jason. He captured shots of Woody and I as well. In the meantime, 1i Jim was in the back near Pu'u Piei trying to get high enough to attempt a bay crossing. We were too busy taking pictures out front and over the water. Several other pilots were arriving asking about conditions and getting ready to hike up.

I got high in the back by Pu'u Piei and followed the ridge passed the Rhino and followed Flystrong who was way ahead of me. I wasn't paying much attention, taking self portraits and pictures all around when I noticed I was kinda high. I looked at my altitude and I was 1600' almost to the middle of the bay, so I kept following Flystrong, after realizing he was attempting a bay crossing. He made it across! I turned back early and got back to the ridge, high above the Rhino. He didn't find any lift and came back to the ridge, hoping he was high enough to be able to obtain more altitude again, which he was. Alex, Duck, Harvey, and a few others were on launch at this time. I began to bench up, knowing I had a chance to cross the bay, and there were lots of people launching that could show me the way...I wanted a head start. Well, I got one. I was playing above Pu'u Piei for probably about 45 minutes before the guys got up there with me. Flystrong quickly worked his way up and caught up to me easily, then Alex, Duck and Woody caught up to me, too. There I was, way up high... with the big dogs. I was excited and said on the radio, "Wow, this is the highest I've ever been!" I could see over the "Anti-Kahana" ridge over to Kaneohe Bay and Kanehoalani at Kualoa. I knew today was my day. Flystrong said, "Head out front and turn right - go cross the bay!" I told him I wanted to wait for someone to show me the way, since I have never done it before. And besides, I wanted someone to be with me to take pictures. (I was hoping to be able to fly to Kualoa -- my dream flight; and I wanted evidence).

I was hanging out high above Pu'u Piei for quite some time, and I was. . . COLD!!!! I kept watching Flystrong, Duck and Alex fly around and gain altitude and kept thinking they would head out front any minute now. Then, they would turn again and try to get higher. I was shivering and so cold I didn't know how much longer I could wait. FINALLY, I was flying along the ridge and noticed Flystrong wasn't making any more turns. I kept heading out. I looked behind me and noticed Alex and Duck were high above me, behind me, and weren't making any more turns either. Yes...finally! I was ready to go and anxious to see if today was my day. I put on a little speed bar as I headed out over the Rhino Horn. I took a wide angle to cross the bay and noticed Alex was cutting a little bit further in above and behind me.

Flystrong didn't feel he was going to make it and turned back to get altitude and try again. I kept going. He told me to follow Alex, I said, "I'm trying!" I felt good. Like I was going to make it. I was watching the Crouching Lion and I was a few hundred feet above that as I came in. Alex was well above me and I asked him how he thought I looked and told him I didn't know where to go to look for lift. I came in and tried to get lift in the first bowl above the Lion. I didn't have a vario or GPS to help me. (The only GPS I fly with is my phone, which is kept inside my radio harness and I only pull it out occasionally to see my altitude). I spent a long time staring and studying the mountain in order for me to determine whether I was getting any lift. The air felt funny, like it was pushing me backwards, or sideways, so I added a little speed bar. Alex explained that it was a little cross. I figured that was why. I was able to maintain altitude, but not really get much higher. I would sink a little, then get back to where I was. I think if I would have pushed further around the corner, to the next bowl, I probably could have made it. But I had no idea and wasn't really ready to try to push that envelope since I didn't feel that I had the altitude to play around with. I scratched in that bowl for about 15-20 minutes and finally decided to leave.

I was about a hundred feet above the Lion. I headed back towards the middle of the bay and headed towards the main ridge and thought about trying to get up and try again. I felt my attempt to get back to the ridge was pretty low. Being out over the middle of the ocean, I looked around, and realized just how low I was! I had a terrible feeling I wasn't going to make the beach. I looked at the boat ramp as an option, but felt as though I may not even make that. I got that uneasy feeling like, 'not again.' 'Malolo' is what went through my head. 'Oh no.' Then of course my other thoughts were - my iPhone, my helmet camera, and my helmet. 'Noooo.' I added a little brake pressure in order to come in a little slower, but higher. As I got closer to the beach, I realized I was ok and I was gonna make it. Being out over the ocean sure was deceiving. I was level with the trees and came in for a perfect landing in the keyhole. I looked up at the sky, 'Thank you!', I thought. Then looked down, 'I did it!' Then I smiled. I was so happy I finally got to cross the bay!

Thanks for showing me the way! Next time . . . Kualoa. :)

Alex was able to get up while he was across the bay and Duck joined him a little later. Duck crossed the bay so high and had no problem gaining altitude once he crossed. They flew to Kualoa to Kahana, to Punalu'u and back to Kahana! Good job, guys!

I enjoyed a beautiful 2.5 hour flight. Here are pictures that I took from today's flight:

Beautiful day at Kahana

Here is a video I put together of my flight:

Crossing the Bay

Joey and Jason launching tandem

Skydive Mike launching

Flystrong's Landing


Mom said...

You really had a great flight...sounded a little scarey, tho!!!! You got some really good pics..anxious to see the video!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Can't wait until my turn!

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, Congratulations on your Bay crossing and back! 5-0 Mike

Thom said...

Thanks for the ink & color Bonnie, your making it harder for me NOT to bitch, when I do I get 2.

My first cup of coffee was great I had to get a second to view all the pics.

You keep it up Flystrong and you will own the Magazine.

Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Your account made my mouth water. I have only gotten to "tag" Crouching Lion before turning back. Next time for sure!!

Great vids, pics and usual.

Anonymous said...

Thanks So Much for your stories and pic.& videos !!