Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shared Secrets

When I saw Reaper post up on chatterbox that there were 8 pilots up at Kahana, I knew I had to venture out that way to try and catch some of the downrange action I was certain had to be happening. By time I arrived some fliers were already returning from their epic flights toward the North shore with the farthest landing out at the Kahuku golf course.

Someone else will have to document the travels out that way. There was only one glider still up above Pu’u Piei when I arrived, John (Duck), and he wasn’t making it sound that promising as I started to hike.

His comments about struggling to stay up in light stuff made me think I’d brought the wrong glider for the day, once again opting for my Axis Venus 2. But I always do love when you have to work at it to get a good flight.

Thankfully, Gaza had gotten off work and wasn’t all that far behind me on the trail, so at least I'd have some company for the late shift. Duck caught a thermal as I was hiking, and headed off toward Punalu'u to see how far he could go. I set up regular on high launch and Gaza helped me get off. The lift was light, but consistent, and after quite some time was able to get up to ridge height. Then I spotted John (Duck) up stinking high over Sacred Falls, he was making it look like that was the way to go.

Then, things shifted. The wind swung around to a more northerly direction about the same time as Kevin was getting up to high launch. He was actually the first to point out the shift on radio. Once I got high enough I made my first feeble attempt at the bay crossing, and came in a bit lower over Crouching Lion than I felt comfortable with. So I turned around and went back.

Shortly after, Gaza took a better line from a slightly higher altitude and made the crossing. Now the chase was on, I climbed back up after crossing back as Woody and Alex were setting up for a tandem on high North launch. Once I got above Kevin I coaxed him into pushing his comfort level a bit and soon we were both up above the pointy peak. By then Gaza was off down by Ka’a’wa valley and sure was making it look good over there. This time I had a little more patience and headed across the bay once again.

The wait paid off for both Kevin and I as we made it across the bay and worked our way up above Crouching Lion. Kevin did an awesome job working his way up over there. Once we got a bit of height on I went toward Ka’a’awa as Kevin persistently stuck with it and tailed me over that way before long. The ridge there was producing better lift and soon Kevin joined me over there, nice work again man. Gaza had made it down to Kualoa, and as Kevin and I climbed he headed back across toward us heading back toward Kahana.

I led the way across to Kualoa with Kevin not far behind. Bonnie had been generous enough to offer us a ride back if we landed over by the beach park there. There was plenty of lift out over the ranch, but as sunset was nearing we didn't spend too long before heading for our intended landing at Kualoa beach park. As we got closer though Bonnie came on the radio and gave me an invitation I couldn’t refuse. “You should come over and land, do you see me down on the boat by Secret Beach” well sure Bonnie, you’re the best!

She was running out to make sure she could catch my landing there, and provided invaluable encouragement and wind reports as I made my way in for yet another 'first'. Kevin stuck with the original plan and set up to land at Kualoa beach park, while I made my way over to land by Bonnie and some of her co-workers.

What an oxymoronic title right? But really, some of the best flights are due in large part to other pilots sharing their secrets. Freely passing on tips & techniques that have taken them high and far. Today's trip across the bay for Kevin and I was one that will keep us both grinning for a while. Our jaunt was made easier by some great advice from Pete(Reaper) and John (Duck). Following Gaza’s line was also a helper.

Special thanks for urging me on Bonnie, that sure was a unique spot to be able to touch down, your excitement for me doing that made it even better!


DaveZ said...

NIce write up Jim. Thanks for sharing it!

allanc said...

Jim - I could hear you and Kevin on the radio over Kualoa the whole time I was up at Makapu'u. It sounded like you two were really working as a team and communicating well. So stoked to hear of great flights up there.

My late flight at Makapu'u turned out to be in stronger conditions so I just stayed low and flew around for awhile. A bunch of pilots flew the brisk evening conditions. Cant wait to get out in some lighter air and do some cross country exploring.

Thom said...

Now that is what I am talking about.

Good Job Jim 3 great flights, 3 days in a row. That's gotta keep you smiling for awhile.

Thanks for the write I hope the guy that went the farthest the other way scratches down a story too.

I hate to B!tCh but its working so far

JJ Jameson

Thom said...

Darn picture did not change.

Thanks for the new image Jim.

Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Jim- You write a really great story. I think you should do it on a more regular basis. (Kidding)

You really do a good job and I always enjoy your comments. This one was especially good because of the (shared) milestones. Congrats to you both.

Bon Bon said...

I haven't had a chance to comment on this story yet, but I think I mentioned in the chatterbox that I was so excited that I almost wanted to write a story!'s my side:
I was watching the beautiful day pass by while knowing I was stuck at w**k til dark and was out for [flying] the day. But I kept watching, waiting, anticipating - looking around that corner of the mountain for a glider to come by. I was driving the boat on Moli'i Fishpond and w**rking on the beach at Secret Island - watching the mountains above me to see if someone might even be coming from Makapu'u.
Towards the end of the day, I got a phone call from Reaper - "Are you on launch yet?" "No, I'm stuck on the beach til dark, I'm out tonight, but if anyone wants to land at Kualoa, I can pick them up!" He said, "It JUST turned on for a bay crossing and your student, Kevin, just crossed the bay with 1i and Gaza!" I cringed my teeth, pulled the phone away from my head and yelled a dirty word too loud. I knew I had just missed yet another good day to cross the bay. "Tomorrow's my day!" I said.
I took a load of people across the pond and saw Kevin and 1i flying over me, I grabbed my radio and explained how excited I was for them then told them I was right below them, driving the boat on the fishpond. I asked 1i, "Do you see me?" He said, "Yeah, which boat are you driving?" I said the one heading mauka side of the pond." Then, I had a great idea -- all the guests were off the island and we were just finishing packing up, it was around 1830 and getting dark soon. "Hey, 1i, why don't you land on Secret Island???!" He said, "Umm... okay, sure! Where do I go from here?" I said, "Ok, you see where I'm docking the boat right now? You see those pine trees? Just on the other side of the pine trees is the beach - you can land there! It's perfect today, not strong, at all!" "Ok, cool! I'll come over there!"
Kevin decided to stick to the original plan and land at the beach park - and I had arranged to pick him up. I told 1i, "Alright, I'm running out to the beach to watch you!" I got to the beach and he was still stinkin' high.
I explained to him that I wouldn't recommend landing here on any other day because the wind typically wraps around the corner and gets really strong, but that night was exceptional - it felt good, and I knew it was perfect. I told him that the wind was coming straight in, from Mokapu, but it was somewhat light, about 5-6mph. He showed some concern by replying, "Oh great, I'm not very good at light wind landings." I said, "You'll do just fine, just be ready to flare."
As he got lower, I kept talking to him. He explained that it was bumpy and windier above the trees. I said, "It actually feels good down here, about 6 or 7." I told him, "You're lookin' good, keep comin' in, just like that. I'm standing by the single-hull canoe, next to the shack. There's a small pole sticking out in the ground not far from me....Perfect. Awesome, dude, you look good! . . . Perfect. Get ready to flare. Aweeesoomme!!! Cheehoo!! Nice job, dude!!"

I was stoked. I was just thinking earlier how cool it would be if someone landed on the beach.

He quickly packed up, I carried his pack to the boat, and we enjoyed a boat ride across the pond. I haven't seen Jim smile in a long time, but as soon as he landed, he was grinning from ear to ear and he couldn't stop. He was laughing and smiling and talking about how great it was to land somewhere different. He thanked me for talking him in to it and telling him conditions upon landing. Good job, Kevin and 1i Jim!!! Can't wait for my turn! :)

Here are pics and a video of Jim landing:

Thom said...

Thanks Bonnie for the continuance on this story. Ya not sure how many PG pilots got a boat ride after landing but Jim sure did look happy.

I hope you write more often, which of course means you'll have to fly more, oh darn, I will twist your arm, cause you know I will bitch for a story after.

Thanks Again made my morning.