Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thanks Again, Bob!

The Third Annual Bob Johnson Birthday Camp-Out and Fly-In was marked by the best weather we've seen since we started celebrating this event. We flew our hearts out all three days, with multitudes of pilots getting airborne, some of them scoring new altitude records and navigating novel XC routes. We also had record attendance: 9 campsites, 35 tents, and over 100 people camping and flying and celebrating all weekend long. Thanks to everyone who organized the event and to everyone who contributed to the nonstop feast. The mess hall was a new addition this year that really worked well, thanks to 5-0 Mike and Ces.

Day One: Blazing New Trails

We had an epic first day of flying on Friday to kick off the Fly-In! Pilots flew above and around Kahana all day. Duck and I flew a five hour marathon course line that we have dubbed the Half Mallard: from Kahana to Punaluu and back, then across the bay to Kaaawa, then through the valley to the pyramid of Ohulehule, and finally out to Maui Doug's Kite Spot in Waiahole. (The Full Mallard would loop it back to Kahana from there, but we'll save that for another day.)

We lost visiting Big Island pilot Roger for a half hour when he flew too close to cloud base in the back of Punaluu. Finally someone called him on the phone and reported to us over the radio that he was down and unhurt, but he had landed in the middle of a network of deep jungle ravines halfway over the back, toward Mililani, and we had to call the fire rescue chopper to get him out. Thanks to the crew who plucked him out. He caught the bus at Whitmore and rode back to Kahana. We're dubbing that unusual new course line the ramjet white room express bus over the back. Or something like that.

Day Two: Stratosphere and Golf Balls

The second day dawned lighter and with a lot fewer clouds. The sea breeze soon started pumping and pilots ran up the hill to seek their fortune. Duck caught a perfect thermal and rode it up as it drifted back into a tiny cloud above Punaluu Valley, then caught another big one at Sacred Falls for a first time altitude of 4,000 feet. Bill, Allan and I settled for a bit less height than that and followed him, and we all flew downrange. The other guys all landed at Pounders, but I felt like trying to see how far I could squeak out my glide and ended up just barely making the beach in front of the golf course. After I landed I found two golf balls in the sand, and I pocketed them as souvenirs and evidence. I might have to make a tradition out of that - there are golf balls all over that place! Later, many other pilots flew and stayed local in the smooth sea breeze conditions. Don dropped a lei for Bob and his dad. Bob's mom and sisters came out to watch the fun. Bob's friend Camille brought out her famous lunch truck and fed us all. Or at least everyone who wasn't still out getting retrieved! Thanks to Bonnie for the ride back. The festivities began in earnest that evening and lasted long into the night.

Day Three: Red Hot Lava

The third day was even lighter with even fewer clouds. We knew we were in for a thermal clinic. A few of us ran up the hill for the early session, and we were rewarded with the strongest, most high pressure, bullet thermals from hell that we've ever flown in at Kahana. We stayed in them as long as we could, riding those beasts as high as two grand a few times, but we didn't stay up for long, for a variety of reasons. Lots of other folks launched later as the conditions lightened up, to the point where it became difficult to stay up. Some pilots had gone to Makapuu to guarantee their airtime, and a few brave souls departed for downrange missions, with lots of interesting outlandings.

Please post links to any pics or video you have from this weekend and I'll include them here! Also please help me come up with a count of tents and people!

Tent count (best guess): Alex, Thom(3), Reaper(2), Scrappy(4?), Lake, Kevin, Ginny, Rich, Harvey (RV), Ginny's coworkers, Andrew, Ray(2), McStalker, Will, 5-0 Mike (2), Gaza, DaveZ, Maui Tim, Maui Phil, Brian, Brian's acupuncture friends, Don Tomich, Sandy, TommyRD, Allan, Joey

Head count (best guess): me, Amelia, Thom, Donna, Kalei, Maile, Maile's friend, Reaper, Dave, Reaper's Mom, Annette, Tyler, Tyler's friend, Ray, Noell, Liliana, Ernie, Chelsea, Chelsea's friend, Andrew, Kelly, Robin (+2 kids?), Olivia, Kevin, Heather, Sarah, Five-0 Mike, Ces, Keli, Nyles, Don Tomich, Koa, Nani, Gaza, Laurel, Scrappy, Steve, (+4 others?), Ginny, +2 coworkers, Jorge, Bill, Harvey, Maui Doug, Polly, nurse Wendy, Ginger, Mary Jane, Joseph, Zoe, Fireman Dave, Frank, TommyRD, Jeff, Jen, Mazzy, Camille, Duck, Ginger, Bonnie, Brett, Jason, Will, Tom Ekman, Chris, Sasha, 2 kids, Roland, and friend, Allegra, Big Mike, Maui Tim, Maui Phil, Woody, John McGuire, TroutMouth Jeff, DaveZ, Cindy, Joe, +3 others?, Roger, Brian, Ashley, Michael, Jessica, Allan, Hadley, Joey, Bekah, Ike, Yolie. Please don't take offense if I've left anyone off - I blame the Scotch! Chime in on the comments and I'll add any names I've forgotten.


flyinrog said...

Thanks for including us outer-islander's in your celebration, and thanks again to Woody and Sidehill for the civilized accomidations. Had a nice mellow morning of thermalling at Makapu, and even pulled my B's once for good measure (thanks for the 4inch tip, Reaper). Beautiful island guys. But my favorite flight was the rope swing on the Heli :). Actually, the poor rescue rider's harness looked really uncomfortable. (I had a great view of his crotch and couldn't help but notice him tugging at the straps down there a few times on the long trip out)I would think a nice split leg tandem harness would be a lot more comfortable for him. If they would accept it and use it, and you guys want to take up a collection for one, I'd kick in the first 100 bucks. Watched the video tonight and spotted a few obvious mistakes that will help me with reavaluating some of my future decision making. I've never edited before, so can't promise I'll get a posting up, but I'll at least send over a copy of the DVD for yall's edification. Aloha, Ramjet

Thom said...

Thanks for the post Alex. Hopefully we can come up with a roster.

Bob pulled out a great weekend for us again.

I guess he is even big upstairs.

DaveZ said...

I have no big stories to tell or XCs to recount, but I am leaving the island with a grin so wide you can see it from behind. You people are the best, and I really mean that.

Thanks Thom for the surfboard and kayaks, my nieces had a blast. Thanks Camille, Reaper, Duck, and everybody else who cooked and prepared food. Thanks FireDave, Jorge, Bonnie, Woody, Alex, MDoug, and everybody else who gave me flying tips and assists.

Just an awesome time flying ang hanging out with you all - no wonder you are Chapter of the Year!


Ka'a'awa Larry said...

I was there!!

One three hour flight on Friday and two shorter flights on Saturday.

Got to mix with a lot of old friends and meet a few new ones, got to mix and mingle in the air and ate too much ince again. Perfect!

Looking forward to doing it all over next year.