Thursday, May 10, 2012

Summer Flying Season Kickoff

Our summer flying season is officially upon us. I know there are still a few wayward troughs and lows meandering around the Pacific, but this past week of flying has been a real harbinger of summer's consistently stable and higher pressure cross country flying conditions. We have flown for at least the last five days in a row, which hasn't left us much time to post up a story about it. And I'm cursed with this new helmet camera that is sucking up all my time just reviewing the footage each day. But I have finally pushed out my first creation and I'm hoping to get faster as I get the hang of it. To kick off the season, I am scribbling this brief account of the past week's flying, along with some pictures and my first GoPro video.

On Saturday and Sunday we flew in strongish conditions and we mostly just enjoyed staying local. I think there were a couple exceptions but nothing epic. Sometimes it's fun to buzz around low in the bowl and harass your buddies as they're hiking and setting up. With my pod harness it's easier just to skim by and slap some skin than to actually deploy my landing gear for a touch and go or a toplanding. I'm really enjoying the challenge of dialing in the high fiver approaches.

On Monday, it was forecast to be 10-25. I thought the day was a writeoff, but somehow the predicted strong stuff never came our way, and we had a beautiful cross country day on our hands. I started with a bay crossing to Kualoa, then came back to lead the charge with my wingmen. But the wind had veered a bit more east, and I couldn't get back across! So we went the other way instead, and I followed Duck and Woody to BYU and then a bit past there to Hukilau, for a slingshot flight of around 14 miles.

On Tuesday, the forecast again contained grim news. 10-15 in the morning followed by 15-25 in the late morning and afternoon. Woody had the brilliant plan to launch at 8 am to get ahead of the strong stuff. I joined him shortly after that, for my earliest launch ever, at around 8:30. We flew an early XC across the bay. Woody made it in his Freestyle for the first time, which was sort of a revelation for him. We continued on to Maui Doug's Kite Spot, his first time there, and we landed at 10 am, to await the expected strong winds. Well, they never showed up. But Mad Dog showed up, and coaxed me back up the hill to make an attempt at a flight from Kahana to Makapuu. Woody hiked up for another flight as well, but ended up staying local. Mad Dog and I got to Kualoa and he told me his plan: get high under these clouds, skip the pyramid, and take a diagonal tack across Waikane to the back range. But we got too low on the way, and pulled into the pyramid after all. Only to find that we were parked there in the strong and rotory north flow. So we squeaked our way out and down to Maui Doug's Kite Spot. When we got back, Woody was hiking for his third flight of the day, a tandem with Maui Tim this time. By the end of the day, sixteen pilots had flown 22 flights!

On Wednesday, the forecast was 10-20, but the day actually dawned with brisk wind, and it seemed that we'd finally be shut down for a day. But the Blip Map (BM) foretold lighter conditions in the afternoon, so we watched the sensors for a lull. It finally got light enough, and we hiked up to score our third XC day in a row. Duck and I crossed the bay in strongish but very north flow, for a gorgeous late afternoon tour of Kaaawa, while Woody and Tim stayed local.

Today is Thursday, and I can see Woody in the air from my window. This is shaping up to be another sick flying day, with big XC potential. Stay tuned for details...and see you all for the big celebration this weekend!!


Anonymous said...

Nice vid of Ka'a'awa Larry launching. He's really good for an old guy. We need to be more appreciative to our seniors and do things like providing refreshments after their flights, carrying their packs up the hill and laughing at their jokes because we don't know how much longer they will be around.

Mike M said...

I'm not a senior yet, although I have had some senior moments, but if someone wants to carry my pack up the hill I won't feel insulted.

Doug said...

Great Vid.
You should create a video of your kiting from your hands perspective.

It would be AWESOME to watch a master kiter move his hands and see the wings response.

If you mounted the camera on your chest ill bet you could get both your hands and the wing.


Sharky said...

Nice Video Alex!

"Welcome Home, Son" - Radical Face

I had the same music queued up on the Makua day video I've got in the hopper from awhile back. That music is great for flying...was used also on the Urban Side paragliding video as well.

Looks like a fun high five kinda day! :)

=-) Sharky