Thursday, June 07, 2012

Rotor Flying

It has been a while since even I have stained this log with ink. The lack of notable flying and the retirement of JJ Jameson, who jovially prodded pilots for stories, has left these hallowed chronicles barren. Even now as I scratch the antics of yesterday's 'flight' at this early hour (2am), our wayward President will not have a read with his morning brew, but will hopefully doctor this tale at lunch to increase its legibility.

On Sunday, a few flew in brisk conditions, but as I heard through a few verbal recounts, it was smooth enough to fly for over two hours. Monday was a wash, I believe, but who knows, someone may have flown, since many pilots are adding smaller wings to their quivers.

Tuesday, I hiked up without my gear, since it was not a great day, but some tandem assists were needed and I obliged. I believe BonBon, One-Eye, Harvey, Visitor Brett, Woody, Lake, and 5-0 had solo flights, and there were three tandem flights. I did not fly, but there were some tales that could have been weaved. JJJ, where are you?

Wednesday arrived and it was looking dismal, and calls from Woody weren't making it any more cheery, so I worked. Finally, I just decided to head to Kahana, because it was looking nice in Kailua, and the numbers were kinda okay. Ike called and I grabbed him on the way.

Now, if you have ever heard Ike say, "I just got lucky for once" (referring to Sunday's flight) then you know he is just a lucky charm when it comes to flyable conditions. On the way, he looked out the window at the mountains and the trees and slowly uttered, "I think we might just get lucky." I got an excited shiver. I needed a fix of Sky-alis bad.

Along the way we were getting whiffs of fresh Niviuk, and our hunch was confirmed when passing MDKS. FlyStrong was kiting his new steed, the Artik3. This just added to the rush, knowing we'd have a fellow Monkey flying a new machine in the same air. Oh, it's going to be good.

I dropped Ike off at the trailhead, and looped back to pack my gear and leave the truck at the safer parking lot of our LZ. 5-0 glumly stated that he had only brought his smaller wing and it just may be too light, but that he was going to hike up anyway. By the time I arrived at East launch it had started to pick up. Ike was in the air with a dead radio so no reports of the upper layer were to be had.

5-0 was going to wait for a little stronger cycles and they appeared to be coming. I performed a 'Chubby Checker' launch and was plucked from the hillside. Immediately going up and heading for North Launch, I was getting pitched back and forth. I reported the rotor to 5-0, which was followed by a transmission from the beach, "Do you see the 'cats paws'?" I did not want to, but I looked and sure enough, they were scratching across the bay. How could it be so East here while all the windward sensors were indicating strongish NE flows. But the Punaluu sensor had just clicked from 68 degrees to 80.

The flight was filled with sharp ups and sinky holes; the Alaskans would have loved it. Ike flew for an hour plus, and I hung in there as long as I could. No one else ventured up the hill, those smart Monkeys. Reports from the beach were verified from the flopping wings being kited that the LZ was rotored. The call was to head to Punaluu when we were done with our beating. 5-0 on the smaller glider just couldn't get the elevation. Ike and I watched as he got whirled around and thankfully landed safely at the regular LZ.

I headed for Punaluu LZ with Ike on my six. The air was a little smoother out over Punaluu and elevator landings were safe and sound. 5-0 retrieved with a loop around through Ching's for some pain killing liquids. Three of us flew the rotor: it was a shot of Sky-alis, but with a dirty needle.

Days like this should be noted. It was not a really 'good' flyable day, but I and two others launched anyway. We flew okay, and landed safely. Should we have flown? The old saying, "It's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground," should always go through your head as part of the checklist. I did not look at the bay before I launched; I just wanted to fly. The picture I have included here is one of Ike landing, because for me that was the best part of the flight.

Smart Monkeys on the beach included Lake, BonBon, Flystrong, Visitor Mark and Woody. I long for the days when I can truly say, "It's Time to Fly, Get Your Gear and Go!" But until then, we gotta really watch conditions and use good judgement.


Gravity said...

Wow, nice write up. i thought of giving you a whipping at the end, but you did it yourself. And the Monkeys on the beach are learning to.
I checked the wind after I left your house and decided it was too strong and east.
I knew you were gonna fly, hehe

Thom said...

Thanks for the edits Alex, I was getting a little tired by the end and I now see a few of the eraser marks that you had to make. Man I like my stories after you tweak them.

Ya, Pete it was actually good when Don hiked up and launched. Had he had a good radio I am sure he would have stated the conditions, now whether I would have listened or not, who knows, I hope so. Thanks for the whipping it is duly noted.

Woody was at the LZ and he stated his opinion but I said I was just going to go up with Ike. All the other smart monkeys arrived after we were either on launch or in the air and things had changed for the worse instead of better. Even Lake didn't hike so you know it had to be pretty bad, cause he's been pushing it.

Perfect case of Monkey See No Evil, Hear No Evil, but you know me no hands across my mouth. Hopefully others will not see this as a flight but lesson in poor judgement, even though every thing turned out okay.

FYI when Ike launched it was good and leaning towards better. He was up at least 20-30 minutes before me. So all his calls were okay except for the dead radio battery, which may not have done any good any way....hear no evil.

Stalker said...

Thanks for the story Thom! Yours was our first article automatically posted to Facebook - thanks!

Yeah, surprised you guys gave it a shot. Sensor was all over the place yessterday! But I know that urge :)