Monday, July 23, 2012

K.V.T. (Kaaawa Valley Transit)

Sunday was a busy day with my wife's family, mostly over 80 year olds, who were scheduled to arrive at my house at 3 p.m. I finished all my work around the house, and headed out to Makapuu at noon. I was secretly hoping for an easterly day like the gang had the day before, so I could get in some needed training for the upcoming Canadian Nats, and still arrive home on time. But you know how Murphy's Law operates, and I should have known better.

At Makapuu, everyone was still hanging locally, or so I thought. The reports from Cactus were that it was getting windy. Reaper and soon to be wife Annette, Joey with his tandem passenger and myself hiked to Juice. As I launched and was climbing up, Maui Doug was already heading to the back from Ironwoods and Jorge was reported to be at Olomana. Cloudbase wasn't super high, so Jorge was probably lost in the fluffies when I passed on the drive out.

Thom and Jim were hanging around Ironwoods when I passed, contemplating some XC. I headed to the back under low clouds and found disorganized thermals. Doug was boating high above above me. Cloudbase on the Greenwall was higher, so off we went. Doug and I were climbing into the clouds, having trouble staying out. I let Doug know that I was going to go straight from where I was, at 7 Poles, to the Pali, as there was a big cloud over Maunawili Valley, and I felt it was doable. I think that might be my straightest run there.

As I was tooling along under 1/4 bar in the white zone, a white and yellow glider zoomed by in the same direction, probably less than 50 yards away off my left wing tip. When we left, Doug was pretty far behind me, so I am assuming he was pushing a lot of bar. Nonetheless, it seemed pretty surreal at the time, Doug being the only thing I could see. As we emerged from the cloud over the valley, I saw Doug shoot straight up and turn in a boomer thermal. A moment later he appeared to be falling out of the sky, with his glider open in some substantial sink. He soon found his way out of it and I made a mental note to swerve around his core of sink. What are friends for. We both soon made the Pali with altitude.

At this time, Jorge radioed that he was on Ohulehule (the Pyramid). Doug had gotten out his GoPro on a stick, and seemed to be capturing some pretty awesome footage. That should be fun. I contemplated pulling out my iPhone and snapping some pics, but they never do the moment justice. It struck me that using a camera is a lot like using a condom, finding and using one can ruin the moment and possibly cause you to sink out, or something like that.

We hit peak altitude at Likelike, maybe 3,600' or so. Doug is a little more careful than I about tanking up on altitude, and my M4 and pod glide better than his A3 and legs hanging, but I do have to say that Doug flies amazingly well: smart, focused, aware, really solid.

By this time it is like 2 p.m. and I am considering flying back to Makapuu in order to make the family dinner, but it is looking too good, and Jorge reports he flew around the front of Kuuloa and is headed to Kahana. I figure I will likely end up in the dog house, but at least with a smile on my face.

At this point the clouds are like 2,000-2,200, so there is little reason to stay and climb, so I start gliding against the clock. I glide on towards the Pyramid and arrive surprisingly low down at the toe behind Coral Kingdom. Here the pace changes and I am scratching around at 500' in the lightest of ridge lift, waiting for my thermal salvation. Inching ever higher, a big cloud seems to form quickly overhead and with it a thermal triggers. Right at this time, Doug slides in from the back, with perfect timing. Doug charges deep in the bowl and I decide to give up my spine hugging and cruise above him into the bowl. I still find that the edges have the best lift, and hit a low cloudbase at 1,800'. Doug takes a little while to get established high.

My favorite flying conditions are light wind, thermic days; the lighter the base wind, the better. Light wind allows you to fly places you wouldn't dare to go on a windy day, like leeside thermals, rotor areas, and more safe landing opportunities. It was now decision time: going around the front on Kualoa seemed iffy, Boogaland had cloud issues, but Kaawa Valley with all its landing opportunities seemed most inviting. Alex, Mad Dog and Duck regularly patrol this stretch of ridge line. I never have, and figured this was my chance.

Off I went into that scenic monster of a valley. The air was warbly every now and then, but the glide out was uneventful. Out in front, I finally relaxed for the milk run towards Kahuku, with all the tougher flying now behind me. I looked back as I headed toward Kahana, to see Doug starting his trip out of Kaaawa Valley.  He was a little less lucky and got low, and a 50% collapse getting out of there.

At Kahana, I could see gliders up over the peak, and glided over to join them. Duck and Bill were climbing up for a glide to Punaluu - can I tag along? Jeff was down below, having just arrived to fly Kahana, wondering where everyone was. We had heard Jorge was on the ground at Hukilau, with Alex and Harvey.

Punaluu was pretty light and cloudbase was low, so I glided on looking for something better, though less likely, down the road. My furthest distance ever flown from Makapuu was to Gunstock Ranch, many years ago with Marathon Mark and Jetflap Jeff, flying a 19 meter Edel Funky acro glider. Unless I got a bump, it wasn't likely I would make it further. Though I was hoping the big antenna at BYU had something for me, there was nothing there.

Harvey and Jorge were at Hukilau, and it was already 3:30 (3pm was the old people dinner). Jorge told me Harvey had a Modelo with lime ready for me, so in I went. I told Harvey that I would pay him whatever he wanted to drive me home. The three of us headed off to Kailua, leaving Doug high in the sky. He eventually landed at Laie Point. That might even be a PR for Doug.

I arrived home at 4:30, and the octogenarians were late and didn't arrive for 15 more minutes, so life was good.

Even my van was untouched at the Juice parking lot when I retrieved it at 9 p.m. Murphy did me well today. Good flying everyone and special thanks to Harvey.


Thom said...

Dam it Dave, your funny, I laughed a couple of times during this read. Then cried cause I remembered watching you over my head leaving for this venture.

You gotta write more often, it will improve your flying!


Its Time to Fly Follow Dave, Jorge and Doug if you dare.

Alex said...

Nice try, but I know our own Fireman Dave didn't write this. First of all, it's not in Spanish, and we know his google account is Spanish-only. Second, Dave hasn't written anything on this site for, I don't know, 20 years. Third, and most telling, he quite sincerely complimented a fellow pilot without implying that he's gay or handicapped. But then there was that condom metaphor. Okay, perhaps it was Dave. Don't know what we did to deserve a rare treat like this, but I hope we see more of it! Nice flights everyone! Nice writeup Dave!

Anonymous said...

Well he is kind of gayish. Actually, i clicked submit article and it actually worked this time. Though i admit, i thought i lost all my slow laborious typed material a couple of times.

Maui Doug said...

Hilarious write up Dave! Thanks for showing me the way through Kaaawa Valley and your positive feedback! Yes, I was testing out the new Gopro with the easy to use Xshot monopod. I just need to figure out again how to get through the hardest part of the flight, editing the darn video!!!
PUN & MPU sensors are now both 18 and 20, so I guess I now have some editing time!

Maui Doug said...

I have been patiently waiting for a day like this one! I launched from Cactus five minutes after Jorge, but I never saw him again. I was lucky to have FireDave pass me at the Pali and then show me the rest of the way through Kaaawa Valley, thanks Dave! Dave and Jorge both landed at Hukilau Beach 29.5 miles. I landed on the Laie Penninsula 29 miles. Thanks so much Duck and Flystrong for the retrieves back to KNA and MPU! :-)

Here's the link to the video...