Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sunset Flight to Pounders

I got to Kahana in the late afternoon (as usual - after w**k), and launched from north launch. Alaska Jason was in the air when I arrived, but had a stick in his lines and landed to get it out. He called me from the LZ to see where I was launching. I was on north launch and it felt good.

By the time I got ready, it had gotten light, so I waited for a little while. I could see some texture on the water, so I waited for it. Jason arrived on launch before I took off. It started to fill in, and I launched and got up with ease. Jason launched shortly after me. Before I knew it, we were at 2200'. I was trying to reach him on radio, (he told me on launch that it was working again - that he could not only receive, but could transmit, too), I was trying to see if he wanted to go downrange. Alex came on the radio from his house. He said he could see us from his back yard and we looked good.

Jason wasn't responding, so, I text him: "Wanna go downrange?" He got his radio out and said, "Sure, I'll go with you." I told him I was going to head out front then turn left. As I was getting further out front, he decided to leave from towards the back of the ridge. I told him I would go, too. I could tell that he was sinking fast with the line he took from the back. I came in to the ridge at Punalu'u much higher than him, but he quickly caught back up to me. I took a ton of pictures, and we worked on gaining altitude before deciding to keep going. I kept an eye on my penetration, which was on the slow side (as usual).

We got a little higher and then continued on to the next ridge. I took some pictures at Sacred Falls and told Jason that I had to be careful because I wasn't penetrating very well. I told him to fly around me and I would take pictures of him in front of the falls. Then we went to the next ridge. The further north we went, the windier it got, and the more beautiful it got. The sun began to set behind the mountains, and the clouds were big and puffy and pink, white, and blue with it's reflections on the water. At the next ridge, above the tall pine trees, I noticed I wasn't penetrating very much at all. I was 1500', going 1.5mph. I put on full bar and told Jason I was gonna go land. I wasn't quite sure where, but I knew I had to get down. We were above Hau'ula.

Alex came on the radio and explained that at this point, they usually push on to Pounders from here. I told him I was on 1100' and I thought I could make it. He agreed and told me to push out front, over the ocean, then cut in. I explained to Jason where Pounders was and where I was going to land. I probably should have paid more attention to flying, but I wanted to try to capture the beauty that I was seeing on camera. The sunset was awesome. As I head to Pounders on full speedbar, I was sinking fast. I knew I would arrive low. I looked out over the water and told Jason that there was a lot of wind coming, so be ready to kill it upon landing. I could see some clouds coming in and the gust front on the water. In fact, I was getting rained on a little bit as I came in.

As I got lower, some people were waving at me, and I waved back, then had to tell myself to focus. I started doing small wingovers to get down, but noticed it was just pushing me backwards. I got on full speedbar and told Jason it was windy as s**t down here. I couldn't decide where to go, as I noticed the tide was higher than I originally anticipated. I got on the radio, "I don't know what the -- to do." You can see in the video I couldn't decide where to land. There was a spot on the beach, but water all around. I was afraid of being blown back into the water (the little pond near the ocean). But, I picked a spot and went for it on bar.

I had my hands on the C's and D's, ready to kill the wing. The 3 people that waved at me earlier were standing there, then they decided to run away. I told them they were fine, but of course, they ran behind me, rather than in front of me, so when I pulled the wing down, the lines very lightly dropped on the teenage boy. I walked towards the wing and him, and told him hang on, hang on, then I lifted the lines up and got him out. I shook his hand and apologized and explained to them that it was windy and I did my best to control it, and that it was only my second time landing there. They were excited and had all kinds of questions and told me how cool it was. I spoke to them for a while, then asked if they would take my picture.

Jason came in (on bar) after me. I took pictures of the clouds and rain behind us as he was coming in. It was about 15-16mph when we landed. It was a super fun, beautiful sunset flight. Thanks to Alex for the ground support and retrieve. Pictures from my flight can be seen Here (or by clicking on any of the above photos).

1 comment:

Alex said...

Bonnie, thanks for the story. I'm still working on the video from my flight earlier in the day. It was fun watching you and Jason track along the range behind my house at sunset. Glad you guys were able to deal with the strong wind at Pounders - I've seen a few mishaps there over the years! I've had a few myself. It takes a while to get a feel for how windy it's going to be down there, but it's always a safe bet that it'll be blowing a lot harder there than where you came from.