Tuesday, August 07, 2012

An Amazing Weekend

The weekend before last marked my first airborne experience outside of Polipoli park. This graduation of sorts, this moving out into the wider world of paragliding, had a profound impact on both my feel for the wing and my general appreciation for the sport.

My first couple of flights were bumpy, to say the least, wrought with awkward launches and nailbiter landings. I also fell out once, my flight condemned to a dash for keyhole due to an anxious inability to hold my trajectory as close to the ridge as I needed to.

But these were growing pains. By Sunday my launch and landing were less nerve-wracking for both myself and Woody, thankfully. The aspect of Kahana that really impacted me, however, was the ability to work with rising air.

You mean I can gain and dump elevation as many times as I want, for as long as I want? really? Oh hell yeah.

Inner dialogue aside, the ability to stay up for more than  five minutes was new and admittedly fantastic. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the shorter flights I've had because they certainly have their value. However, not having to worry about a landing directly following a launch was....liberating to say the least.

What my flying had been missing, and what finally clicked for me last weekend, was a feeling of security and comfort in the air. For the first time I could just sit a while and check out my surroundings. And, of course, rising air meant that I finally had room to REALLY play.

I had often been frustrated by how narrow the window for play is at Polipoli, and once I got my proverbial feet under me I dove into my weight shifts, drops, and spirals with a raw enthusiasm uncurbed by an imminent landing. An additional novelty was working the lift to get back up again, and I quickly found an equally challenging and fun set of skills needed to do so.

By my last flight I felt a wholly new connection with my wing. Not only was I simply at home with being airborne for hours, but my sense of the wing's movement had begun to feel far more in tune.

I had started really feeling the timing of those weight shifts and my maneuvers had a smoother, more connected quality than before. I guess the word here is natural; I felt for the first time like I wasn't some idiot held aloft by a piece of plastic and some lengths of Kevlar line. I felt like I belonged up there, and the weekend before last gave birth to an exhilaration and pure joy unique in my experience of flying.

Those handful of flights more than doubled my gross air time, and in that time I fell in love. Who that's flown the site hasn't? Relaxing at a cool 2000'+ above one of the most beautiful places in the world, I realized how damn lucky I am to be able to do this.

And what an awesome site to experience that for the first time, and what a perfect weekend in general. It was fantastic to meet everyone - they were all supportive, welcoming, and just a really cool group of people. You guys are great.  Thank all of you for contributing to what was undoubtedly one of the best weekends of my life.

Jas Jernaill


Duck said...

It is always a great gift for those of us who live here to be able to share our flying sites (Kahana and Makapu'u are the most reliable, but other are equally good when they are on). I think that this is one of the hallmark's of this group of flying monkeys. We know that our sites are special! I, for one, am biased towards Kahana; but, I live in Hauula, so I understand the bias (ten minutes from launch is hard to beat).

It is always fun for us to share our sites with competent flyers who are full of new energy--we never take our sites for granted, but new energy is ALWAYS fun for everyone. Please, keep it up!

Congratulations on your newfound love affair! I am sure it will be one of the loves of your life--I know it is for me! It was great fun flying with you and your family--you are all really great people! I look forward to flying with you and your family again soon. Hope to see you at 2000+ over Kahana soon...

Anonymous said...

Nice Jas,

The best thing about paragliding is that you can go around the world with your kit.

I spent three years flying Maui and Oahu and there is awesome flying to be had. But, after leaving I went to Europe to fly the Alps and had my little mind blown open! Even here in Northern Oregon (Hood River), we have Chelan within a four hour drive. I have been at 12K MSL/8K AGL with nothing around but air.

Welcome to it and keep pushing your experiences and continue to look for new places to fly.


sandy said...

Great stoke! Thanks for sharing. It was great meeting you, glad you got a good taste of it. We hope to see you and your family back again and again and again.

Sandy (and John)

Thom said...

First thanks for the great read and I am so glad to have you on our team of writers. I had to get the dictionary out for a few of the words but that tells me that Alex has some competition in superb write ups.

Although I am still waiting for the write up in USHPA or even Cross Country about the "Flying Jernaills".

Welcome to the Oahu Flying Monkey family.

JJ Jameson