Monday, August 06, 2012

Weekend Hat Trick

I’ve been out of the game for a lot of the summer, due to lots of celebrations I was invited to. Plus, having that whole pesky job thing makes it hard to get out to fly on weekdays. It seems like most of the summer I’ve been relegated to reading posts about flying. The past couple of weekends I was able to get a flight in, to set myself up for this most recent weekend of gorgeous flying.

After kind of a crappy week, Friday afternoon, I read that some guys were late afternoon flying. After making some grumbles about how I wanted to get out there, but it’s probably too late, blah, blah blah, Liana said, why don’t we just head up to Kahana right now. Don’t need to tell me twice. Got dressed and we were out the door in 5 min. Arrived at crouching lion, and my heart sank a little when I didn’t see any wings in the air.

Thankfully, when I got to the landing zone, there were the usual social monkeys hanging around, saying it was a still great, so I hiked up north launch. Sharky, Scrappy, and Allegra were on east, but the wind had shifted more north. While setting up, I heard Sharky had an “interesting” launch, but was up and okay. I finished setting up, waited for a cloud to fully pass by, and launched. Sun was going down, and it was just a beautiful way to end a week.

Wind got a little strong for Allegra, so she hiked down, but Scrappy sampled her Hook 2. When he launched, I made my approach for landing. Joey came on radio telling me to land in front of the crew. I tried to make some banked up turns and did my best to swoop right in front of everybody. It felt like one of my best looking landings, but I didn’t see it. Bonnie did get a nice shot for me though. Great end to my week. Little did I know that this would be the weakest of my flights of the weekend.

Saturday, I tried to get up to Kahana as early as possible. I arrived around 9:30, and didn’t see any wings in the air. Hoping someone would arrive soon because I told myself I had to leave by 1 pm, so that I could make a baby luau at Ala Moana beach. I posted on Wind Lines that I was there, but no one else was. I walked around, checking out the wind up and down the beach, and it felt great. Waianae Jim showed up and called me to let me know he was here, with Roland. I ran back to my truck, grabbed my pack, and up we went.

Alex soon arrived, with McStalker right behind. I heard on the radio that Jim, Alex, and McStalker were having aspirations of going down range. I look at my clock, thinking, if I’m late to the party, they’ll understand. I radioed back, and asked, "Can I tag along?” Jim said, sure, and I tried to get as high as possible. Alex turned left first, then McStalker, with Jim trailing and me bringing up the rear.

When I got to Punaluu, Alex and Jeff were already skied out in the back, but they kept getting higher and higher. At one point, Jim, already at 3,000 feet, asked where Alex was. Alex responded, “We are about 1,000 feet right above you!” Alex and Stalker went further downrange, and Jim and I soon followed again. This was the highest I’d ever been, but still much lower than Alex and Jeff. Jim and I made it on glide to BYU, while Alex and Jeff made it to Kahuku Golf course. My highest, furthest, and best flight, ever (so far). We landed, and Ginny picked us up. I then ran off to my baby luau, a bit later than I wanted, but with a big grin on my face.

Sunday, I went to go help Scrappy get set up to teach some people to kite. When I showed up, a squall was just passing through. It passed, and the weather started looking real nice. I decided I would go check out Kahana. Very glad I did. At this point, I still wasn’t even sure I was gonna fly. I had Archie, Liana’s boston terrier with me, and I would have been happy just jumping in the water and hanging out at the beach.

Allegra showed up, hoping an instructor would appear. Scrappy was teaching, and Woody was otherwise indisposed. I told her to call Scrappy, to see how many people were there, and ask him to come down. She called, and said he would come by. Ginny offered to keep an eye on the little rascal for me if I wanted to hike up. So up we went.

Joey was in air, with Alex and Brazilian Pedro were on launch. Maui Doug and Roland arrived, and launched. Lots more pilots were in the air, so someone feel free to give a roll call. Scrappy showed up a little bit later, and he hucked Allegra off. I soon followed and began my ascent. While getting some altitude, I studied how Jim and Alex got high a lot faster than everybody else. I tried to mimic their patterns, and experienced some better results for myself.

Once up high, Jim asked if I wanted to go downrange again. Hells yeah! We boated around until Alex got up high, and off we went, arriving first at Punaluu. Alex got up fast, but I was having problems getting to the back of the valley. Jim got up high, but I couldn’t get far back yet. I kept trying and trying, till finally my perseverance paid off and I made it up. Jim headed to Hauula, and Alex and I hung around, dodging clouds. I paid attention to how Alex would just skirt the clouds to get their lift, but not get sucked up into oblivion. We then saw a huge boomer over Pu’u Piei, and another one heading for us, offshore a ways. Time to move on to Hauula. We were able to find a few remaining thermals, then landed at Hauula. Total flight time: 3 + hours.

I didn't take any good pics, but Alex and Jeff have footage from Saturday. Alex has some good photos from Sunday as well, along with Scrappy's video of Alex's showy landing. Hopefully they will share.

Thanks to Ginny for picking us up on Saturday, and watching Archie on Sunday. Thanks to all the ground crew for watching Archie, too. Thanks Scrappy for the pickup on Sunday. Thanks to Alex and Jeff for letting me tag along, and special thanks to Jim for keeping a good eye on me on the downrange adventures and showing me how it’s done. What a weekend!



Alex said...

Thanks for the wrapup Stephen! Those were 3 awesome days indeed. You are doing great with your cross country flying. Keep it up! Now we just need to get you into a more flexible job so you can join us on weekdays too! :-)

sandy said...

Congrats on some great flights! And Alex, can you work on that flexible job thing for me, too?

Waianae Jim said...

Nice write up Steve and some great flights, pretty soon you'll be leaving me in the dust.

Sharky said...

Great write up Stephen! I pulled a hat trick as well, but only by squeezing two flights on Saturday!

Wish I could have joined you guys, but even though I got to KNA earlier than normal on Saturday (around 1130) it wasn't enough. I helped huck off Woody's tandem w/ Tall John and figured I'd be late to the party as usual and radioed you guys to carry on. One day, I'll get another XC!

Hopefully One Eye will still have the fire for dragging noobs out beyond the hill when I can get out there early enough. Little things like job and family duties make it tough sometimes...

I have video from my "interesting" launch, and some from saturday, featuring you and BonBon from two different flights. I should xfer video to you and this week looks crazy again and don't think I'll have time to play with video :(

Great read...thanks for posting!

=-) Sharky

Anonymous said...

Way to go Steve. Your going cross country, your writing articles, you have a hot new girlfriend. Life is good. I am stoked for you. I know one day, as my skills improve, you will show me the way downrange. Looking forward to flying with you. Aloha Brent

Thom said...

I am guessing that Alex did not have to edit yours, because it was great read.

I am only getting to it now due to lack of wifi in Pemberton. You are charging it great and glad to see you made it to BYU.

We are building our Down Range Gaggles with some great pilots. I hope your logging these in. 2013 we might start a milage contest. Alex excluded of course. hehehehe

2nd batch of coffee hands are shaking.

Thanks Steve I hope to read more of your write ups, damn good.