Saturday, September 29, 2012

Soaring with the Angels

This week the Blue Angels arrived to warm up for their weekend air show. We were privileged to witness some of their maneuvers as we ventured over to Kualoa every day this week. The weather conditions varied widely, but somehow we managed to cross the bay every day - five days to Kualoa in a row might be a site record! We also crossed to Punaluu and back on at least three of those days, and some of our newest pilots enjoyed lots of nice soaring time at Kahana.

Monday - Nautical Chronic

We started the week with a lively discussion of the week-long TFR related to the airshow that would go into effect on Tuesday. The TFR covers a circle around MCKAS with a 5 nm radius, a little larger than the usual 4.3 nm Class D circle we are already trained to avoid. Lanikai is just inside the TFR circle. Through our discussion we confirmed that the Class D circle encompasses the district park at Hygienics, while Maui Doug's kite spot in Waiahole is just outside of it.

Since the TFR wouldn't begin until Tuesday, I was quite surprised to hear a sound like the sky begin ripped open while I was flying over Kualoa, and I saw a formation of jets turning up on their wingtips to circle the bay, dropping smoke as they carved a wide path over Maui Doug's kite spot and back to the base. They appeared to be setting up for landing but then they all blasted up in different directions from the airstrip before actually coming down to land and park for the night. Turns out they had just arrived at Pearl Harbor and were transferring to MCKAS to start their practice the next day. I guess they couldn't resist a little fun on their way between bases. After they landed I blazed back past Kahana to Punaluu, and then crossed the bay again to land at Swanzys. Thanks to Brian for the pickup. Roll call: Woody, Bonnie, Maui Doug, Rich, Gaza, Thom, RK Jeff, Brian SB.

Tuesday - Soaking Wet Crossing

I went to town for a lunch meeting with Dave Goto, and I stayed in town all day to get work done and then help Dorothy with kid pickups. On my way back from town with Logan at 6:30, I saw Jason over Kualoa, enjoying a gorgeous sunset vista over Kaneohe Bay before returning to Kahana just before dark. I heard later than he crossed in the middle of a downpour, and had to mash speed bar for the next half hour to keep his wing from going parachutal. Woody and Harvey flew as well, and possibly others.

Wednesday - Late Break

Duck called late in the afternoon and forced me to take a break from my busy workday. He's been way busier than me, and has hardly come out to fly with us at lately, so I was compelled to join him for a rare flight together. We snuck in a fun late flight to Kualoa and then landed at Swanzys exactly at the time of official sunset. We need to get ourselves some nice anticollision lights so we can enjoy that twilight period thirty minutes later. Thanks to Gaza for the pickup and refreshments. Roll call: Woody, Lake, Duck, me, Gaza, Harvey, Bonnie, Scot, Jason.

Thursday - Chronic Nation

A big day for chronic loops to between Kualoa and Punaluu! Jason started it off, and Mad Dog and I were in hot pursuit. The three of us stayed together and flew a nice chronic mission, and we were tailed by Maui Doug and Joey. It was the first time Doug and Jason had made the full loop. Congrats guys! Mad Dog couldn't resist the chance to fly one more chronic loop in the face of some mean looking rain squalls. Flying in the rain is the reason he has that nickname after all! Harvey crossed the bay on his Boom, and Thom arrived later to launch and chase us all to Hauula. Thanks to Brent for picking us all up, and for the refreshments. Jeff and Allegra also had great soaring flights at Kahana. Later on, Bonnie, Roland, Woody and Jeff snuck in a late session just before another squall shut things down.

Friday - Late Lull

The day started strong and wet and it didn't seem likely that we'd fly. But the wind trended down in the afternoon and a few of us congregated at the LZ to check it out. Woody played on the beach with Brian SB, and I hiked up with Bonnie, Jim and Gaza. It was quite strong and initially pretty east as well, but I managed to levitate myself across the bay and over to Kualoa. The first day of the air show was already over by the time I got there - Joey and Bill had been there for the military-only opening day. There was a high grey cirrus layer overhead, but despite that the sunset was gorgeous just as I was landing at Swanzys, with the harvest moon just beginning to rise above the orange and blue horizon. Thanks to Woody for the retrieve!

I took lots of video on all four days that I flew, but I haven't had time yet to do much with it. Hopefully I'll get a moment because I know there's some good footage in there! I snapped just a few pictures which I'll include in this story. If anyone else has pictures or videos let me know and I'll include them as well.

2 comments:

Duck said...

Alex,
Thanks for the recap! It was great to have a midweek afternoon session--man I miss those! My flight was much more work than yours obviously, as I was on bar (most of the time full bar) for most of the flight. That was probably one of my most technical bay crossings as the wind was soo strong--luckily for me it was north and I was able to stay in some lift. I think it took me at least 15-20 minutes to actually cross. As I came in above Crouching Lion on an outside line, I was only penetrating at 3-4 mph. But, it was north, so I was not loosing anything. I remember, I was just watching the hill move ever so slowly by as I lined up for Hidden Valley...what a fun flight!

Jeff Johnson said...

As always, another great writeup. Thanks Alex
RK Jeff