Thursday, November 01, 2012

All Saints Day

Our favorite Coast Guard dentist and hang glider pilot, Leo, recently told me that he thinks November is our best month for flying. He has a few years of flying experience on me, so who am I to doubt him, but I personally never thought of November as any kind of special flying month. Well, today was the 1st of November, and the day dawned a crystal blue picture of perfection, with almost no clouds at all, and the few clouds we did see had bases of at least 3,500 feet. Boy, was Leo right! The clouds sank and thickened over the course of the day, but in spite of that, we racked up a cumulative 250 miles of cross country flying between ten pilots, with many personal bests and many personal adventures. Everyone flew mostly alone, which is often how these days work out, but we all ended up together, either at our landing spots or back at Makapuu.

Leo and Mike took off around 10, and they landed at BYU around noon. Mike told me later that he first landed at BYU in 1976. That's thirty six years ago! Those guys ate lunch in the cafeteria there. I didn't realize we could eat lunch there! They said it was good food, and it was all you can eat for like six bucks. I'm totally eating there next time.

When I got to Makapuu at 11, Bill and Gaza and Jason were in the air. Don gave me a ride to Manics and we were off. I wasn't sure I'd have time to get very far, since I knew I had to get back to pick up Amelia from school, but I hoped maybe I'd score a short out and back. Things ended up working out quite differently!

Bill was the first one into the back, but he came back out as I was headed in to join him. So somehow I ended up leading the charge. Jason was right behind me the whole time, following me closely, but most of the time at a lower altitude. We headed out to Olomana to avoid the low clouds on Green Walls. From there we darted back to the Pali and scratched our way up from pretty low.

Cloudbase was at three grand most of the day. That's higher than we've seen it in a while, but still not quite high enough to relax on the tallest peaks or transitions. I caught a super nice thermal over the Omega station and was able to stay out of airspace for that transition for the first time ever. Jason was still right behind me. After that I saw him take a super wide line way out over Heeia. I took a more inside line but I had to really watch the edges of the clouds.

Gaza spent quite a while around the clouds and came out over the ocean, and he ended up landing deep behind Hygienics at the base of the mountain, near an invasive species center. He thought maybe he was an invasive species. Bill followed Jason low to the base of the pyramid, but couldn't quite get up from there, and ended up landing at Coral Kingdom. Don went a little farther and tried to work the side of Kualoa Ridge, but he also ended up joining them down at Coral Kingdom.

Woody was at Maui Doug's Kite Spot, and he radioed up that he would give me a ride if I landed near his house anytime soon. That was a great offer, and it told me I could continue, which was all I wanted to do, since I was not willing to go back through those low clouds.

I pulled into the pyramid pretty low, and had a terrible time trying to figure out how to catch a thermal up and out of there. I got enough to traverse the pyramid to the other side, where I caught a monster thermal way up high to cloudbase, and from there I cut across Kualoa valley. Jason came in ridiculously low at the pyramid and clawed his way up to follow me. I radioed Tim, who was driving to get Leo and Mike, and he said he'd take me back if I landed with those guys at BYU. Now that was a good motivator to continue! I got high again at Kaaawa and decided to skip Kahana, heading straight to Punaluu. I came in there pretty low, and was hoping I wasn't about to end my flight!

I finally hooked a good one and dove into the back, where I found lots of nice thermals, reaching cloud base just above three grand. From there I headed to BYU, pausing a few times to work some nice thermals. I arrived with more than a grand, and I was crying because I knew I had the golf course, but the guys down there at BYU were running late and I had to land quick and pack up. Sigh. Next time. Still an awesome flight, and almost my personal best. My tracklog is here.

We passed Jason working like a fiend to get up on Sucker Hill in Hauula, but he eventually came down at Pounders. He caught a ride with some tourists all the way back to Makapuu!

As we were driving back, we could see Jorge and Mad Dog flying around Haiku, and we could hear Reaper launching and getting ready to follow. Jorge made it to BYU, Mad Dog to Hauula, and Reaper to Coral Kingdom. Later on, after we got back to Makapuu, I saw Lake, Doug, Joey, Bonnie, Joe, Courtney, Jim, and Woody in the air. And maybe others. I snuck my way into the back of Reaper's truck to take a few beverages out of his cooler. Thanks Pete! Later I met Reaper and his brother Dave, Mad Dog, Jorge, and Duck at Kahana for sandwiches and refreshments and a nice long debriefing.

I've never flown a downrange route that included Olomana. Nor have I ever flown downrange without infringing the KMCAS delta - today was the first time. And I haven't seen any other downrange tracks on Leonardo that don't infringe it - maybe today's flight is the first! I have a nifty app on my phone that shows me the airspace on a moving map as I fly. Pretty neat.

Mileage Count:

Mike 30
Leo 30
Alex 30
Jorge 30
Jason 28
Mad Dog 26
Don 20
Bill 20
Reaper 20
Gaza 16

Total: 250

Did I miss anyone?

We definitely missed some of our usual downrange suspects: Duck, Dave, Joey, Jim, Doug, Thom. We could have scored at least another hundred and fifty miles!


Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Maui Doug got out a ways and I stuck my nose around the corner before wussing out and coming back. Mine was probably 4 miles round trip and Doug landed somewhere he shouldn't have so maybe he'll remain black.

Thom said...

I talked to Maui Doug he landed at the prison below Olomana.

I never did a down ranger from Olomana before either. So you got low going back to the Pali too. That must be the norm.

Wow, I really was kicking my self for having to work this day, but I am rally thankful for the story and knowing all of you scored some great flights and lots of Firsts.

I watched Alex's flight live on Leonardo for a while before heading off. That is a neat program but I am not sure I want to implement it, my wife will know where I am really at.

I hope Leo's right. I just might have to take the November off!!!

Gravity said...

Working on my computer at home, when suddenly 'blink' I heard the usual sound from the chatter box. When I clicked on windlines I saw SH's post of your tracklog Alex. YOU SUCK! after watching your live tracking for like 2 mins. I grabbed my gear and ran to MPU.
Once there at Manic's I saw all these sullen faces of the defeated saying it was now too east?
We charged up Juice and it was lite and those damn new poles are pretty intimidating for the 1st time. Joey hucked 1st, I kindly kicked Woody outa the way and I was off next. 2 mins into the flight and I hit some weird boomer over the hang launch to 3,000. "I'm outa here", I yelled into the radio, and so I flew over the back of the hang launch straight down to Puu Kona. Nothing, wait a little cloud suck? Yes, I'm at base and pretty much stayed there all the way to just before Coral Kingdom.
I got white'd out pretty good near Manoa, and again at Likelike.
But, white out means your going up and thats good.
I flew the entire flight on bar, never made more than one turn, and ridge soared the entire course. 30km in 60 minutes! Almost caught Maddog, but the day was over when I got there at Pyramid's just a hair too low.
Thanks for the ride and frosty's brother Dave...

Alex said...

That seems pretty typical: the early shift has to work hard and find thermals, with sparser clouds, but the late shift never has to make any turns at all, under a lower and thicker cloudbase. Two totally different fun flights - sometimes I'm in the mood for one and sometimes the other.

I hope some other folks will post up comments about their flights - I know there are some more stories to be told about this amazing day.

Bon Bon said...

I knew it was gonna be good, I even took pictures to prove it:

So I asked my boss right away if I could leave early. I had to catch a flight before my flight [to Indiana]. On my way out to Makapu'u, I saw FlyStrong over Waiahole and thought he may be landing and would need a ride back, so I hung out for a minute. I heard others had landed, or were about to land and needed a ride, too. Alex and Jason were near Pyramid working their way up, FlyStrong looked like he was comin in to land at Waiahole, then he decided to keep trying. I got in my car and headed back towards Kualoa. I saw him get low in Hakipu'u and was about to get on the radio to tell him to pick a pasture and I'd grab him.

I parked at the gate at the Hakipu'u entrance and walked through the pasture where I quickly found him. Slacker was just behind him and flew over us towards Kualoa and decided to come back and land where we were so he would have a ride already ready for him.

I have some more pictures I still need to post of their landings.

I finally got to Makapu'u about 3:30 or 4 and hiked up Juice. I played around for about an hour. I quickly put together this video while I was on the plane:

Bon Bon said...

I forgot to add that we picked up Gaza on Wailehua Rd as he was hiking out, so we had a pretty full car.

I also forgot to add that after Slacker landed and FlyStrong was packed up, Slacker said, "Are we in a hurry here, should I just ball it up or do I have time to pack it up?" I said, "Well, I'd like to fly before I fly out tonight...and we're gonna have a full car because I have luggage and we gotta pick up Gaza." I've never seen Slacker move so fast!

I've added more pictures to this set: