Monday, November 19, 2012

Thermal Research For Christmas Season

As some of you may have noticed, I missed the 2012 year end meeting of the Great Clan of Oahu Flying Monkeys. It was a difficult decision to travel to the Big Island, and fly with the Silent Monkeys of the South, to do some research for our upcoming time of woe.

The people of the U.S. decided that our country's leader, President Obama, is doing a good job, and gave him another 4 years to straighten out our country. Sadly this means that he will most likely venture to our island for the holidays again this year. This will shut us down at a time when most of our monkeys are free of the chains of employment. Visiting pilots should alter their plans if they are planning to see any Oahu Flying Monkeys during the Christmas/New Years Holiday.

The Big Island Silent Monkeys like to keep themselves just this way. They are very welcoming but have very strict rules that all must abide by when visiting this mecca, Kealakekua. Silent Monkeys are named so from the serene quietness in flight, no monkey chatter. They tend not to talk during flight and as you will find taking your hands off the brakes just for a second is a challenge. Upon landing, it is required to give your status and location. Example: "This is Sammy, safe and sound at the church with a big smile on my face." PS to Woody, he loves his Aspen4.

I have flown with this small group of rarely seen primates many times in the past to get my bump tolerance up for a trip to the French Alps. During my trips I worked my way in slowly to the 'old grays' circle, the elders of this clan that still fly regularly. I am guessing that is why Ike moved there: because they call him the kid. Imagine that.
This trip to this sacred launch was an effort to gather information to prepare our Oahu Monkeys for any plans to travel away during our pending TFR. It was a tough job to go there and fly every day, but I was thinking only of your welfare.

Their privately owned gated community launch is the most picturesque of all the island launches. But their landing zones are some of the trickiest I have ever had to set up for, no big beaches, not even a small one. A thorough walk of the main reachable LZ is required by their clan. You must listen and take heed, one slip up and you're in some major trouble. Either shooting too long into a forest of dead avacado trees or veering slightly left into an abandon coffee grove. Veering right has some hidden hazards. Ideally you stay on the grass covered lava rock road, a downhill LZ in a very thermic site. The church is another LZ reachable only with good altitude, many thermals. It appears easier but is very technical, and being radioed in by a local should always be welcomed no matter what your rating.

Speaking of rating, you must be a REAL P3 with plenty of thermal flights. You must be a current member of USHPA. You must wear a helmet very stable boots and long pants are strongly recommended. If you were trained here then you should have logged a few Nanakuli flights which you actually got up in, turned in, etc. Landings have to be precise and you must be prepared for pops on final and be able to deal with them. Even the LZ's have ankle twisters and walking out through high scrubs leg laserations are common.

I don't mean to scare you away from here, cause it is beautiful, but they are very particular of who they let in these days. Their LZs are very tentative and their dealings with the landowners are always on egg shells. As we have been finding here as our numbers increase, so have our incidents. They really can not have any numbers.

Many of you are now thinking to yourselves that two of their pride visited us and got helicopter rides this year. Every family has them, the kids that want to push the limits or get to a new site seeing others skating along the clouds wanting to do the same. Our sites here often get treated with lax attitudes because it may appear not as technical as others but they are and maybe we do not stress it enough. We have had plenty of our own disappear. Even I had to learn respect the hard way as too many of you have also. FYI, the Big Island Aina is not as forgiving you go down wrong there your gonna get hurt, so listen to what the elders there have to say and you will have a good flight. I sure did.

Ok, just when you thought this rant was over more rules. You will also be required to join the Big Island Soaring Association which carries a $20.00 fee. They are very willing to give rides up the 4-wheel drive to launch, but being Silent Monkeys don't ask for any compensation. The wear and tear on vehicles from LZ to launch is way more than our flat land hauls, so ask around for a type of token for your driver. Oh, most importantly, no monkey beverages on the Landing Zones or visable anywhere between the LZ and launch along the road. There are plenty of places to travel off too after your flights.

As I stated before, they own their launch and have to take care of it. It is a huge grassy launch that is maintained to golf course standards which does not come cheap. There is gas, weed whacker line, etc. There is a bathroom available that is clean and stocked but it doesn't get done by itself. There is an unwritten rule of a few bucks a flight that you throw in the box at launch as a donation towards these items. If it is not a flyable day you can always volunteer to push the mower for a bit or weed whack the road edges. They will welcome any help, but ask first what needs to be done and how to do it.

On my next trip I hope to visit Kauai and research the ins and outs of Hawaii's newest flying venue.

JJ Jameson

1 comment:

Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Geez Thom, that looks like my kind of group; "seasoned" pilots! I think a trip there will be on Santa's list for me.

Were the tight LZ's much of a problem for you?