Sunday, March 10, 2013

Shine On

Who would have imagined that after so many weeks of rain and strong wind, we'd fly five different sites in our first week of airtime. Yesterday was the seventh straight day of flying since the spell was magically broken, and a massive horde of monkeys thronged the sea cliffs of Diamond Head, flinging themselves into the air with wild abandon, celebrating the end of our winter doldrums. Twenty monkeys flew, with ground support from five more. We think we had almost fifteen in the air at once, although our simian arithmetic is not terribly reliable. But as always, at the time it certainly felt like we were setting some kind of record.

This might be a good time to remind our local and visiting monkeys about the class B airspace overhead. Please make sure everyone launching knows to stay below the 1,000 foot ceiling. Don't assume they know - at the risk of being a pest, make sure. We had a couple of unintentional infractions today that could jeopardize our privilege to enjoy this site the way we currently do. Let's not take that for granted! Our benevolent overlords at the FAA have made it very clear that they are paying attention.

Conditions were fairly west of south all day, but that didn't stop us from successfully navigating our way above launch and into the sky. Most of the time. It got stronger later in the day, perfect for those flying heavier loaded wings and smaller acrobatic wings. All day pilots enjoyed multiple flights, under mostly sunny skies, buzzing the lighthouse and the lookouts, taking in the view of Waikiki and Honolulu, and finishing with exciting top landings and beach landings. We were pleased to share this rare site with several illustrious visitors: Alaskans Brett and Gerry, and Utah club president Kristjan. Also, congratulations to first timer Laurel - if any other locals had their first flight there, let me know so we can recognize the milestone!

We also set a cross country distance record today. In what was probably the first intentional landing anywhere beyond the crater, Dave blazed downwind toward his house in Kahala, hopscotching his way past Black Point for a landing at Waialae Beach Park. He thinks he could have gone further but he opted to cut it short for the best and safest landing. And he had an interesting encounter at the beach which is worth asking him about.

Somehow this special site tends to exact a toll on our crew every time we enjoy it in force the way we did today. We snuck by without any major incidents, but we were treated to a few less than gentle reminders of what a treacherous mistress Diamond head can be. Seven of our halest heroes received minor injuries and indignities at her fierce hand: downwinders Nova and Thom, day trippers Sharky and Duck, and wing dippers Gaza, Gerry and Frank. May they all recover quickly and completely!

I know many of us took pictures and shot video. I will try to include all of them in this story as I get time. Thanks to everyone who was able to come out and join us for such a great day of celebration! Thanks to Duck for the tasty cold post-flight beverages. We've never celebrated with such classy refreshments.

Roll call: Brent, Firefly John, Jim, McStalker, Thom, Duck, FlyStrong, Bonnie, Roland, Dave, Jorge, UT Kristjan, AK Brett, AK Gerry, Nova, Frank, Gaza, Laurel, Maui Doug, Ginny, Sharky, TommyRD, Kaaawa Larry, Sandy. Let me know if I missed anyone!

Roll call of sites flown this magical week: Kahana, Lanikai, Makapuu, Nanakuli, Kaena, and Diamond Head. Let me know if I missed any!


Thom said...

Where the hell was Ike, he started the whole rally when he called me at 630 am. I headed out as soon as I could muster to find him not there but at Home Depot getting supplies for his kitchen remodel. Waited and waited for him to show up.....we all did!!! To his legit excuse, he just had half his face cut out from sun stuff that we are all slowing surcoming too. He has to stay sunless for a few more days.

Just for the record, my ankle was only slightly stuck in the mud and survived to fly then next shift.

First timer Firefly John and Sharky's first too.

All 4 of our visiting pilots can put that one as a feather in their cap. Cause it doesn't happen very often so they were truly lucky to be there.

Thanks for the write and to all for the pictures.

What a way to start March Madness!!!

It's Time to Fly, Shine Up Your Gear and Go!!!!

firedave2 said...

I had a great week of flying: a little XC action from Makapuu, Nanakuli and then Diamond Head. I was first in the air and pretty much the last. I managed a little XC to my house, but the wind was cross, before i realized i might really get somewhere, i chickened out at The Kahala hotel and the Waialae golf course. I landed at Waialae Beach Park, and we will just say a nice lady offered me a ride back. Afterwards we three the little gliders around in the strong wind.

It was great fun hanging on the beach with my 3 year old niece and the monk seal. There was some awesome mayhem wih everyone landing in the strong conditions, and some wet gear and bruised egos. But the Monk seal was unimpressed.

Roland was flying great, Nova doing his show, and exciting top landings. The most impressive thing was Jorge doing multiple top landings at will. I am going to have step up my game watching that.

Good times.

Kristjan said...

Still completely buzzing from this flight. After learning of just how rare this occurrence is, I know that I would not likely score another Diamond Head flight, even if I came back to the island a dozen times in my life. Effortless soaring along Hawaii's most iconic landmark, watching humpbacks off in the distant, watching 757's (and the occasional C-17) filing into Honolulu, landing on the beach just steps away from a passed out monk seal... I am truly grateful that it went down! Thanks to you all in the Hawaii Paragliding Association- you guys and gals are truly an exemplary club and welcoming to visiting pilots, not to mention your awesome communications infrastructure that gets everyone up to speed on the right places to fly. Every club in the country should take a page out of your book. Thanks again- Kristjan

Anonymous said...

I did not actually have a water landing I had a wave crash up and get the top right wing after a perfect spot landing, I snuck in on a couple staring at the sky in wonderment and instead of pile driving them with my wing I put it down to the side of them they were then pile-driven by the next few wings; but I think they enjoyed that, being part of the paragliding seal sleeping adventure! GAZA

Alex said...

Gaza, I know! I saw the whole thing. Perfect landing, whew, then, OMG here comes a wave...! I was cringing as I flew above you. That's why I lumped you guys all together as wing dippers, I figured that's a catch all for people who got their wings wet in a variety of situations! What an exciting and fun day.