Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Flying Commando

I got back from a long mainland trip last night: two weeks in DC and then a week at the Rat Race. So I was excited to read the forecast for nice tradewind weather. I woke up and did laundry this morning so I'd have underwear and socks to fly in. But as I was hiking up to launch, a certain chafing sensation made it clear I'd forgotten something. And it wasn't my socks. Oh well. In a pod harness no one knows what you're wearing. Or not wearing.

Mad Dog and Gaza had planned to sail from Kokokahi in the catamaran and then fly Kahana. What a great idea. Better than the Dolomitenmann: the Catamaranmann! The Flymaran! The CatamaFly! But a long doldrums following a big squall shut them down. They finally made landfall at Kualoa's Secret Beach and slaked their thirst with cold beverages. They had invited me to join them for flying, but now it looked like I'd have to fly alone. Like a commando!

I showed up at Kahana to readings of zero -- the same doldrums that were tormenting my sailing buddies. But I had faith that some wind would fill in soon. I hiked to upper north launch and waited for cycles, which showed up just as I was hooking in. Perfect! But I had to scratch like a fiend. The sensor was showing a whopping 3 mph at 45 degrees. Somehow I made that work and got above the ridge, where I caught a snotty leeside rocket up to 1,800 feet to guarantee my bay crossing. I told Mad Dog and Gaza over the phone that I was on my way. Save me a cold one, guys! Or two, or three!

I made a quick crossing to Kualoa, and then blazed wide around Mokolii to snap some pictures from my favorite offshore perspective, before heading down to the beach for my frosty reward. As I approached, I could see my tipsy pals pantomiming wind direction, as well as a pointed suggestion to land next to them in a tiny grassy spot surrounded by trees, near where they had parked the boat. Despite their rosy indications of wind direction parallel to shore, I could tell it was actually decidedly offshore, and coming over a lot of trees. But what the heck - it was only 3 mph, right? I descended through a bit of lumpy turbulence and shot right into that tiny grassy oasis. Whew! Now that was a commando landing.

Thanks to Woody for the ride back. Perfect timing for me to get back and help Dorothy out with dinner preparations. I heard lots of folks flew the late session: Bonnie, Johnimo, Maui Doug, Woody, Steve, HK Hardy and others.

It's great to be back in paradise. Here's to many more hours of perfect tradewind flying this summer. With our loins comfortably girded!


Ka'a'awa Larry said...

Welcome back! It's always nice to get home no matter where you are coming from.
R.R. kind of let me explore my priorities and I have come to the conclusion that I don't have a burning need to compete. I will be perfectly happy to boat around on Oahu and be content to accept whatever the conditions give me. There are thermal sites and ridge sites. There is a built-in family/support group and willing hands and minds for any eventuality. Can't think of any good reason for me to go half way around the world and have to deal with jet-lag, funny money, language difficulties and strange customs just so I can have another stamp on my passport.
I don't care if I ever get past the P-3 level, do aerobatics or have pictures of my boots framing the Himalayas but I'm fine with that.
Congratulations to all you globe-trotters. If you need anything from "back home" give me a call.

Thom said...

thanks for waiting Alex. But we did not touch down till 8:30 last, now in Oregon we might have still been able to get a flight at the time, light wise that is.

Unfortunately I will have to contradict my camp buddy KLarry, comps can teach you things. I will try to get a summary report on the RR Blog sometime today, so JJ can get my perspective and hopefully fund many more Hawaii Thermal Research Projects.

Geronimo John said...

Welcome back guys! It sure has been quiet around here with all the comp pilots gone. We missed you!