Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Paraglider Pilot Needs Ride

The forecast suggested Sunday might be our last good day for a while, wrapping up a weeks long streak of cross country conditions. But contrary to that rosy prediction, the day dawned strong and east everywhere. Some were calling it moderate at Makapuu, while others were poring over the entrails of winds aloft for a glimpse into the murky future of the day. I was convinced we would eventually get our cross country window, mainly because I just wanted it so bad, but most people gave up on the day early to pursue other activities, like boating, BBQs, or mountain biking. But the hard core crew was undeterred.

Frank posted that Frosty was enjoying a parking session over Sea Life, while Frank was opting to wait for better conditions.

Thom generously drove out to Punaluu at around noon to help Dorothy's mom with a window problem. We waited at Kahana and watched the scary looking clouds blowing hard and super east, swirling like a roller coaster over Puu Piei. But after waiting a while, the airflow seemed to grow a bit lighter and Thom thought it was at least worth hiking. Cycles on launch turned out to be quite light. How crazy could it be?

We launched around 2, and we had to scratch a bit, but then we actually got to core some sweet thermals high over the ridge. I never expected a thermal day like this! We flew downrange to Punaluu, and circled as high as we could safely go with a 2,500 foot cloud base. I maxed out at 2,700 feet on my way out of there, to avoid an incoming cloud bank, and Thom followed as the next cloud bank rolled in. Didn't seem like quite enough to make the golf course, but I was gonna do my best.

I was high enough to skip past Hauula, and I had a blast milking little bubbles of lifting air behind Laie all the way past Kahuku Golf Course before turning to land at the far corner. Yes! Time for a serving of the island's best poke and an extra tall torpedo. Then I'd need to figure out how to get back! Thom made it to his usual farthest point in Hukilau with a ton of altitude, and could have easily gone farther, but he wasn't sure what it was like at Malaekahana so he opted to play it safe. I guess if it's not 50 miles he doesn't get too excited!

Thom noticed the bus screaming by just before he got to the bus stop, so it looked like we might have an hour or more to wait. I waited at the Kahuku High School bus stop with my poke and my beverage, sticking out a thumb and putting on my friendliest face. But then to our great relief, Duck said he would pick us up on his way back from mountain biking in Pupukea.

After stopping at the cold beverage store, we returned to Kahana to find the sky full of gliders. Woody, George, Jonathan, Sebastian, Harvey, and Kevin were in the air, while James was on launch. Congrats to Jonathan and Sebastian on their hard earned P2 ratings! Woody led the fledglings over to Punaluu for high wind landing practice. Poor James got some high wind launch practice as the wind was definitely picking up at the end of the day.

Frank posted up that Makapuu turned nice later on as well. It turned out to be a great last day of miles and airtime everywhere for those who were willing to wait for the window!


sandy said...

On our way up to the polo game on Sunday, the cloudbase over our tallest island peak, Kaala, looked to be about 4800 ft! Some of the clouds over the Koolaus had the pilei like in your pictures from another recent lovely day. I was thinking it could be a good day up there, and glad to hear you guys found the good part of it. I was a bit worried for potential downrange cruisers when our Mokuleia winds reached nuclear speeds, but the skydivers didn't seem to mind, and I guess that's not always indicative of what's on the NE side of the range.

I'll have to live vicariously through these posts for awhile (JJ needs to crack the whip on Sidehill or some others to help you out) since I have found that hiking with 50 lbs is NOT good rehab for my hyperextended knee. I need a sherpa!

Congrats to Jonathan and Sebastian! Quite fine monkeys indeed :-)

Thom said...

Yes Sandy, the inner torment of JJ in the inner ear sometimes makes it difficult to conjure up some ink. Especially when there is someone as articulate as Alex whipping up such tales.

I have duly surrendered to the fact that the turn left club at KNA is a a needed skill to have in one's quiver. Picking different lines, playig with speed bar and rear riser control is just way to much too learn on just one flight.

I have to say that I want to do better. Landing at Hukilau in the middle of Laiea is difficult for an irshman.....no booze. Then on a Sunday to boot with no stores open for even a sip of any type.

Thanks to Duck for the ride and the limes. Some day I will be collecting golf balls too.