Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Unanticipated Chronic

Yeah, yeah, yeah: "You non-jobbers fly all the time." Well, lately it has been a challenge to be there just at the right time. The unpredictability of our flying weather makes it truly difficult for me to schedule work around flyable times and be a true non-jobber. On Sunday, I got a flight to Hukilau that was one of my best lines, and I worked on speed bar using rear risers to adjust the pitch. It worked great, and with a little more tweaking, I may be starting a golf ball collection too. On Monday and Tuesday I got nothing, but Wednesday sure unraveled the sash cord on a window for me and the Prez.

I was doing a quick morning job, with hopes of a text from Alex that it just might be flyable. Work finished and my hopes were getting thwarted by a search of the sensors. Might as well do a Costco run and make the boss happy.

I was in line when Alex sent the text: "Last 2 readings are in the zone." I could not look at it right then, but hurried out and headed home to unload. Bobbing and weaving through the H3 trying to get a reading, and then another text from Alex: "May be a good Freestyle day." Shoots, that wing is out on loan, earning me some more lessons.

Unloading the Costco plunder did not take long, and I took another look at the sensors. Crap, I am going anyway. I have faith: it will mellow. When I arrived at Kahana, Woody and Alex were gearing up. Only one thing was said: "Let's go."

And go we did. Woody got a great flying yoga session, and Alex and I headed for the clouds. It was smooth, freakishly smooth. For a day that we were about to write off, it became a great one, for me anyway.

Every time I fly now, I am trying something different that I have pried from the brains of Jorge, Alex, Dave, Mad Dog and the other XC gurus in our midst. I am using speed bar more often now, and at varying degrees. Today I played more with the rear risers, and I left to cross the bay with minimal altitude and a wide line. The combo of wizardry that I brewed today worked. No grovel pit, just a clean shot to pleasant lift. Of course Alex watched this from his cloud perch above.

Trying to ride the lift over the lee side of the Kahana to Kualoa ridges is slowly dribbling into the bag of skills. Every time it's different, but Alex seems to grab it and get 300 feet higher than me all the time. I am getting better at it, but that memory of my OTB a few years ago will just not seem to fade. Maybe that's a good thing.

Alex tried to cajole me back to the Pyramid. Oh, I had no radio, so it was all done by gestures. I pushed out to Kualoa just to complete my track. A cloud came between Alex and me, so he was out of sight, and a push toward Chinaman's Hat was my diversion route to avoid the cloud suck. Once the cloud passed, so did Alex, back over to Kaaawa ridge. I had to get back up and was on the chase.

The clouds were perfect: just enough lift to keep you in zeros, with an occasional tug just to remind you who's the boss and not to get cocky. Alex disappeared a few times, but of course he was just on the other side from me. I caught him at Kahana and we headed to Punaluu. Alex arrived at 1,800 feet plus while I groveled down at 1,400 feet. The air at Punaluu was just as smooth, freakishly smooth.

A black bottomed cloud snuck up on me. Alex spied it earlier, but with no radio, a verbal from my wing man was futile. I turned to see Alex a ways out front, and turning. Wow, he'd found a thermal! Nope, my focus on the cloud slurping toward me made me realize he was actually spiraling down. I jumped on bar, got all my bearings and pushed out. I only grayed out, but enough for me to keep a steady fix on the GPS and compass. I popped out and was looking down on Alex's wing. Now that's something you don't see every day.

It was an easy push back to Kahana to complete my first Chronic in quite some time. A speedy landing was the call, due to the text I got from Alex in the air: "Cooler of blue cans in my car."

Thanks to all the intel that I have been slowly gathering through the years. Hopefully I will just keep learning and get better and better. The anticipation of the Unanticipated can only make you say,

"It's Time to Fly Get Your Gear....a Notebook.....and Go!!!"


Alex said...

Super fun day. The Chronic seems to have become a standard 12 mile triangle of upwind and downwind transitions. If we'd added a run down to the golf course or to MDKS we could have scored a round 20 miles!

I realize it's a weekday, but I am still amazed that we only have two guys chasing miles (and clouds) on such a pretty day. If we'd had more time it would have been fun to jump back to the Pyramid. Clouds weren't that high but we could have at least bounced there and back. Or it would have been fun to try. Once Logan's kayak season is over I will have a little more time to sink out and find my way back. But in the meantime days like this are really floating my boat.

Thom said...

Thanks for the edits and extra pictures. Thanks for the kick in the ass to go even when it looked dismal. Thanks for the little hints and flying techniques that are 2nd nature for you. Finally for the blue cans of celebration.

Lets do that again.....only better!

Geronimo John said...

I arrived just in time to see you both land... perfectly of course. Got a quick condition check and up the hill I went. My goal was a clean launch and landing. Being late and not wanting to push darkness (I'm having to use my second string back-up glasses) I decided to keep the flight short. Mission accomplished in fun smooth air.