Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Epic Tales of the Sky Surfers: First Oahu Downranger

Today was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It was also the best $2.50 I have ever spent. This morning I found myself at Makapu Ľu, Oahu's southern tip, with a really big backpack. I set my eyes towards the North Shore and northward I went with my inflatable flying machine!

The gentle climbout next to dozens of smiling spectators from around the world was epic in itself! After I quickly buzzed the lighthouse I pursued my first goal, "The Green Wall." This unique masterpiece of natural landscape consists of a tropical rainforest secluded on a sheer 2,000 foot cliff mountainside. It is home to a mysterious jungle that is often shrouded in clouds. To be fully connected in a three dimensional dance powered by the wind over this most magical tropical mountain range leaves me more than breathless. It was heaven.

After this point my primal hawk brain kicked in. Today is the day. 3,400 foot cloud bases, consistent climbs and winds aloft in my favor. I suppose this is when the rock and roll started playing in my mind.

I'm always fascinated by psychological peak performance. It can often be described as a "flow" with the energy around you and within yourself. Being in the "zone" rids your mind of all things but the task and moment of right now. That's exactly how I felt as I pushed the speedbar pointing north. My Gin Boomerang GTO sprinted downrange in excitement as I connected with my machine.

I landed just short of the state record, and behind my buddy Thom's best, but that wasn't my goal. Today, I was a bird. Regardless of records, track logs, and average speeds, this was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

One of my favorite parts of cross country soaring is the adventure that awaits when you land in the unknown. Today I landed in a tight farm field which yielded the kindest Laotian farmers who offered me tangerines, a fresh cut coconut and a ride to greater civilization. It was a wonderful grounding and organic experience after surfing the skies!

Since I was a boy I was most inspired by those who could read nature like a book, especially those who could read the air. Those who can translate the story and energy of the sky have impossible capabilities; impossible until they do incredible things with that energy alone. I am honored to have learned the language of the skies and I know it is a language that one must actively learn each day. Today, that understanding took me on one of the most incredible adventures.

As for the $2.50, that was for the bus rides back across the island.


Alex said...

James, thanks for sharing the story, and the tracklog. What a great flight! Very few of us have (successfully) crossed Boogaland. One day I will try again! JK said this day was not about thermaling. That might be mostly true, except for the mother of all low saves you pulled off in Hauula. Riding a narrow and steeply tilted corkscrew from 1,400 feet back up to 2,800! You almost landed in Hauula, but you thermaled back into the game for a trip to Malaekahana. I look forward to many more exciting flying stories from you.

I'm also super proud of the other flights the guys made today. Mad Dog and JK both flew from Makapuu to the Pyramid and back, to peek into Boogaland, logging over 40 miles. That's already a record out and back distance. But Mad Dog didn't land! He hit that flight out of the park by doubling back for another round trip to Hygienics, logging 75 total miles. Mad Dog invented the double chronic a few years ago at Kahana, but I never realized he had just been practicing for this flight!

Also Thom noted on the chat box that he flew to the H3 and back, another great XC flight. And I see from Jorge's Facebook pictures that he flew at least to Temple Valley, maybe with Veso, and a red and white Ozone wing I don't recognize.

What a great day. Thanks to everyone for posting pictures and track logs so those of us who are out of town or otherwise unavailable can share in your adventures.

Thom said...

Wow, Now this is a staff writer. Not only did he beat the dead line of 7am but etched a great recount of his day.

There were other epic flights as well. Jorge & Veso to Boga Boga and back. Veso also took a tandem to the Pali and Back. Ike to Pyramid and back. JK & Co.Kevin to Olomana then later JK to Pyramid and back. Co.Kevin followed MadDog on 2n trip not sure where he ended up. MauiTim to Puakona and Back. As for MadDog (so appropriately named) to range behind Kahana and back beyond lighthouse then to Hygenics and back and then to a bush on the LZ for quite sometime. FiremanDave with a late start took the M6 for a spin to Puakona and back, we left the light on for him.

I had an interesting day. Worked till 1130 was so excited to get to MPU I forgot my XC bag was in the garage. I flew my reversable with the Cayene4 and my vario/gps died at Puakona and I dropped out making it back to Waimanalo Ball field. Got a ride back with TommyRD. Reaper was on his way and had grabbed my gear in the garage. second flight was on made it to H3 where I turned and followed Mad Dog from his 2nd trip north. He had to go bad and must of been on speed bar all the way. I did a truck stuff and took out the Freestyle for a spin. Flew all 3 of my wings today. This was a good day.

I am going to add the roll call here as best I can remember it. One of our largest roll calls as well.

Roll Call: JamesA, Jorge, MadDog, Veso, MauiTim, Dusty, Jakob, JK, Ike, Sidehill, JetFlap, Reaper, TurboBob, Co.Kevin, Frank, TommyRD, Quentin, RayVanC, Jon Goldberg,FiremanDave, Roland, Kevin, Alegra, Jonathan, Sebastian, George, Joey, MauiDoug,
Multiple flights were had by several pilots, Mad Dog just never landed. The debriefings lasted long as well but not as long as MadDog was in the air, not even Reaper is that long winded.

Great job today, I hope we can get a few more chunks before Doomesday arrives. Brett could not get through the border but SkyGodDoug is town.