I woke up at 3:30 am on Sunday. For some reason I couldn't go back to sleep [Editor's note: evil never sleeps], so I started working on my flight deck, in preparation for the morning to come. The blipmap was predicting a light north flow, shifting slightly to the east and getting stronger as the day progressed. The day did progress, but my plight would be to enjoy no upward progress, as penance for the underhanded deed that I am about to confess.
I started out looking at Makapu'u, thinking it was light enough and hopefully just enough east of north to make a go of it. The range looked great. Wouldn't it be nice to fly over the President's house from Makapu'u while he's still having his coffee. Well, that's how my thoughts started this fine early morning, and the white lies started flowing from there.
Makapu'u was blowing fairly strong already from the northwest, which, if you don't know already, is not good at all. I waited for a bit, and maybe just a bit too long. I was now heading for the Knob with sensor readings of great potential.
Needing a lucky charm, I picked up Ike. If he goes, it's gotta be good. We were on the road, aiming to arrive at the trailhead by around 9 am. Now that is pretty early for monkeys. While en route, I sent a few texts to the Prez. Like: What are you thinking for today? The first of many poor decisions was to unfold. I was sending these while en route, after a previous text stating that I was at Ike's having coffee.
The scheme that I had started was to get on launch before the Presidential motorcade had left the compound. I sent a text: Dill numbers look great, what do you think. He replied: Yes. I asked: When you headed out. Prez: Still drinking coffee with my sweetie, but leaving soon probably. I let him believe that I was still at Ike's when we were actually rounding Schofield.
9:08 am. As we were approaching the Dill, a gaggle of skydivers dropping in front of us, the phone rings, and it's the President. I almost blew it, squelching Wow, look at all the skydivers, but I didn't utter a word of my location, leaving the Prez in the dark, and hopefully in the dust as we planned on sending a surprise picture from launch. The only statement from me that I remember: Keep us posted on when you're heading out. He said, Sure thing. I looked over at Ike, and we thought we had him fooled.
Hiking up in silence, joined by Cmdr John and our visiting Swiss pilots, Pascal and Annette, I started feeling remorse, but it was more like antsy. I wanted to rub it in that we were here first, so I snapped a picture of Ike on the trail and texted it to the Prez, along with the text: Instigator he wouldn't let me tell you we are on the road. The white lie was now darkening as I tried to throw Ike under the bus, although the underhandedness was truly all mine.
John was the first to crest the launch, and as I approached, I could see his face, not smiling. The trail grass had been too high to allow us to feel the air ramping up, but once on the Knob it was evident. It was already getting too strong. John started to lay out, hoping for a lull to sneak off, and I was going to go right behind him, with the forecasted future of the day getting bleak. Ike had that look, and didn't unpack, while Pascal with his years of experience dropped his bag to enjoy the view.
I had to make the call: Mr. President, it's way too strong already, might be hiking down. Drew showed up with what we thought would be the right wing, a Firefly. He was the only one to launch from the Knob, but he went left and never could come back. John was determined not to hike down, since it's painful on the knees. Ike had already started down as John and I dropped down a few levels below the Knob. He laid out there, as Pascal and I watched. He got plucked backwards and straight up, and he pushed out front as fast as he could, going up and slowly forward. Pascal and I kept hiking down.
When we reached the grass line, Pascal asked about launching from a grassy area just off the trail. I told him to go for it. I felt guilty involving the unsuspecting visitors in my doomed trek on their last day. I kept hiking down. As Annette and I bushwhacked through, losing the trail somehow, we finally reached the bottom, to watch Pascal pull up out of the tall grass and get a flight.
He entertained us with big ears, asymmetric collapses and SATs, walking across the top of his rental as he flawlessly landed. Well, at least he got a flight. John landed on the beach as white caps backed him in. Drew had landed down toward the point, not able to eke his way back, but he got a flight. My aching knees and the wrath that I had brought onto our expedition would be the burden of my white lie.
Limping back toward the north shore to join smarter monkeys enjoying Eli's B-Day party, we came upon the motorcade. Alex, Woody and Duck were headed for Kahuku to do some dune soaring in the strong north flow. Ike and I were graciously invited to go, even after my poor judgement. I had never been to these secret dunes.
We watched the kiting masters, Woody and Alex, skip across the sand. Ike and I looked at each other, knowing that it was beyond our abilities, and we just enjoyed the show.
Alex never said a word about my underhanded indiscretion. I had visions of a firing squad. I don't think he pushed the 'Red' button on us, but he must have at least thought about it … I would have. Instead, he continued his stately manner by inviting us to dinner. Hiking down the Knob was a meager penalty that I had to pay, but so did Ike and Annette, and for that I am sorry. I will never try to put one over on the President again.
With my pardon in hand,
It's Time to Fly, and please don't Lie, Get Your Gear and Go!!