Sometimes what happens after a flight can be almost as fun as the flight itself. Well, maybe not quite as much. After getting picked up after today's flight at Malaekahana by Alex and Duck with a fistful of Hoptimums, I got dropped off at Alex and Dorothy's new digs in Punaluu. While I had been there before, the three of us and Amelia went for a tour of the gentleman farmer's 9 acre chunk of Hawaii. Pretzel then offered to take the drive from Makapuu to pick me up, and sped me to Reaper's new 1st class digs and BBQ. Very cool. It is good to see that our wingman isn't struggling. Thom volunteered for the final leg back to my van sitting at Juice, which amazingly hadn't been touched at 11 pm. It was a very social retrieve experience, which I haven't had the chance to enjoy lately.
About the flight: what is there to say? I launched behind the tandem duo, Jorge and Doug on a very easterly (read SE) day, I got up, struggled past a lee-sidy Puu'O'Kona to the Pali and H3, and after H3 I could easily get above 3,000 feet.
I thought the frontside might be weak and difficult at the Pyramid and Kuuloa, and decided to visit an old friend that I hadn't seen in a decade. That would be Booga Booga Land, the stretch of the Koolau ridge behind Kualoa, Kaaawa and Kahana. I started sinking out at 2,200 feet, which while sounding high, seems really low in the high grounds devoid of appropriate landing zones. It forced me to get on my game, and not look down, milking a climb to 3,100 feet for the ride out.
By Sacred Falls I was at 3,300 feet, darting around clouds, itching to turn left for the downwind run towards Laie. But helicopters were sliding into Sacred Falls and climbing up the valley beneath me. As soon as one was leaving another one pulled in to do the same tour. I glided straight out to the ocean and turned at 2,700 feet.
An easy glide later, I set up to land at Hukilau Beach, but I still had 400 feet. I then turned and glided across Malekahana Bay, tree soaring, and milking the light lift. I couldn't quite make the golf course, but glided to the point, arriving 5 feet over a beautiful patch of lawn on the ocean with a gentle touchdown.
I never thought much of the day. I was almost expecting it to end quickly in Waimanalo. I forgot my radio, so I had no one to talk to.
I have 3 criteria for a good flying day:
1) Good windspeed
2) Good wind direction
3) High cloud base
Over the years, I have decided 2 out 3 is enough, and today fit the bill. The wind direction was a bit off, but never way off. Plus, if you wait until all three are right, you never end up flying and you end up old. Or maybe we just get old anyway. It was a super fun day, thanks to everyone along the way.