Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lift Lines

Sometimes the lift on a cross country flight is not organized so much into thermals as it is into lines. Yesterday was one of those days at Kahana. It was certainly not a perfect day: conditions were pretty light and almost too east, and the lift lines were forming well out in front of the ridges and over the valleys. At least a half dozen pilots flew, and three of us followed some interesting lines to the Punaluu ridge, and later back to Kahana, hitching rides on fuzzy cloud bellies whenever possible.

Thom’s flight was the most heroic of the day. He launched well after Mad Dog and I had benched up high, and he got the worst of the super east flow. As Thom was struggling to get away from the launch ridge, Woody came over the radio and said it would not be a good time to land at the LZ - his student Mark had just got lifted up 50 feet off the beach by a rotor gust, and there were cycles blowing offshore. We were getting some really mixed up air up high at cloud base as well.

Woody’s comment was all I needed to send me straight over to Punaluu, with Mad Dog close behind. Good luck with that easterly rotor flow, Thom! But thankfully, he managed just fine, and he later said it really wasn’t that bad. He joined us at Punaluu and we flew all over the ridge there, trying to figure out the thermals and lift lines. Once again the best lift seemed to be away from the hill, especially when there were nice cloud bands showing us where the lift was.

Soon Mad Dog started exploring lines back to Kahana, and I followed close behind, skeptical but interested in the challenge. On our second or third try we managed to pick a great line that seemed worth committing to, and the two us chugged over there and pulled in low over the pastures to eke our way around the rhino horn. I remember thinking (and saying on the radio) that it was the lowest I’ve ever pulled in there. On a day this easterly that is really a tough return trip.

Thom had stayed behind to bench up higher, and he said he didn’t think he’d make it, but he was giving the return trip a try anyway. I had a feeling we might be picking him up at the beach park! But his heroic nature kicked in, and he clawed his way around from behind the rhino horn, lower than I can remember seeing anyone do it. He almost top landed on the little bunker in the jungle down there.

Kevin and Seattle Pam were still up at Kahana when we got back. After a couple of failed attempts at bay crossing in the super easterly flow, we finally landed and celebrated yet another interesting trade wind cross country day. And I was happy to score a nice little FAI triangle! But really, the day belongs to Thom. Nice flying, dude! Between your very solid flying skills and the excellent performance of your trusty old Cayenne 4, you are easily keeping up with a couple of crusty old farts flying some pretty hot ships. With this current trend of consistent flying weather, I know you will be usurping my undeserved pole position in the league very soon!


Thom said...

Thanks Alex.

Yes it was the lowest I ve ever returned from Punaluu 465' to first beep. I was object fixating on the cows in the field and you and Mad Dog said stop looking at those cows. I did and squeaked it up.

Mad Dog is suppose to post his score that day which should put me into 3rd. i am hoping your mom can find a reason to keep you grounded long enough for me and The Mad Dog to push you down a few.

It was a lumpy challenging flight. I have always favored my Cayene4, just feels good. Good thing too cause I lost my A4 to a buddy in Seattle,who I know will kill some records with it.

1/2 the year almost gone and no flights in the 100s. The world is a changing place.

It might be Time to Fly, so go anyway, Get your Gear, change of shorts and Go!!

Thom said...

I saw that pod flapping in the video. We gotta fix that that is huge drag.