Thursday, June 19, 2014

Perfect Days

We all have our own idea of the kind of flying day we might call perfect. Some of us like to think we are more parsimonious with that designation, but the day before yesterday at Kahana met even the stingiest criteria for perfection. We flew all day until dark, roaming the surrounding valleys, peaks and shorelines with abandon, from Mokolii islet to Goat island, climbing to rare lofty heights around the sparsely scattered clouds above Sacred Falls.

The previous day was almost perfect, although for some reason I had to enjoy it mostly by myself. Maybe because it was a Monday, when most honest god fearing folk are knuckling down to start their work week. But thanks to Woody's reports and advice, I happened to accidentally score the nicest two hour window for cross country flying between squalls and gust fronts.

But Tuesday dawned magnificent and flawless. Thom got up to launch first, along with Woody and Drew, and conditions were trending lighter at that point. Thom went so far as to call it light and thermic over the radio, just to get me drooling with excitement. I followed Mad Dog up the hill with visions of hooking some fat juicy thermals and reeling those suckers in to cloud base over and over. But when we got to launch, it had filled back in to more normal levels, and we boated up to cloud base without much effort. If that was a thermal it was the fattest one I ever hooked. It was so fat it blanketed the entire ridge line. I barely had to turn to center the core!

Rather than cross the bay, Thom dashed off to Hauula first to verify my theory about maximizing the points for an XC league score. I started about fifteen minutes behind him and it took me a while to catch up, but after tagging the shopping center in Hauula I came back to find him working his way up at Nipple Hill. Also known as Puu Waiahilahila. Meanwhile we had watched Mad Dog barely dip a toe into the air above Punaluu before rushing back to Kahana and then across the bay out of sight. He was on a mission. The rest of the day he would be mostly invisible to us, an orange blur streaking across the sky. If we blinked we missed him.

I spent a lot of time at the Punaluu ridge above Sacred Falls, gazing down at the headwaters below from a rare vantage point at three grand. It's been a long time we've had enough headroom for a view like that. Cloudbase wasn't that high, maybe 2,100 to 2,600 feet or so over the course of the day, but the clouds were sparse enough that it was quite comfortable for us to climb up above cloud base, heading out front occasionally to avoid the fat ones that drifted our way.

After that, Thom and I flew a nice leisurely long leg to the far flung islet of Mokolii at Kualoa, before turning and making our way back to Kahana. I landed after only one wide loop, the widest of the day, to check on my mom, who was alone at the ranch in Punaluu. Meanwhile Thom and Mad Dog continued their flights, adding more loops and lines for another two hours.

While I sipped a beverage and made dinner for my mom and family, I glanced up to see Thom and the orange blur tearing up cloud base above Punaluu. As dark fell and my family and I were just sitting down to eat, I got a text from Thom saying they just landed. Wow! Four hour flights for both of them, and two very solid scores on the XC league: for each of them this day gave them their second highest scoring flights of the year. Thom's last leg to Kualoa and back to Kahana was a bit short though, so his first Hauula leg ended up counting for his score instead, because it was a bit longer. He landed at Kahana where Donna was waiting for him with a glass of grown up grape juice. Mad Dog maximized his score by extending his last leg as far as he could downrange, landing at Hukilau where Jeannine was nice enough to pick him up in the dark.

Of course we could ask for higher cloud base and lighter, more thermic conditions. But let's not get greedy. This was a perfect day in my book. I look forward to many more like that!

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