Sunday, July 27, 2014

Clouded Minds

Cloudbase dropped so low yesterday that I really thought we weren't going anywhere, for once. But Duck was raring to go, after a month of missing out, and I was compelled to follow, afraid of missing out for even one second. We flew the lowest ever cross country flight to Kualoa and back, below massive towering fortresses of white, darting around them and climbing between when possible, to catch glimpses of their lofty turrets many thousands of feet above.

Visiting pilot Ulf from the Bay Area was excited to have his first flight at Kahana, despite the lack of a landing zone. We discussed the options, but he ended up top landing a few times rather than risk the beach. Great decision and great job with the landings. Drew and Steve did the same.

The clouds started off reasonably high, maybe around two grand, but after a line of squalls passed through, the base really started to sink. After tagging cloudbase at a miserably low 1,400 feet over the Rhino Horn, Duck had the crazy idea to set out across the bay. I watched him go and just shook my head. Like that was gonna work. But he rode the cloud bellies over nicely, and pulled in right at the knob. Then he sank below it. Remember, not only is there no landing option below, we can't bail to the beach at Kahana right now!

But then he climbed back into sight, riding the spin cycle of the washing machine up and out of there, foot by foot. He slowly benched his way up in the grovel pit, and then he finally inched his way across to Hidden Valley. Whew. That was all I needed to see. Let's go!

I followed, on a slightly higher and wider course, and then we tracked impossibly low lines below those misty towers between the ridges, from Kaaawa to Kualoa, out over Kaneohe Bay, and back to Kaaawa. We decided to land at Swanzys rather than risk any sketchy approaches at the Kahana LZ, where the tide was high by this point. Swanzys is always a better choice, with all that grass and a store right there. There were dozens of people camping down there and we got applause as we came burning in over the water, between the trees, and across the grass. I came in with loads of energy and managed a sweet hand drag before setting it down. Thanks to Drew for coming to get us after those guys hiked down. Thanks to Duck and Ulf for the refreshments!


Thom said...

Thanks for the coffee read. I missed it yesterday.
We flew Makapuu only getting up around 1500'. No XCs for us just pleasant air and boated around for an hour. Brandt & Mike were on Hangies and buzzing the crowd at Crazy Man Launch. Those guys are good.

We could hear some news from Kahana though you did not mention. Something about moisture streaming down the lines or something.

Hoping for some higher cloud base days to come before summer disappears.

Duck said...

Wow! I needed that! I have not had a flight in over a month. It was a great day, with low base and smooth air. I just had to see where we could go--Crouching Lion is much more of a committment now that our LZ is gone. So, it's just a matter of "riding the rotor" and getting to Hidden Valley to bench up.

Those are some great pics of my wing Alex!! Keep 'em comming!