My name is Sidehill … and I am a flyaholic. There is no excuse for missing a day of flying, no matter what the traffic is like to get there, no matter what the weather looks like, no matter how muddy the trail is. But launching with no LZ is truly a sickness. Yes, Kahana is still open for flying, but if you're thinking of doing it, you better be able to top land, or land out, because the beach is minuscule. The keyhole is gone, and the walk from the trees to the water is two or three steps. A few did make it to the beach yesterday, and thankfully there very few campers and no one was on the beach. It was on the sketchy side as the following debriefing will attest.
It was Friday, and I had no work planned, so you all know what I was going to do: fly, cause I have to. I can't help it no matter how hard I try to stop. Okay, I really don't try. The morning was gorgeous, but cloud base was low on the Koolaus. I got hold of Maui Doug, who was in the air at Makapuu, and he reported that it was strong, whitecaps off rabbit, and very lifty from juice launch. Then I called Alex, and what do you think he said about Kahana? You're right: It's perfect.
I grabbed Ike and we crawled off to Kahana. Road work was everywhere. We arrived and stood on the beach, side by side, cause that's all the room there was. Alex, Drew and Danno were already up on launch. We decided we would either top land or head for an alternate like Swanzy or Haaula. Oh, Punaluu beach is pretty minimal too.
We flew around the soupy clouds for 3 hours. Somehow we thought it was awesome, and for addicts like us, it truly was. When it was getting time to land, we all headed back toward Kahana. Drew had landed on the beach twice, once with his Firefly and once with his Golden. I heard he said the Golden landing was a little tricky. For those of you that do not know Drew, he is a decorated graduate of Soar Kahana Academy, and has logged countless top landings at Kahana under mini-wings and regular wings. He's one of the best spot landers I have seen.
Danno's brief: he landed at the beach, but not the way he planned. He is a visitor from Canada. Enough said, those Canadians are crazy. He pulled it off, and said he would send us a video. He ended up landing in the grassy spot in front of campsite 10, behind the big tree at the boat ramp. None of us saw it, but some campers said it was pretty cool.
Alex is a fairly good pilot, and since coming back from Chelan he's actually using that third ball that we all knew he had. He made it in to the beach without me seeing it from the air. I was struggling to get back from Punaluu at the time, but Don may have watched it. Alex told Don he probably wouldn't try that again. Then once I was back, Alex stated that it was pretty easy and that we should both come and land at the beach. His only request was to let him know so he could get his video ready. Later on during the debrief Alex explained that he had actually messed it up: he was trying to get to the grassy spot at campsite 10 but it seemed too east to set up properly, then he got too low and was forced to make a sketchy beeline to the beach just after the small river mouth.
Don and I both decided that we were not going down there. I kind of thought about it, but you really got to have your game on to slide it in from low over the water, skim across the sand and dodge the overhanging trees. Another course at Soar Kahana is in order for me! I top landed, packed up and hiked down. I hate hiking down, but I really hate getting wet. Don decided to land at the shrimp ponds, which is a good alternative, but we don't want to make a habit of it and annoy the owners.
So, are you ready to fly Kahana? Now it is the weekend, and there were several tents being set up while we were debriefing, so what little beach there is will be in use. If you're not familiar with the new regulations of our launch sites under USHPA mandate, you must not land within 50 feet of anyone. There is not but 20 feet of beach and that's at low tide! If you can top land and hike down, good, as long as you don't sink out. Punaluu beach is pretty minimal too, and there will most likely be fisherman there. Shrimp ponds are okay, but if it's easterly it could be a rotor show. Swanzy Beach Park is another option, but you gotta cross the bay first. Hauula is always a great place, but again, you gotta get up.
Just want every one to think about it first, before you go up and take a chance. It is still doable, but there is no real bomb out LZ. FYI, if you do decide to fly and end up in the water, my rinse line is closed these days. So really think hard about launching Kahana until the LZ returns, which may be awhile.
It's Time to Fly, Get Your Gear and Go! Please think before you end up in the drink!