Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It’s a Hard Job (but…well, you know)

The Monday morning grind begins: coffee, e-mail, phone calls, texts. Clients begging for progress on longstanding requests. Five visiting pilots in town, chomping at the bit for tropical airtime on what is probably the last good flying day for a while, as the high pressure ratchets up the wind speed. On days like this you just have to split the difference: work til noon, fly til dark, then go home and work til you crash.

Speaking of crashes…wow, what a day. Poor Andi, one of the Swiss visitors, ended up low in the ravine behind the east launch ridge. He fought to get out of there but to no avail, and he landed down in the ravine, on a steep cliff above the stream, his wing draped over umbrella trees, very near where Johnimo augured in a while back. We told him to hang on, and two of us top landed and then ran down the hill and then back up the ravine to offer help. It was tricky to extricate the wing, but not as bad as it had been for Johnimo. We had to send our craziest monkey up the tree, but we didn’t need saws, just some strategic hand pruning. After an hour or so we were all back on launch, ready to fly again.

Some pilots braved the tiny beach landing options, but a small contingent were inclined to get up and go. It was super strong and east, but after three tries I managed to cross the bay, fighting my way up out of the grovel pit at Crouching Lion and eking slowly around to Hidden Valley. Thom tried to follow but wisely turned back. After a quick tour of Kaaawa, I returned to join him and Matthias for a trip the other way. Meanwhile Chandler launched and ended up following close behind us. I heard Frank and Five-0 Mike on the radio from Makapuu. Frank said his fun meter was pegged. I hope I never know what that feels like!

We flew to Punaluu, just the front side, and then to Hauula, a bit deeper there, in pretty strong lift, under pretty low clouds, with late afternoon sunbeams bursting through all around. It was a gorgeous time of day to be in the air. We all landed at Hauula where Duck picked us up and provided cold beverages, after having spent the day doing real work. Thanks, Duck! Then we had to debrief late into the evening, first at Hauula and then at Kahana, finally disbanding after dark.

What a long hard day of work that was. But like they say: someone's gotta do it! And I'm sure not complaining.


Thom said...

I got to remember to hit refresh every now and then.

JJJ has gone into retirement again. NO need to bitch if the coffee read is there way before the 7 am deadline.

Just wish sometime we could get another monkeys view. Bitchers can't be choosers. But that is another reason you got opposable thumbs, for the space bar.

Thanks for the write Alex and for twisting my arm to come and fly before the weather pins us down. Oh, twisting my arm to fly is like Alex 'working'.......you'll never see it!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Alex and Matti, thank you so so much for helping me getting my wing out of this umbrella tree. It was a hard job for you guys. I appriciate a lot. As i read you were paid out with an other epic flight crossing a few ridges. Congratulations. Hope we catch an other good day like this to fly together. Greetings Andreas

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Alex. Without his guidance this recovery would have been incredibly hard. So many counterintuitive things to consider...For example instead of crossing over to the next rigde directly from where we top landed we needed to go down to the road and walk up again from there. I probably would have broken my neck trying to climb down and up again those ridges...Furthermore Alex was in that tree for about 30mins "pruning" it and getting the wing out without a single damaged line. Awesome.
Not to mention the great flight afterwards, the lift and the beers. You guys are simply to good to be true! Many thanks to Chandler (ride), Duck (beers and ride), Sidehill (flying advice) and - of course - Alex.