Thursday, September 04, 2014

Laborious Labor Day Flying at the Crater

It's been a while since I wrote anything for the flying rag. While I don't seem to have the punctuality Alex has, I figure better late than never. I do manage to squeeze a few flights in here and there, but I barely seem to get an acknowledgement in the chat box, with my occasional tandems and quick flights on the F-Gravity. I did get a concerned phone call the other day, after I took off between squalls and didn't show up at the landing zone before it was in the middle of a torrential downpour. I had fled the scene to land at a campsite in Waimanalo. And last month I got a nice flight in at Nova’s stomping ground, Muscle Rock.

I've been a busy grounded monkey on the weekends, working on Steve's and my place. Homemoanership is the term of the month. I thought we could be on the chase Saturday afternoon, but we were still working on the place till late Sunday night, and I was so happy it was a three day weekend, so there was a chance, despite the light and variable blip forecast, for a cross country flight I so badly wanted.

I was awakened by Kris and Steve Monday morning, with an offer to attend the morning jiu-jitsu class, and I declined a morning of intense exercise and grappling to save my strength for flying. After running a quick errand, I headed to Makapuu while in contact with Jorge, Thom and Alex, who was lamenting his lack of enthused companions for a trip to the west side.

I arrived at the landing zone for a quick chat with Shawn, who had bombed out from Juice to the parking lot. I headed up to the lookout to follow Alex and Thom, who had charged up the hill to Cactus already. I encountered Jorge, who was seriously considering Manics, before I told him the windsock was pointed way right of flat island at the landing zone, and then off we went.

At Cactus there were a few in the air already (Frank, AK Chris, Tommy RD, OE Jim) with Alex, Thom, Jorge, and myself setting up under the watchful eye of Serena, who was headed for a hike. After watching Thom struggle as the direction shifted more east, I was the last off, using the east facing bowl.

I was making a lot of adjustments to the harness settings on the Delight I still had on loan from Jorge, before I headed to three poles. The Icepeak twins were already skyed out and setting up, with plans to fly to Koko Crater and back to Makapuu in their heads.

I caught a snot rocket to 1,600 feet and lost Thom, who was boating around three poles/hang launch. On my second climb, I managed to not find a ton of sink after leaving the thermal, and got a nice lifty transition line to Koko Crater, arriving well over the rim to play with Alex and Jorge.

The thermals over the crater were strong, small and nasty, if you chose to dive into them, but the ridge was smooth and easy to work in the 1,000 foot range. I wanted a thermal warmup, but I got a rodeo instead. I watched Alex and Jorge chasing each other into those snot rockets without seeming to have a lot of luck, getting a solid if sketchy looking climb and then sinking right back down to me, over and over again, after drifting towards the west end of the crater. It was really easy to cruise and maintain about 1,000 feet in some mellow lift, but climbing out above that required some commitment and some really active piloting, combined with active butt clenching.

Alaska Chris came over to join us as well, easily arriving above the crater rim and staying there, flying up and down the south spine above the blowhole for some spectacular views. I am sure we will be seeing the video. He has successfully flown the crater more than I have in probably the last three years.

After watching them battle for a while, I decided to dive in and try to get back on the horse. The horse kicked my ass all the way up to about 1,600 feet before kicking me off. As I got the boot, Alex was trying to get Thom to come over from Makapuu, but he was convinced we were exaggerating how easy it was over at the crater. He was sure we were all below the crater rim, and short someone who had sunk out, or was out of visible range, until he finally noticed me above the back crater rim. Even so he still was in denial, and due to his folly, he was flushed with everyone else at Makapuu as the wind started to blow offshore there.

Steve was hoping to fly after jiu-jitsu, and texted me to ask if it was any good, so I texted him a picture I had just taken of Alex. Unfortunately he arrived at Makapuu just as the last person was flushed, and the rest were hiking down from Cactus.

I got a few more nice climbs, and started to get my tolerance back, or maybe I just got too tired to care. Jorge and Alex did some tentative probing, to see if they could venture back to Makapuu, but the rotor from the lighthouse back at the valleys made it inadvisable. I did a push with Alex in that direction, after a nice climb that put both of us above the crater in the 1,700 foot range, but I decided to call it quits after one more quick run to the crater, where we gave Sandy some directions on where to park with the Bavarians in tow for their own crater flight.

I had a nice landing at Sandys just in time for a barley soda mission with Thom, for some after flight refreshments in the park. After the Thom Taxi dropped us off at our vehicles, back at Manics and Crazys, I headed to the Makapuu landing zone. Alex was in a hurry to head home, but he made a 180 degree turn after seeing so many people hanging at Makapuu, where Kris, Steve and the dogs were waiting with more tasty beverages to draw him back. It was good to get back into some active air. Lots o' pilots, and can't wait for some more cross country action.


sandy said...

Mucho Mahalos for your help, Scrappy, in guiding us to the trail. It'd been so long since I was last there, I wasn't very confident I could find it.

John and I were stopping to check Manic's on our way to the LZ when we encountered Peter and Wolfgang after they had just hiked down from Cactus. While they were up top, the breezes were coming simultaneously from a variety of directions, including over the back, depending on where you stood on the hill. As your group was already soaring Koko Crater and with the new easterly flow, Ike suggested the visitors might be able to launch from the Crater. I was dubious, but they were game for an adventure, so I offered to guide them (as best I could from vague memory). I'm sorry I did not know Steve was there, perhaps he could've joined us.

We found the best conditions I've ever felt at low launch; moderate thermic cycles on a base of trade flow. I was still a doubter, and the flyers above were surprised that low launch would be working, so a valiant Jorge ventured toward us to test the conditions, or at least tried. He could hardly get down!

The four of us had nice launches, and for the most part found easy lift. John unfortunately had a harness issue forcing him to land at the verboten field below, then hike out toward the highway. The thermals were still working for us, despite the increasing clouds. Finally a few of those clouds looked more menacing, driving us to the LZ.
Many thanks to Thom for the ride back to the cars. Sorry we missed the soiree at the Makapuu LZ, but the delicious conditions at Sandy's made for a super-fun kiting fest. A great end to the 3-day weekend. I'm really glad I got my gear and went :-))

Thom said...

Dam gonna have to NOT pick on this kid as much! Great write up and I am glad you left out the expletives, that you must of heard, when you hooked into that big climb at MPU and left me hanging.

Now that we know you can write, you'll be hounded after every flight.

Well Done

Knowvah said...

It's Mussel Rock, Scrumpy.

I miss Mockapoo so much!