Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Olomana Ping Pong

Ping pong flights are what a few of us are resorting to these days. We ping a particular starting point, say, the Makapuu lighthouse, then we'll pong as far north as we dare go, which today was Olomana. Then back to the lighthouse, then back to Olomana, and then one last pong back to the lighthouse. Yup, just like a ping pong ball. It may sound monotonous, and frankly, when doing it alone it is, but when you're gaggled with a group, it's very interesting to see the different routes each takes on that given day in varying conditions. I am not trying to justify flying laps, although it has cut down on retrieves by sending folks back to the LZ. Monday was one of those learning flights.

The crew was small but well diversified in skills. Jorge, JK, Ike and myself headed down range and Tommy RD, Frank, Shawn, Garrett and AZChandler stayed local. We don't get to see many of Jorge's tracks, or any for that matter, so trying to stay in sight of him is the only schooling you'll get. He thinks we are pretty silly trying to score XC league points with these ping ponging flights. Thankfully Mad Dog, who's really not at all competitive, has graced us with track logs.

JK, Ike, myself were the first to launch, and like creatures of habit, tagged the lighthouse, then went off to Ironwoods to bench up like Pavlovian dogs, or in this case, monkeys. Jorge launched, leaned towards Manics, then headed down range from there. That's right: from there, never turning once until he reached Olomana. It was amazing to watch.

I was high at Ironwoods, apparently much higher than I needed to be, as I watched the speck of an IP7 ruffle leaves as it passed well below me. It was Jorge, and he just kept going. He leaned to the left and cruised along the Waimanalo bowl until he hit Puu O Kona. I had followed him from my lofty position and was feeling pretty good, but when he got to Puu O Kona, he just faced toward Olomana and rose up to my level, then higher and higher until he jumped on bar. From there my vantage point was diminished as the IP7 vapor trail was all that was left.

JK was trying an outside route along the beach, which somehow kept him pretty high, and then he angled in to Puu O Kona. Ike did the same route as Jorge, but along the ridge top of the bowl, stopping at every inkling of a beep. We three were now at Puu O Kona, watching Jorge specked out, losing very little as he pulled into Olomana. He still had not turned, by the way. He finally made some turns, and was back at cloud base when we heard him say: it's perfect.

Ike and JK were heading for the white room. Ike flopped on big ears early, to avoid such a contact, while JK waited to scratch the fluffy belly before applying the same. I was not far away from them, but was not getting the same lift, as they pushed forward to join Jorge. Finally I got what I felt was enough, and tagged along. They pulled into Olomana perhaps a tad too early. It pays to have indicators in front of you. They were flying tip to tip, sinking, and contemplating a land out at Rebar City. Oh, there is actually no more rebar. It's now all nice roads and vacant lots, so far anyway.

I decided to not take their same route. See, we learn something, by doing what is often called pimping. I pushed out further toward the ocean, got lift, and pulled into Olomana with more elevation than I needed. By the time we three were established, and Jorge still buzzing around at cloud base, he made an announcement: cloud base is too low to go any further, so I'm heading back to Makapuu. I was at three grand but ominously dodging developments as they formed. I agreed and headed out. While on glide, I looked around to find Ike getting up pretty high at Olomana's north side. Darn it, was he going for it? Was he going to turn left and head for the Pali? Suffering from FOMO, I turned to go back to Olomana and bench up again. Ike then pushed out and headed back towards Makapuu. I guess this was a good time to use the radio. I should have asked intentions first. JK had already dropped behind Olomana, leaning his way back to Makapuu.

The lifty stuff had left, and I was there holding the bag of lead. Dropping to 1,800 feet, watching the three of them head back to Makapuu, that lonely feeling started creeping in. Finally I caught one, not as high as before, but enough to make the trek straight back towards Puu O Kona. Jorge had taken the beach route, arriving back at Ironwoods at what appeared to be 600 feet. He loves to go low. JK, Ike and I ponged the light house. JK turned and headed back toward Ironwoods, while Ike and I bobbled around with the rest of the monkeys. I thought I was done ping ponging, since I didn't feel like getting the last two dots to maximize my XC league score. But JK was committed, since he has a limited amount of time to fly now, with his new job based in a place that Berndt calls "this place whose name we shall not speak." FYI, the place is (Guam), where Berndt often gets banished, and where JK is now based with United Airlines.

The sun was getting low, and I could see JK getting high again at Ironwoods, damn the bad habit. Well, being a good, non-competitive, compassionate hearted monkey, I trailed him. I couldn't let my buddy go alone. I just had to do the right thing. This time, JK took Ike's route along the top of Waimanalo ridge, and I took the valley route directly toward Puu O Kona from Ironwoods. Both of us pushed on toward the reservoir behind Olomana, with varying degrees of success. Then it was the long push back to Makapuu.

We enjoyed the scenery, and with these ping pong flights, you start getting little routes down, figuring out where there's lift and trying to avoid the cold sinky spots. Each time is a little different. Approaching Ironwoods, JK was well ahead of me. I knew it had clocked a little more east, so I stayed outside with an Ironwoods heading, while JK was ridge riding. He got low, and I left him behind, and just to add more space I deployed full, pulley-rolling bar. My low hour Delta2 eked away from his Delta1 like the IP7 twins usually do to me.

Finally we were on our way to complete the last pong. We hit the lighthouse, and then it was time to land and find a bush. Thanks to Jorge for letting us tag along and try to learn ways of flight from the guru. I am going to try this no turning thing, but when I do I will make damn sure I have bus fare.

The trades are back but the clouds are low so …

It's Time to Fly, Get Your Ping Pong paddle, serve one up and Go!!!

1 comment:

JKS said...

Learned a lot. Jorge has such a keen sense of where to find lift. We all chose different paths and saw the outcome in real time. They all worked but some worked better than others. Still processing. My biggest lesson was to realize the layers and appreciate what a bump of land can do to the air downwind. It's 3D out there.