Sunday, November 16, 2014
I'm talking about Kahana. Of course it's one of our two most frequently flown sites. But it's mainly a summer trade wind site. We don't get many days flying there during the winter storm season. Today's post frontal conditions gave us a chance, but just barely. The northerly flow was really just too northerly today. Jeff and Jim got out there first, and they both gave it solid efforts, but they ended up at the beach. Jeff did a great job benching up in very turbulent air but couldn't quite make it work.
I ended up spending over three hours up there, kiting up and down the ridge, testing the airflow and direction. I took off once and sampled the air before top landing soon after. Meanwhile others hiked up, and waited a long time watching my antics and telling tall tales of paragliding exploits and carnage (Duck, Laddie, Thai, Thom, Scrappy). Thanks to Thom for bringing me a loaner antenna for my radio! Others arrived at the beach, but thought better of hiking (Reaper, Sandy, Kevin, and maybe others).
Finally at around 4 PM, it felt worth giving it a real try. Everyone else had hiked down, but I knew there were people on the beach watching me. I climbed above launch in a decent cycle, and tried a wide line around the rhino horn, but I started to sink as I approached, so I went back to the north ridge to work my way back up. This time I got a bit higher before burning around the corner, and I made it around the horn, but I was pretty low. The air felt like it was coming from the northwest down there, from Punaluu, and I was struggling to find lift in it. I got to the far corner expecting to get yanked up once I hit the far end, but the wind was splitting that corner. I managed to ride a few turbulent eddies just high enough to get into some really lifting airflow, and then I was climbing nicely. Whew!
I benched up quickly and headed across the bay, with what felt like a slight tailwind. Nice! I benched up over Kaaawa as the sun started to drop and I shivered in the icy cold north wind. Then I heard Jorge's voice on the radio. President! Where are you brother? I was thinking, oh crap, he flew here from Makapuu, and I'll have to tell him I waited all day and only just now got up over here. But then he explained that he was just arriving at Kahana in his car with Cade and Becca, after chasing it all around the island. Talk about getting after it!
Jorge, Cade and Becca hiked up, and Duck followed, leading a mission staffed by Scrappy and Harvey. Duck landed with speed bar issues, but the rest of them got up nicely, and Jorge, Cade and Scrappy soon joined me above Kaaawa to watch the sun set behind the mountains. It was a chilly and gorgeous reward for all the effort I'd expended the last few hours.
After I'd been up a couple hours the sun finally disappeared. The street lights were coming on, and I was freezing. I landed with a frozen smile on my face, followed soon after by the others. Thanks to Kris for saving me the last frosty beverage. We celebrated our good fortune to score a classic sunset cross country flight in brisk post frontal conditions.
Posted by Alex at 10:57 PM