Sunday, February 22, 2015

Crater Aviators

This February just keeps on giving up amazing thermic days. It’s been the best month for thermaling and flying cross country I can remember in many a winter. Maybe it’s global warming. Or just a perfect El Niño effect. Whatever it is, I like it. Today a slew of pilots flew Koko Crater in a variety of conditions. A few of us were lucky enough to bite into the chewy thermic center of that delicious Koko confection, spinning up to cloud base at 2,500 feet and then thermaling along a street of little puffy clouds all the way to the Makapuu lighthouse and back.

Shawn, Frank and Jetflap made up the early shift, and they sounded the alarm to bring out the troops. I heard Jon Goldberg was kiting at Sandys early as well. Dave brought his small wing because Frank made it sound strong, but it turns out it was actually pretty light, and a bigger wing was the call. Jeff flew one of his best flights there, breaking a nine year jinx. London Harry flew a record four hours over the crater, ridge soaring the thermals like a champion.

Thom, Divot Steve and I launched for the second shift, along with Shawn for his second try. Shawn took an unfortunate flush cycle to the field below, but the rest of us scratched and thermaled our way high above the crater, and then connected the clouds to reach the lighthouse before returning. It was the first time Steve had even stayed up there!

Sandy and Johnimo showed up for the late shift, along with Dave for his second try, again in a small wing. The wind seemed strong as they hiked up but waned considerably by the time they launched. Dave scraped his way to Sandys and Sandy flew Jim’s Skywalk to the field below launch. Thanks to Ginny for the ride to the trailhead and for the good vibes she sent to the XC crew from the LZ. Thanks to Divot for the Alaskan Hopothermia Double IPA.

We heard that Heckle and Jeckle (I mean Steve and Drew) were spotted on launch at Kahana in the afternoon, determined to get flights despite the east-southeast flow. I would love to know how that worked out!

I forgot to turn on my track log until I was halfway to the lighthouse, but at least I recorded a little bit of that epic flight. Here's to more surprising adventures like that before this winter's through!


Thom said...

OMG, I have been bitching, if you can believe that, about how the flying has been iffy as AKJack would say this season. Alex is always the positive monkey. He said we have had great flights and reminds me of the ones I have had, ok their not many miles but pretty darn memeorable.

Koko Crater has fond mememories for me. It was the first place I launched under the Reaper. This was the snarkiest thermals I have ever had here. Took one of my biggest collapses and a few smaller ones.

Thanks to Steve for his expert thermal sniffing for saving my bacon on the way back from out lighthouse attempt. Steve got the thermal award for today scratching up from the trees to hang with me and Alex.

These reminded me of the Butte at Chelan. Strong and punchy with sharp wing cracking edges. Too much fun for me only flew for an hour. But Harry, the crazy brit stayed up there from the first crew and was last to land. Guess he has to get his fill before heading back to the desolate flying of England. Way to kill it Harry.

It's Time to Fly, Get Your Rowdy Thermal Booster and Go!!!!

Divot Steve said...

I was a little worried this would be another extended sledder to match my two other only flights at KKC. I was a bit more determined this time. I looked around on the ground for a good thermal trigger. I was at about 250' looking at the yellow portion of the field that Shawn had landed in and decided I had two good turns to make a landing if that wasn’t throwing off some air. It paid off and I got up to find with Alex, Thom, and Harry over the crater. It was a little unnerving to all of a sudden hear gunfire.
I saw Alex start heading towards AD's and the lighthouse ridge. I forgot my radio, but I figured I would just follow and see what would happen. Thom was right behind Alex and the three of us split up to hunt for thermals. There was a little rockin and a little rollin, but we made it out over the ridge almost. Thom was really low and then I saw Alex tag the lighthouse but not really going up over the ridge so I started heading back.
Popped another thermal up and Thom joined me for that bronco ride. I think this was the first time I saw the tops of their wings. Flew back to the KKC and then the beer suck hit. I finally got to land at Sandys Beach. Thanks Alex for showing the way down Cloud Street.