Sunday, July 26, 2015

Makapuu to Lanikai

Not a creative title, but just a scribble to keep the log up while Alex is out of town. Finally, on a Saturday we had a showing of pilots. While I was on launch, Reaper asked me where I was going. I replied jokingly: to Lanikai and back. Like I really ever have a flight plan. I had an easy Crazyman launch and off I went.

I tagged the lighthouse first just in case it was a worthwhile entry. Then off to the great beyond. It was NE and fairly light so I thought a multiple trip flight may have been in store.

Puu O Kona was rough, almost at the top of my bump tolerance. I was alone there, but I could see JK and "Divot" Steve Phillips on their way. Should I tell them it's a butt whooping? Nahhh. I hit 3,000 feet and pushed toward Olomana, taking a nice wide line. I arrived there at 2,400 feet and I was going down, not finding heaps of lift, sinking to 2,000 feet before hooking a bronco up to 3,000 feet again. Well, I might as well go to Lanikai.

The plan was to go there, tag it, and then come back. On the way I caught a few little bumps and I mistakenly thought out loud: I got this! JK was on my heels, but then suddenly I found a cold spot just as I arrived within reach of the backside of Lanikai. I was in horrible sink, not enough to turn back and run, but hopefully I'd be able to at least scoot over the top and then maybe find a Lanikai thermal.

I made it to the front edge with 1,100 feet or less. I radioed out, "One way trip! I will be landing at Lanikai and the beach is crowded!" JK, seeing my plight, had enough height to turn and run, while Steve was scratching his way up on Olomana, having arrived for his first time there. I could hear him saying, "Okay, I am going down, is that development below a good LZ?" I was getting thrashed around and was never able to answer him, but he dug his way up and made it back to Makapuu. So did JK, who then turned again at the lighthouse to go to Maunawili and back. Nice score!!!

The beach was horrible, packed with people, and on our LZ was a tent, volleyball court and 100+ beach bums. This was not going to be good. I called Donna, and thank god she was home. She offered to run down to the beach and clear me a spot.

She called me back and had me on speakerphone while she asked the group of Marines if they could help clear a space for my unavoidable and predestined landing. They thought this was way too cool. From the air I could see a swath of people moving and the volley ball net coming down, while hearing the orders being barked by some of the Marines in charge. It was really cool to see how they cleared it so fast.

I spiraled in and gave them a great show. I landed for a standing ovation. Alex would have had sore eyes, because along with all the Marines were their girlfriends. A typical day at Lanikai, let's just say. Mochi was there too, and came and jumped into my arms. The girls all liked Mochi, the little chick magnet. I gave the tandem boys' number to several who seemed eager to get a flight. Oh, and then I did a beer run and dropped off a case of beer to my runway crew. Thanks again to our Marines who protect us every day and also did me a solid on this particular day.

Donna had to pick up Maile at Makapuu. How convenient! There were still wings in the air when I returned and more launching going on.

Some Firsts:
Dr. Bill Harris, at the young age of 86, got his first soaring flight at Makapuu, under the guidance of the Reaper. Perfect launch, great flight and perfect landing. Way to go Bill, and hats off to Reaper for fulfilling this pilot's dream.

"Divot" Steve Phillips made his first flight out to Olomana and back. The conditions were pretty rough thermal wise, but he hung in there.

Amanda and Holger, our visiting Aussies, got their first Makapuu flights. Thanks to Miami Eddie for the site intro.

Roll Call:
5-0, Frank, TommyRD, Jorge, Maui Doug, Flash, Scrappy, Divot Steve, JK, Sidehill, Reaper, Doc Harris, Eddie, Amanda, Holger, Ginny, Johnimo, and if I missed anyone, let me know.


Nick Johnson said...


I was wondering who landed at Lanikai, I haven't flown in so long I forgot everyone's wings! I was out in the water about halfway to the Mokes on my neighbor's outrigger canoe when I saw your approach. I also saw JK and Steve in the distance as well. I didn't see you until you were in the Lanikai bowl. I had no idea you had Donna come clear out the LZ prior to landing. It's funny because when we were launching the canoe I was telling my neighbor that the volleyball net was right in our LZ!

I kited a few days ago at MPU, so I'll be back in the skies soon!


Alex said...

Good one, Thom! By the way, in the really old days, 1000 feet at Lanikai was enough for those so inclined to hop over the back, on their crappy old gliders. I was never brave enough to try it until arriving there from Makapuu on that fun Superbowl Sunday with you this year. But that was on a day it was too light to even soar at Lanikai and I felt super lucky to get one chance to thermal up and back out. If you had time to soar you had time to wait for a good thermal! Next time you will score the out and back for sure! I don't think anyone has actually made it work all the way there and back yet without getting downed by rain or sink or other issues on the return trip. And after that, don't forget about the epic Makapuu-Lanikai-Kahana trip, just waiting for someone to figure out...we've seen all the pieces of that puzzle but no one has put them together yet.

firedave2 said...

I think Jorge did the Lanikai and back recently, and I remember Josh Cohn doing it ages ago, like 14 years ago.

I have done Lanikai, boat hill, dump to Paki a few times years ago. I even remember mpu to Kailua town, to Kaneohe. I always thought there is a lot of potential for thermalling around Kailua, E Lakes, dump on low cloudbase days. Since I lived close I thought I could work out all the thermal triggers. But, when good days came I often just ran to mpu for the sure thing. And now I don't live near.

I think the Dump hill above the Quarry Rd. holds lots of potential. I got lost last time I tried to get to the old launch.

Great flying Thom, I am surprised you couldn't find a nice towel to land on at the crowded beach. Good stuff

firedave2 said...

I forgot the Dump is in Class D. Never mind.

Alex said...

Yes, the dump is inside class D. Which we recently figured out is inactive on Sundays! I remember when Josh reached Lanikai but I don't remember where he went after that. I seem to remember he arrived so high he just turned around without even stopping to tank up. Or maybe that's just a tall tale growing taller. I thought Jorge was downed by rain just before completing his last attempt at the Lanikai loop. Perhaps that was the attempt before last. I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting for a track log. Jorge posted his track to the golf course earlier this year, which was very cool to see, but I'd sure like to see some more! And from you Dave as well!

Anonymous said...

This is Wes from Australia. I managed my flight Hawaii flight in fact my first US flight at Makapuu on Saturday, launching from Crazy Man. A bit shattered after landing at Honolulu a few hours before from Sydney.
Thanks to Larry Mac my host, to Jorge for signing me up and giving me a briefing and pilots on launch who held the wing.
Beautiful place and friendly people.
Impressed mightily by Bill's effort.