Air Force One's vapor trails away from Oahu had hardly evaporated, when legions of hungry pilots hustled out to Makapuu for some well needed airtime. This Sunday, Makapuu really gave it up for all us emus (flightless birds). The air when I arrived at the lookout was packed with all things flying: hang gliders, paragliders, tandems, RC planes and drones. The day looked awesome, with a high cloudbase covering the top, and a light NNE breeze to provide smooth lift. It had all the makings of a great day to head downrange.
I dropped the wife on the beach at Makapuu and ran up to the lookout, where all my flying friends were getting ready. I was so excited to actually fly my XC glider, as my M6 had hardly seen any daylight in 2015. Off I climbed, half waiting for someone to fly with, but it seemed everyone else was waiting for everyone else. So off I went to check things out downrange and it was just perfect, slightly north, but light and easy.
As I rounded the Pali, from Maunawili, I spotted a hiker at my altitude, about 2000 feet, climbing down a crazy steep spine, with even scarier terrain below him. I was close enough that I told him that it looked pretty nuts. He laughed and took my picture. On my way back two hours later I saw the Fire Rescue truck looking for someone in that area, but fortunately it wasn't that guy.
I was flying with my new instrument, the Naviter Oudie, that I had picked up from Jorge months ago, never having a decent day to fly with it. Well that thing is smarter than me. While we are pretty sure there are no Class D airspace restrictions on Sunday, my instrument told me when I was in the airspace circle or above the ceiling of 2500 feet. While I always knew that you had to stay high above Haiku Stairs to stay out of the airspace, I found that you have to pretty much pin yourself against the ridge on the Temple Valley side. Really challenging to avoid, if you choose to do so, or if you even care about those things. [Editor's note: we officially care about those things.]
By Waiahole, the lift was sparser, and Alex and the gang were catching up. I headed over behind the Pyramid, thinking I might slide through Boogaland, but the clouds were lower and mist was falling, and I was bucking the north wind going into Tiger country. So I turned around to head back and met up with Alex. He was still headed my way so I turned again to give Boogas another look. But again the mist was falling and the north wind was in my face, so I turned back to Makapuu for good. There was a lot of chatter on the radio about pilots being cold and having to pee, which inspired me to pee from my pod for the first time. It actually worked really well in the smooth air, with minimal splatter; I was now warmer and ready for more. I guess everyone headed back at the same time, because where there had been at least a dozen pilots following behind me on the ridge, I passed no one on the way back. From the Pali on, I was into the speedbar. It is cool how much faster the return often is, with a bit of north wind, and knowing where all the day's lift is to be found.
When I returned to Makapuu, Kim called to tell me she was waiting for me. The whole day I was trying to throw hints that she should just head home and leave me to my 'slight' flying addiction. It was only 4 pm, and I was thinking I might sneak in an additional Pyramid and back speed run in the two hours before dark, which in the XC league would give me a respectable 80 mile flight. But the wife and the large party at the LZ drew me in, and I headed in for a beer and hijinks with flying friends.
There were many stories of the day: Maui Tim ended up in Maunawili at the golf course; JK went the Olomana way and spent 45 minutes scratching to get up; Gaza was flying far and freezing in his M6. The stories were flying as well as the beer bottles.
Great fun! I can't wait for more days like this.
Monday was reportedly great: Slacker flew to the Mac Farm, and Thom flew to Punaluu and back to land at Kahana, both flights starting from Makapuu. The eastside XCers are getting fired up after a long layoff. It is already a better year than 2015.