Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Yes We Can

Our trusty tradewinds are back, after a very long winter vacation. But they seem to be grumpy about something. I don’t know what we did to make them mad, but they’re super strong and rainy and sometimes super east. The forecasters are grumpy too. According to them, we can’t fly these days. But Oahu pilots say, Yes We Can. For each of the last 10 days, the forecast has been at least 15-25, sometimes with gusts to 40, not to mention showers, either frequent or numerous or likely, or heavy at times, or occasional or scattered, oh, and some thunderstorms. So was it sometimes rainy and gusty and probably too windy? Yes It Was. Were the trails turning into waterfalls? Yes They Were. But did we fly every day? Yes We Did.

At least fifteen pilots have proven the forecasters wrong over the last 10 days, braving the muddy trails and windy conditions at Kahana. Half of those days turned out to be pretty decent for XC flying under big wings, and the other half were more suitable for zipping around locally on tiny little wings. Most of the tiny wing days were great for unlimited top landings and refills. A couple of days we flew really short flights between crazy rain showers and counted ourselves lucky. That’s the executive summary. For details of each day, read on.

Last Sunday, Duck and I decided Dillingham looked possible in the northish flow, and it didn’t look too rainy, so we headed out, stopping at Waimea to see if Drew and Marc would join us. They were like, um, no, it looks super rainy. So we continued without them until the turtle traffic got too bad, and the Dill numbers got too strong, plus it really did look rainy there, and Kahana numbers started to look okay. At that point we turned around and headed back to Kahana. Reaper drove under us as we were flying on the most hideous rainy Sunday under the lowest clouds imaginable. Clouds were just above the rhino horn, like 800 feet. He called me and left a voice message scolding me for being up in the air on a day like that. Thanks for looking out for me, Reaper! Duck and I couldn’t figure out why the rain never quite blew onshore to drench us, but we made the most of it with a crazy low XC flight to Kualoa and back.

Monday dawned rainy with low clouds but cleared up fast and the clouds lifted above the whole range. The forecast was for 15-25 but it turned out to be pretty light and north and thermic. Some folks struggled to get up in that light north flow and some even hiked down. But man was it good for those of us who got up. I flew my first chronic in months, followed closely by Juneau Gerry. Marc got his first flight on his Delta 3. Kevin showed up out of the blue and joined us across the bay. Duck was there on his IcePeak 7. It almost looked like a day we could fly to Makapuu! But I heard it was super strong and north there. 8 pilots today.

On Tuesday we got a rare passel of eastsiders to join us. The forecast was strong again but it turned out to be good for big wings. Ike, Shawn and JK buzzed around locally under a super low cloud base, while I flew another chronic under those low clouds. It was tricky but super fun. 8 pilots again today.

On Wednesday we dodged showers and flew little wings. Super nice conditions, unlimited top landings, 6 zeros and a firefly.

On Thursday, Juneau Gerry and Jack, me, Duck, Erik, Drew and Eddie flew big wings, super low clouds and super east, and occasional showers, XC to farthest Punaluu, and lots of cold refreshments.

On Friday we had another good day for XC flying under big wings, and even though the clouds were low we flew all over the place. I flew a double chronic and ended up at Hukilau, for my second highest scoring league flight this year. Even Thom joined us for a rare XC flight, but he had to leave early. Marc flew with us too and also had to leave early. Drew and his brother Eddie were stalling and SATing over the bay. Juneau Gerry coaxed his buddy Jack across the bay for the first time and they flew to Kualoa and back. Duck flew the later shift. Thanks to Gerry for the ride back from Hukilau!

On Saturday Erik and I flew short flights on small wings between showers. Duck and Marc and Drew and Eddie joined us for refreshments. Then we retired to Duck’s house for fresh homemade bread, with grilled meat and other goodies. Thanks Duck!

On Sunday Duck and I flew small wings in very strong conditions.

On Monday, it was finally not super rainy, but man was it strong. Erik, Duck and Marc joined me to fly small wings in very strong conditions. Marc didn’t find it strong at all, in his tiny speedster, and he soared up to two grand for a couple hours of zipping around at cloud base.

On Tuesday, it was again not rainy, but still on the strong side, even for the small wings. Drew and Marc joined me to fly small wings. We top landed a bunch and zipped around for a few hours.

Not sure this story has a moral but if it does, it’s something about making it happen. Even when the forecast is terrible, even when the rain is pouring down everywhere, and the wind is howling, we can fly. Yes We Can.

Roll call: me, Duck, Drew, Marc, Kevin, Ian, Thom, Ike, JK, Shawn, Drew’s brother Eddie, long lost Erik, Juneau Gerry and Jack, Big Island Frosty, and possibly others I’m forgetting. Thanks to the Alaskans for all the delicious refreshments every day!


JD said...

Great recap of the flying you all have been doing. Thanks for the great read!

Unknown said...

Alex- thanks for a few rays of hope in an otherwise dreary forecast. Third day back “home” and I’m still on mainland time apparently. 4am and I’m rechecking the weather sites and trying to guess where the small windows of opportunity might be...


Gerry Donohoe said...

Alex, Thanks for the memories....another epic week of flying in paradise for us Alaskans....6 out of 7 days of eat, sleep, fly, drink, repeat. Mahalo to all the monkees who helped us out on launch, inflight and with retrieves. We promise to bring more good wx next year.
Gerry from Juneau

Thom said...

Mahalo for the read,

I am depressed that I only got one flight all this time but at least I got the one.

Something about flying near whispie clouds is cool till you see droplets beading up and rolling down your lines.

Hopefully I will get to fly again soon before I forget how to.

For now I will just read of your exploits, if you keep writing them that is.

Nour said...

Nice documentation Alex as always! I definitely learn from your posts and most important the overall about what is possible and what is not with keeping in my current skill and what it can grow to. Thank you.