Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye, Cruel Year!

It’s the last day of 2018. Probably one of Oahu’s stingiest and most underwhelming years overall, as far as weather conditions or epic flights. Those of us committed to fly found ourselves up there on windier and rainier days than ever before, often under lower clouds than ever. Not to mention we survived unprecedented missile and hurricane scares! But for sure we still enjoyed a few notable flights and more than a few splendid moments in the air. Here’s to a New Year with more splendid moments for all of us!

I am taking a moment to reflect on this past year from the vantage point of five thousand miles of distance, and a few months into my 20th year of flying, here at my mom’s house outside DC. Going over my 1,673 pictures, 29 videos, and 166 XC track logs, and just a few blog posts.

Kahana: 122
Makapuu: 17
Dillingham: 8
Kahuku Motocross: 3
End Of The World: 3
Diamond Head: 3
Nanakuli: 2
Muriwai in NZ: 2
Karioitahi in NZ: 2
North Head in NZ: 1
Koko Crater: 1
The L on Maui: 1
Haleakala on Maui: 1

We saw some amazing flights and a few records broken this year! JK's flight to Boogaland was an unforgettable adventure for many of us! A couple of my flights from the knob at Dillingham counted as the farthest outlanding and also the farthest out and return from there. We enjoyed a few downrange flights from Makapuu this year, with JK logging the most and the farthest, despite how often he's away for work. Also we enjoyed a few rare pyramid tours from Kahana. And the highest scoring flight from Kahana without leaving Koolauloa, breaking 100 points. And some mini wing milestones, including bay crossings on even the smallest wings. I look forward to other people expanding those boundaries even further and setting new and bigger records!

It was a great year for me in pictures. Still just using my phone, but they keep making the camera better! I was very happy to get a couple of photos featured in our national magazine this year, including the cover. And Jorge published some great pictures of me in Cross Country magazine in the same month!

This year marked a sad milestone for my video production, but I have finally turned that frown upside down. The videos I like to make always feature popular music, and after 11 blissfully ignorant years posting to Vimeo, they sent me packing for copyright infringement. I know lots of people use popular music, and honestly I didn’t think anyone cared, but clearly Vimeo does care. The good news is that in recent years YouTube has come up with a clever licensing agreement to allow popular music soundtracks, by sharing advertising revenue with music publishers and recording artists. I don’t like to make my friends watch ads but it’s a small price to legally share my humble creations.

So I have painstakingly moved around 150 of my best videos from the last six years or so from Vimeo to Youtube, and that’s where my videos are all going now when I make them. Check out my channel! If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you are starring in my videos!

Because of the parsimonious conditions this year, I logged an uncharacteristically paltry 315 XC hours. But flying all those hours was the only way I had a chance to withstand several challenges for 1st place in XC points on the hard fought Leonardo Hawaii XC League! Frequency of flight is my only advantage over the great XC pilots here.

JK handily won the open distance category, a notable achievement, especially since he only logged 19 flights in Hawaii this year! Of course we should remember his longest flight had a rather unorthodox ending! Also Marc won the duration category for the Hawaii XC League with a bunch of bladder busting marathon flights!

And finally, I'm happily surprised to rank 4th place in the 2018-2019 US XContest three months into the competition. That won’t last long but it’s fun to see how Hawaii pilots can get a few decent flights on the board before the mainland turns on in the spring with its 300 kilometer conditions!

[Update: I see a couple guys logged flights just after New Year's Day that have already bumped me down to 5th! I would love to think I can climb up the ladder a bit when we get some epic XC weather over the next few months but that's probably a pipe dream!]

In my favorite consolation category of XC airtime on Leonardo, 315 hours puts me 7th in the world, and 2nd among worldwide flights logged by US pilots. But I’m still 1st in XC airtime logged in the US. Plus I can't even add up the hundreds of flights on mini wings this year. But seriously, who’s counting?? I guess I’m at least counting hours under my XC wing so I know when to replace it!!

I also took a couple of super memorable flying trips this year, one to Maui with a bunch of Oahu monkeys, and one to the North Island of New Zealand. Both of those flying trips were unforgettable. I fell so completely in love with New Zealand that I am heading back to join the NZ Nationals on the South Island this coming February. And I’m dragging along a few more Oahu monkeys: Ike, JK and hopefully Drew too!

Happy New Year! Here's hoping that 2019 surpasses 2018 in every way for all of us!


Thom said...

Wow, you still can write. thanks for the recap.

I am hoping that this house will grant me some air time.

2018 had its ups for me and looking forward to more adventures in 2019.

Thanks Again Alex

PS we are putting off all meetings so that you will still have to be Mr. President.

JK said...

Very nice, reflective write-up, Alex! Thanks for the props, but you were head-and-shoulders above the rest of us on island (and off). You flew some really technical extended “Chronics”. I don’t know how you do those. One day I’ll follow you out there. I liked your Olomana-Ping-Pong. But IMO, that big day at Dillingham was a gem. I imagine some untapped XC potential out there, and you cracked the door on that. I was also very impressed with Marc’s XC flying under your wing in 2018.

As Jorge said, with a weak El Nino upon us we can expect lighter winds and drier air and hopefully some epic XC days ahead in 2019.

We may have lost our daily reporter at-large in 2018. But, it was replaced with a prolific videographer. GREAT stuff! Here’s my pitch for the next music to go on the next “daring” PG video.