Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The Uber Classic

Getting together with friends high over our little island for some classic downrange flying is one of my favorite things to do on a paraglider. We all want to go far, do something new, set a personal best or just witness the festivities from the top row.

This past Tuesday was one of those days. Most people weren't thinking it would be good, but Jorge was, and that was good enough for me. The buzz around was that pilots were meeting at Makapuu about 1 pm to see what the day had.

I arrived to find no one there. Perfect, because I have a new harness I have never flown and barely set up, and a crusty Zeno from being in a bag in the closet for so long. I pulled up at Juice and floated up pretty easily in the very light flow. Alex knows my new ultra light harness puts me at the bottom of the weight range for my Zeno, so I am currently a floater perfect for these light conditions. So they all decided to hike to Cactus to eliminate chances of a bombout or missing the imminent parade down the Koolau.

Something I have never done before was to call the ATC tower at Kaneohe Marine Base to request permission to fly through the edge of their Class D airspace along the Koolaus. That way no one would complain and our track logs would count. They gave permission and thanked me for the heads up.

I left soon after and only had Jorge for company for the rest of my flight. The conditions were light but floaty, but they made getting low sticky. My instrument reported wind at altitude between 1 and 3 mph. That is pretty light. On top of that, the conditions made the usual thermals scarce. Other thermals turned up in random places. It was a beautiful day with cloudbase around 3 grand in most places. The whole time gliders were appearing around corners behind us, getting low, getting high, just having fun. I took the wrong line out front at Temple Valley and glided for a very long time trying to get up again, while Jorge glided easily above me on the ridge tops to the Pyramid.

The crew behind was spread around, with all sorts of results. Alex reported Mikey 5-0 pulled up next to him at the Pali asking how far we were going since he had never been that far. Drew decided to take the Olomana line and got stuck there in light conditions.

I ended up gliding over to the park by the Hygienic Store and landed in no wind conditions. My wife offered to drive out and pick me up, but I thought Uber would be faster and worth the $40. I packed up and waited but no one seemed to be headed my way to share the ride.

Jorge decided to head back, and met up with Carson and Cade. Carson dared Cade to top land on that bald knob on top of the Koolaus above Waiahole. He even offered to send his helicopter to retrieve him if he got stuck. Amazingly, Cade stuck the landing, had a little pee and hucked off again to continue his flight. Classic! I want to see Jorge's photos of that.

With everyone up high and having fun, I pressed confirm for Uber and it said Brittany would be there in five minutes. As I look up I see Alex gliding in from way off, then another and another. My Uber arrives and she says she is happy to wait and watch Alex arrive. The other guys are too far off and the car is small. Alex barely lands and we are off on our way back to Makapuu.

A whole lot of people were able to fly back to Makapuu in the fading conditions. Drew Ubers back from Olomana. This is the first time that I know of people using Uber for retrieve. It sure is convenient. It beats hitchhiking or getting sneers from grumpy bus drivers. It's worth the money. The modern world: why fight it. It sort of reminds me of flying in Valle Mexico, where you land out in what seems like a remote place, but the kids run from a mile away to fold your glider and a taxicab is waiting under a random tree to take you back.

Don, Mikey 5-0 and possibly others glide in to Hygienics. Mike for his longest XC flight ever. Awesome. As far as a classic XC flight on Oahu, the flight from Makapuu to Hygienic Store has to be it. We fly along a beautiful stretch of mountain to land in the big fields by the ocean, and beer and pupus are right there while we wait to scrounge up a retrieve.

19 pilots flew from Makapuu. 11 went XC with varying results. 6 pilots logged their flights so we could bring you this animation. The after flight in the Makapuu LZ with a bunch of different characters was a blast. Jorge, Cade, Carson, Alex, Don, Jayson, 5-0, Thom, Shawn, Drew, Igor, Becca, Joey, Johnimo, Nour, Goto and a bunch more. I hope we get a few more days like that in 2019.


Alex said...

Great story Dave! Very presidential. You are going to be great at this.

It was a fun day for sure. I was highly skeptical of Jorge's plans for the day but on the other hand I didn't want to miss out in case I was wrong, so I dutifully queued up with the rest of the lemmings. In the end Igor diplomatically decided we were both right: Jorge was right that we would get a downrange mission, and I was right about how weak and tricky the conditions would be. It was sure gorgeous up there! I wish I had taken more pictures but the tricky conditions kept me too busy. Congrats to 5-0! I scratched up alongside him at the Pali for a painfully memorable 30 minutes before we pressed on.

JK said...

It sounds like my favorite conditions! Right at the 2000' - 3000' ridge hight looking down on the knife-edge Ko'olau trail. The tribe flying together is the best part. Of course, I only fly XC on Oahu alone, so it's only right that I be off island that day... planes/bus to Valle. Glad you posted the story, Dave. I wasn't keeping up with the chat and with no write-up, I wouldn't have known what I missed. Well flown all!!