Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Double Eagle

When you think of February and the northwest, you likely have an image of scraping ice off windows, braving 20 degree temperatures, and blowing snow, but if you are in eastern Washington, that couldn't be further from the truth. The last two weeks we have had some GREAT flying weather, and the spring thermals have arrived early.

video

Week before last, the family was invited to attend and fly in a wild eagle release. The eagle was an immature Bald that had been rescued after it had fed on the carcass of an animal that had been put to sleep. The result was the eagle lost consciousness and fell asleep while flying, and crashed through some power lines, before ending up in a heap in a farmers field. He was rescued, and nursed back to health. To do this, the rescuers had to detox the bird and cure him from the lead poisoning he was suffering from. It is common for birds of prey to have high lead in their blood, due to eating things that have been shot with a shotgun. They don't chew much, and just swallow the lead shot. The video was shot by Noah, and the chanting is from a Native American son of the eagle. Keep your eyes out for the paragliders in the video. The eagle went straight for the hill, hit the ridge lift, then soared for a few minutes with the boys before coring off into the sky, hopefully with a new lease on life. The Golden Eagle in the photo above is also a rescue bird, but cannot be released because it is blind in one eye, and can't see well (for an eagle) out of the other. They use it as an education bird, and it was beautiful!

This past weekend, the weather was again beautiful. The day started with a thick fog floating off the river and giving the yard an eerie quiet feeling, but at about 10am the sun cut through the fog, and you could tell the day was going to be on. I have gotten to know the usual suspects, and it only took one text to find out where it was going to be on. I planned to meet up with some of the area's most prolific fliers, and the call was Eagle Butte. The butte is only about 30 minutes from the house (to the top) and faces southwest. I arrived at 2pm to find Rick (Doc) waiting for stronger cycles with Dave (Preacher) having just landed out. Yes, they have nicknames here too. Shortly after arriving, the cycles picked up and it was go time. We kited on launch for a few minutes till "the one" blew through. After a short search, I hit the core, and what started out as 100 slowly built to 2, then to 3, 4, 5 and 600 fpm. The core was smooth, and I climbed from launch at 800 feet to almost 6,000 and cloudbase. The day was clear, and the views were spectacular.

My first cross country in this direction, and boy, does it have potential. This is the direction of Spokane, 150 miles away, and the direction of the prevailing wind. I have high hopes for a big flight from this little hill. I took the photo of the big river (my river) as I flew over Badger "Mountain", away from the cloud that was building around me, and if you look close, you can see our house, about even with the far tip of the first island ;)

Hope you are all doing well, and I hope to see some of you at the Nationals in Chelan. By the way, Chelan is one of the COOLEST places to fly ever. Strong thermals. Big open country and no mountains, so every place is a good LZ!

I think I left my newer Vertex radio in someone's rig - if you find one and don't know where it came from, give me a call.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lucky Dogs

Four pilots flew Kahana today, and against all odds, in the lightest of conditions, we made it work out there. Three of us went downrange, one to Pounders and two to Hauula.

The day started out nuking and very east, but it gradually got lighter, while remaining pretty east. Larry called me from the Kahana boat ramp and said he saw swirly dark patches on the water - that's a good sign that it's too east. I told him the wind was supposed to clock around and ease off, and it would end up light SE by Saturday, so there was no point in waiting around. I wish Larry had a cell phone so I could have called him! It began to look flyable not long after that, and I met Scot, Thom and NJ Alex out there to take a look. It was a bit east, but it seemed worth the hike.

We hiked up only to find that the wind was seriously dying off. It was incredibly light on launch. I took one quick flight trying to lasso some thermals with my new wing, but I couldn't quite wrassle them down, so I toplanded. I took another try and landed at mid launch, launched again and landed at upper launch. Scot waited for a funny little squall, took off in the tiny gust front, and then sank back down to launch right afterwards. It wasn't looking good. There just wasn't much wind at all. Jim called Thom, and he said it wasn't worth coming out.

Finally some texture started to appear on the water, and it was just enough for us all to launch and get up. Scot and I worked our way up into the back and got to about 2,100, before heading out to the front and veering off to Punaluu. NJ Alex was really struggling to get high in the light conditions, being a bit overloaded on his acro wing. Thom was taking his sweet time to work his way up and follow us.

When Scot and I got to the next ridge, there was nothing happening there, and we found ourselves digging in to work the lightest of lift. We finally made 1,500 there, and sped off to the next ridge, where we found some decent ridge lift that made it easier to stay up. At that point I knew we were going to be okay. I remembered Jorge saying you could make it to Pounders with 1,200 from this peak - and I had 1,400. So off I went, hoping he was right. Scot made the conservative decision to head for Hauula Beach Park, always a good call. Thom followed him down there a bit later.

Dorothy called just after I landed at Pounders (having arrived with a couple hundred extra feet - thanks Jorge!). I had to admit where I was, and that I'd probably be late for our dinner date. She said she was happy for me, and not to worry about dinner, as long as I could get there in time for Logan's school musical. NJ Alex came out to pick us up, and we headed back to Kahana to enjoy some of Scot's nice cold beverages, before I had to run off. Thanks, guys!

I heard Joey flew at Lanikai, while Jim opted to take a pass because it was pretty strong over there. Amazing that it could be nuking at Lanikai but barely blowing at Kahana. And later I heard that Scrappy enjoyed some very dimly lit conditions at Makapuu in a speed wing. If anyone has any good stories or pictures, please post them here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Early Birds

Fifteen pilots showed up to fly over the course of the day at Kahana today. It turned out to be one of those days that rewards an early start. The forecast had augured increasing trades, but the day started out beautiful and sunny with a light north breeze, so I ran out early to see about some bay crossing. And I have to say I was pretty excited to try out my new wing.

Ken was already in the air when I showed up around 11, but he landed as I was getting ready to hike, because of some riser twists. Thom arrived and we ran up the hill, followed by Ken for his second go, and NJ Alex joined us shortly after that.

The direction was sort of north, but not so much that it seemed like a good bay crossing day. It was also pretty strong up there - you could go into the back but it was pretty slow coming out, and it was too strong to consider a downrange mission. It wasn't hard to get high above the front of the hill though, so we tried for some of those bay crossings I'd been dreaming about.

It took me quite a few tries, but finally my new wing showed how well it could slice through a headwind, and it delivered me a few feet in front and above the Crouching Lion. From there I slowly worked my way up, but not more than a few hundred feet, and I found myself parked, facing into a strong and swirly easterly headwind. Rather than tuck in tight to the bowls behind the upwind ridges, I decided to play it safe and I made a wide retreat around and down to the LZ, where I saw that the second shift was gaggling up for the hike. After some sweet tree soaring, I landed my trusty new steed, and I was soon joined by Ken and Thom.

After that, the wind picked up a bit, and swung east to tempt everyone (except One Eye) to the east ridge, and then it swung north again, and it began to drizzle. Reaper got off with Bonnie's brother in law John, followed by NJ Alex for his second session, and Mad Dog, and Scot. One Eye had an easier time from the north ridge. But it was strong and drizzly and people didn't stay up long. Scot came down and enjoyed an epic tree soaring session.

Great to see everyone out there on such an interesting day. Ken, Thom, NJ Alex, Mad Dog, Maui Doug, Jack, Reaper, Bonnie and family, Duck, Scot and family, Ray, Larry, Jim, Jeff and family.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parawaiting Claims Pilot

Dehydrated pilot found at Cactus launch waiting for the north wind that was reported to be on its way. It appeared to be another first, solo air space flight, no one was around … hmm … wonder why?

Mad Dog had scored 3 flights, 3 sites in 2 days while the rest of us, the monkeys that is, looked on or sledded, so I thought, well maybe I will get a flight today.

When I got to Cactus, it felt ok, not great but ok, so I hurried and laid out, tried to kite but no chance, it just would not load.

While parawaiting, I got hot, so off with the suit, off with the boots, and I got bored and took this picture. Packed up, hiked down and went off to do honey dos.

Of course the breeze finally showed up after a trip to COSTCO and with frozen food in the truck could not sneak one in, but Reaper and BlubBlub got one.

Tomorrow, Mad Dog is off, hopefully he will share the air.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wind Dummy for a Day

A beautiful day to chase it in Hawaii! We had southeast wind and sun to start us off at my old launch above Kalama Valley, the one we used to call Mad Dog's. Thomas, Scot, the Japanese contingent and I all went up for a look see, and we all thought it was good and doable, but they all gave me the "looks good, you go first" theory. Since it was my old site from 14 years ago, I agreed.

After my first couple of attempts to kite it a bit, the Far East contingent probably thought we were crazy to try and get up from such a wild place we call a launch, barely big enough for the wing to fit. A failed first! Mahalo to Scot and Thom for getting me back on track and up the hill again, now our visitors knew we were crazy! The next pull up was good, and off I went, a few passes at launch level and I hooked a good one, as this is a thermal only site, and I climbed out to now make it look great, at 600' over. Thom offered the visitors the chance to launch next but they graciously declined. 20 minutes of good soaring and it was down to the LZ in the park for me. Met Da Boyz at Sandy's for a beverage or two and some relaxing.

Untitled from Thom Therrien on Vimeo.

Now it was time to motivate again, as Jorge communicated that Tantalus was looking good, and he would be off work soon, and Jim was also on his way there. So I arrived behind Scrappy and Jim who gave me another "looks good, but a little SSW, so you go first!" Feeling good about my earlier flight, I took to the hopefully friendly skies and yep, beep beep beep, luckily up I went to 1700' over launch at 2700' altitude. Thom was now on his way up, and I heard him on the radio, saying Scrappy was bombing out on the road, so no one else tried to make it work, as I glided in zero's across Manoa Valley to a position above St. Louis Heights. Cruising there for a while, I never really got any good hits, so I went across Palolo Valley low, and got nothing on the Wilhelmina side, so I went in after almost an hour to the LZ at Palolo Park and swimming pool.

It was a very nice day overall, especially after Thom picked me up at UH and gave me a lift back to Tantalus lookout, where I had a couple cold refreshments in the cooler, so we enjoyed them reflecting on a perfect setting sun.

Aloha, Mad Dog

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fistful of Firsts

The family of the Oahu Flying Monkeys is growing, and the regular LZs are getting lonely. On Saturday we celebrated so many firsts that Reaper had to stop counting them just to save his liver.

I got to Kahana for the afternoon session and several pilots were already flying their quota. But a barrel of monkeys were on East Launch waiting for some lift. Please add to the following list of firsts, as I may not get them all, but just remember: the Reaper does take 'beer checks'.

Seattle Stu soared over Kahana, and I am sure he had some firsts during that session, or at least on the beach in the chair, where he had his first, second, third, and so on. He did have his first career XC a few days earlier, crossing the bay and then to Hauula.

Seattle Betsy, Stu's much better half, had her first soaring flight at Kahana after a few days of attempts, sledders and the dreaded hike down. She and Stu are hooked on Hawaii flying and will be back to the monkey cage again and again.

Don was lucky to fly with the legend, Ken "Airborne" Berry, who has blessed us with a return visit. Doubt there were any firsts for these monkeys, but the stories of their adventures are always worth hearing.

Maui Jim, Reapers student, got his first launch and landing. Welcome to the clan, Jim, and hopefully Reaper will let you use a backpack next time; he had to hike his gear up in a stuff sack.

John 'Duck' Mallard scored his first top landing at Kahana. It was so good and controlled I thought he had done plenty but it was his first, and yes, Reaper did tally that one to the cooler. We had the dreaded 'Afternoon Lull,' coined by Alan G on launch: a few monkeys tried and sledded to the beach, but finally Duck took off and slowly worked the lift to show us the way. North ridge was working better, and he started a frenzy of launches. Good job, Duck.

Courtney flew 'Pinky,' and I believe had her first soaring flight at Kahana.

Alan G got some air time today, but had to force himself to stay low below the gaggle above him. Alan is also a dive master, and had worked earlier that morning touring deep in the ocean, so he did not want to get the bends. Oh, Alan when you use the radio, cover the the mic slightly - I thought you told Reaper to get bent....or maybe that was subliminal.

Matt had a top landing as well but I don't think that was his first, or at least he avoided the penalty, not admitting to it.

Finally I got in the air. It has been awhile, so staying in the playground was the only thing on my mind.....not really. Reaper finally got his....wing off the launch and flew past me up high, and I slowly inched up just below him. Alex came up and coaxed me over the back, oops, I mean over to the next ridge. The air was great, and it was chilly, or at least that was Reaper's excuse for not following us, but we know his cooler was now overflowing and the draw was a little stronger.

While Alex and I were getting high over Sacred Falls, we heard Nick and Scrappy on their way down from Makapuu - we were all cheering them on, and hoping to have them join us to Pounders. Nick had his first pod XC, and Scrappy had a his first long tandem XC with his roomy Mike. Hopefully we will read about these in up coming articles.

Alex and I headed for the next ridge. He got super high, 3K, he was cold without a flight suit. I grabbed a fat thermal and got bounced up quick. On the way to the next ridge, Alex said that he had never been this high, and was going to see how far he could go. We just flew past the next ridge - no need to even stop there to try and get higher.

I was lower than Alex, and headed for Pounders. When I got there I was still high, and went for the next beach over. I lost sight of Alex, and was going in to land on the narrowing Laie beach. I had started a sharp left turn when I noticed a knot in my left brake line come through the pulley. I am not sure when it got there, but there it was, and it was not going back through without forcing it. I did not want it to get stuck while landing so I gabbed the lines above the pulley and landed safely next to a girl who was sleeping. I did not wake her until I dropped the wing, with the tip getting caught in the tree behind her. I think I might have scared her a bit: she woke to me standing over, her clad in my flight suit, helmet, console and lines connected to a fluttering wing. But she rolled over and went back to sleep.

Alex landed at Gunstock Ranch, his first time making it that far from Kahana, and Larry was there to grab him, and he also came and got me. Thanks for the lift. On the way back to Kahana we passed Maui Doug, JD and Tommy, who had landed at Punaluu. It was Tommy's first XC and possibly JD's too.

This was my first time to Laie Beach, and my first XC since my OTB. Thanks for coaxing me on, Alex, I needed to get back in the saddle.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Achievements for All

It started out to be a very windy north day at Kahana, but as the day wore on, the winds calmed a bit. It is sometimes a challenge to get around the rhino horn from north launch and into the lift (for me at least), and it was the rattiest air I've been in for a while - I almost turned to the beach for safety. On my fourth attempt, I made it around and into the lift, as it was getting lighter, but I still scratched my way up with many collapses, very nerve wracking indeed.

I finally got up high with Don, Maui Doug and Seattle visitor Stu. Thanks to Scot, who helped me after my first failed attempt at north high launch. Reaching more stable air out of the NNW at altitude, I didn't wait long, and crossed to the Crouching Lion side of the bay from just 1800'. Don and Stu followed, with Maui Doug making his first bay crossing on his new steed. Again I didn't wait, and went across to Kualoa as the crew followed on my heels. We all hung there for a short bit to stack on altitude, and then we went back to the Crouching Lion side, where Alex was now in the air and crossing the bay to meet us. He was the last pilot to get up in the fickle north winds. Feeling like a yoyo in flight, I crossed again to Kualoa with Maui Doug who was on his first trip over there.

This time cloud suck was on, and the crossing was super high to Kualoa. Since I was still very high on the back peak at Kualoa, I bounced again to the Crouching Lion side, like the aforementioned yoyo, while Alex was now crossing my path in the opposite direction.

Feeling cold now, I headed home to Kahana, and hovered at 1700' above north launch, until the bug bit me to run down the coast to Pounders Beach Park. So I took a nice and easy quick cruise down there to the beach LZ, just before a patch of whitecaps whipped up. Alex and Stu had followed me as far as Hauula, but there they turned around to try and get back to Kahana. They got as far back as Punaluu, where they headed out to the beach at Chings store on speed bar to enjoy some frothy cold ones. Mahalo to Maui Doug for the retrieval back to the sunset party at Kahana, as Duck, his wife, Reaper and Malolo along with everyone else was there, to talk story and pack down a few coldies.

Very fun day after getting a bit of altitude under ya, but it was grueling for a few of us to get there. Also it was Stu's first X/C flight! Way to go, Doug and Stu... till next time.

Aloha, Mad Dog

Cold Day in Paradise

A dozen pilots met at Kahana today, in super north conditions, under a dark blanket of clouds, and out of the five pilots that managed to get up, all of them made it across the bay. But it sure wasn't easy to get up - the wind was switchy and gusty and hard to bend to our will today. Also it was chilly at sea level, so you can imagine how it felt at three grand with a 20 mph breeze. Brrrr!

Mad Dog led the way across the bay and across Kaaawa to Kualoa, followed closely by Don, Maui Doug and visitor Stu. Conditions on launch deteriorated, but I finally got airborne, working my way up over Kahana as I watched Scot, Thom, visitors Bets and Matt struggle below on launch.

I finally crossed the bay just as the other bay crossers were coming back from over there. Meanwhile, Scot sunk out during a sledder to the beach and landed in a bush on the east ridge. We may one day see that in HD-POV!

I flew to Kualoa by myself, but I didn't stay long because I was starting to freeze. Don and Maui Doug landed at the LZ, because they were frozen, and Mad Dog flew past Kahana to land at Pounders. Me and Stu returned to Kahana to tank up, and then flew to the Hauula ridge past Sacred Falls, and then turned around to fly back to Kahana, but we landed short, me at Chings Store and him at QLCC.

Thanks to Scot for the retrieve and the cold beverages. Reaper and Bonnie met us at the LZ, along with John and Ginger, and we hung out for a while and watched Reaper and Doug play with the demo XT16.

I didn't take any pictures in flight because I was wearing gloves. The four aerial shots in the slideshow linked to the photo above are from Don. Mad Dog took some great pics that are now featured in his excellent article about the day. Congrats to all the achievements today: Mad Dog's first time flying Kualoa to Pounders in the same flight, Maui Doug's first bay crossing, Stu's first XC anywhere, ever, and Don's first good flight at Kahana in quite a while.

Makapuu Beach Clean-Up: Part 2

On Monday, February 22 at 8:30 a.m., we will be doing the second phase of work at Makapuu Beach Park. Kawika Eckhart and the lifeguards, the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board, other volunteers and Hawaii Paragliding Association members will finish clearing the naupaka plants and painting, along with minor roof repairs on the lifeguard shack.

Read more »

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just couldn't help it

On the way back from Logan's orchestra rehearsal in town, we stopped at Kahana to find Matt folding up to run back up the hill. Conditions looked really light but sweet, with super high clouds. He said Yama-san and company were all on launch, and Reaper, Bonnie and students were on their way. I went home to get some work done, but I just couldn't bear the thought of all that sweet flying happening without me.

I drove back out and ran up the hill to find the Japanese pilots skied out and making attempts at crossing the bay. It was more east than the previous days and much harder to go that way. On launch I found Jorge and his wife Kit (not that Jorge, the elder Jorge - Pete's student from way back.) They had hiked up to check out the old Kahana scene. He said he's been doing some flying in Mexico. I also saw Alaska Jack take a flight attendant for a quick tandem flight to the beach. It was incredibly light up there.

As I was about to launch into those super light conditions, Jorge appeared in the skies above Kaaawa on his way from Makapuu! Jorge the younger, that is. He pulled into the airspace above Puu Piei and said he'd wait for me, so we could go somewhere. Wow! I tried a couple times to get up, but couldn't quite hook anything, and toplanded both times. Finally I got something and followed some guy in an Aspen up and out of there. Turns out it was Yama-san. We circled our way back and above Puu Piei.

By that time, Jorge was long gone across the bay. I could see him low over Kaaawa, but I think it must have been too light or too east, because he soon came back and landed at the Kahana LZ. Yama-san also tried to cross and ended up at the LZ.

So now I was alone in the thermals at 2,400 above Puu Piei, with Pete and his students on launch cursing the light conditions. I headed downrange to see how far I could go. I found myself sinking like crazy on the way across Punaluu Valley, and noticed that only halfway across I was already way below the dirt spot. But right in the middle of the valley I caught a sweet thermal and circled my way up and out of there just like Scrappy showed me the other day. Nice! I got myself above the ridge, but couldn't make it work very well there, so I headed across to the next one.

Again, I found a nice thermal in the middle of the valley, and circled my way up in it, but there was not much working on the actual ridge. What a strange day. I got high enough to consider making it to Pounders, and headed out, turning a few times in some interesting air currents but not really getting anything serious. I made it to Pounders with just enough height, and landed on an unusually crowded beach there, to the delight of the beachgoers. Unfortunately, none of them were headed to Kahana anytime soon. And Reaper and his students were all parawaiting on launch. So I went to the bus stop.

But lucky for me, JD and LeeAnn just happened to be coming from the North Shore and I caught a ride with them back to Kahana. Thanks, guys! At the LZ I met my next door neighbors, who where there with a tent set up for long day at the beach and a prime view of the landings. We saw Duck and Bonnie come in for perfect landings, but after that I had to run home.

I heard lots of folks flew at Makapuu, and in addition to Jorge blazing downrange to Kahana, they had Jim and Mad Dog cruising back to Greenwalls, Quentin playing above the parapark, visitors Stu and Bets soaring high over the lighthouse, and Maui Doug orbiting in his new alien spaceship. From Jim's pictures I also see that Big Island pilot Gary was out there, as well as BC Bill.

As Mad Dog would say, just another crappy day in Paradise.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Birthday Bay Crossing

25 pilots flew at Kahana yesterday, in light north thermic conditions like the day before. Many pilots went to the beach during the lighter cycles, and most of them made it. By the end of the day many had soared high and long, and five made it across the bay.

Congratulations to John on his first soaring flight at Kahana! Congrats on first Kahana flights also to Hickham Mark and Carlos. Congrats to Bee Man Mark for his first flight. And congrats to Nick for his first bay crossing! Congrats to Scrappy on his first tandem bay crossing. And finally, sincere condolences to Rich on his dunking - hope the gear rinses out okay.

We had lots of visitors again - Yama-san and his crew came out again, as well as Stu and Bets from Seattle, and Gary and Laurel from the Big Island.

After Scot and Nick made it across the bay with Yama-san, they left me with only the lightest scraps of thermals at Kahana. I struggled for about an hour to hook into something decent, finally getting just high enough to limp across and find them. They were already returning from Kualoa when I joined them above Kaaawa.

I was coaxed to land down at Swanzys by Thom and Donna who were at Uncle Bobo's with Jim. After I landed there Robert gave me a free sandwich, as well as a nice cold beer, and even some wine. They were partying it up down there. What a great way to end a flight.

At the very end of the day, Scrappy made it across in his tandem with Jen, landing at Kualoa frozen solid like popsicles. Yama-san took off towards Makapuu with his crew chasing him - I wonder if he made it??

I had a most memorable birthday full of flying, friends and foamy beverages. Thanks to everyone for helping me celebrate!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pre-party Party at Kahana

Twenty pilots flew Kahana in the light north breeze all day today, including five visitors from Japan and Bill from BC. Conditions were challenging, and many pilots sank out. But out of the lucky ones that made it up, five made it across the bay, two of us twice, one for the first time ever, and three of us went to Kualoa and back.

I got to try the Ozone Swift for one bay crossing, and handed it over to Jeff and Berndt afterwards. I loved it. It's the lightest, twitchiest wing I ever flew. But it seems a bit delicate for our rough launches here. Then I flew Jeff's Axis Vega 2 for the next crossing. That's another great wing.

Jim led the way for the second crossing, and I followed, with Joey just behind. It was Joey's first time over there - maybe he'll post his pictures and a story.

Thanks to Jeff for the beverages at the LZ. Thanks to Yoshi and crew for the $50 donation to our party tonight.

Friday, February 12, 2010

USHPA Radio Authorization Exam & License

I will bring the USHPA Radio Authorization Test and Applications to the meeting in case anyone wants to get their Radio rating. Or you can download the full PDF file here.

INTRODUCTION

The Federal Communications Commission on March 16, 2001 granted to the United States Hang Gliding Association, a radio station license in the IB business radio service for an unlimited number of vehicular and portable units in specified quantities.

These radios are licensed for use on 151.505, 15 1.625, 151.925, 151.955, and 158.40 MHz transmitting with a power limit of up to 50 watts. The call sign issued to the USHGA was WPRY 420.

The area of operation is the United States nationwide. The license is issued for ten years and the control point is James A. Zeiset, c/o USHGA, P.O. Box 1330, Colorado Springs, CO 80901, (719) 632-8300.

This has been a major breakthrough in radio communication for the Association. Before this we had been relegated to the Citizens Band Service which most serious pilots found to be inadequate for cross-country retrievals. Limitations were: use by
rude operators, linear amplifiers and overall poor reception qualities of an amplitude modulated system. The aircraft service was inadequate because of power limitations (10 watts), limited useable frequencies (123.3 & 123.5), amplitude modulatio (subject to static), $70.00 per radio licensing fees for mobile units, $35.00 per radio fees for the aircraft unit, the potential for FAA control through required registration numbers and the high cost of aircraft radios. The amateur radio service was inadequate, in spite of two-meter use of frequency modulated emissions (FM) and many useable frequencies, because of their stringent licensing requirements for both pilot and retrieval driver, and expense ($35.00). This service has emergency communications available through telephone patches and the many amateur radio operators that scan and monitor all channels to police the legality of users.

The Business Radio Service License was issued under the auspices of CFR 47, Part 90, Private Land Mobile Radio Service, Subpart D, Industrial Radio Service, Section 90.75, Business Radio Service. This radio frequency must be used for the business
of the USHGA per item 3 1, "Eligibility", on FCC application form 574 and the Articles of Association which were submitted as a part of the application. That eligibility was stated as: "Applicant is in the business of operating competitive cross country events, meets and retrievals. Radios will be used in the conduct of these activities."

RADIOS IN USHGA COMPETITION
Use of radios in competition is covered in the Competition Rule Book, section 4.5d, and states:
1. Radios may be carried and be accessible if the pilot is authorized or licensed to use his chosen frequency.
2. Information may be transmitted by pilots and drivers to report their position and request ground conditions from launch or goal.
3. Pilots may request and drivers may transmit ground conditions in the interest of safety when they have reason to believe landing is imminent.
4. Pilots are prohibited from transmitting information designed to mislead other competition pilots.
5. Pilots are responsible for their driver's transmissions.

PROGRAM LOGISTICS
The logistics behind complying with the Federal Communications Commission’s requirements to maintain responsibility and control per CFR 47, 90.403 (a) will be considerable. in this light we have constructed the following procedures:
a. The USHGA office will administer and issue on membership cards another special skills sign off called (PA) Portable Authorization and/or (VA) Vehicular Authorization.
b. This sign-off will be granted by USHGA observers/instructors after the applicant completes a 24-question quiz based on the FCC regulations the USHGA is bound by, listed above.
c. If the observer/instructor has reason to believe that the applicant will use the authorization(s) responsibly he must sign a statement to that effect at the bottom of the completed test and submit it to the USHGA office, with a one time $15.00 records fee per Authorization, for assignment of a PA and/or VA special skill. The USHGA will then issue a new member card reflecting that information.
d. The $15.00 records fee, per authorization, is to justify the paperwork load on the office staff.
e. This sign off may be revoked by the issuing observer/ instructor, or any director for any series of actions that jeopardize our qualification to maintain the station license. Observers/Instructors will not be permitted to sign themselves off for this
authorization.
It is imperative that the USHGA office keep a current list of all Radio Authorization sign offs. Even though we may apply for permission to operate more stations in the system it will always be a finite number that we may not exceed.

Write or call Jim Zeiset for further information, if needed, as: 13154 County Road 140, Salida, CO 81201 (719) 539-3900, jimzgreem@aol.com

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Prefrontal Party at Kahana

Dear online flight log: I spent quite a few fun hours at the end of the day with the Slacker twins, Don and Thom, at Kahana yesterday, just trying to get up and soar in the lightest and northest conditions ever. Of course I nursed a secret wish to get across the bay. And my wish finally did come true, but not until the sun had already sunk low behind the mountains, and my buddies were already down on the beach with cold refreshments. Note to self: remember to include the other guys in your bay crossing wishes next time.

It was a strange pre-frontal day, not our typical cloudy southerly conditions, but clear and north for a change, more like our usual post frontal days. Mad Dog and others had checked out Makapuu to find it was ripping strong from the north there, with whitecaps in the bay. But it was super light and north at my house all day. The sensor had been showing a 5 mph average wind speed at 5 degrees for most of the day. If it hadn't been such a shiny and beautiful clear blue day, and if Don and Thom hadn't been willing to come out and play, it surely wouldn't have seemed worth even running out to give it a look. But on such a gorgeous day with such great friends, even hiking and sledding seemed worth it.

We hiked up to check it out, and it actually seemed like it was almost enough up there. I took the time to do some kiting, then after a while tried some launching, some scratching, and then some emergency toplanding. After repeating that a few times, I managed to climb out, and I checked the sensor to see that it had moved to a more useable 23 degrees (though still with a 5 mph average speed).

I wasn't able to get high enough to consider a bay crossing, but I figured I'd milk it up there as long as I could, to see if it would get any liftier. I watched from above as Thom launched and scratched hard for quite a while, but he never could quite bench up above the rhino horn to get established, so he finally headed down to grab some refreshments.

Larry stopped by the LZ and chatted over the radio. Scot, Maui Doug, and Reaper all called to see if it was worth coming out, but I couldn't recommend it to anyone who hadn't already made the investment of hiking up to launch. It was just too light and north. Meanwhile, Scrappy posted on the chatterbox that Makapuu was finally working.

Visiting pilot Don had a tough time with our scruffy ill-groomed volcanic jungle launches. (These poor visiting mountain thermal pilots are often spoiled by their beautiful grassy alpine launches.) After watching him struggle with the light cross airflow and the steep and slippery footing at top launch, I toplanded up there to give him a hand, and he finally got out of there and started to work the light lift. By the time I laid out to launch again, I didn't see him, and assumed he'd hit the beach, but when I got up I was suprised and glad to see him laying out again on mid launch! I saw him fighting with the snags on that launch, so I toplanded again to help him get clear. He inflated and kited nicely for a moment before making a textbook launch, but I think he got a rather sinky cycle and was flushed to the beach in short order.

I launched for the last time, and thought about just heading straight down, because I knew those guys might have trouble saving me any refreshments. But then I thought, dang it, there's still a half hour of daylight left, and the wind actually feels more solid now than it has all day. Why not see if I can get high enough to just make a half-hearted bay crossing attempt? Plus I had put my jacket on, so I knew I wouldn't have the usual excuse of freezing my butt off up there.

Sure enough, it was still barely strong enough, but it was pumping through a bit more than before, and I milked my way up to 1,650 before giving up and heading across for what would surely be a U-turn to the beach. I was feeling pretty low as I approached the knob at the Crouching Lion, but the tipsy peanut gallery was egging me on over the radio, saying that from their perspective there was no way that I wasn't going to make it. I should know better than to listen to their beverage-fueled beach banter, but somehow I took it to heart, and pulled in ridiculously close to the knob, like I think I could have kicked it.

Come on little vario, show me a sign! Nothing. I knew I should have turned back! Then, a little chirp of hope. Beep. Beep beep beep. Whew! Once again I lucked out and didn't have to land on a condo roof. It turned out to be working well over there after all. Of course there was no daylight left to enjoy it, and no other pilots in the air, so it was kind of a hollow victory. But I snapped a few pictures of Kualoa Valley in the low light, plus a shot of Joey or his buddies in the P3 over Kaneohe Bay, and then headed in to soar the trees and see if they'd saved me any refreshments.

Thanks to Thom for the beverages, and thanks to both Thom and Don for saving me a couple - I know that wasn't easy, considering how long I kept them waiting!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Determined to Fly . . . Destined to Swim

Well… I did it again. This time, I wasn’t blown OTB (thank God)! I couldn’t wait to fly again. Other than a dozen scooter tows in the previous two weeks and a sled ride at Koko Crater the day prior, it had been a few weeks since I had a nice flight. I was ready. I was desperate. I was determined. After work I called Reaper to see where he was headed and whether or not it was flyable. He was headed to Sandy’s to “paratow”. So, I headed that way to hang out, do a couple tows and see if anything ‘turned on’.

When I arrived, Duck, Jack, Courtney, Matt and Jessica, returning pilot Cherie, and new student Andrew were there. Reaper began towing and asked me to help Andrew learn how to kite. So I tried to show him in very little wind. He got the hang of it rather quickly.

After a couple hours, I wanted to fly and it seemed like Koko Crater would work. I asked Reaper what he thought and [typical Reaper] said, “Yeah, go hike up – take Matt with you.” Matt had never been there before, so I figured I could show him where the trail was and we could see what we thought of the conditions when we got up there. There were also 5 Japanese pilots that were ready to fly, too, so they followed us.

Once we got up there, conditions were very light, but doable. Within a minute (literally), Matt and I (facing the mountain) felt the wind in our face. Matt said, “Whoa! That was weird, I swear I just felt that in my face!” I said, “Yeah, I felt that, too.” We threw some grass up in the air, and sure enough, the wind had gone catabatic and was coming over the back of the mountain. We waited a few minutes, thinking it was rotor, or a dust devil, but it wasn’t.

After 10 minutes, we all decided to hike down. On the way down, I called Reaper on the radio and asked if he thought Makapu’u would be working since the wind direction changed, and {typical Reaper} said, “Yeah, go check it out!” So Jess kindly picked us back up, we went to Sandy’s for a quick visit – discussed going to Makapu’u, then decided to go for it. Matt was dying to fly as much as I was. Reaper said Cactus might be flyable and to go to the Lookout to check the wind speed and direction. I told the Japanese pilots we were going to go check it out.

Matt and I jumped in the RAV and headed that way. The Japanese pilots followed. We got out, walked up to Manics. It felt good. I thought to myself, ‘wow, it feels good… here’, eliminating Cactus from my options to launch. I looked at the windsock, it was coming from Kailua to the Lookout – straight in. It felt, to me (who is inexperienced and bad at that ‘game’), like it was about 8-10 mph. It seemed perfect to me. I called Reaper, told him what the windsock was doing and told him that it was about 8-10 at Manics. I confirmed that guesstimate with Matt and he agreed. I said, “I’m gonna do it. It feels perfect to me.” The Japanese pilots looked at me like I was crazy. It seemed like they couldn’t believe that was actually a launch.

So, I was the wind dummy. I had the most experience launching there, and I felt comfortable. Even though I had this weird feeling that something was going to happen, I felt comfortable launching. Needless to say, I unpacked my stuff and geared up.

My launch was epic. I tip-toed from one rock to the other, then to the next, when a large rock got in the way. I paused for a moment, then simply hopped around it, and off the mountain I went. I worked the ridge near the Lookout for a few minutes. Matt was already laid out. The Japanese pilots ready right behind him. Then, I made the decision that failed me. I realized I was above the power lines and had plenty of room to cross over, so I headed that way, towards Cactus. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have kept working the same ridge that was working. Nothing was happening after I crossed the road and power lines. I was sinking.

I decided to cross back over, near Crazyman’s. I was getting lower. I went a little further, then realized I HAD to go to the beach. So I made a left turn (way too wide) to head to the beach. By this time, I had lost a LOT of altitude. I kept thinking I was going to make it. The beach was getting closer and closer, as I was getting lower and lower. The waves were rolling in; strong. Hard. I could hear them crashing down. I still thought I was going to make it. I thought about unbuckling my harness, just in case, but didn’t think I needed to, so I didn’t. I should have.

I was slowly submerged in water, feet first, then butt and harness, then the rest of my body. My glider fell over my head above me. My first big wave came in and rolled over me, causing me to tumble all around. I felt the lines around my neck, arms and leg. Another wave came. After it went over me, I concentrated on keeping my head up and yelled for help, not knowing if anyone could hear me. (There were no lifeguards on duty, as it was 6pm – they leave at 5).

Another wave came. I was pushed in, then pulled back out by the current. When I came up this time, I could see a guy running toward me from the corner of my eye. I felt somewhat relieved (as I knew it wasn’t over yet). After another wave, he said, “Where are your buckles?” I pointed them out. My gloves (which are too big for me) were filled with sand and water and looked like a rubber glove that is blown up with air. I could not use my fingers. He got one buckle, then another wave came. He asked me again, “where are your buckles?” I pointed to them and tried to unhook, too, but the sand was jamming them. Another wave came. I was getting pounded. I held on to the guy so I wouldn’t be sent back out to sea. The wave went away and he continued to unhook me.

Finally, I was free. I got out. I walked away from my gear and a few other guys were there by this time. They were pulling my glider in. I took off my helmet and gloves and helped them pull it in. It was heavy, full of sand and water from the surf. The tide was coming in, the further we pulled it out, the closer the tide came. The guy that first arrived told me that he was a pilot, too, and that’s how he knew I needed to unhook from my gear. I asked him what kind of pilot he was, he said an airplane pilot. I couldn’t tell if they were from here, or tourists just visiting. One other guy said, “You’re lucky we were here. You wouldn’t have made it.” I said, “I know. Thank you!”

We looked up and saw Matt and one of the Japanese pilots in the air. I was concerned for them, but knew that they would be ok, and hopefully not make the same mistake I did. Matt stayed up for a little while. I tried to contact him on radio (Reaper was kind enough to give me a waterproof radio), but the sand was jamming the mic button. Matt flew over me and I waved at him to let him know that I was ok. I watched a few more of the Japanese pilots launch.

A moment later, the guys watched Matt land; I headed towards him so I could call Reaper, and I heard him ask the guys if I was ok. They replied yes, said goodbye and they were gone. I didn’t get to ask their names, offer them a tandem (with Reaper, of course), or anything. I did thank them once again, and they were gone.

I later found out that Matt didn’t even know I was in the water until I was already out. If those guys didn’t wait an extra 5 minutes before leaving, I would have been trying to untangle from the waves (and my glider) by myself. And just think, they probably hung out just to see what we were up to as they saw our gliders laid out at Manics.

I stood on the beach, soaking wet and called Reaper from Matt’s phone and said, “Well, that didn’t go so well. I went in the drink.” He didn’t exactly hear what I said so I tried telling him again, “I landed in the water.” He still didn’t hear me and thought I was talking about being thirsty or something. Frustrated, I handed Matt the phone and said, “I can’t do it, you tell him.” I walked away and went back to gathering up all my stuff. Gear was thrown everywhere: Helmet, radio harness, car key, phone, my new pilot boots, socks, hoodie, harness, and glider. I moved everything higher up from the tide, to the rocks. Matt gathered his glider and came over to help me.

We bundled up my glider and decided to wrap our straps around it to carry it easier. We were right below Crazy’s and Matt told Pete to meet us there, so we started hiking the heavy, wet, sandy glider up the steep hill. I was moaning and groaning all the way up since I was hiking up barefoot, but that was nothing compared to Matt burdening almost all of the weight of the glider. I apologized for making him hike 2 times in one day – especially having to carry all that weight. He said he needed to get back in “paraglider shape” anyway.

As we were hiking up, Jess was walking on the beach, yelling my name. Matt and I told her we had to keep going, and we continued up the hill. By this time, Reaper was pulling up to Crazy’s. I reminded him this time to get a picture of me dripping wet, soggy glider in hand.

Thank you to everyone who came to help. Mahalo to Matt for doing the hard part; to Jess for folding Matt’s glider; to Duck for carrying my heavy harness; and to Reaper for washing all my gear.

~Blub Blub
Flounder
Dory
Malolo (flying fish)

…Bonkers

Monday, February 08, 2010

Light Thermic Circles of Life To Laie

Just the thought of north winds and bay crossings brought Jim out early from work, myself cancelling all my errands for the day, and Scot, Hillbilly, Larry, Maui Doug, Alex and Scrappy all bailing on their lives to chase it to the clouds.

As I arrived, I clambered up the hill to high launch, watching Scot and Alex trying a bay crossing. They made it to and above Crouching Lion for a short stint, but to no avail, and returned too low, with Scott LZing at the fish pond in the lee and Alex making it to the beach.

No sheep in the pasture out in front, and now getting lighter, it was a slow climb up to the back peak as I circled there for what seemed like eternity, between 2K & 2300'. Dropping out of 5 or 6 light thermals until the big one swept me off and up to the heavens!

Once I reached the front of the second ridge downwind, above the bare dirt spot, it was on immediately, as I climbed up and back over Sacred Falls to where I found more thermic relief. Taking a couple pics as I climbed up to 3K and cloudbase over the falls, I now tracked toward Pounders in nice cloud suck.

Now on a comfortable glide I found myself above Pounders at 800', so on I pressed, to Laie Point, and landed in the corner of the point on the beautiful sandy beach. As I was on the bus back to Kahana I radioed up to Scrappy and Alex, as they were finally making it up and out of Kahana. I saw them at cloudbase and on glide also, Alex to Pounders and Scrappy to the same place I landed in Laie.

A quick beer on the beach with Jeannine (my wife), who just returned back from France, and off I went to retrieve the two other lucky souls that got up, up and away on a super light and thermic day. We relaxed back on the beach with the many big fish stories that come from a few brews, hanging out and enjoying the closing of the day. Can't wait till tomorrow - Alex got snowed in and can't work, Scrappy and I will meet him for more... Aloha, Mad Dog

Nervous

Nervous - like a weird feeling in the pit of your stomach… Nervous - like doing an eight ball off of the bumper of a parked police car… Nervous - like, is the pregnancy test positive???… Nervous - like doing Crazyman launches as your first ever free flight!! Yeah, that kind of nervous…

So, I met up with Reaper, Bonita, Maui Doug, Ginny, Matt, Courtney, Jeff Mc, JJ, Andrew, Berndt, Nick, and a slew of others today for launches and AWESOME Makapu’u flights. This was my first flight EVER and I have to say - it is an honor and a privilege to have had the chance to get to know the members of the HPA. You all have been a great inspiration and a great source of knowledge and sharing. It started with kiting, lots of kiting. But, I know that the kiting is extremely valuable. Then it went to towing - S-Turns, 360’s, forward and reverse launches, some bad landings and some very bad landings.

Luckily, I had good conditions for launch—I was on a low level rush since Reaper called me an hour before and told me that it was on and that he thought I was ready. I watched Bonnie launch and she was easily carried away to sail on ridge lift, a right turn, a left, and she was over Sea Life Park. Then Matt, Jeff, and Berndt, all went and they made it look easy. Then it was my turn. Reaper says “You ready?” “Nope”, I reply. Then I was setting up on launch. A’s & C’s - a fair inflation (I think - I was really jazzed at this point - the canopy could have been on fire and I might not have noticed it). I over turned to the right, corrected, along the ridge, a left turn, and then I was following Bonnie. I think it took a while to finally relax. Maybe it was the awesome show put on by the whales, or maybe it was the wind and the view; but, it finally sunk in. I was flying! One-and-a-half to two hours later… a landing I could walk away from.

For years, I have been watching you all above Kahana (as I went to work, as I came home from work, as I thought about skipping work and hanging out with you all), and above Makapu’u. All I can say is thank you! Reaper, thanks for all the great instruction so far (more to come). Bonnie, thanks for babysitting me (and warning me to turn to the right when I saw you hit that major sink!). Maui Doug, Ginny, Jim, Jeff, Alex, and everyone else - thanks for all the good advice!

Duck

Friday, February 05, 2010

Chilling at Kahana

I had a couple of interesting chilly flights at Kahana yesterday with visitor JJ from the Bay Area. I knew the wind was still blowing pretty northerly in the wake of the last front, and I had high hopes for a bay crossing before the easterly trades set in.

We hiked up around lunchtime under a steely grey overcast sky. The sensor at Punaluu was swinging between 25 and 78 degrees, and there were lots of dark texture patches showing gusts out on the water. Sometimes the whole bay would fill with whitecaps, only to turn to glass the next moment. After launching and going straight up, mostly we found ourselves pretty parked up there, in air that felt super cold and lumpy. After about an hour, we were cold and bored with our gale dangling, so we gave up on any chance of a bay crossing in that strong stuff, and landed at the beach. We retreated around the corner for lunch with JJ's wife Adrian at Bobo's.

At around 4 pm we were still chilling at Bobo's, enjoying their unofficial BYOB policy, when we realized the wind had mellowed and had settled into a consistently north direction, around 33 degrees. We clambered back up the hill to take off for one more chance to cross the bay. It was definitely lighter than before, and I got up above two grand over the front pretty quickly, watching JJ struggle with some line tangulation on launch. I headed out over the water just as he was starting to get up. I could tell it was stronger than usual for a bay crossing, but I was starting with plenty of height, and the air was buoyant despite the strength.

I made it across slowly but surely. However, now that I was above the Crouching Lion I found myself parked facing a headwind from the east, and I had to patiently stand on my speed bar to make any headway around the corner to Hidden Valley. I finally made it up over there, but it was too strong and too east to be pleasant, and by this time JJ had given up on the bay crossing and landed, so I joined him down there. John, Pete's longtime student from Hauula, showed up with his nice dog Mocha and hung out with us for a while too.

It was a pretty strange day to be flying - it never quite made up its mind about the direction or strength. And even though I made it over to Kaaawa, it certainly wasn't the bay crossing day I'd hoped for. I know what it's like when it's good, and this wasn't quite it.

Later on I heard from Scrappy that Jared and the skydive crew had also been out speed flying in the strong conditions over at Makapuu.

Thanks to JJ for the great lunch at Bobo's, and thanks to John for the end of day refreshments.