Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kealakekua New Altitude Record

Saturday January 8th was what we refer to as a "clear air thermal" day with few clouds and low humidity. It was a low pressure day with vario's recording 2,000 feet plus at our 1,900 foot elevation launch. Scotty Gee said the forcast was for dew point to be reached at 6,000 feet. Several people had soared above launch on the early 10am flight. By the time we got back up to launch there were cats paws from the north showing at Keei point. It was "northy" on launch, clear hot and sunny. "Blown out, my log book clearly states don't launch in this!" Of course we were obliged to wait till noon. Visiting pilot Dave pulled up the Keahole airport real time wind and it had turned mellow. We looked out to the north and the ocean was calm. The cat's paws died down out front. The tremendous heating of the lava all day started to send cycles strait up launch. I put my boots on. I layed out my wing and waited for a good strait cycle. I pulled up my wing and had to follow it up hill to keep from being lifted off launch. I flew away from launch, and then in a southerly direction and I felt the nibble of what turned out to be a nice strong thermal. I turned into it and proceeded to go up. I concentrated on finding the best part of it, not letting the rough edges intimidate me. It just got better, over 1,000 feet per minute up at times. Just short of 6,000 feet I topped out and I noticed a hint of a cloud popped over my head. The lift had mysteriously disappeared, nowhere to be found! Hmmmm, that latent heat in the parcel of air I was riding in had just been released to the air above! So at 5,954 feet I pulled out my camera! Pictures are clockwise from Kealakekua bay: North to Kailua-Kona, Haleakala in Distance, Hualalai, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa with new snow on them, 100,000 acres of Boogabooga land to the South.

Thank you all that helped me experience this!

Neil Morriss