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A Week of Kites and Planes

Posted by Tom Benedict on 29/04/2013

World Wide KAP Week 2013 began Friday! W00t!!

Bummer it was Sunday before I could get out, though. Friday I was at work. Then the trade winds started howling. Then the rain started. By the time I got home it was not comfy weather for kites. We made dinner, we watched a movie, and we all stubbornly went for a walk around the neighborhood in the cold wind. Saturday was loads better, but between play dates with the kids and volunteering to help set up for an event, by the time I had some me-time, the sun had set. I was determined to kick anyone’s butt who tried to stop me from flying Sunday.

Sunday afternoon, I took two of the kids and drove down to Hapuna Beach. >sigh< Yeah, same old KAP spot I’ve been going to for the last year and a half. But hey, I flew! Considering I couldn’t get time off from work during World Wide KAP Week this year, I’ll take whatever I can get. All in all it was a good session: two flights with the BBKK rig, and one flight with a BEAK:

Shutter Noise

The inevitable test-shot to make sure the shutter is tripping correctly.

Hapuna Beach South

A Hapuna panorama, despite the lousy light from having too much volcanic gas in the air to see the horizon. I tried tried tried to keep my winder dry, but one of those waves finally splashed high enough to touch it. Ah well… It was dry by the time it went back in the bag.

Walk This Way

If my son turns into a private detective, I swear I’ll get him the hat and pipe that Sherlock Holmes would’ve wanted him to have. He’s on his own for finding a suitable waistcoat and trousers, however. I don’t think the swim trunks will stand him in good stead.

All of this was complicated by something really stupid I did earlier in the week: I took the Zagi 5C out for a test flight.

The Zagi is really a slope soarer. But with the exception of two really scary slopes, I haven’t found a good place to fly the thing yet. So I took it to the park and flung it into the air. Trick RC, the makers of the Zagi, make a much lighter version called the Zagi THL, or Zagi Thermal Hand Launch. The idea with the THL is to fling it into the air, catch a thermal and smile a lot. With the 5C, I flung it into the air, flew for about five seconds, walked over, picked it up, and flung it again. And again. And again, until I felt something wrench in my left shoulder. Uh oh…

But first some back-story:

Years ago I did something else that was really really stupid: I went out bodysurfing in eight foot surf without a clue. A couple of waves later I got hit in the back, and wound up dislocating both my shoulders. There’s something surreal about lying face-down in the surf with two dislocated shoulders while your wife and kids are standing less than twenty feet away. You can’t stand up because your arms don’t work. You can’t scream because your head is under water. And as I ran out of air I found myself thinking, “What an embarrassing way to go… drown right in front of my own family. Rydra is going to be PISSED!

I’d love to say that my family recognized my dilemma and rushed to my rescue. What actually happened is that another wave came along, smashed into me, and popped one of my arms back into joint as I rolled across the bottom. It was enough to let me get an elbow in the sand and lift my face out of the water. Once I was standing, I shoved the other arm back into position. Vin Diesel made this maneuver look cool beyond cool in Pitch Black. Mel Gibson made it look clever and tough in Lethal Weapon. What it actually looks like is a wet frog trying to whack its legs around until they work again. It was agonizing. I was in physical therapy for months afterward.

As I flung the Zagi into the air that last time, I felt my arm fall out of joint. Just like holding my breath under the waves, I maintained enough self-awareness to dead-stick the plane to a good landing. Then I put down the radio and shoved my arm back into place. I remember thinking, “Dammit! Not right before World Wide KAP Week! This SUCKS!”

So the wind and the rain Friday wasn’t entirely a bad thing. And the preoccupation Saturday was ok, too. Sunday I figured I’d had enough R&R to risk using a winder. I took it easy at first, but by the third flight I figured I was mended enough to be ok for the rest of World Wide KAP Week. Now I just need some time in the evenings to catch some sunset light!

– Tom

P.S. I can attest to the toughness of the Zagi. I’ve lawn-darted it enough times now to trust that it’ll survive my learning curve. But I think I’d better stick to actual slopes from now on.

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