My first morning in Hawaii I got up and headed to Dillingham to soar. I'd booked a 30 minute sight seeing tour as I was over the weight limit for the acrobatic flight. For some reason they're apprehensive about flying 360 degree loops with the equivalent of a human refrigerator aboard the sailplane. Go figure.
That being said, it was an incredible experience riding thermals like a freight elevator up the side of the beautiful and ancient Waianae mountains. My pilot was Big Don who was an engaging conversationalist and he was very accommodating when I asked if we could do some minor maneuvers. Basically, we'd stall where he'd pitch the nose up and bleed off airspeed until we stopped, then slide backwards, point the nose straight down and bank on the wingtip at the bottom of the dive. At the top of the stall, negative four g's and at the bottom of the dive we'd be pulling six g's. To say it was exhilarating is to play it down. It wasn't my first experience with this maneuver so no change of underwear was required.
The scenery was stunning, overlooking the North Shore and the mountains. The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful and the experience was well worth the money.
I did make a video of the experience and posted in on Youtube to the tune of The Neville Brothers version of Fly Like an Eagle. It's not the best quality, but you get a sense of the experience. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuCRUY78fiM
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