This morning I started my first flight directly over the lookout at Waimea Canyon at 6,000 feet. This is one of the most scenic spots on the islands when viewed from a single-seat sailplane. Looking west the large cluster of big white dome stand out with the deep blue water background. This is the Navy's Makaha Ridge Tracking Satellite station. There are other groups of satellite antennas on the island but this is the largest.
Otherwise, you can almost see the waters edge all the way around Kauai, but not quite. At places the bright white foam and the emerald colored shallow water along the beach stand out as the waves break on the shore. But, mostly you see the dark green flora and red or orange earth exposed in the canyon walls.
It seems you could say up here all day long but the flight sim is not known for thermal activity. My choice of sailplane today is the excellent Schleicher ASG-29. The -29 really is at the upper end of the performance scale with a maximum glide ratio greater than 50. The instrumentation in the IPACS model is not one of the better layouts with the primary or center instrument covered up with a huge sticker. What could have been there would be an oversized airspeed indicator that is popular in many of these models or better yet, a GPS unit with map display.
Not a big deal for me though, I have the fsWidget's GMap HD add on with all the maps and charts handy for every flight.
With no suitable landing area this high up the mountain I slowly drifted to the Southwest toward the neighboring island of Niihau, the forbidden, and privately owned island.
As I approached Barking Sands Missile Range, I was especially alert for any light signals pointed in my direction or god forbid any wisps of black telltale smoke from the afterburners of an interceptor on its way to check me out. Nope, just your normal Tuesday morning in beautiful Hawaii.
I still had more than 2,000 feet of altitude as I slowly curved around the control tower with those extra long and slender wings. A friendly wave from the lady in the tower gave me a good feeling that all was well from their view.
Seeing the Guided Missile Frigate, USS Scott, slowly making its way north just offshore in the calm blue water immediately brought me back to simulated reality. I made a large sweeping turn to the south so I could fly over the Scott at about 1,500 feet. There must have been two dozen sets of eyeball staring directly at me, mostly in wonder of what the heck I thought I was doing. Several of those eyeballs were looking through binoculars. Those big diameter ones that they use for, well, whatever they use them for.
I completed my turn back to the north with the intention of landing along side the big runway 16/34 black runway, but, I just floated and floated and floated some more until I was back almost in front of the control tower. There just happens to be a large patch of smooth grass right there waiting for me to place the one wheel firmly on the ground and hit the spoiler key. I made a greaser landing, came to a quick stop and the plane made a half turn so I was back looking in the direction of our friendly ATC lady.
I was too far away to actually see her in the tower, but no doubt she also has a set of those huge navy binoculars. Before I got the canopy open I could see two security Humvees splashing water and headed straight for me. I was smart enough to stay seated in the cockpit and wait for their arrival.
I actually didn't expect to hear, "Welcome to Barking Sands, Sir, our Commander is about to have breakfast and asked that you join him. Our Guard Dog, Enduring Freedom, will stand guard on your aircraft."
Wow. I really don't know how many Navy bases have Kona Coffee, but this one does and it is outstanding. I didn't remember that folks ate poached eggs anymore. Oh well.
I'm off to another busy day of helping the team get this ready for you folks.