Dawn comes to the North Shore of Hawaii like a shy child slipping into a room at morning. The trades, already howling in town, are here still barely strong enough to stir the wind sock. Overhead, wisps of cloud float silently by. What little wind there is, is due east, straight down the runway. There is time for a short jog on the beach followed by a swim with the sea turtles.
Then, push our birds out into the sunlight, hose from them the night's accumulated salt, dust and gecko droppings, clean the canopies with cotton diapers that will never feel a baby's bottom and await the day's first rides.
"How long have you been doing this?"
"This is my first day, Ma'am."
The L19 throws out a knot of blue smoke as Tyler throttles up, indicating that the valve guides may be worn and letting a little oil into the combustion chambers. The trades have started to pick up a bit and now have a bit more north in them. As soon as I get control authority I put in a touch of left stick and a comparable amount of right rudder to compensate for the cross wind coming in off the ocean. The usual turbulence from the trees lining the runway kicks us around until everything glasses out at 300', at which point we bank right to avoid the skydivers floating down at the far end of the runway.
The vario jumps from 400 to 600 fpm as we reach the ridge, but since this is first flight of the day and the lift is still weak, I make Tyler drag us up to 3,000' before setting him free.
"Oh, it's so beautiful up here!" she exclaims in wonder, as first Turtle Bay, then Sunset Beach and the rest of the North Shore go sweeping past our canopy. Truly, it is a panorama of which one never tires.
Twenty minutes later I'm back on the ground watching two giggly Japanese ladies jiggle towards the flight line. The Schweizer 2-32 is the only glider certified for two passengers, and the slender young things slide comfortably into the rear seat.
Screams of glee accompany our takeoff, followed by more hilarity in the following turbulence. It turns out they are stewardesses for Northwest Airlines. However, the sights leave their jaded eyes unmoved, and before long they are deep in conversation about the relative merits of various Japanese TV personalities. Fifteen minutes into the flight, the more intelligent of the two asks me: "So, how long will it fly on a tank of gas?"
No sooner do I finish my fourth ride when Carey comes running over from the booth.