Hawaii – Pauwela slope soaring

Pauwela is the spot for hot-planes and hot-pilots. Small, fast and maneuverable are the watch words on this coastal slope. Timid flyers and newbies need not apply. Come back when you feel the need to take it to the limit.

In-Your-Face Sloping at Pauwela Lighthouse

Thanks to Duane Asami for permission to use this info.

Pauwela Lighthouse is for the very skilled aileron pilot only and is strictly the dominion of the small, high-speed, highly-maneuverable hotrods. Bring lots of lead, you’ll be needing to increase your wing loading to enjoy this site. Pauwela is flyable anytime the weather forecast calls for trade-winds, the stronger, the better. One M.I.S.O. member, flew a scratch-built U-2 here when his Kestral digital-wind-meter read fifty-four miles-per-hour.

You’ll want to fly something small here. Spans of 36″ to 48″ are great although the 60″ racers can also tear-up the sky. Don’t bother bringing a full-house two-meter or F3B ship here, you won’t want to throw it out. You’ll be flying in a “box” only about thirty-feet deep, thirty-feet high and a hundred feet wide. You’ll be flying at very high speeds with your plane less than 10′ from you as you move from right-to-left. Try something like a Mini-1 or a Blazer.

Pauwela Lighthouse is on the northern coastline of east-Maui. Follow Hana Highway (36) east out of Kahului towards the extreme east- end of the island. Look for a small community called Paia about seven-miles out of Kahului. After passing Paia, watch the milepost markers, you’ll want to go .8 mile past MP-11. You should see a pineapple field on the left (ocean side) of the highway and the Haiku Community Center on the right. Take the left onto the dirt road which runs along the edge of the pineapple field and follow it to the ocean. Beware, if it’s raining or the road is muddy, don’t go down there, you will get stuck; there are no phones and cellular phones won’t work out there. When you get to the bottom of the field, you’ll see a small lighthouse (actually, it looks like a small platform on a tall utility pole). Turn right and drive through the broken fence, across the grass to the cliff. If the wind is blowing in your face from the sea, you’ve found the spot.

Flying Pauwela is aerobic exercise at it’s best… You don’t get sore muscles, but your heart rate goes through the roof. Fly small “rockers” back-and-forth across the face of the cliff and don’t get too far out. The lift goes away and you’ll be in the ocean in a hurry. Also, don’t get too far to the left, it gets squirrelly there and planes have been known to disappear behind the lighthouse, never to be seen again. Landings here are actually not as traumatic as Waihe’e and much simpler once you get the hang of it. Fly from right to left and stay close in to the cliff. On the left, turn out and try to keep the nose a little high to keep from penetrating and building up speed. Let the wind push the plane backwards as you hover about five-to-ten feet off the ground. As it backs over the land, the lift will die and the plane will settle down like a helicopter.

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