In this week’s hang gliding news, we cover four locations known for beauty, extreme gliding conditions, and fantasy flight possibilities. These should be on everyone’s bucket list, though several are for experienced hang glider pilots only.
Makapuu Cliffs (Hawaii)
On the eastern-most point of Oahu, this is a premier ridge-soaring site with one primary landing zone and 5 primary launches that work in a broad range of conditions. The classic windy cliff launch is the area from above Makai Pier and the east at 1200’ MSL. Proficiency in high wind reverse launches is vital. The wind is strong but blows so steadily there’s no need to be concerned about a wing suddenly lifting.
The main part of the ridge faces north-east and the high section is about 2 miles long. The craggy cliffs plummet straight down to near sea level; if you get low, just move over near the cliff and up you go; it’s like an elevator. Head for the lighthouse as it’s gorgeous.
For more information on Makapuu Cliffs flying site visit http://www.windlines.net/2002/01/makapuu.html
Rampart Ridge (WA)
This is an H3 site or H2 w/Instructor: CL Signoff required. Three-hour flights are possible on this ridge and thermal soaring site. Extremely scenic, this mountain site has areas that produce both thermal and mechanical lift. If conditions are right, soar the rock cliffs behind and to the north of launch. Beyond the cliffs, several small mountain lakes, Snoqualmie Pass, and Mt. Rainier come into view: exquisite.
Two LZ’s are located along the north and south shores of Keechelus Lake. As Rampart Ridge is just east of Snoqualmie Pass’s summit, it can be subject to high winds that develop quickly and rotor from Hyak Moutain. Keeping the glider loaded while landing is very important.
For more information on Rampart Ridge flying site visit http://www.cloudbase.org/flying-site-guides/rampart-ridge-located-on-the-e-side-of-snoqualmie-pass/
Owens Valley (Southern California)
This is a 100-mile-long valley varying in width from six to 20 miles between two large faults in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There are numerous launch sites, and it’s known for its strong lift. You can get big air and make your personal hang gliding record level flights, but there’s also some turbulence.
Gliding here can best be described as extreme: only advanced pilots should make the attempt. Sometimes oxygen-assisted, gliders can stay aloft for four hours or more, gliding on the updrafts created on the east side of the range to as far north as Mammoth or Mono Lake. The stunningly beautiful scenery looking down on the eastern front of the Sierras is worth that turbulence; the lift is abundant, high, and mellow.
For more information on Owens Valley flying site visit http://karicastle.com/owens-valley/
Jockey Ridge (North Carolina)
Jockey Ridge North Carolina is a dune flying site that is very near to where the Wright Brothers flew their wright flyer in the early 1900s. There is nothing technically challenging about this flying site and it’s being listed in this list because of it’s the connection to the birth of powered aviation. In fact, you can actually take a replica of the 1902 Wright Glider up for a test drive while experiencing the same winds and challenges the Wright Brothers did. When you are done with flying the Wright Glider you can rent a wing and soar the sand dunes or get towed aloft. Since you are already there you may want to give a go at the Jetpak so you can cross it off your “Who’s your daddy, now” bucket list.
For more information on flying the Wright Flyer visit http://www.kittyhawk.com/adventures/1902-wright-glider-experience/
For more information on flying the Jetpak visit
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