paraglider being inflated on the rim at Kilbourne Hole 
				maar, Dona Ana County, TX

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paragliding past the south rim of El Penon, Valle de Bravo, Mexico in a UP Summit 
				XC paraglider SOUTHWEST AIRSPORTS paragliding near cloud base in Valle de Bravo, Mexico - pilot is Had Robinson

FLIGHT SCHOOL for PARAGLIDING

  Training & Discovery Flight Information - go here  

Flying Site Info for Pilots - go here

We are based in Santa Teresa, NM where we can fly year round in our beautiful desert terrain and high mountains. We offer USHPA (paragliding) and USPPA (powered paragliding) certified training.

We are proud to train warriors of the U.S. Armed Forces - Please view I Fought for You.  This website is dedicated in memory of the heroes of U.S. Navy SEAL Team 10 and the SEALS in Operation Redwing who perished fighting the enemy in Afghanistan, June 2005.  Southwest Airsports is a U. S. defense contractor.

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This site designed and maintained by Hadley Systems

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Weather Info For explanations of the tools below and more weather info go here.
 
Intro to Weather in the southwest

El Paso National Weather Service - start here!

Meso West Region (Current conditions at stations in our region)

NWS Sta Teresa Station (current conditions Santa Teresa, NM)

NWS SPC Balloon Soundings  (For forecasts go here)

NWS UoW Balloon Soundings - usually available before the SPC soundings 72364

NWS hourly graphical forecast - temp, winds, & gusting at the surface

Jet Stream &
4 day forecast

El Paso US Airnet winds & temps aloft

El Paso NWS - Deming, NM

NOAA Satellite image of clouds over west Texas - NM

National forecast of fronts, pressure & weather - easy to read

Soaring Forecasts - (go here for the thermal index)

ADDS - wind & temp forecasts at various altitudes

Dixon White's Notes on Desert Flying (courtesy of Eagle Paragliding)

Wind Map - animated map of winds over the surface of the U.S.

Wind History Map - actual vs. forecasts

Midland, TX weather tools

 

Current & Future Events

Training August 22 - 24  Friday - Sunday -- Training is on for the weekend.  Please be sure to schedule any training you want to do as soon as you know.  This is our busy season and we need as much notice as possible.  Thanks - Had

October 24 - 26 -- Extremo Airshow -- Chihuahua City, Chih. MX -- All PPG pilots from our region are invited to fly in the air show.  The state of Chih. and Chih. City have generously offered to host all pilots from the El Paso/southern New Mexico area.  We are joined every year by the balloonists from Albuquerque, NM.   Contact us for more info.  For a photo sample of what it is all about, go here.

November 1-2 -- Amigo Airsho 2014 Santa Teresa, NM -- The El Paso Paramotor Demo Team will flying in this year's show.  Come see us!

November 30 - December 14 -- Valle de Bravo, MX -- Every year we go to this fabulous thermalling site.  Our host, Jeff Hunt, takes extra time to help new pilots, even P2's with a dozen flights.  Pilots will learn how to thermal while enjoying the friendly ambiance of a rural mountain town that is off the tourist map.  Go here for a photo montage, more information, and to make reservations. 

Contact us for information about paragliding, events, or flying in our region.  Visitors are always welcome at our training sessions and at our flying sites.  They can also assist pilots.  Directions to our training site, the sod farms are here.

Recent Events

August 16-17 Saturday - Sunday -- Training -- Pilots Jason Tilley, Bill Cobb, and Phil Ehly were able to train this weekend.  Saturday was one of the best days we have had in months as the air was steady at around 6 mph and buoyant.  Sunday was not as good as the higher pressure made things more sinky everywhere, especially over the sod farms.  Training is hard work and, like any other sport, progress is slow.  The rewards are:  increased safety when flying.  It is a great concept....

Bill coming in after a long high flight.  When pilots can set up to land downwind of launch (as here), they are always thrilled -- it means they walk less and have more time in the air.  Jason (on the ground) is getting ready to launch.



Jason, too, was able to set up to land behind launch.



Sunday was not anywhere near as buoyant as the day before.  Phil is getting ready to be pulled into the air.  We launch pilots just like a child would launch a kite.  This is the closest description of what we do at the sod farm.  Because winds were light and the air sinky, pilots on Sunday had to run hard to get in the air. 



August 5 - Tuesday PM -- Training -- Student pilots Jason Tilley & Phil Ehly came out Tuesday afternoon to be challenged by the air.  Unlike Sunday which had the upper limit, the winds Tuesday were light and variable.  These conditions make everything difficult -- launch can be rough and fast, there is less time in the air to do maneuvers, and landings can be exciting.  They both got a workout!

Below, Phil does a perfect launch with Karamba glider with no wind coming in.  He had to run!  Here is a short video of the launch.  Nice work, Phil!



The photo below looks like Jason is about to bomb-out to the left -- not at all.  This was a launch in a 90 degree cross wind, one of the most difficult launches to do under tow.  (However, he did have to practice this a few times to get the glider just right.)  In this launch, the pilot must face into the wind as much as possible which is about 45 degrees (and is cross that much).  As he brings the glider up, he has to resist the tow line direction with as much strength as possible by running at a 45 degree angle to the tow direction.  While doing this, he has to bury the right brake enough to stop the glider from careening to the left (which is what it wants to do when a pilot launches crosswind).  He then has to accelerate as fast as he can in the tow direction because, in a 90 degree crosswind launch, he is almost running downwind.  What's the advantage of doing something a pilot will probably never do anywhere else?  It teaches him to do many things at the same time.  This is a critical part of learning to be a safe pilot.  He must control the wing, but not over-control it.  He has to stay on his feet UNDER the glider.  It was a hard task.  Nice work, Jason.  Here is a short video of the launch.



August 3 -- Sunday AM -- Training -- Phil Ehly and Daniel Rivera made it to the sod farms for training in air that was at the top end for new students per speed.  On the other hand, such air was buoyant!  The pilots were accompanied by Phil's daughter, Vic, who helped the pilots.  It was a hard day because ground handling required more advanced skills, as the pilots discovered.  It is like driving a tractor at 15 mph (light winds) or managing a BMW at 140 mph (strong winds).  In strong air, the slightest nudge on the toggles will send the glider careening.  Despite the challenges, it was an awesome training day and the pilots did very well.  For a fun video of one of the pilots hundreds of feet over launch coming down, go here.

Prior to training today, I (Had Robinson) made a test flight over the area and was able to get a photo of our happy gathering at the 4th sod farm.  Phil is visible with the orange glider and Daniel with the blue, red, white.  The 4th farm is the most westerly and remote of the farms and completely free of hazards (power lines, public roads) but for the irrigation sprinkler system.  It is further away from the rim of the Rio Grande valley and, accordingly, has less mechanical turbulence when the winds are high.



Daniel helping Phil at launch.  When pilots are not in the air they should be kiting or helping other pilots.  It adds a factor of safety.  Vic stands at the ready to help spread out her dad's glider.  Helping other pilots is also a great way increase know-how.



August 2 -- Saturday -- Training -- It rained off and on during the morning but things opened for training during a few hours in the afternoon.  The winds were right at the edge.  Student PPG2 pilot Daniel Rivera got a workout keeping his glider overhead.  It's a lot of work when conditions are strong but pilots learn about finesse in controlling their gliders.  It was a good afternoon -- well done, Daniel!

FlightBabe1 (Marilyn) racing out on her ATV to retrieve the drogue parachute.  Thanks to her help, we can launch double the number of pilots during a session.  The video is here.



Daniel had to bring up his glider in strong air, kite it briefly, then turn and launch.  It all happens very quickly.  The pilot must keep everything under control.  The only way to learn is by doing -- much like playing tennis.  You can read all the books there are and watch a dozen videos but it cannot replace doing it repeatedly until your skills are perfected.



August 1 Friday -- Training
-- It was raining Friday AM so we canceled training for the morning.  The air was not turbulent or particularly hazardous but wet grass is not easy to launch from.

Late Friday afternoon a deluge occurred in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains.  A cold front from the east hit the humid warm air in our area = weather.  Below, a view east from the west rim of the Rio Grande valley.  The Franklins cannot be seen because of the rain coming down.  About an hour later, the whole thing died and went away.  New pilot Daniel Rivera and I (Had Robinson) practiced kiting at the sod farm.  We had to be wary of outflow from the storm going on near the Franklins.



The view at the sod farm towards the west was inviting.  Daniel was getting to used to kiting while wearing a paramotor.  Because of the weight pilots have to be much more careful about being dragged or falling over.

July 29 - 31 -- Weather -- Here are photos of some of the severe weather we have had the last few days.

Line clouds over the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. This event was caused by warm moist air coming from the east moving west and being pushed up and over the mountains. As it went up, the temperature dropped below the dew point and clouds formed. As it continued on, the air mass dropped down on the other side and the clouds were re-absorbed.  (Photo courtesy of Esther Tilley)



A cumulus nimbus cloud.  This area's relatively dry air enhances the contrast of cloud and air.



Thursday AM west of the sod farm.  This huge rain cloud was drifting south from Las Cruces.

July 26 - 27 Saturday Sunday -- Training -- Phil Ehly, Natalie Adam and Daniel Rivera trained during one of our better weekends when the air was more buoyant than usual.

Daniel coming in from a long and high flight.  When pilots are able to fly back to launch and beyond, we know the air is good!



Natalie ready to go.  There is a lot going through a pilot's mind prior to take off which is why pre-flight checks are so important.  In the upper left, Tom Bird can be seen flying PPG.  More experienced pilots who will help the newer pilots are always appreciated at training sessions.  Newer pilots always need encouragement and pointers.


July 22 Tuesday -- AM Training
-- Conditions were not as good this AM for training.  Tom Bird & I went out early to practice.  There were strong winds aloft that came down early and started mixing with the surface air = rowdy air.  Tom bringing up his glider in a "reverse inflation".

 

July 21 Monday -- PM Training -- Thanks to the NWS and their sophisticated weather radar, we were able to train in a safe window in the afternoon.  New P1 pilot Jason Tilley continued his training.  Jason is in the Army and was recently stationed at Ft. Bliss.  We had about an hour and a half of very good air before the storms took over.

The air, of course, was buoyant as anything and a pilot could only go up everywhere.  This meant that flights were high and long -- a pleasant event.  The huge storm in the background is something that would normally scare us out of the air because of the hazard of downbursts that cause very high winds at the surface.  The NWS radar was able to see the moving boundary and was able to warn us when it would hit us.  This way, we could enjoy the otherwise good air of the late afternoon.



Pilots must always stand up when they land.  It sounds obvious but about half of new pilots decide that it is more interesting to sit down as they land.  Jason had a perfect landing here because of strong but safe air near the surface.  When winds are steady from the surface up a thousand feet we have the same conditions as the coastal and Midwest sites.  After Jason landed, we had some kiting training and then had to hustle as the storm was moving right for us -- and with lightning.  Lightning is extremely dangerous and we wanted to be out of there.



July 21 Monday -- Border -- Desert air is always mysterious as no one know how it will behave.  The balloon sounding from 6AM showed high winds (25 knots+) right off the deck.  Having flown this air for years, I knew that it could change in a few hours -- and change it did.  It went from high winds to pussycat air in less than 2 hours.  In fact, the winds aloft were among the calmest I have ever flown in.  However, the only way you can find out is to fly up into them, ready at a moment's notice to dive out of them to the ground.  The risk is minimal because turbulence from high winds aloft and strong thermals is very different.  Rough air is different than air going up and down with great force near powerful thermals.

What's special about this photo?  If you look closely you will see cars lined up for miles right at the border.  These are all used cars and totaled-vehicles that Mexicans buy from all over the U.S.  They drive them in pairs (one towing, one being towed) in order to import them into Mexico.  Mexican taxes on new vehicles are so high that few can afford them = get used and crashed vehicles from the U. S.  This has become more popular than ever and there are a thousand cars that cross the Santa Teresa border every day.  It did not used to be so organized (I fly right over the border often).  As the traffic increased, so did crime, fights, and other types of disorder.  The New Mexico governor issued an order for the State Police to regulate it which they are now doing -- for a fee charged to each vehicle so NM taxpayers do not have to bear the cost.  It is like the liquor tax.



The wonderful sod farms where we train pilots how to fly paragliders -- our thanks to Stan Gardner and Gardner Turfgrass, Inc.  They could tell us all to get lost but they haven't....  In the distance are the East and West Potrillo Mountains of Dona Ana County, New Mexico.

July 14 Monday's Storms -- It's a beautiful sky but not particularly friendly to ultralights.

July 5 - 6 Saturday - Sunday -- Training -- Saturday worked a bit but Sunday AM was much better.  Winds were north around 6 mph at the surface.  The air was buoyant, as well.  The tow operation was particularly smooth and without glitches so there were a dozen+ flights.  Pilots who were able to train were: Tom Bird, Daniel Rivera, Natalie Adam, Hunter Davis, and Oscar Chaparro.  Lee Boone visited us Saturday morning.

The wind was high enough to catch the leading edge of the gliders when pilots moved about the field.  If the air had been stronger, a pilot must take special measures to prevent the glider from fully inflating and being torn out of his hands.  Oscar's glider below almost looks like an orange Nautilus.



This was the air late Sunday afternoon and why we could not be in it.  The sky was rapidly overdeveloping and the danger of high winds was increasing.  View is southeast with the Franklin Mountains in the distance.



Natalie practiced spiral dives on Sunday.  The air was strong at launch, buoyant, and pilots got very high.  This means lots of altitude and time to do fun maneuvers.  She is approaching the LZ after doing (2) deep dives in her Paramania Revo glider.  Deep spirals are a controlled and quick way to get out of the air quickly.  If the air gets really rowdy, a pilot can spiral out of it as well as reduce the chance of collapses because of the greatly increased loading on the wing during the dive.



Hunter preparing for launch.  Marilyn has just brought the end of the towline with the drogue back from the other side of the field.  Hunter is flying the UP Makalu 3 -- a race car compared to the usual gliders used for (safe) training



Hunter going up under tow.  This is a telephoto shot of him about 400' off the ground.



Natalie with friend Tomas waiting in the queue to go up.



Daniel preparing to launch.  He was Mr. Lucky today as he towed at least two times when the air was going up.  So what?  It meant he was able to stay up twice as long.  Later in the morning the thermals were just beginning to release from the ground.  About every 10th thermal is really big and well organized.  In Valle de Bravo, MX in December, they are almost all that way which means it's easy for pilots to get up and stay up.



Tom Bird helping Natalie at launch.  Tom was the most experienced pilot there and, for the first time, he had his first try at thermalling at the sod farms.  Only two pilots have thermalled away from the sod farm since we began training there: Lee Baker and Lee Boone.  Tom had a good taste of it this morning and he wants to be the third.  Good thermalling requires making perfect circles 30m in diameter and then moving them accurately in any direction.  Lee Boone once went 75 miles across central Florida using such maneuvers.  It takes a great amount of skill.  The longest XC thermalling trip done in southern New Mexico was by P2 student Brad Gray when we launched him by tow on Hwy 9 and guided him to near Columbus, NM -- about 40 miles.



July 4 Friday -- Training at the sod Farms -- We want to welcome our newest PPG student, Oscar Chaparro, from La Junta, Eto. Chih., MX.  Oscar is just 18 -- one of our youngest to begin training.  Bienvenidos!  Daniel Rivera and Phil Ehly also joined us for continued training.

Oscar (L) and our assistant instructor, Jose Muñoz.  Before we go up in the air, we spend some time in the simulator learning how to control a paraglider.



We had a full slate Friday.  (L-R) Jose, Oscar, FlightBabe1 (Marilyn), Daniel, and Phil



Daniel preparing to launch.  It was a hard day for the students because the winds were high.  The benefit is that students learning a lot more when they must control their glider at launch.  However, he had lots of help!



Phil going up under tow.  The challenge?  Pilots must steer their glider in a straight line -- it is harder than it looks.



Oscar getting kiting tips from Jose.  Before we do anything in the air, it is a good idea to learn how to kite well first.



Soaring in the White Mountains east of the Owens Valley, CA.  This is big air -- even bigger than our region.  The views are spectacular.  In the distance are the Sierra Nevada range rising up to over 14,000'.

July 3 Thursday -- Training -- Phil Ehly made it out to a perfect morning for training.  Winds were right at the top end for new students -- east at 12 mph.  Phil practiced kiting and launch technique.  The unique feature of learning under tow is that new pilots who do not know how to do a reverse inflation can do a forward in strong air without having to worry as much about being dragged backwards.  The tow line is engaged and just the right amount of force is applied to keep the pilot stationary during and after the glider comes up overhead.  He then can apply brake, move left or right as needed, and make plenty of mistakes without taking a trip on the ground downwind.

All of our training slots have been filled for this weekend. However, please come out anyway as help is always appreciated – and needed. The next open weekend is July 18 – 20.

Phil ready to launch.  Marilyn, left, is assisting.

June 27, 28, 29 Friday, Saturday, Sunday -- Training - We want to welcome our newest PG pilot, Greg Wacker, of El Paso.  Friday afternoon was a time for flight school.  We were unable to fly Saturday because of high winds all day.  However, we could do some kiting early in the morning at the sod farm until things blew out.  Sunday AM was our first time in a while when we could safely fly.  Tom Bird assisted Greg as well as taking a few flights himself.  Winds aloft near dawn were high -- 20+ knots about 500' up.  Thankfully, they were getting less as the morning went on.  Tom was the first to launch and got pulled up right into the high winds.  I (Had Robinson, the winch operator) could tell because the winch began to pay-out rather than pay-in as Tom went up but not forward.  The air, though fast, was very smooth.  The transition from the surface air to the high winds was also not particularly rough.  Greg's first flights were remarkable as the higher winds aloft allowed him to get very high (800'+ AGL), as well.

Greg just after his first flight.  Congratulations!

 

Sometimes the air is just sinky everywhere and pilots have to walk and walk to get back to launch -- but not today.  In the photo below, Greg is ABOVE launch boating around, burning off altitude.  Some days are just better for training (more time in the air) and some are not.  We take the good with the not-so-good.



Tom getting ready to go up.  It was a great day for us.

June 20 Friday PM -- Training - We had to cancel training this afternoon.  After arriving at the farms, we noticed high winds.  They were a result of virga falling from a storm on the east side of the Franklin mountains.  Training will resume Saturday early.

Below, virga falling out of the clouds.  The sudden change from rain drops to vapor absorbs a tremendous amount of heat, cooling the air quickly.  This cold air falls from thousands of feet in the air and creates dangerous high winds.  Best to stay on the ground when virga is near.

June 15 Sunday AM -- Training - Southwest Airsports is happy to welcome our newest student, Daniel Rivera of Midland, TX.  His area of Texas has fewer flying days per year than our region.  However, Midland has far more days when the air is buoyant and safe.  Imagine thermalling in strong conditions with a minimal amount of turbulence?  Every part of the earth has its plusses and minuses when it comes to soaring aircraft.

We were joined by pilots Tom Bird and Natalie Adam.  Tom was a great help to our new student.  Natalie flew this day for the first time in many months.  We only had a little time slot all weekend when the winds were not crazy.  Even then, we had to watch the air carefully.  The good news?  Today the air was particularly buoyant = it was easy to get up and go high and far!

(L-R) Tom, Daniel, and Natalie



Daniel preparing to launch for the first time.  Every new pilot has a million things going through his head which is why we put two radios right next to their ears.  It does help to have the instructor's cheery voice in stereo....  In the background is the all-hydraulic static winch that pulls up the pilot.



Daniel was able to make it all the way back to launch in the buoyant air.  He told us that it was not until his 4th flight that day that he began to really enjoy it.  "I could see the grass and other things on the ground!"  All pilots confirm that there is nothing like paragliding and hang gliding.



Daniel setting up for a landing.  When there is a good wind coming in and the air is buoyant, it is so easy to land a paraglider.  He landed on his feet every time.  Nice job and good flying, Daniel!  Welcome to the club.


vulture

   

This site was last updated 08/21/14  All material on this website copyright  © 2009 - 2014 by Southwest Airsports, LLC all rights reserved