Explanations of the tools below and more weather info
El Paso National Weather Service - start here!
Meso West Region (Current conditions at stations in the SW)
Santa Teresa NWS (current conditions)
Anapra Mesa (current conditions)
SPC Balloon Soundings (every 12 hours)
UoW Balloon Soundings - usually available before the SPC soundings 72364
OP40 balloon soundings forecast
NWS hourly graphical forecast - temp, winds, & gusting at the surface
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
Wind Map - animated map of winds and other data over the surface of the world.
Wind History Map - actual vs. forecasts
Training will resume when weather conditions permit. Thank you.
All training is 100% dependent on weather conditions. Before coming out, check your email and the web site to be sure training is not canceled. If something comes up, we will attempt to contact scheduled pilots. We are at sod farm #4 at 9AM and 3PM unless otherwise specified. Pilots can always arrive earlier than the scheduled times to setup and practice kiting. Contact us to schedule.
Check out our featured video and introduction to paragliding from the National Geographic website.
The heavy rainfall and high winds continued for most of the week making the entire region the closest thing to a bog there is: 100% humidity and temperatures in the low 80's. Nonetheless, there were a few hours one late afternoon and morning when the sun came out and the humidity dropped a bit. Ultralight pilots have to take what they can get -- and I did.
This is view of the peninsula from the northeast end looking southwest as far as possible. The peninsula is full of bayous. What is a bayou? It is something unknown in the desert but found in here along the coast. It is a flat, marshy, boggy area where the water moves very little. Most of the bayous here are salt water but there were also plenty of freshwater bayous closer to the Gulf coast (left side of the photo). While flying, there are no bugs but not when you land. Fifty yards from the coast there were swarms of mosquitoes. Right on the beach the onshore breeze was strong enough to keep the bugs away.
When the sun came out, flying was spectacular along the deserted beach. This 25 ton Coast Guard buoy was ripped off its moorings by some storm. The surf is substantial along the coast which makes beaching a boat particularly difficult because of the danger of being swamped by a wave. The tracks in the sand were made by the landowner who must drive along 10 miles of beach from a couple of houses to get to a dock by the outlet of the Colorado River
Small sailboat wreck -- probably 26'-30' in overall length. Typically, sailboats capsize in severe storms and get washed ashore upside down, as here. Most of the wreck is buried in the sand with only the stern showing. When it came near the shore, wave action broke the mast off as it touched the bottom. As it got to shore, the force of the surf would break the keel loose and next the engine would be ripped from its mounts. It would crash through the top of the cabin and out. That is why the drive shaft and propellar are missing but the rudder is still attached. What a mess....
A view southeast of Matagorda Bay Nature Park during one of the few times when the sun was shining. The Park has about (50) RV spaces and (22) camping sites. (19) of the RV sites are located right on the water and we enjoyed one of them. I could walk a few minutes and be in the middle of a grass field where launching a PPG was possible. While there, I took some photographs for the Park from a special direction that showed the changes in the area over the years. It was friendly, quiet, clean, and comfortable with all of the amenities one could expect of a first class resort.
The beaches are mostly just sand. Only occasionally were the conditions just right to expose sea shells through storm action. While flying along mile after mile, I spotted the exposed seashells here, landed, and filled every bag on my harness there was with the best I could find.
The surf is brown from the intense wind storm and wave action we had earlier in the day. As you go out and away from shore, the aquamarine color returns to the water. But unless you are in a boat or flying an aircraft, you would not know when it ends/begins. Flying along 6' over the surf at 21 mph is something only a powered paraglider can do. Waves, water, fences, trees, roads, bayous, etc. are not a barrier to the slow flying paraglider. Suffice it to say, it would be very dangerous to land in heavy surf (unlike the surf here). Pilots must always wear emergency floatation vests when over the water, as I did. The air over the ocean is some of the smoothest air a pilot will ever fly in.
As anyone knows who pays attention to the weather, we have not had friendly skies lately for flying hardly anywhere in the U.S. This means pilots catch safe flying conditions when they can. Yesterday afternoon was a time when the winds and storms briefly abated briefly along the Gulf Coast. At the time of this flight, the winds were south at 7 mph with a capping inversion that kept overdevelopment of storms from occurring. Flying conditions were perfect.
The Matagorda Peninsula is about 51 miles long and is uninhabited except for about a 1.5 mile section near the Colorado River. The southwest end has no land access due to the Colorado River which separates it from the rest of the peninsula. The southwest part of the peninsula can be accessed only by boat or aircraft. Boat access is difficult on the ocean side because of the constant surf and on the Bay side because of the endless and shallow bayous. There is one sort-of harbor at the southwest tip of the peninsula.
Fortunately, access by a powered paraglider or a helicopter is, well, easy. The peninsula has an interesting history including its use as a bombing and machine-gun range by the Army during WWII. When the weather clears up, I hope to visit and photograph the abandoned military installations on the peninsula. Below is the southwest portion of the peninsula. Unlike the desert, visibility is about 5 miles because of the haze/humidity. Flying along, I did not see any signs of people. However, there were some deer.
Same view as above but 20' off the deck. Going along for mile after mile like this is what makes PPG so unique. About a mile from here, I landed and took a break. Hurricanes have roared through here over the decades and only well anchored structures remain. The shore line is littered with marine "trash", including 20 ton navigation buoys that were ripped off their moorings by storms. As it was late in the day and I did not want to get caught in the dark so I hurried back into the air. Safety requires flying with a life preserver, satellite communicator, and radio because of the isolation of this place. FlightBabe1 (Marilyn) and I were in constant radio contact.
After weeks of windy weather everywhere, we finally had a break in south central Texas. Winds were 3-5 mph from the south.
Flying any sort of aircraft near sea level altitude is a surprise every time. Pilots from our area should be cautious when they fly below 1,000' MSL: your wing behaves much differently than at 4,000' MSL. It is good, just the same: there is dramatically better lift, lower stall speed, shorter take offs and landings, and better glide. Paramotors have about 15% better thrust and cruise at lower speeds. Starting is harder because of the greater compression. In particular, the glider comes up faster at launch and pilots must be particularly careful of this as it is easy for it to overshoot.
Government Canyon is west of San Antonio and is located right at the beginning of the Texas hill country. View of the 12,000 acre preserve looking east. The air is full of moisture and is hazy. Glare from the sun was severe -- an odd event for those of us who live in the desert. Park HQ is in the foreground.
Just west of the Park is grazing land for cattle. All of the land around the Park is or is about to become housing subdivisions of the rapidly expanding city of San Antonio. This area just south of the Edwards Plateau does not have the severe weather so common in the Waco, Austin, or Ft. Worth areas. It also has milder temperatures, being closer to the Gulf of Mexico.
Tom Bird and I (Had Robinson) went out to see if Anapra would work and it was but then there were the huge storms and the resultant gust fronts/boundaries that were southeast of us. Late in afternoon everything started to build and, sure enough, a 30 mph boundary whipped through. It was good to be on the ground. However, the sky was beautiful!
Nearby, Max Bennett took this photo of Phil Ehly flying in the same air near the sod farms. They, too, took note of the OD going on and landed shortly before the boundary came roaring in. The View is ENE.