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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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.