Explanations of the tools below and more weather info
El Paso National Weather Service - start here!
Meso West Region (Current conditions at stations in our region)
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 April 19th. 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 will be 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 and inflations. Contact us to schedule.
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.
When moisture pours into the region, it is always a delight to see (rather than feel) the atmosphere flexing its muscles. So it was today early in the AM.
There were various layers of air west of the Rio Grande valley where I was flying early in the morning. Going up to greet the clouds at 6,000' MSL, I noticed -- out of the blue so to speak -- a layer of clouds below me coming quickly out of the SSW. Parked in the air, I watched in disbelief as it came and then start to pass right under me. It happened near the sod farms where we train (which are barely visible in the upper right). Now what? Although I am clear of clouds by 500', it began to become evident that it could change in minutes -- and it did.
The photo below was taken just a minute or two later. I was concerned that I would be in a complete "white-out" so I did a spiral dive to get quickly out of the clouds. For a bit, it was an unusual experience to be between two layers of clouds. I had to land shortly after this adventure as a light rain started. The only way you know it's raining is your flight goggles get covered with splats of water and it's difficult to see. Here is a 20 second video of the adventure near the clouds. The air was, believe it or not, smooth and comfortable to fly in.
Jason Tilley, Tom Bird, Max Bennett, and I (Had Robinson) came out Monday afternoon to enjoy some soaring of the Mesa. Winds at 4PM were strong -- around 15. We stood around and, sure enough, things began to loosen up a bit. I launched first and had a couple of fine flights, top landing both times. Jason set up for his first attempts at soaring and had two safe flights. Tom flew next but it was already getting late and conditions were weakening quickly. That was it for the day! When conditions at a site look good, drop everything and go fly.
View of Anapra launch from the air. Tom (R) and Jason (L) are the figures at launch. View is SSW.
Jason setting up a launch. Because of the proximity of the fence behind launch, pilots must be very careful when bringing up their gliders. Here is a video of his first soaring flight.
Tom above the Mesa. It was getting late in the day and the winds were getting less.
Friday was a busy day for everyone. Marcey Gillespie trained at the sod farms in the morning and then we headed out to Anapra Mesa where we were joined by hang gliding pilots Bill Cummings and Robin Hastings who enjoyed some flights. Later, pilots Tom Bird and Max Bennett arrived at the Mesa to see if conditions would moderate enough to paraglide. Conditions were strong with winds at 15 mph gusting to over 20. Had Robinson launched his paraglider for a half hour flight in the rough air that was caused by NE winds at the surface getting pushed around by more southeast winds just above. Even at sunset, things did not calm down.
Robin preparing to launch. Marcey, Bill, and I (Had Robinson) were on the wires. Here is the YouTube video of the launch.
The view from a paraglider above the Mesa. A paraglider had to stay out in front of the rim because winds right over the rim were 20+ mph and flying backwards is not usually a good idea. If the air had not been so turbulent, more pilots would have launched.
Tom Bird took some fun photos while we are at Anapra.
This is moonrise over Anapra Mesa with Anapra, Mexico on the right, Cristo Rey in the middle left, and El Paso on the far left.
New student pilot, Santiago De Santiago, was able to continue his training today and complete his P2. Santiago is from Chihuahua City, Chih., Mexico. He was joined by PPG pilots Phil Ely and Max Bennett who enjoyed some early morning flights and a few tows..
Santiago had a dozen flights today. The essence of P2 training is being able to consistently launch and land the paraglider under control. Pilots must also be able to land their gliders within a 10 meter area. This is not always an easy task in our desert air. Congratulations to Santiago on a job well done. Below, Santiago being towed up to altitude.
The forecasts all said today was going to be rough! The Jet was overhead, winds were northwest off the surface, and we all thought it was not going to be fun. One of our newer pilots in the area, Jeff Sanchez (Las Cruces) was hiking around the Franklins and, at around 10AM, he reported winds at the top of N. Mt. Franklin around 30 mph. It is dangerous to fly in winds anything close to that speed near the terrain. There was one blip, however: Jeff made the hike to Agave a few hours later and reported wind were around 10 out of the west. I thought, "He is seeing thermal blocking of the high winds out in front." – or something like that.
Despite the forecasts, pilots Lee Boone, Jeff, and I (Had Robinson) met at the Park (Tom Mays Unit) mid-afternoon to give some flying demonstrations for a videographer crew from the State Parks & Wildlife out of Austin.
Lining up to launch at Agave Hill. I think this is the first time since the site was opened that there was a line of pilots waiting to launch. If other pilots within 500 miles had known that the air was going to be sooooo good they would have flocked to the Park to fly. Safety for the public, preserving the Park's abundant resources, and safety for the pilots are our top priorities. Jeff is first in line, then Lee, and then myself. The figure to the left is Jeff (our second “Jeff” that day) of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department who is taking video footage of what we paragliders do.
As it turned out, we had winds to die
for in the Franklins all afternoon! Pilot Lee Boone reported
that the air in front of the Franklins was some of the smoothest air he had
ever flown in the Park. Launching around 4:30PM, all three pilots got
away from launch. Lee and Jeff both were able to
bench up the Triangle. I launched last and the window was just
closing for getting in thermals and air strong enough to make it across Deep
Sink Canyon. I had to go out front near the access road and safely
Instead of riding the air to 10K' MSL, Lee and Jeff had to come back down in order to complete the demo for video crew. It was hard for them to give up the fabulous air and come down! As it was, we were loaded with microphones and cameras which made flying more difficult. The video experts were able to get a lot of footage launching, in flight, and landing. They even had drone in the air to catch more video. We were able to numerous flights from Agave thanks to a Park volunteer, Robert, who drove us to launch in his Jeep Cherokee. Accompanying us for video shoot were Abe Moore, his assistant Jeff, and Park Ranger, Adrianna Weickhardt. It was a team effort to get the video completed and have so many flights. Here is a short video of some of the launches and landings and including the first (I think) footage of the "cactus dance" which is when a pilot must push brush out of the way with his feet while landing or launching. The alternative is getting whacked front and center by whatever it is....
Lee Boone setting up to go off the hill. It sounds cool but we never "jump off a perfectly good cliff". We make our way to the face and then gently get lifted off or we might run off if the air is dead. We never jump!
Jeff moves to the edge of the hill.
It was an outstanding day for everyone! We were all soooo glad that we took the time off to fly Agave Hill in Franklin Mountains State Park.
Max Bennett, Tom Bird, Daniel Rivera, and I (Had Robinson) took the afternoon off to enjoy the serenity and vastness of the western slopes of the East Potrillo Mountains. As is often the case, we could not foot launch because of the southerly winds and overcast skies so it was PPG only. Better to fly PPG than not fly at all.
Max Bennett preparing to launch near the southern tip of the E. Potrillo Mountains. This launch/LZ is the only patch of desert in the area that is not covered with brush.
We are all in the air flying west from launch near the southern tip of the E. Potrillo Mountains. In the distance (about 10 miles away) are the West Potrillo Mountains.
Mt Cox, Mt No-Name, and Mt Riley. These mountains are fun to soar when there is more sun. View is north. This area is now a National Monument.