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 - view profile without logging in)
Santa Teresa NWS (current conditions)
SPC Balloon Soundings (every 12 hours)
UoW Balloon Soundings - usually available before the SPC soundings 72364
OP40 balloon soundings forecast for Santa Teresa, NM
OP40 balloon soundings forecast for any location
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)
Wind Map #1 - animated map of winds and other data over the surface of the world.
Wind Map #2 - this animated map loads faster but is the US only
Wind History Map - actual vs. forecasts
Contact us to schedule/confirm.
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 usually train at sod farm #4. Training times can vary because of weather or equipment issues. Pilots can always arrive earlier than the scheduled times to setup and practice kiting.
Check out our featured video and introduction to paragliding from the National Geographic website.
Here is a simulation of a reserve deployment. Please read the notes!
Jason Tilley and Had Robinson did some PPG foot-launched tandems Sept. 27 & 28 late in the afternoon. The most important thing in flying foot-launched tandem is to run like crazy when launching. Flying a tandem wing is a like driving a tractor-trailer -- everything happens slowly. Landing appears daunting for the pilot in front (Jason) but, unlike solo wings, the tandem glider has massive flair capability. The pilot-in-command (in the rear), however, has a lot more work to do to bring the long trailing edge down quickly. Because of the great amount of weight under the wing, flying is more like a small plane because turbulent air has less effect on the aircraft.
Here is a short YouTube video of some highlights of the tandem. Only the last 20 yd. of the 100 yd. run is shown in the video.
Jason as the front pilot of the tandem. But is he really flying some sort of attack aircraft? Tandem for the military has advantages: one pilot can fly the aircraft while the other can operate a weapon or navigate. Solo pilots can fly and operate weapons but it is not as good as having the functions separated.
The view of the tandem pilot-in-command who is up and behind the pilot in front. This is some neighborhoods of Santa Teresa, NM.
Pilot-in-command, Had Robinson, just after landing at dusk. There is a lot going while flying tandem, to say nothing of carrying all of the equipment. But it is sooooo much fun!
The neighborhoods of the upper west side of El Paso. Jason's home has the red circle around it. We notified Esther Tilley that we were overhead via a text but she could never find us. The glider is mostly white. While we can see detail on the ground, the other way looking up everything seems to blend in.
Bjorn (BK) Nilssen and Had Robinson set out late on both days to enjoy some ridge soaring at Anapra. The first day was too weak to stay up and the next day was ON and pilots could top land easily. BK, an expert paraglider pilot, is visiting us from his native Norway and we were all hoping that the active weather here would subside enough for us to fly some of our sites -- which it did. Suffice it to say, Norwegians are familiar with every sort of weather there is....
BK getting ready to launch. Here is the YouTube video of some highlights of our flights at Anapra Mesa.
View of the Mesa from the air. Photo by Had
BK gliding along in front of the Mesa
Flying high over southern New Mexico can be hazardous near a major airport like El Paso International because of busy flight paths to and from the west. We spoke with ATC (air traffic control) at El Paso and they suggested we fly south into Mexican airspace and go up there because no scheduled commercial air traffic flies south of the border. This is now what we do and it is much safer for slow moving aircraft like a paraglider.
Somewhere over northern Chihuahua State at near 10,000' MSL. Moisture is moving into the region, making the view from high ethereal. In the distance are the Juarez Mountains.
BK Nilssen, Jason Tilley, and Had Robinson set out for Mag Rim late Friday afternoon for the Rim. The forecast was for south winds at 12 all the way up to at least 10K' -- it should be just right. We were not disappointed. Everyone was able to launch and top land.
Here is a short YouTube of our some highlights of our afternoon at Mag Rim.
BK attempting to get up at the South Launch. This launch is at the edge of a steep cliff which makes the air particularly turbulent for paraglider pilots who must inflate their gliders in rotor. After a few attempts, BK decided it was not doable. We all heartily agreed. If the winds are more than 7 or 8, this launch should be left to the hang gliders.
Jason setting up at South Launch
BK (L) and Jason (R) flying along the Rim near dusk. There is one word for this site: VAST! It was getting dark and we had to land soon.
It is getting dark and we MUST land! If a pilot lands out in front, it's a 2 hour pickup by truck or a 1 hour hike up to the top of the Rim.
Launched in the late afternoon and used the help of weak thermals to get up quickly (it's free lift). The goal was to get some close photos of some clouds that formed from the dwindling moisture in our air mass. These were originally around 8,000' MSL. As I went after them, I noticed that they were going up, too. At 9,500' MSL, I quit because it was getting near sunset and it's good to be down when it's dark (!). It is ethereal getting near these bits of condensed moisture high in the atmosphere. The layer of air I was in couldn't have been more than 25% relative humidity = visibility was upwards of 100 miles.
Here is a photo of the moon in the clear, dry air at altitude. There were big storms in Mexico going on far away due to the movement of a front into the region. As it got darker, the interior of the clouds would be lit up by lightning, a sort of backlight event. It much different than seeing it from the ground, it is a lot clearer and the ground is not a factor - another wraithlike experience. Near dusk/dawn, the sky is always much brighter than the ground which is why it is important to get down.
Once a year (or less) we can have unusual conditions in the high desert. In particular, tropical depressions off the Baja peninsula can send moisture streaming into the region. This can be amplified by air masses laden with moisture coming in from our east. Sunday AM was one of these unusual times. There were multiple layers of atmosphere relatively close to the ground (for our region). The air mass above was relatively quiet, thermals were suppressed. When the stars all line up, it's time to drop everything and go....
Here is a 3 minute video that I posted of the highlights of the flight -- a most unusual one.
It was overcast so the lighting was not the best. I counted at least 4 distinct layers. I flew through and over one of them, almost reaching the top of the second layer. Below is an east view of the Franklins with Transmountain Pass right in the middle. My altitude is 7,100' MSL. Because of some heating by the sun, N. Mt. Franklin has some relatively powerful thermals streaming up (the dense clouds). The peaks farther north had even greater cloud development.
North and South Mount Franklin are almost completely clouded out. The road visible is the Transmountain Highway.
Above layer #1 and near the top of layer #2. It's rare for us to have cloudbase below 8,000' MSL.
Here is the slideshow from Nikon Image Space of the latest trip touring these wild islands near Cape Code, Mass.
The schooner Shenandoah sailing along in the Vineyard Sound, south Cape Code, Mass. We thermal around in the winds, sailboats are driven along by them. We have a lot in common.
Steve Crye and Jason Tilley made it out to the sod farms August 9, Sunday, for a morning of training.
Jason getting ready to setup for a landing at the sod farms.
The following has nothing to do with training but it's a nice shot of a pilot (yours truly) launching from the Bates Site near Carpentaria, CA. Aggressive launches must be done in order to ensure that the glider has as much energy as possible = safety.
Jason on his way up to altitude (5,000' AGL) above Highway 9 via tow.
We were about to tow Steve Crye up into the air but then the sky began to darken everywhere as overdevelopment took over. There was light rain, thunder, and modest winds all around us. It was time to pack in up.
Below Steve rosettes his glider rather than take any chances launching into the active air. We will try again tomorrow morning.
July 4th -- Student pilot, Bill Cobb, coming in for a landing at the sod farms. The air was very buoyant that day.
July 4th -- We warmly welcome new paragliding student pilot, Steve Crye!
July 7th -- Here is what a thermal looks like (the towering cumulus cloud) over our region. The extreme desert heat creates these monsters which often have rain.
July 12th -- Lee Boone soaring in front of Anapra Mesa. The winds were too weak to launch, so we had to motor up and find air that was just fast enough to keep us up, as Lee did here. Steve Crye (on the ground) provided important help to the pilots.
July 12 -- PPG pilots Daniel Rivera and Phil Ehly pose for the camera. The sod farm is such a safe place to train.
Flooding at the Gardner Turf Grass farms. When we checked in with the Border Patrol Air Operations, they corrected us when we said "sod farms". It should be "sod ponds".
More flooding at the Gardner Turf Grass farms. This lake had ducks and other waterfowl on it. We thought we might need life jackets to safely here.
July 15th -- Alvarez -- PPG pilots getting ready to launch at this new site in the upper valley off Alvarez Rd. (L-R) A visitor, Max Bennett, and Tom Bird. Tom used his own lawn mower to clean up this corner of the field so pilots would not have to fuss with bits of bracken getting caught in their lines.
Pilot Tom Bird over the Rio Grande Valley near La Union, New Mexico.
July 19th -- New student pilot, Steve Crye, getting towed up over the sod farms. There is a lot going on for new pilots to handle when first training. Fortunately, paragliders pretty much fly themselves if the pilot does nothing....
July 21st -- What does this look like? A boxer ready to strike. When we fly in strong air, we feel like we have been hit by something like this.
July 22nd -- Above N. Mt. Franklin looking east into a brilliant sunrise after a storm, Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso Texas. The air was soarable over the Franklins early in the morning. It was some of the nicest air, ever.
July 24th -- Just at dawn a big black cloud west of the Franklin Mountains in Santa Teresa, NM was dropping virga. It was quite a show.
Hope you enjoyed our photos of paragliding and the adventures we have in the air.
Dave Jensen celebrated his first good quad PPG flight, taking off under power, flying a pattern, and then landing safely. Jason Tilley also advanced his PG training by consistently landing within 30' of the LZ marker. Training is always intense -- but it pays off in ensuring pilot safety.
Jason about to nail the LZ.
Jason (L) and Dave (R) celebrating an intense afternoon of training -- good work, guys!