launch at Valle de Bravo, Mexico powered paraglider launch at Gardiner Turf Grass farms

SOUTHWEST AIRSPORTS

paragliding training center

Weather Info

Explanations of the tools below and more weather info

Intro to Weather in the southwest

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 sounding forecast - Santa Teresa, NM

OP40 balloon soundings forecast - any location

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

Jet Stream and 4 day forecast

El Paso US Airnet winds - temps aloft

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)

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

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

Midland, TX weather tools

SkyVector Aeronautical Chart - road maps of the sky including TFR's

Current and Future Events

Training & Flying

Contact us to schedule/confirm if you want to train at the sod farms or fly our area sites.

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.  Fly like a bird!

Most countries love adventure sports like hang gliding and paragliding.  Switzerland, for example, even put an image of a guy paragliding on their 50 Franc note.  The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has opened the doors of Texas parks to USHPA pilots.  Other public land administrators in the U.S. should do the same.

Recent Events

May 2 Monday -- Anapra Mesa

In the midst of the raging atmosphere during March and April, we get some breaks and today was one of them.  Winds were forecasted to be southeasterly and in the 10-12 range.  The Jet was away to the east.  All in all, it looked good at Anapra and it was worth a go.  Ken Hunkus, Heather Coulon, Buzz Nelson, and I (Had Robinson) made the drive to launch.  We would have preferred the E. Potrillo Mountains but the air would have been too south and cross to soar or safely thermal.  The air was a little on the high side for new pilots so Ken and Heather decided to go to the sod farms and practice kiting.  Buzz and I stayed.  I was able to kite at the launch face and then launch -- always a good training routine.  If your glider is rock solid after the inflation and under control, you will probably experience the same when actually launching.  I got up quickly in the strong winds at that hour and soared the mesa for a bit.  At that hour, I could tell that the winds were weakening so I knew I better top land or it's a long walk or a long wait if you land at the bottom.  I was just able to nudge in to the same spot I launched from (Middle Launch) -- always a fun challenge.  Buzz, a new P2, also kited his glider at launch nicely.  It was getting even later in the day and the winds were dying down so he was not able to stay up very long.  He did make two flights and landed safely at the base of the Mesa.  Nice work, everyone!

Buzz kiting at launch.  This skill teaches us the subtleties of how the glider works.  It's still hard to believe we jump off cliffs being held up by these things....

paragliding at Anapra Mesa, New Mexico

Thermalling -- May 1

Work hard to thermal!  Don't give up!  I was one of a dozen pilots that got up and out at Point of the Mountain that day.

paragliding near Point of the Mountain, Utah

April 19 Tuesday -- Agave Hill

Buzz Nelson is determined to learn how to fly Agave, a site that requires thermalling skills in order to get up and out.  His report,

The direction was great, about 260. Wind at launch was kind of light, 4 -8 mph. I had a good launch at 1839, turned right asap, and was  rewarded  with lift! Seemed to be combo of thermal and ridge lift in front of that knob north of launch.  I was scared to circle in it - don't want to fall victim to the Downwind Demon - but I worked it with short back and forth figure 8s and managed 190' above launch before things shut down.

The good news is that the "downwind demon" is more a problem with powered paragliding rather than with free flight.  Thermalling is one of the safer things we do -- as long as we are inside the thermal.  Nice work.  Keep working at it!

Buzz working away in the house thermal at Agave Hill.  Photo by Buzz.

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

April 17 Sunday -- Agave Hill

Here is the report from Buzz Nelson,

Tom Bird and I had our first soaring/thermalling  flights, short but satisfying.  Rod Burton provided ground support. We launched a bit too late to gain much altitude, but learned some things about working the lift to the north of launch. Bumpy;  gusts prevented us from launching earlier than 1830.

Below, Tom Bird coming in for a landing on the upper road.  Photo by Buzz.

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

Buzz working the house thermal north of launch at Agave Hill.

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

Nice work boys!  As your confidence in your skills grow, you can launch earlier and find more powerful thermals the next time.

April 14 Thursday -- Agave Hill

Winds were SSW most of the afternoon which meant that Agave would be "iffy" per turbulence at launch and getting up and out.  Nonetheless, Buzz Nelson and I (Had Robinson) decided to give it a try.  Arriving at launch, the rotor from the base of N Mt Franklin was evident so we waited until the winds decreased near sunset and turned slightly more west.  It was too late to grab a thermal but we both had good sled rides and landed on the road near the Mundys Gap parking lot.

Buzz coming in.  Mundys Gap is right behind.

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso TX

April 13 Wednesday -- Thermalling away from the sod farms

Buzz Nelson and I (Had Robinson) buzzed out to the sod farms for an afternoon of kiting (Buzz) and PPG (yours truly).  But I had an added bonus because there were still some good thermals coming off the landscape.  Winds at the surface were light which made kiting somewhat difficult.  When things are hard in aviation, pilots will improve their skills.

After launching, I went up about 400' and discovered a reasonably good thermal.  When you encounter a good thermal, turn in it and get a free ride up – and I did.  The view was good.  The Organ mountains are in the far distance.

paragliding in south central New Mexico

April 9 Saturday -- Agave Hill

Buzz Nelson made the trek up to Agave Hill both morning and evening to gain important experience in launching from a mountain site.  Conditions were benign at the beginning of the day but, because of the Jet stream overhead, the afternoon did not quiet down until around 6:30PM.  He was able to get two flights in and I (Had Robinson) flew only in the PM.  By the time we launched in the afternoon, thermals were nearly dead so there was no hope of getting up.  Even the house thermal to the north of launch was a mere puff when I arrived.  Buzz landed at the LZ near the entrance to the Park and I landed at the Mundy's Gap parking lot.

Buzz setting up, waiting for the right winds at launch.  Here is a video of the launch.

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

He heads off for the LZ.

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

A safe landing!

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

Above Sneeds Cory and at the house thermal north of Agave Hill.

paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX

It was a fun and safe day at Agave.  When the Jet is overhead we have to be very cautious about turbulence.

April 6 Wednesday -- North Mt. Franklin

The winds were light aloft although there were distinct and pronounced differences in direction going up through the layers.  The goal today was:  top land on the summit of N Mt Franklin.  It's not been done yet.  A handful of PG pilots and who knows how many HG pilots have thermalled up to the peak and gone over it numerous times but not top landed either PG or PPG.  I wanted to try PPG first.  Sadly, I (Had Robinson) spent so much time trying to get cameras mounted and ready that I arrived at the peak to late to return before it got completely dark.  It is possible to land at base of the Franklins but when the sun is 15 minutes or less from setting, the katabatic flow down the mountain can get very strong -- so much so that it seems there has been a wind direction change.  I have recorded flow down the mountains at 7 mph.  Anyway, I was able to get very close to the peak -- always a spooky thing if a pilot has thermalled the site or launched from it.  Every bone in your body says, "don't fly behind launch or get close to the terrain" but you cannot believe your instincts because your instruments say "winds are light, proceed."

Just the same, there was some turbulence near the summit because the peaks poke through different layers of air and mix them in unpredictable ways.  Those of us who fly the Franklins are always wary -- and respect them because they can dish out lethal surprises for the careless pilot.

Dusk was on its way as I approached the summit (the radio tower is just visible).  View is north with the Organ Mountains in the far distance.

paragliding near N Mt Franklin, El Paso, TX

It was really getting dark -- had to hightail it back to the sod farms.  This is what the speedbar is for.  Below is what Juarez (mostly in the distance) looks like at dusk.  There is more light when you are up in the air  -- a strange effect looking down.  I had my powerful strobe going, as required by the rules when flying past sunset.  I could easily setup for landing because the windsock was still visible from the air.  Next time I'll get up in the air earlier.  Why do I fly the 10 miles back and forth from the west rim of the Rio Grande?  The witching-hour for air is roughly 9AM-10:30AM and from 5:30PM-7:30PM.  Translated: The winds at the surface can be any direction, up to 7 mph, and any thickness = not the safest to land in on your feet.  On repeated occasions I have landed with my body into the wind and my wing with the wind, a bit unnerving experience.

paragliding near N Mt Franklin, El Paso, TX

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