paraglider being inflated on the rim at Kilbourne Hole 
				maar, Dona Ana County, TX

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paragliding past the south rim of El Penon, Valle de Bravo, Mexico in a UP Summit 
				XC paraglider SOUTHWEST AIRSPORTS paragliding near cloud base in Valle de Bravo, Mexico - pilot is Had Robinson

FLIGHT SCHOOL for PARAGLIDING

  Training & Discovery Flight Information - go here  

Flying Site Info for Pilots - go here

We are based in Santa Teresa, NM where we can fly year round in our beautiful desert terrain and high mountains. We offer USHPA (paragliding) and USPPA (powered paragliding) certified training.

We are proud to train warriors of the U.S. Armed Forces - Please view I Fought for You.  This website is dedicated in memory of the heroes of U.S. Navy SEAL Team 10 and the SEALS in Operation Redwing who perished fighting the enemy in Afghanistan, June 2005.  Southwest Airsports is a U. S. defense contractor.

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TECHNICAL INFORMATION

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This site designed and maintained by Hadley Systems

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Weather Info For explanations of the tools below and more weather info go here.
 
Intro to Weather in the southwest

El Paso National Weather Service - start here!

Meso West Region (Current conditions at stations in our region)

Santa Teresa NWS &
6ZN Santa Teresa (current conditions Santa Teresa, NM)

SPC Balloon Soundings  (For the OP40 soundings forecasts go here)

UoW Balloon Soundings - usually available before the SPC soundings 72364

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

Jet Stream &
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)

ADDS - wind & temp forecasts at various altitudes

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

Wind Map - animated map of winds over the surface of the U.S.

Wind History Map - actual vs. forecasts

Midland, TX weather tools

 

Current & Future Events

Training September 1 - 7 -- We can train all this week except Friday PM - Sunday AM when we will be in Cuauhtémoc, Eto. Chih., Mexico.  Thanks - Had

October 2 - 4 --International BMW Motorcycle Convention in Creel, Eto. Chih., Mexico -- This is Copper Canyon country, one of the largest canyons in the world, and a perfect site for approx. 600 BMW's ... and a few paragliding demonstrations.  If conditions are appropriate, I might try to fly to the Gulf of California.  Our PPG instructor for Mexico, José Muñoz, will be our host for the trip.

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 here.

November 1-2 -- Amigo Airsho 2014 Santa Teresa, NM -- The El Paso Paramotor Demo Team Air Dolphins 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. 

Contact 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 here.

Recent Events

August 29 - Friday -- Training and Record Flight -- Daniel Riviera showed up Friday morning for what we all thought would be just another ordinary day training at the sod farm (though training in a paraglider or a hang glider is never ordinary BTW).  It was not to be.

We did not know it but northeast of us was a huge dammed up mound of cooler air a hundred square miles in size (at least) that wanted to expand.  At around 10:30AM, expand it did!  The air in our region was warm and mostly calm and it did not take much for a cooler mass of air to slip under it and force it up, just like a razor blade under a windshield sticker.

The net result was that air everywhere around us was going up at 250'/minute.  How do we know this?  When Daniel released from tow and headed back to launch for some routine maneuvers, he did not descend but kept level and then started slowly rising.  Gliders sink at about 200'/minute so that is how we know how fast the air was rising.

This lucky guy had the longest sod farm training flight on record: over 10 minutes in the air beating Max Bennett's recent record.  The only reason it was not longer was that I (the instructor) began to get nervous that maybe he had been caught in a Zorkan tractor-ray beam and we would never see him again?  What would Mrs. Daniel say?  Hindsight is always 20-20 and I am sorry I did not leave him in the lift to see how far and how long he would go.  The buoyant air was moving slowly SSW so, to attempt to get him down, I had him fly NNE and, sure enough, he finally began to descend.  (I was relieved that I was wrong about the tractor-ray beam.)  Below, Daniel finally coming in after his record flight.



Another happy pilot -- who was in the air at the right time.  If you never fly or never fly enough, you won't have the thrill of experiencing things only the birds know about.  If he had been carrying a reserve parachute, I would have sent Daniel up at least 3,000' (top of lift for that time of day).  CONGRATULATIONS DANIEL RIVERA!



August 28 - Thursday -- Training
--  Jason Tilley flies every time he has a chance.  The late afternoon air was buoyant and easy to fly in.  In fact, it was so nice, we once again pushed the limits into the evening until we could not see anymore.  Jason carried the required strobe light which should be used at before sunrise minus 30 minutes and after sunset plus 30 minutes.

Jason coming in for a landing just past sunset.  The Organ Mountains of Las Cruces are visible in the distance.  Peaceful, cool, with the world's best views ... not a bad place to train.



Jason after landing somewhere on sod farm#4.  Does he look happy or something?  We all love flying.  Paragliding and hang gliding, in particular, are the closest thing a man will ever experience to being a bird.  BTW, it is not as dark as it looks.



August 29 -- ASARCO
-- I occasionally do video and stills for Jackson Polk, our regional historian, to help keep track of changes in our region over the years.  Today my job was to take a bunch of video and some stills of what is left of the great smelter that provided hundreds of good jobs and raw materials to help make our country go.  There is not much remaining but a large flat area between I-10 and Paisano Dr.   The area to the lower left of the black slag pile is huge cemetery of the now abandoned Smeltertown.



August 27 - Wednesday -- Line Clouds in El Paso
-- The Creation is full of beauty and here is an example.  Moist air from the east is being pushed up by the mountains, cools, condenses into clouds, and then is reabsorbed as it goes back down again.  The clouds form and dissipate continually.

August 23 - Saturday -- Training -- Student pilot Santiago de Santiago resumed his P2 training after taking a break of a year or two.  It is hard to resume training after so long but he worked hard to remember the details of flying a paraglider -- and did very well.  Santiago's home is Chihuahua City, Chih., Mexico.  Currently, he is living in El Paso and is attending UT El Paso.  He hopes to pioneer flying sites near his home in Chihuahua City when time permits.

With the change of seasons, we have had better air in the afternoons at the sod farms.  Pilots get much higher at launch and are able to have more time in the air to perfect their skills.

The last flight of the day.  Santiago coming in for a landing.  In the distance are the Organ Mountains east of Las Cruces, NM.



Santiago (R) and his cousin, Sebastian (L) after a long afternoon of training.



August 21 - Thursday -- Training -- Student pilot Jason Tilley and PPG pilot Tom Bird were able to make it out in the afternoon for training.  As the air was really good, we decided to push the window (of twilight) to the limit.  Becoming 100% confident at launch and when landing.  As a pilot's confidence grows, he begins to sense the input the wing gives to his hands and arms.  Flying becomes -- eventually -- like riding a bicycle.

Cloud cover was heavy in the late afternoon.  Jason leaps into the air -- we love we do and the sky calls....



After Jason (R) launched, Tom (L) followed him through the air in his PPG.  Jason is just above launch and is doing his final base leg to setup for a landing.



Jason is the last to launch for the day.  The air was sooo good we had to fly until the last moment.  It is not as dark as it appears -- but almost.

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.  Bill Cobb is watching him come in.



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 workout!

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 launch.



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, go here.

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 know-how.



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 here.



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 falling over.


vulture

   

This site was last updated 09/02/14  All material on this website copyright  © 2009 - 2014 by Southwest Airsports, LLC all rights reserved