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SOUTHWEST AIRSPORTS

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Pilot registration for flying in Franklin Mountains State Park

A. Pilot conduct & ratings

All pilots must fly in a safe and courteous manner, protect the safety of other visitors, and preserve the Park's cultural and ecological resources.  Failure to obey the rules can result in revocation of flying privileges within the Park.  This is to say nothing of the possible consequences to OTHER pilots using the Park!  Pilots must have an H/P3 rating or equivalent from their country of origin.  Those who do not meet the minimum rating requirement can have an USHPA instructor present. We recommend that you have the CL (cliff launch) & TUR (turbulence) ratings to fly in the Franklin Mountains.

Pilots must have pay the daily use fee (as required of all visitors), unless they have a Texas Park Pass

Do not forget to notify the Park before launching and after landing.  Send a text message to (915) 539-0558 before launching and just after landing e.g. "John Doe launching from (site)" and "John Doe landed", respectively.

B. Questions

Call Franklin Mountains State Park at 915-566-6441 during business hours, the Ranger on duty (915) 539-0789, or Park Police at (915) 319-1698 or (915) 319-0589.  The Park Police are very helpful and want all pilots to safely enjoy flying in the Park.  They are the ones who will assist you in case of a mishap or if you need some help e.g. locked in the Park.  If you see any illegal activity in the Park, please let them know.  We all must work together to help preserve this amazing place, the largest city park in the United States

C. Accidents

Contact the Park Police at (915) 319-0589 or (915) 319-0589.  If you cannot reach them, dial 911.  It is always better to contact the Park Police first because they know the Park better than anyone and are familiar with what we do.  Accidents involving ultralights are treated as falling accidents (as in rock climbing) not as aviation accidents because there is no risk of fire or collateral damage.

D. Gate Combo

If flying at Agave Hill, pilots should ask for the gate combo from the Ranger on duty or from the main office or they may be locked in if they land after the Park closes (5PM weekdays, 8PM on the weekends).  The Park Superintendent has asked all pilots who use the Park after hours to pay the $8 "overnight" fee.  While we do not spend the night in the Park, we do have access to the gate codes and, under Texas Parks & Wildlife rules, we are considered as "overnighters".  The Park Police must inventory the all vehicles that are inside the Park afterhours – it requires additional work and expense for the Park whether we spend the night or not.  Please consider this fee as another way we can help pay for the costs of maintaining the Park.  If you park your car outside of the Park, you can avoid paying this fee. 

E. Pilot registration

Pilot re-registration  Pilots must re-register annually because of the expiration of their USHPA membership or if there is any change in their information or expiration of the other required documents.  Remember that it is illegal for you to fly in the Park if any of the required documents have expired.  When re-registering, only send a copy of your current USHPA membership card.  Include the other required documents only if any of the information has changed or expired.  The Park keeps a file on each individual pilot.

Digital registration

To complete the registration 100% digitally so it can be emailed to the Park HQ, complete the following steps.  You must have the latest version of Adobe Reader installed and a scanned image of your signature in order to complete this task!

1. Click on this permit application and save it to your local system somewhere.  Open the saved copy in Adobe Reader.  In the right hand column of Adobe, click on "Fill & Sign" and complete the application digitally.  You must have a scanned image of your signature stored in your local system to sign the application.  Save the completed application to your local system so you can email in back to the Park office.  If you do not know how to use Adobe Reader to do this, follow these instructions.

2. Scan, photograph, or make copies of the following (3) items which must be included with your application:

a.) Current USHPA membership with a H/P3 rating (or the equivalent from your country's aviation agency).  Southwest Airsports can supply a temporary 30 day USPHA membership for foreign pilots, if needed, for a nominal cost.  If you are flying with an USHPA instructor, you may have an H/P2 rating.  Contact us if you need help.
b.) Proof of medical insurance – Pilots are not permitted to fly in the Park unless they have medical insurance.  Active duty military personnel do not need to submit proof of medical insurance.  We have lost many sites in the U.S. and Canada because of injuries sustained by uninsured pilots who had their medical expenses (including search & rescue) paid for by local taxpayers.  These irresponsible pilots have outraged landowners, the Authorities, and taxpayers.  Southwest Airsports, the RGSA, and USHPA are working together to help prevent this abuse.
c.) Government issued driver's license or identification card.  If you are active duty military, submit a scan of your CAC card instead.

3. Email the completed, initialed, and signed application along with the copies of the above documents to: erika.rubio@tpwd.state.tx.us

Manual registration

1. Download this permit application, print it out, and complete.

2. Scan, photograph, or make copies of the following (3) items which must be included with your application:

a.) Current USHPA membership with a H/P3 rating (or the equivalent from your country's aviation agency).  Southwest Airsports can supply a temporary 30 day USPHA membership for foreign pilots, if needed, for a nominal cost.  If you are flying with an USHPA instructor, you may have an H/P2 rating.  Contact us if you need help.
b.) Proof of medical insurance – Pilots are not permitted to fly in the Park unless they have medical insurance.  Active duty military personnel do not need to submit proof of medical insurance.  We have lost many sites in the U.S. and Canada because of injuries sustained by uninsured pilots who had their medical expenses (including search & rescue) paid for by local taxpayers.  These irresponsible pilots have outraged landowners, the Authorities, and taxpayers.  Southwest Airsports, the RGSA, and USHPA are working together to help prevent this abuse.
c.) Government issued driver's license or identification card.  If you are active duty military, submit a scan of your CAC card instead.

3. Mail/fax the completed permit application and copies to:

Franklin Mountains State Park
1331 McKelligon Canyon Rd.
El Paso, TX 79930

Fax: (915) 566-1849

Pilots may also deliver the completed application and copies to a Park Police Officer or the Ranger on duty at the Tom Mays Unit.  If you cannot find a Ranger or the Police, it is temporary – please wait or call the Park police or HQ.  If you are flying with one of the RGSA officers, he can take your registration material when you arrive at the Park and deliver it the Park office.

4. Pay the daily use fee when you enter the Park ($5/person/day as of 2015) unless you have the Texas State Park Pass.  If you launch from other sites within the Park, you must first go to the kiosk at either Tom Mays or Transmountain to complete the day pass and pay the fee (unless you have a Pass).  If you plan to fly after hours and your vehicle is inside the locked gate at Tom Mays, you must pay the "overnight" fee of $8.  The Park Police inventory all vehicles left in the Park after hours, an additional expense for the Park.

As of 2015 the cost of annual Texas State Park Pass is $70.  The pass waives the entrance fee for up to (15) people total if all are arriving in the same vehicle.  The pass is a better value if a pilot flies in the Park often (or uses any other of the dozens of State Parks in Texas).  To purchase an annual Texas Park Pass, call 800-792-1112 press 3 and then 3 again and have your credit card ready.  The Pass may also be purchased at Park headquarters Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or at the Tom Mays Unit booth on Saturdays and Sundays, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

5. Notify the Park before launching and after landing  Send a text message to (915) 539-0558 before launching and just after landing e.g. "John Doe launching from (site)" and "John Doe landed", respectively.

6. Become a member of the RGSA (optional)  The cost is $ 25/year.  The Rio Grande Soaring Association pays the required USHPA site insurance for the launch sites in Franklin Mountains State Park.  Donations are appreciated if you do not wish to become a member.  Please go to this site to donate or join.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!  REMEMBER TO ALWAYS FLY SAFELY AND COURTEOUSLY!

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