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Windy Point

33.396142° -105.764624° 1,950' AGL LZ  10,000' MSL
LZ 33.385098° -105.748773°

USHPA required notification: The RGSA and Southwest Airsports recommend that you do not fly at this site as it is not a chapter managed site.  If you do choose to fly at this site, you must take full responsibility for your actions, and recognize that you are fully and solely liable for any damage incurred by yourself, to others, or to others’ property. This site is unimproved with significant safety issues, including potentially challenging wind and thermal conditions.  Flying at this site can be risky to the pilot, property owners, and our sport as a whole. This site is unpermitted, uninsured, unmanaged, and unimproved.

This thermalling site is the result of the tireless efforts of Riker Davis (H5) of Ruidoso, NM.

Windy Point is on Hwy. 532 (Ski Run Rd) near mile marker 10, faces east, and can be flown with light and variable winds anywhere from northeast to southeast. It is best in the AM on days that begin clear.  Cumulus development is inevitable later in the morning and conditions remain good to about 11:30AM when OD begins.  Some of the best days are those with zero winds forecast – when you expect light and variable conditions.  This site is strictly thermal as ridge lift created by easterly winds is turbulent from the many peaks, spines, and canyons in the vicinity.  The magic of Windy Point results from the east facing terrain heating up from the early morning sun.  This creates the upslope thermal cycles which provide light to soarable lift starting around 9AM.  During the monsoon season (July and August) it can OD early and the window to fly and land can close before 10AM.  Past this time, lift becomes extreme and pilots can encounter virga, rain, and/or hail.  During other times of the year the site can be flyable all day if winds are light and variable. 

Below, Riker Davis about to launch from Windy Point.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

The HG launch is right off the edge of the Windy Point scenic overlook. Space is available for only 4 or 5 steps so at least an 8 mph wind is needed for a safe launch. PG pilots should use the upper launch as it gives plenty of space and time to find a thermal and go up. It is a 15 minute hike through pleasant mountain meadows. The ambitious may also launch about 50 yards above the HG launch area if the winds are 7-8 or more. There are a few trees to steer through here but enough wind velocity makes it doable.

Riker heads out but he won't be in the air for long as OD is about to begin.  Rain is already visible in the distance.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

The LZ (on Mescalero land) is easily visible from the HG launch but is just out of site from the PG upper launch. The LZ is a grassy meadow between the two fishing lakes in the canyon, an easy glide below. It is high at 8,200 ft. but is plenty big for safe landings by both HG and PG pilots.

This is the view from 100 yards below and south of the upper PG launch.  An arrow marks the LZ.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

The Mescalero Apache Indian Tribe graciously allows pilots to land at their campground.  Pilots in the LZ are subject to Indian Tribal law so please be respectful and appreciative.  The campground is closed October through April so if one attempts flying in the winter you will have to walk out almost a mile to the locked gate at Ski Run road.  PG pilots, however, can land on the road near the gate and save themselves a long hike as the road is closed and there is no traffic.

View east from the upper PG launch.  Note the moisture in the air – in less than an hour there will be towering cumulus clouds everywhere.  The LZ is just below the tree line to the lower right.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

View looking up from the upper PG launch.  Sierra Blanca (left) and Lookout Mountain (right) are visible in the background.  The entire launch area is thick grass.  It is safe and easy to launch here and there is plenty of space to recover from mistakes.  Tired pilots can easily take a nap and relax....  This is one of the only launch sites in the southwest that is huge and grassy.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

Another view straight down the upper PG launch run.  A pilot can run forever downhill in light winds but it's important to turn right and get out in front and over the spines (where the thermals release).  There is a lot of sink straight out from launch, as we would expect over a canyon.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

Riker on his way up to cloud-base

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

View looking back up to the HG launch area from the LZ.  Pilots should land when the clouds become towering as the lift under them is very strong.  This pilot experienced 1,000'+/min lift at just 10AM in the morning out in front.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM

A field of iris grass near Windy Point – what an inviting place to fly a glider.

Windy Point Ruidoso, NM