Santa Teresa, New Mexico -- El Paso, Texas
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
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)
Windy - animated map of winds and other data over the surface of the world.
Wind History Map - actual vs. forecasts
June 17th - July 7th -- We will in Hondo TX flying and checking out Garner State Park for PG and HG soaring. Training will resume when we return. Note: we are completely booked for training for the reminder of the summer season.
All training is 100% dependent on weather conditions. Before coming out, check your email, this web site, or text us to be sure training is not canceled. If something comes up, we will attempt to contact scheduled pilots. Training times can vary because of weather or equipment issues. Pilots can always arrive earlier than the scheduled times to study the weather, setup, and practice kiting.
Nearly every country in the world promotes and loves adventure sports, like hang gliding and paragliding. Switzerland 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.
This is flat country and the only practical option for most paragliding or hang gliding is powered. Marilyn and I (Had) drove from NE Oklahoma to the far SW part of the state, what is the edge of the Great Plains. It's not dry yet here so deep grass covers the area. I flew with Jason Tilley (stationed at Ft Sill) and we practiced various skills, including executing turns while on speed bar using the bar alone. If the glider does not have the lines for tip steering, this is safest way to turn the glider because its shape is not distorted from pulling the brake lines. All flights should have some sort of exercise which will improve pilot safety.
Tall grass can hide holes and gullies so all aircraft have to be careful launching and landing in it. Below, Jason climbing out from our little launch area. A neighbor graciously gave us permission to use his field. Now, we need to find a tractor to mow a small square in it.
Jason getting ready to launch. Is this were farther west, we would have to deal with brush, one of the greatest nuisances to paragliders.
Bill Cobb came out late in the afternoon to improve his kiting skills -- something essential to safely handling a glider at launch. The winds were in the upper single digits which forces students to get the glider up quickly or get dragged around LOL. Just before dark, I was able to fly my 42m tandem wing solo with my paramotor. Speed through the air? Just 10 mph. It's a ton of fun but eerie flying so slowly, something only a large paraglider can do. The downside is that the glider is very lightly loaded which makes it unstable. Because of this, we can only fly these giant wings solo when conditions are completely dead (no thermals or turbulence in the air).
Bill was able to keep his glider overhead for minutes -- something that is not as easy as it looks.
While Steve was up at Transmountain, Bill Cobb and I continued training at turf farm #4. Winds were light but we were able to kite. Bill is getting better and better as he learns to read his glider. Inputs are always subtle and must be timed accordingly.
A great (safe) exercise to learn how a paraglider works with a pilot hanging underneath is to do “Mesquite Slalom” with a PPG. You have to begin the turn way before you reach the curve in the trail. The glider goes inside the turn and you swing through the turn. And then you have to anticipate what’s head and stop the turn, perhaps, etc. We are the only aircraft that hangs down below the airfoil. I have spent years doing these exercises and it is still hard – and completely unnatural. But it’s a blast doing it and being maybe another couple of feet higher than if you were on a dirt bike. It’s one way to learn active piloting with less risk.
No photos because I forgot my flight deck!
My camera has been in repair for some time. It's great to have it back.
The Gardner Turfgrass farms were recently purchased by Evergreen Turf, an Arizona company. Over the years, we have seen the farms go through three owners now. Thankfully, we are not facing loss of such an important training and flying site -- one of the safest I know in the U.S. along with Britton Shaw's operation in Ft. Smith, AR.
Today we had student pilots Bill Cobb, Brian Ives, and Joe Herrera come out to kite, help, and fly. Bill banged away at getting his kiting skills up to par and Brian continued to launch/land a dozen times to perfect his technique getting to and from earth. Joe helped us get pilots in the air. PPG has nothing comparable to learning in such a short time how to launch and land. After a grueling afternoon of work, Brian and I did a short XC trip and landed just when we had to!
Brian and yours truly celebrating a very productive day -- for all.
It was bound to happen!
After the pilot pins off from tow, the drogue floats down. In this case, it floated down over a power line nearby thanks to a change in the wind direction. Thankfully, it is extremely dry around these parts and the line is also made of insulated material = we got the line down safely. There are so many things that can go wrong in aviation and why we must be so careful.
Buzz Nelson, a former rock climber, discovered and developed this site in the Franklin Mountains State Park (El Paso, Texas). It is now our best in the Park, thanks to his tireless efforts in making it safe. Our congrats to him for his help in promoting our sport in the southwest. It is near one of the main trails going to the peaks and there are always visitors.
Buzz preparing to launch...
...and flying away. It is easy to find all sorts of lift in the Park.
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