paragliding training center
Marilyn and I were invited by Jose Munoz and the State of Chihuahua to participate in a grand celebration of the Mexican state and to promote powered paragliding at their annual fiesta which includes dozens of hot air balloons, skydiving teams, and powered paragliders and parachutes from the U.S. and Mexico. Here are some photos of the trip...and a bonus tour of the famous Copper Canyon.
Our host, José Gerardo Muñoz, took the PPG contingent on a tour of the Copper Canyon in Mexico. It is sort of a Grand Canyon times 10, or something like that. It is an astounding place that has just been flown by PPG'ers. We don't think it has been touched by PG. Robin Hastings, president of the RGSA (Rio Grande Soaring Association) and a hang glider pilot, does not think any hang gliders have flown it.
Below: View east from one of the two hotels at Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre). It drops over a mile down to the bottom.
Here is the carved entry door of the hotel above. Door shape and design are a signature part of most buildings in Mexico, as here. No two are alike.
This is the upper site of the cable car which runs about 1/2 way down to the bottom of the canyon. View is northeast.
View here is south. The arrow to the left points towards the bottom of the canyon (not visible). The arrow to the right is the end of the cable car and it is here that a possible launch site for PG/HG would be possible. The view from there is extraordinary as you can see the bottom and have a straight shot up and down the canyon.
José Muñoz at the top of the cable car at about 7,500'. The system was made in Switzerland.
This is a view from the bottom of the cable car to the top (black arrow). Another launch area for PG and HG might be to the right of the arrow, towards the end of the ridge. Various parts of this canyon are inhabited by the Tarahumara Indians.
The bottom of the canyon is just visible in the lower right. The end of the cable car ride is just in front of Marilyn.
View here is south from the end of the cable car ride. If you check the photo above with the white arrows, the one to the right points to just behind where this photo was made. This is a ridge that is exposed on all sides except just in front which has a knob visible here. The prevailing wind is southwest and the bare spot visible here in front might be a perfect place to launch a paraglider or hang glider. More photos follow....
I watched the birds here and the knob to the left is a good thermal generator. The view here is southwest and about 100 miles to the ocean and is also the prevailing direction of the winds in Copper Canyon. This photo depicts the area just in front of the photo above. This is a good "bail out" area right in front of launch where a PG pilot could safely stop a launch progression for some reason.
If a pilot sank out, there is another bail area (black arrow) that has about 20 acres of flat ground. A flat saddle to the right rear (not visible) might also work. Air was solid coming up the southwest face here. Copper Canyon is not for beginning pilots. Jonathan Jewell is visible here.
In this photo (looking southeast), the bottom of the cable car is barely visible (black arrow). Just to the right (white arrow) is the proposed PG/HG launch site that is visible close-up in the above photos. The launch would be into a sort of a "bowl". The saddle is visible here to the right of the arrows.
Below is a view east from the bottom landing area of the cable car. We are looking across the canyon to one of the ridges on the other side. Even here (and much lower) the bottom is not visible.
View east from the other hotel in the region. There is actually a third hotel on the rim in the far distance. It would be a grand contest to paraglide across the canyon via thermals and land there and come back.
An Indian woman (Tarahumara) selling souvenirs at the second hotel.
Below, Had Robinson practices some kiting. The runway here ends with a thousand foot drop into an abyss. PPG pilots who fly here have to overcome a real fear of the immense heights that immediately come into view when launching. PG/HG pilots have less of a problem with this as they are used to flying in mountains.
David Jewell of Blue Sky PPG launches his Adventure Trike from the runway. It faces northeast (the direction we are looking here) to southwest.
After a breathtaking flight, Dave returns – it's almost sunset. We can't wait to return here and study the sites more carefully and FLY COPPER CANYON!
We continued with the celebration on Sunday. Remember, most of the balloonists you see in the photo below are from the United States. We need to have many more PPG pilots and their gear in the future. I am looking forward to next year and bringing our gear, especially the foot launched Miniplane.
Today we left for Creel, Mexico – named after the American who helped build the railroad down through the Copper Canyon – one of the wonders of the world.
Below, the PPG contingent at the Festival. Left to right: Oscar Grados (native of Cd. Chih. who wants to be a PPG pilot); Jonathan Jewell (14) who flew a PPG here; Dave Jewell of Blue Sky PPG in California; Had Robinson of Southwest Airsports & El Paso Paragliding; and our gracious host, José Muñoz. José and Had plan to establish some more formal PPG training in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Our room at the Creel Best Western Lodge. We are at about 8,000' here – they had a frost the night before. Creel is located on the edge of the Copper Canyon. The box beneath Marilyn's hand is a gas powered stove.
The main dining room of the lodge. Our dinner was fajitas of steak and shrimp with fresh corn tortillas. Sorry you all couldn't have joined us for a superb dinner. Below, left to right, José Muñoz, Marilyn and Had Robinson.
The Fiesta continued here! Enjoy.
Cd. Chihuahua is far enough south and on the southern side of the great mesa of here and El Paso. Therefore, it rarely freezes here and many more kinds of beautiful plants can grow in the gardens.
The hot air balloon below is like driving the Queen Mary through the air.
Below, Dave Jewell flies his PPG over the fairgrounds.
In Mexico, the doors of a casa or a business are like the face – every one is different and often a work of art, as below. This is the entrance to a restaurant in the city.
Below is the living room of family relatives of our host, Jose Munoz. The powered paragliding pilots and crew (four of us) were invited for snacks here late in the evening. The ceiling is of carved wood, about 18' high.
The Holiday Inn Express in Cd. Chihuahua
Jonathan Jewell (Dave's son), Dave Jewell, Had Robinson work on setting up the PPG equipment
Friday morning's dry run on aviation at the main fair grounds in Cd. Chihuahua
Dave prepares to launch his Adventure PPG trike (made in France). It is a very quiet machine.
Marilyn enjoying the exquisite buffet at the Soberano Hotel. This is INSIDE the main lobby of the hotel. I wish we had something as pretty as this in El Paso!
Our gracious host, Jose Munoz, and Marilyn at the front door of his ranchero in Chihuahua.
The ranchero north of Cd. Chihuahua in the state of Chihuahua
An antique powered parachute at Jose's ranchero – note the twin engine, twin propeller design.