paragliding training center
The sod farms are owned and managed by Evergreen Turf, Inc. P.O. Box 18 Santa Teresa, NM 88008. Southwest Airsports operates there by verbal permission of the owner. Such permission could be rescinded at any time. Gardner does not require proof of 3rd party liability insurance from us but we make them a named insured in any case, as a courtesy. Students and any visitors accompanying them can visit and use the sod farms time but care must be taken not to drive on the grass or disturb in any way the farm operations. The sod farms are located in a remote part of southern New Mexico, well away from populated areas.
Southwest Airsports has been teaching at the sod farms for 8+ years. The site has previously been covered by the local chapter’s site insurance.
Because the site is private property and posted with "No Trespassing" signs, we can train without interference from the public or any other passersby except the employees and staff of Evergreen Turf. The sod farm we train at is approximately 100 acres in size. Because it is a huge circle, we can set up our towing operations with winds in any direction. Because we usually train on weekends, there are no men working on the farms so we have, virtually, a private park to train in. We help the property owners by keeping an eye on things and report to them any trespassers or other suspicious activity. When anyone connected with Gardner gets with 100 yards of our operations, we stop everything and wait for the area to clear.
We have every student sign the all applicable waivers before they can receive any type of instruction from us. Our waiver has a health questionnaire section which requires all students to declare that they are fit for the sport and have no medical or mental conditions that could interfere with their piloting a paraglider. If they indicate that they might have such a condition, they are requested to not sign the waiver and ask for a full refund of any tuition paid.
Students are monitored during all activities for signs of problems. Students are encouraged to bring water and wear breathable clothing as well as shoes that provide ankle support. We also bring bottled water and encourage pilots to drink water often. A complete first aid kit is kept inside our truck at all times and is quickly accessible. (see Emergency Action Plan)
Students are not allowed to attach to the glider without having a helmet on. This is standard procedure. Students must do a verbal pre-flight check before launching and if they detach from any of their equipment and wish to launch again. Students must land before other students can fly. Only one PG student at a time is allowed in the air. Multiple PPG students may be allowed to fly at the same time. Since the farms are flat, the students do not attach emergency parachutes to their harnesses as the use of them would not be effective at the maximum heights experienced during training.
Radio are used to maintain contact with students at all times when they are in the air.
This is the desert and wind direction and speed can vary dramatically, especially 3+ hours after sunrise and 2- hours from sunset. Therefore, we do not train from +3 hours after sunrise to -2 hours from sunset during the spring, summer, and fall. However, this can change if there is extensive cloud cover that suppresses thermal development or it is during the winter months. Morning training is generally the best. If winds are less than 12 mph from any direction we will train. With new pilots, the winds must be less than 5 mph. There must not be any significant gusting as this usually indicates mixing of the surface air with higher speed winds aloft. The sod farms facilitate training with winds from any direction. Most mornings, the winds are still or under 4 mph. Such conditions help students improve their launch and landing skills. Often enough, the winds in the early AM can quickly switch direction, a characteristic of the light winds we find in the high altitude desert.
There are two obstacles at the sod farms which pilots must avoid. One is the irrigation equipment, a long elevated pipe on wheels that is 1,000' long. The other obstacle(s) is/are farm workers and their machinery. We always set up so that the irrigation equipment is on one side of the farm or the other from us. This gives us hundreds of feet of clearance. We also setup so that the launch direction is completely clear of the equipment. We direct students to land in the 50+ acres that is on the opposite of the equipment. The equipment is easily visible from the air. We do not launch pilots if there are any workers or any farm machinery within approximately 500' feet of our flight operations. Farm staff and employees are aware of our operations and know to stay clear if they see a pilot in the air.
Everyone must park closely adjacent to the winch which allows a maximum area to land near the launch point near the winch. When necessary, less experienced pilots will be asked to land in clear areas of the farm.
Children are not allowed at the sod farms during training. All visitors must stay clear of the winch and launch areas. They are not permitted to speak to the pilots when the winch is running or there are pilots in the air.