Anapra Mesa


31.786567° -106.582500° 4,081' MSL  200' AGL

General Info

USHPA required notification: The RGSA recommends 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 site is, however, a Southwest Airsports training site, insured, and is used by its students.

Go to the Camino Real Landfill (31.806763° -106.588187°) entrance and then follow (print out) the directions to launch.  You have to go through guarded private property to reach launch.  Visitors must tell the guards at the landfill that they are there for flying the mesa.  We have the kind permission of the Camino Real Landfill superintendent, Dr. Juan Carlos Tomas, to trespass.  If you want to bring the guards a 6-pack of cold beer/soft-drinks, it would not hurt....

Center launch – view is SE.  Winds were about 7-8, just barely strong enough to stay up out in front of the Mesa with an efficient glider.  Below, Lee Boone kites at the middle launch with Matt Hayes observing.

launching a paraglider at Anapra Mesa

When to fly

It is only soarable with ENE to SSE winds.  SE is always the best.  Because of the Pass, winds at launch will always be slightly cross (~20°) to the right.  If they are anything else pilots can expect some turbulence.  Velocity needs to be from 8-14 mph for PG.  How to tell without a wind gauge?  If the tops of the Creosote bushes at the rim edge are swaying less than 3-4", conditions are too weak to stay up.

Typically, the weather models that are accurate per speed are usually:  ECMWF, NAM3, & HRRR.  Wind direction from the models can vary from actual conditions at launch.  ECMWF and HRRR are usually the most accurate per speed and direction.   It is a good idea to look at various stations up and downwind from the site, such as the Juarez Airport and the Santa Teresa Border Station.  The site easily blows out and winds tend to go south late in the day.  If the stations show a solid E, ESE, or SE direction, you should be good to go.

This PowerPoint presentation by Tom Bird of the National Weather Service gives a number of forecasts and observations that will help pilots to accurately determine the best time to soar Anapra.  It is somewhat technical but worth the effort to learn how to read weather models and observations which dramatically improves pilot safety.

Site info

Located near the US-Mexican border, it is perfect for new pilots as it has few hazards.  The LZ is huge and flat.  The site is almost all soft sand and is forgiving of hard landings and other mistakes.  Warning: the ridge itself is a calcified escarpment that is sharp and will cut glider lines if they are dragged across it.

There is significant rotor all along the Mesa close to the rim.  Thankfully, the center launch has an elevated row of non-hostile bushes that you can lay your glider on so that it will be elevated about 4'.  This is just enough to get out of the rotor for an easy inflation.  If you are not an experienced kiter, be sure to have help when launching as you do NOT want to be dragged into the barbed-wire fence just behind launch.  The New Mexico Environmental Protection Agency requires that landfills have their boundaries fenced and the fence here, while not really doing anything, must remain per New Mexico State law.

paragldier in fence at Anapra Mesa

The south half of Anapra Mesa.  Launch is just behind where this photo was taken.  Skilled pilots can "park" above the mesa.  View here is south.

paragliding at Anapra Mesa, NM

The best launch is close to the middle of the mesa where a deep notch comes through.  The notch causes the air to flow more smoothly over this part of the rim so there is less turbulence and rotor at launch.  It is possible to kite here.

View below is looking north.  The barb wire fence behind the launch area is visible.

paragliding at Anapra Mesa, NM

In the photo below, pilots can be seen preparing to launch. The far pilot is setting up just below the center launch area (a red bag is just visible).  Spreading out below the rim is ALWAYS the safest because if you have a mishap inflating, you will NOT be blown into the barb wire fence that goes along the east edge of the dirt road.  These pilots had never flown the site which is why the site guide asked them to launch below the rim.  The downside of launching below the rim is that there is more plant debris that can get caught in your glider lines.  Skilled desert pilots will know what to do.

paragliding at Anapra Mesa, NM

The south end tends to have more turbulence because of the high border fence.  Launching from the south area of the mesa is fine but you will find there is a lot of rotor because of the sharp cliff.  This makes getting your glider up more difficult.  If you move away from the edge about 15 yards it is usually possible to get out of the rotor enough to inflate.  Once your glider is up, there is no rotor and you can move towards the edge easily.
Pilots can easily top land anywhere. The south end is safer because the barb wire fence is farther away.  If you want to work on your side-hill landing skills, this is the place to do it – it's all soft sand and is very forgiving of major errors.  If your wing goes into a bush, be prepared to spend some time getting it out.

When launching from the middle launch area, turn north (though downwind) and fly to near the north end of the mesa. The best lift is between the middle and the north end of the mesa. If you launch and can't keep level with the mesa, you are probably going to sink out. Turn south and side-hill land anywhere on the hill in the soft sand.

The Second Wave

Skilled pilots can catch the "Second Wave" and park hundreds of feet over launch. The bench area is about half way between launch and the north end of the mesa.  The challenge:  Positioning yourself in just the right spot in the ridge lift above the Mesa where the standing wave mixes with the ridge lift. You will feel a slight tug and you have to turn in it at just the right moment.  Only a handful of pilots have done it.
Below, Arizona visiting pilot, Gingher Leyendecker, is parked at the bottom of the "Second Wave".  She is the first non-local to get up in it.  Remember this is a mere 200' hill – how do pilots get up there???  See if you can do it.

paragliding at Anapra Mesa, NM

The site has a benign LZ out in front. NEVER park your vehicle near the border (keep away at least 50 yd.) – it can be rocked by vandals from Mexico.  Do NOT land in Mexico. It's against Mexican law to land there and you will be jailed and/or fined if you get caught plus your glider and gear may be confiscated.  If you do wind up over there, you can hightail it for the fence, cross, and then go to the nearest border crossing and tell them what happened.  Doing this will keep you lawful and out of trouble with the U.S. authorities.  Crossing the border while soaring is up to you – be careful! If the wind dies, can you glide back to US airspace?

The border fence is visible in the photo below and the broad open area in front that is convenient for enhancing your top landing skills.  It is the safest spot in the region to practice this.  View here is to the south.  The international border is the dark fence.

paragliding at Anapra Mesa, NM