Santa Teresa, New Mexico – El Paso, Texas
Explanations of the tools below and more weather info
El Paso National Weather Service – start here!
NWS hourly graphical forecast – temp, winds, & gusting at the surface
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
Vorticity @ 500mb click the needed forecast
NOAA Satellite image of clouds over west Texas – NM
National forecast of fronts, pressure & weather – easy to read
Pivotal Weather – a new site from Oklahoma U.
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
Training week of March 19th -- Tuesday and Thursday look safe. We'll see how things go towards the weekend.
All training is dependent on weather conditions. Before coming out, check your email, this web site, or text us to be sure training is not canceled or moved somewhere. 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.
Conditions today in the Franklins were supreme. However, work and other responsibilities often get in the way of epic flying -- and they did, again. Steve Crye, Tyler Beattie (our visiting pilot from Austin), and yours truly took off after work and meetings to make the trek up to Agave Hill. But, alas, we needed to be there about 2 hours earlier to take advantage of the gentle thermals we had all day (due to the cloud cover).
Winds at 5:30PM were 7 mph and straight in at launch. Oh! If there were some thermals left, we would have climbed up the Triangle into heavenly bliss over the crest of the range. As it was, it was practice launching, landing, and a sledder. It was not thrilling but pleasant and gentle flights for all.
Tyler noted that our landscape is populate with plants covered with stickers, like the ocotillo. To land near them means: You land in anything, just be sure that you do a "cobra" deflation of the glider (perpendicular to the ground) and set it down in a clear sport. Otherwise, it can be 30 minutes picking it out of the bushes LoL.
A handsome glider about to take its passenger (Steve Crye) for a flight off the mountain.
It was getting late at launch.
Four pilots came out today in the PM: Tyler Beattie, Nicolas Sébastien, Tom Bird, and Oren Belkin. We were busy! This was Tyler's first experience in towing (he's just a P2). There has been only about 5 pilots in ten years who aced their first tow and Tyler was one of them. Yes, there is a certain amount of luck (the conditions Wednesday were laminar and smooth) but there is keeping the glider perpendicular to the tow line. This is the most important thing all tow pilots MUST do and he did it well the first tow. Congrats!
Sébastien and Tyler spent the late afternoon learning how to perfect their "big ears", spiral dives, and speed bar application. Sadly, Sébastien must return to southwest France (God's country when it comes to paragliding). We will miss him! Tom came by late to watch (he had just got out from w***). Oren came by later and launched his quad driven by his new Thor 250. Like all of the Polini Thor's, this monster engine is the quietest of engines in its class and why the Thor line is my favorite. Combine a Thor with a "C" class glider of the right size and it's as close as one can be to the peace of "free flight".
We were all having more fun than guys are allowed to have.
Tyler coming in for a landing. Sébastien is up next for a tow. It was unusual to be on "golf course" ready grass -- we are thankful to the owner of Evergreen Turf,
Sébastien coming in. The goal: Land at the orange cone! Note the cloud cover. The lack of sun made conditions very smooth and good for training. Notice the change in the clouds over a period of less than an hour. Our desert climate is never boring....
Today was jam-packed! We had (5) pilots out to fly and train: Darren Donahue (San Antonio) and our local group: Steve Crye, Mitch Graham, Bill Cobb, and Lee Boone. Lee and Mitch did a combo of towing and mostly PPG. Steve, Darren, and Bill did PG only. Darren, who is a relatively new P2, increased his skills doing modest spiral dives and wingovers. Everyone honed their launching and landing skills -- one can never be too good at safely leaving the earth.
Getting prepped to fly. L-R: Mitch, Bill, Lee, Steve
Darren coming in for a landing -- at the cone! It is harder than most think...
One of the pilots lost his "lucky band flying charm" -- please contact us to claim it.
Steve practicing his inflations. In the background is Lee flying his PPG with his Paramania GTX reflex glider.
After an early morning flying PPG (Mitch -L) and fixed wing (Lee - R), Mitch gears up for a tow with Lee's help. Behind them, Bill is coming in for a landing after a tow. Both Mitch and Lee tried to thermal out of the farms but thermals were still pretty weak and not well organized. It takes great skill to work these weaker thermals. Keep working at it!
We want to welcome new student pilot Darren Donahue of San Antonio who made the trek out here to improve his paragliding skills. He is one of the few who actually did his initial training in one of the few places that has crazier air than we do: Boulder, Colorado. He will be working this weekend on adding to his P2 certification and getting towing under his belt. We were also joined by Nick Reiter who came out and worked on his PPG skills with the ultra-quiet and powerful Polini Thor 130 paramotor. It was a beautiful afternoon to train in our region -- when nearly everyone else in the country is braving winter weather.
Darren coming in for a safe and easy landing at the turf farms. Nice work!
Aubrey Langlinais continued his brutal schedule of training in the salt mines of Southwest Airsports. Bill Cobb also came out to practice kiting. The winds were as good as ever today, east at 5-7 mph. Tom Bird also showed up to continue his perfection at precision landings. Yours truly also flew at sunset, practicing the same. It was another great day in the southwest becoming better pilots!
We had quite a crowd out Saturday: Frank Hoffman, Aubrey Langlinais, Bill Cobb, Tom Bird, and Richard Matthews. Frank worked on his slalom technique near the ground, Aubrey did his first PPG solo in light winds (very difficult), Bill worked on kiting (not much wind, however), Richard practiced his spot landings, and Tom flew over to the NWS station and landed on top of the radar dome -- something like that.
Sunday was just Aubrey who continued his PPG training. Tom Bird also came by and wowed us (including a visitor from Juarez, MX) with his awesome launch and landing skills. Yours truly also flew and demonstrated some gentle air maneuvers including wing-overs, spiral dives, foot drags, and landings at full speed.
All of the following photos were taken by Richard Matthews, PPG student at Southwest Airsports. Occasionally, we are all surprised at the many talents our students have – Richard has the "camera-talent" among his other talents, such as flying a Chinook helicopter now and then.... Thank you, Richard, for sharing your skills with the world.
This photo is of Aubrey Langlinais doing a one week crash course in PPG. It is a grueling task with slave-driver, Had Robinson, and his cattle-prod making them run like they are about to be mangled by a lion or a bear. Here he is, with motor running, bringing his glider up before applying power to the engine.
Aubrey ran like crazy and got off launch just fine. PPG is very difficult to learn because the pilot must know how to fly a paraglider AND run the engine. One hand often does (3) separate things at the same time. Then, there is this machine running at full throttle just inches from your head. But once in the air, one can throttle off to a fraction and glide along for miles with but a low hum behind. This is a completely different experience than flying a single engine Cessna – and a fraction of the cost.
How fun is this? PG (free flight) has its wonders but so does PPG. Yours truly loves doing them both. Why not? Thank you again, Richard, for these awesome photos.
Paragliding in south central New Mexico. The towering clouds in the distance are strong thermals coming off the Potrillo Mountains. It rains a lot out there, probably double of what we get in the Rio Grande Valley. Photo by Steve Crye
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