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
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
December 11 -- Training resumes this week.
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.
Tom Bird and yours truly met at farm #1 around 4PM today. Winds were dead but occasionally coming from every direction. With the soaking wet sod, it was not easy getting traction but Tom did splendidly with one try. The other pilot took 40 minutes LOL. The skies were heavily overcast so today was one of the those "PPG" only days. We both landed safely. Yours truly demonstrated the full speed, powered on landing which, if the ground surface is smooth, is like landing in an airplane. That is, a very easy, gentle, though fast landing. It is simply a foot drag that ends!
Tom going for it in the dead air! Nice work - first try.
Rarely, one comes across truly prodigious operating areas for foot launched paragliding. Jason Tilley and yours truly did some cross country in a relative active part of the day to south of Lawton, OK (Ft. Sill). As all pilots should, it is a good idea to often land in an unknown area to practice "emergency landings". In PG, one has to scout from altitude. PPG, however, makes it easier in that pilots can do a fly-by at relatively low altitude (in a safe manner) to look for hidden obstacles and the like.
This LZ – a 100 acre dead flat, compacted dirt, cotton field got a 9.5 for safety. No obstacles of any kind and clear for 360 degrees. I would have given it a "10" but it was not shortly trimmed grass sod. The only place to launch from a hill in this region has been usurped by the Feds to protect a bird sanctuary. Suffice it to say, only a fraction of the sanctuary (Wichita Mountains) is used either by visitors or the birds. Oh well...
Nick Reiter and Buzz Nelson had an epic afternoon in the Franklins. Here is Nick's description,
Absolutely incredible flight with Steve. And it was minutes after my first skydive jump from 14k, so I was already high on life as June dropped me off at Sneed's Parking where we were just in time to watch Steve's launch from the lot. I powered hiked up to launch to join him not knowing what to expect, and concerned for the uppers which at 7k and 8k were forecasted to be in the upper teens. And as they say in Salt Lake: "If even a fool can bench up, only a fool will bench up" as you will get carried up, pinned, and enter negative ground speed toward the summit. To avoid that, we had really fun "free refill" laps up to ~6.8k for half an hour, then we felt the winds subsiding slightly, and started to tentatively play higher and higher while always aware of our ability to penetrate. Fun soft November thermals were the treat for the first hour. The second hour was butter smooth ridge soaring some of the most beautiful scenery I've flown, and under 20 minutes from my house here! El Paso is blowing my mind. We headed north to Anthony's nose. The shadows, contrast, and the wavy geology there were breathtaking, as well as looking east to the shadow cast by the whole franklin range. This was my first flight soaring above the Franklins and wow, I was blown away! Was so fun to share the skies with Steve, and to have my new thermal tracker and Had-Hacked Yaesu to bs and gloat with Steve the whole time. Skydive. 2 hour flight till past sunset. Then a run with the dogs. An El Paso triathlon of adventure today. I could get used to this place....
Photo by Buzz Nelson. When it's good – it's terrific!
Nick Reiter, Mitch Graham, and Buzz Nelson took up the challenge of strong air at Mag (check out the windsock in the photo below). Happy to say that everyone launched and landed safely in the 18+ air at launch. Buzz practiced launching with the C's in his hands rather than using the brakes in the high winds. Congrats on improving your skills.
Mitch getting his glider under control at launch – nice work.
Mike Ford, Chris Chaney, and Bill Cobb continue their training in the great air we've had for the last few days (at the turf farms). Tom Bird also was out there doing his touch n' goes with us on his Thor 130 paramotor. Tom advised us to the near minute about when the weather would change. The air was stronger than yesterday and we had a cold front (a moving mass of cold air displacing a sedentary warm air mass) coming in from the east so we had to be careful. The pilots on tow got super high due to the strong SSW winds coming in, sometimes gusting to 15. Chris probably got 1,300' AGL in my Ozone BuzzZ a time or two. If he were not a new student pilot, he could have tried my C class glider and gone to 2,000' AGL – next time. Too much wind and it's easy to get blown way over the back of launch which, though not dangerous here, is not a good practice. Everyone did well navigating the higher winds and the changes it makes to your flight path to the LZ. Well done, guys.
Chris coming in from a way-high flight! Bill (L) and Mike (R) watching.
Mike getting ready to launch
Wind shear at 20,000' MSL from 75 mph winds aloft. We were not up that high which was good.
L-R Tom "can't-face-the-camera" Bird, Bill Cobb, Mike Ford, and Chris Chaney. What a great place to fly and train!
Chris Chaney and Mike Ford of Midland, Texas continued their training early this afternoon at the turf farms. We were joined by Bill Cobb and Tom Bird. Conditions were fairly light but consistent: south at 5-7 mph. We started fairly early in the afternoon and were up in the air by 4PM and continued to fly until dark. The goal, as always, was to demonstrate control at launch and land safely at the LZ cone. Chris led the way today, landing close to the cone nearly every time. Tom brought his paramotor and did a series of touch n' goes right at the end of the day. Marilyn did a superb job running the ATV drogue retrieval system, keeping the pilots in the air one after the other. Thank you!
Pilots on deck L-R: Mike, Chris, and Bill
With all these paragliders in the air, we attracted some attention and had visitors who were fascinated by what we were doing. Chris is coming in for a pinpoint landing.
Tom taking off in the twilight. It has been some while since we have seen him. The sun was down and we were getting ready to pack it up and go home. It was a great productive afternoon.
We want to welcome Mike Ford and Chris Chaney of Midland, Texas to the great southwest. Mike and Chris are accomplished hang gliding pilots who are adding paragliding to their skills. They received their initial training from Fly Above All in Santa Barbara, CA and, being that we are a lot closer, are finishing up their training here. They had never towed before and their first tows at the farms indicated that they had extensive experience flying ultralights i.e. hang gliders. Both kept their gliders perpendicular to the tow line as if they had towed a dozen times. Good work guys! They are going to be here until Tuesday, working on their P3's. Buzz Nelson also joined us for a first tow to show Mike and Chris how it's done. Thank you, Buzz.
Buzz ready to go.
Mike got really high on his first tow, on his way back to launch.
Chris ready to go. Mike is on deck – he had the last tow of the day.
At the end of the day. L-R Buzz (with his mosquito net on), Mike, Chris, and Marilyn (who runs the ATV for drogue retrieval). It's not as dark as it looks! The white dots are not stars but dust close to the camera. We do live in the desert LOL.
Bill Cobb missed his chance to tow yesterday so we went out again today. Conditions were a little better for towing which, for today, was the only option of flying. Yours truly got out there just after lunch to figure out how much new tow line we need. I ran things out 1/2 mile saw more nicks and scars on the line. It was not just chewed up in places from a tractor plow but the line is just plain worn out. I'll be ordering 2,000' of the Spectra. Meanwhile, I took the time to cut out sections which were obviously not going to last very much longer. Bill had a fine – and high -tow.
Bill was towed up on the semi-repaired line which did fine. He went all the way to the end, getting up near or above 9,000' MSL This was his second high tow. Nice job Bill!
Winds were dead at 5:30PM.
Bill about 2/3rds the way up to the top of tow. After he pinned off, I lost him for about 5 minutes – like looking for a dot on a printed page 8' away. He landed safely on the old Hwy 9 about 5 miles west of the racetrack. Great tow and a nice view!
Arizona XC champ, Wyatt Lines, local Buzz Nelson, and yours truly set out late morning to see if (hope against hope) Torrey Paso would work but, as is often the case, the models were right: Conditions were light. Buzz and I barely got off launch in the light air, having to wait for thermals to do a reverse launch. Desert, undeveloped sites are not places to do forwards – sharp rocks are everywhere. Wyatt had an equipment failure and wisely chose not to launch.
Buzz setting up south of launch.
Wyatt getting his gear ready.
Buzz out in front of the range.
Hoping for something better, we headed out to Hwy 9 to tow. Bill Cobb was able to join us and help. Wyatt towed up first to around 6,500 MSL and tried to hook a thermal. When he pinned off and turned, the thermal was nowhere to be found – probably a big bubble, as is often the case here. Buzz was next and he was getting up nicely when the tow line broke. He did an EXPERT job in dropping the drogue parachute by the road so I would not have to hike way off into the desert to retrieve it and the line. Bill was up next so I was in a hurry to get the line back on the winch – big mistake. Every 5 years I learn the lesson: don't be in a hurry with line! The line was loose on the drum and, rather than carefully unwind it, I pulled it off sideways to uncoil it and it became a tangled rat's nest that took an hour to fix. By that time, it was almost dark and the day was over. Rats....
Wyatt ready to go – he was the only one who got up today.
Buzz on his way up – just before the line broke.
This morning I am going out to Hwy 9, run out the old line, get a measurement of what I need, and order new from Tow-me-up. Two thirds of the line is new so it will only be a few thousand feet. Poor Buzz and others have suffered enough from the older and damaged line (it happened some years ago at the sod farm when it got plowed). I am sorry for the inconvenience this has caused for everyone! Bill was looking forward to a tow. At least somebody in the region flew today!
Nick Reiter, Nick Larson (yes, 2 Nicks), and yours truly headed out to Hwy 9 for a high tow tandem, because winds were nearly dead calm everywhere so towing is all we had. We met at the west launch (1/2 way to the Potrillos) and set up for a westerly tow. Towing a tandem is like pulling up a couple of sacks of potatoes and the two Nick's were not featherweights. Anyway, as I started the tow, the aluminum carabiner broke at the weak link so we had to stop. I warned everyone (among other things) that the link or something could force the tow to stop at any time. It was actually good because Nick #2 had never done a tow before and it gave him a good introduction while at ground level. The fickle winds started to be more east, so we set up for an easterly tow. I replaced the aluminum carabiner with a steel mallion which will never break. It does not replace the weak link, however, which was set to around 90 lbs.
Towing east was the ticket and the two Nicks went up – though slowly – as Nick #1 was flying his 38m glider right at the upper range limit. This is the beauty of towing – winds can be almost from any direction and we can still get up and out.
Everything went just great. Nick #1 landed near the racetrack. It was a great afternoon. Southwest and west of us the sky was darkening so it was good to be on the ground. Below, the two Nick's ready to go! With the air as switchy was it was, when it was time to go – everyone had to GO and GO FAST! Another great afternoon in the southwest.
The tandem on its way up!
Here is what we were looking at far off. It was good to get down when we did. These storms are really late in the season for the high desert.
Everybody – apparently – had to work or catch up so there was no one to join yours truly at Anapra – not that it would be epic, of course. The local stations all reported air in the range SE @ 8 or so around 5PM today so it meant that conditions at Anapra would be marginable. I hustled out there and, as I was approaching the rim of the Mesa from the west, I saw the tops of the Creosote bushes waving around behind the rim. This is always a good sign but they were not waving a whole lot. I raced as fast as I could to setup and got into the air about 5:30PM. It was already starting to die down so I was not able to make more than a few passes up and down the rim of the Mesa. I side-hill landed just below launch, thankfully, as I saw the inevitable coming. Had I not forgotten my C class glider, I probably could have stayed up another 10-15 minutes.
After I landed, I kited at the rim for about a half hour. It's always good practice to do this. This is the only photo – kiting at launch. I had to whip out my camera, hold the lines in one hand and attempt steering, and then snap a pix. It was barely successful. A very pleasant but short flight....
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 Buzz Nelson
The content of this website is copyright © 2017 by Southwest Airsports, LLC. All Rights Reserved