Santa Teresa, New Mexico
Explanations of the tools below and more weather info
El Paso National Weather Service – start here!
Pivotal Weather – an outstanding site for anything weather but it requires some work and know-how
NWS hourly graphical forecast – temp, winds, & gusting at the surface
Meso West Region – current conditions at stations in the SW
Santa Teresa NWS (current conditions)
SPC Balloon Soundings (every 12 hours)
UoW Balloon Soundings – usually available before the SPC soundings for 72364 (ELP)
Vorticity @ 500mb click "500mb Vorticity" in the middle of the screen
NOAA Satellite image of moisture and clouds over west Texas – NM
Windy – animated map of winds and other data over the surface of the world.
Wind History Map – actual vs. forecasts
Training -- Our first open training slots will be in October. Full payment of tuition will reserve your preferred date and time.
Introductory videos: Let's go places (from Toyota),
Featured video and introduction to paragliding (from the National
Geographic), Fly like a bird (from USHPA),
Paragliding in Franklin Mountains State Park (from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Austin, Texas), A PG student learns pilot math!
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.
Hachita Valley turned west this afternoon and that was the cue to get to Kilbourne Hole for some soaring. If Hachita is south or southwest, Kilbourne will usually be the same. Winds were 280 @ 7-9, a bit weak but soarable. Yours truly arrived just before 5pm and setup. After two flights and two top-landings it was time to return home. Below, East Launch looking east.
Soaring the maar -- view is north along the Rim. What a great day to be in the southwest. Sadly, it will be awhile before it's safe to fly again.
New P2 student, Alejandra Chacon, is getting acquainted with our sites in the southwest. However, there has been a spate of turbulent weather this month which restricted our flying. Just the same, we visited Mag Rim October 10th and, sure enough it was blown out for PG the entire day except for 15 minutes right before dark. Yours truly (Had) jumped in the air and had a quick flight and demonstrated top landing.
October 11th had a good forecast for Kilbourne Hole but it, too, was blown out, despite the assurances of various weather models that it would not be. At launch there were waves of 20+ mph wind coming through. There was not chance of flying it, pretty as it was!
The windsock near launch was being whipped by the winds! The sky looked a bit ominous, too.
Alejandra at the edge of launch overlooking the maar. When these sites are flyable, they are outstanding.
We wish to welcome our newest student, Alejandra Chacon, an industrial engineer from El Paso. Her husband, Mauricio, is also an engineer from El Paso. Alejandra earned her P2 at the Cloud9 school in Provo, Utah. She is continuing her training here and is improving her kiting skills at the sod farms. Pilots who kite well eliminate some of the greatest risk we have: handling the glider at launch and getting away from the terrain safely.
There have been a number of storms in the northeast U.S. which have made flying a bit hazardous, especially high winds close to the earth's surface. The photos below are both pre-frontal and post-frontal. The pre-frontal conditions were humid, sometimes approaching 98%. Post-frontal was about 60% and falling. It's easy to tell from the photos when the air was drier.
Little Harbor, Woods Hole, MA.
Woods Hole with Little Harbor and Eel Pond. In the distance is the island of Martha's Vineyard. The Nobska lighthouse can just be seen in the center of the photo. Our own (2) houses are in the lower left. The grey area in the left corner are the remains of a large patch of the noxious reed, Phragmites that I cut down with a gas hedge trimmer on steroids.
Woods Hole from the southwest looking north east. Notice the moisture in the air. The tide can clearly be seen moving through the Hole. The channel is at an angle to fast moving current, making it a bit treacherous.
The Elizabeth Islands looking towards the southwest. Hadley (inner) Harbor (with the sailboats) is full.
Same view, almost. Notice the air. Cuttyhunk Island is visible in the far distance.
Tarpaulin Cove just before landing at the Cove lighthouse. The people on the boats get so excited seeing such a small aircraft coming in to land. The engine is at idle and can just barely be heard.
I never thought in over 60 years that I would be able to land an aircraft at the lighthouse....
Who knows this island? I landed on it.
We have been doing a lot of flying but it has been so busy that posting of events has been minimal. However, we had Jason Tilley visit us from Oklahoma City for a few days. Agave Hill and the Franklins in general are thermic only (not ridge soarable) and a great place to test one's knowledge of the characteristics of high desert flying. Jason was able to do some simple flights and get familiar with the LZ's and what makes Agave work.
When flying Agave, it is critical for safety to kite the glider overhead for a few seconds or more to be sure that it is stable before turning to go. If a pilot is unable to kite at launch, he should not fly the site. Steve Crye and yours truly had safe flights on Saturday, as well, that day.
Below, Jason preparing to go. With such a shallow slope and light winds (but strong thermals), it is important to provide as much speed moving forward as possible when doing a launch run.
View of the launch run from the bottom of the site area.
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 populated 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....
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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