Dream trip, part two: 16 Slope Soaring sites in the ... Dream trip, part two: 16 Slope Soaring sites
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Jeff Fukushima and Jeff Charlot at Cajon Summit, Victorville CA. The photo was taken during the 2006 Southern California PSS Festival.
Dave Arnold loops his Mustang at the Little Mountain Urban Slope Flying Site near historic Route 66 in San Bernardino CA.
Dave Reese turns and burns with a Kestrel in smooth lift at Fort Ord Dunes. Sometimes we share the lift zone with hang gliders.
Dream trip, part two: 16 Slope Soaring sites in the West by Dave Garwood firstname.lastname@example.org
How would you like to take a road trip to fly 16 Slope Soaring sites between the geographic center of the US and the Pacific Ocean? I have flown at 15 of these locations, and I’d welcome the opportunity to fly at any of them again. California is glider land. I believe that half of the RC Soaring pilots in the country live in California. I am not presenting a comprehensive West Coast Slope Soaring site resource, but a travelogue covering my most memorable Slope flying sites from trips
out West. The Internet is your best resource for more detailed and timely information about each site. Starting where I left off in my August column, at the geographic center of the US in Lebanon, Kansas, I head for Salt Lake City, Utah. Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah Take the causeway from Syracuse, Utah, to the island and enjoy several of the most pleasant Slope flying hills of any inland location. Not many Slope sites have a burger joint and a gift shop at the top. More information about flying there appeared in my April 2009 “RC Slope Soaring” column. Point of the Mountain, Sandy, Utah A sandbar in prehistoric Lake Bonneville, the Point of the Mountain Flight Park hosts RC fliers, plus hang glider and parasail pilots. During Labor Day weekend in even-numbered years, it is the location of the Soar Utah event. Read more information in my February 2015 Model Aviation column. Torrey Pines Gliderport, La Jolla, California RC flying sites don’t get more famous than this one. You must fly there at least once in your RC career. See the Torrey Pines Gulls website for more information.
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Jim Harrigan rips it up with a Dave’s Aircraft Works Schweizer 1-26 at one of the many flyable hills at Goat Rock State Park in Jenner CA. The aircraft is a great traveling sailplane.
The author flies a Schweizer 1-26 at one of the many small parking areas along the California Pacific Coast Highway. Harrigan photo.
Little Mountain, San Bernardino, California San Bernardino contains one of the two surviving Wigwam Motels along historic Route 66. Not far from there, the grassy slope of Little Mountain provides fine Slope flying close to town. Point Fermin Park, San Pedro, California No Southern California Slope safari is complete without experiencing Point Fermin. The weight of the lead sled sailplanes flown there is astonishing. The recovery zone is jaw-dropping. The landing zone is frightening. The feeling of accomplishment after flying there is unparalleled. Cajon Pass, Victorville, California This mountain pass offers epic lift and big-sky flying. Go during Memorial Day weekend in odd-numbered years to experience the legendary Southern California Power Scale Soaring (PSS) Festival. See the Inland Slope Rebels (ISR) website for detailed information on this and other Southern California flying sites. Ellwood Bluffs, Santa Barbara, California A seaside escarpment in a butterfly preserve overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this is the epicenter of Voltige Très Près
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The author flies a Pat Bowman Comanche at the Davenport International Slope Race site along the Pacific Coast Highway in Davenport CA. Photo by Jim Harrigan.
du Relief (also known as VTPR) Slope flying in the US, and the location of many Weasel Fests. Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Marina, California This is another great spot with a view of the ocean, and it offers smooth lift. Sunset State Beach, Watsonville, California It’s a pleasant site with super-smooth lift, and is located close to the Pacific Coast Highway. Davenport International Slope Race, Davenport, California On the west side of California State Route 1, across from the Big Creek Lumber company, the spirits of great Slope racers have a presence. See the event’s website for more information. Los Banos Creek Reservoir, Gustine, California This is unparalleled Slope Soaring topography. The reservoir is surrounded by 200 to 300-foot slopes covered with grass, and plenty of grassy landing areas behind. Goat Rock Beach, Jenner, California To borrow a Dave Sanders phrase, “It’s a skateboard park for Slope Soarers.” Jim Harrigan and I flew on five hills and ridges while we were there. See the Goat Rock Beach State Park website.
Cape Blanco State Park, Port Orford, Oregon Wil Byers, from RC Sport Flyer magazine, named this the best flying site on the West Coast between California and Washington. Flyable and perfect for Dynamic Soaring in north and south winds, the Cape Blanco Slopefest takes place here in August. See the Southern Oregon Slopeiens website for information. Eagle Butte, Kennewick, Washington It’s simply the best. This venue is commonly named as the best Slope Soaring site in the continental US. Kiona Butte and Chandler Butte are nearby and are also epic flying sites. See the Mid-Columbia Soarers website for current information. Pacific Coast Highway California State Route 1 hugs the scenic coast, connects some of these flying sites, and provides an abundance of small Slope flying sites in the form of places to stop, park, and enjoy the view of the ocean. With an onshore breeze, it’s an instant Slope Soaring site. Wyoming Mountain Highway Consider following Interstate 80 on the journey from Kansas to Utah. According to my flying friend, Greg Smith, it provides many roadside informal glider flying sites. It is the only one of these 16 at which I have not flown, but I sure do want to try it.
(Editor’s note: Make sure to check with proper authorities to ensure you have permission to fly within parks or public areas.)
SOURCES: Antelope Island www.utah.com/stateparks/antelope_island.htm Cajon Pass directions www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost. php?p=30601791&postcount=3 Cape Blanco State Park www.oregonstateparks.org/index. cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=44 Northern California Slope sites www.ledametrix.com/gcs Davenport International Slope Race www.davenportisr.com Mid-Columbia Soarers http://mcs.rchomepage.com/eagle.htm Ellwood Bluffs Trail http://alltrails.com/trail/us/california/ellwood- bluffs-trail Fort Ord Dunes State Park www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=580 Goat Rock Beach www.californiabeaches.com/beach/goat-rock- beach ISR www.inlandsloperebels.com Los Banos Slope Soaring (South Bay Soaring Society) www.sbss.org/slope.htm Point of the Mountain (Intermountain Silent Flyers Soar Utah) http://soarutah.org Point Fermin Park www.sanpedro.com/sp_point/ptfmpk.htm Southern California PSS Festival www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread. php?t=2333825 Southern Oregon Slopeiens www.clubsos.itgo.com SLOPLE www.slople.com SlopeFlyer.com www.slopeflyer.com Torrey Pines Gulls www.torreypinesgulls.org Slope Aerobatics www.slopeaerobatics.com League of Silent Flight (LSF) www.silentflight.org
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