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Villa Grove

Huge mountains, huge thermals, huge XC.

3/1/24

Page Updated:

Primary site developed & maintained by RMHPA

Radio:

Min Rating:

Villa Grove / Princeton

151.955

P2+ / H2+

The Sangre De Cristos range from 12,000' - 14,000+' and run unbroken for over 60 miles to the south of launch. Both ridge soaring and thermal opportunities. Flying often possible year round. Great XC potential. Often called the little Owens Valley.

Mornings are usually light winded, suitable for Hang 2 and P2's. Midday can have strong thermal activity with sudden changes in wind due to thunderstorms from May-August. Beware of storms and gust fronts. It is common for the San Luis valley to have a visible inversion at about 2,000' AGL. Pilots exercising patience and hanging onto a good thermal can break through the inversion and soar the stronger ridge and thermal lift above the inversion. Not commonly flown by paragliders during midday due to the stronger winds and turbulent thermals. Evenings often offer a spectacular glass off. A local HG pilot lives just south of the LZ.

Ideal Wind Range: HG 3-12mph max 25. PG 3-10mph max 15. MW 3-15mph max 18.


Launch

Launch faces southwest, altitude is 9,760 feet. This is a high altitude launch site. Strong kiting skills and good launch technique are required. Pilots must be prepared to manage strong thermic launch conditions. Pilots with weaker kiting skills may be dragged.

Launch is up a 4WD road that requires higher clearance especially near the top. This site is hang-glider friendly and has a launch ramp and tie-downs.

Landing

There are three LZs close to the road to launch, at 8000'. LZ 1 is small and best for paragliders and parking cars. LZ 2 is huge and good for HG and PG. Larry's LZ is private property - check with him and see if the gate is open and available - Larry is a hang glider and very generous!

Almost the whole San Luis valley is landable, making outlandings easy; however, be cautions of rocks, cactus patches, and scrub oak, and dust devils. The San Luis valley is known for strong thermals and gust fronts. Mid-day landings can be tricky.

Launch and Landing Map

Seasons

  • Early afternoon during winter / morning or evening glass off during summer. Mid-day flying on strong thermal/active days can be very rowdy and potentially dangerous.

  • Most flyable season(s):  April through October, Occasional days in winter if snow pack allows access to launch.

  • Paragliding not recommended mid-day in warmer months. For mid-day conditions, experienced H3/P3 or higher, is recommended.

  • Ideal Wind Range: HG 3-12mph max 25. PG 3-10mph max 15. MW 3-15mph max 18.

 

Special Considerations

  • Understand density altitude and how it affects launch and landing characteristics (HA endorsement strongly recommended).

  • Cell coverage is weak and local weather conditions can be very different than forecasts.

  • Check the winds aloft. Recommended Hang Glider range: below 10 to 20 MPH at 18,000 feet. Recommended Paraglider range: below 5 to 15 MPH at 18,000 feet.

  • Recommended Pilot Rating - Hang 2 for hanglider pilots and P2 for paraglider pilots during morning and late evening. Hang 3, P 3-4 other times. Winds can increase suddenly, making it dangerous for paragliding midday.

  • Training in fast descent techniques strongly advised (SIV courses).

  • High clearance 4WD vehicles required for the road to launch.

  • Consider carrying supplemental Oxygen.

  • If spectators are present they can safely watch either hang glider or paraglider launches from the parking area.

  • If you climb to the ridge above launch be aware of the potential for compression. Winds near the ridge may be substantially stronger at ridge line. For paragliders a 15 MPH in the valley compress along the ridgeline to the point where you may get blown over the back.

  • Beware of the strong venturi in Hayden Pass.

  • PGs have been blown “over the back” when upper winds are strong or due to the venturi at Hayden pass. The area on the East side of the ridge is a burned wilderness area that is not landable (tree spikes) until you fly past the burn area to the town of Coaldale.

  • All pilots desiring to fly Villa Grove should talk with pilots that have flown Villa Grove and be thoroughly briefed on its hazards.

  • Launch is owned by the US Forest Service. The Sangre De Cristo Wilderness boundry begins just above launch.

  • Almost all of the San Luis Valley has open areas to land but do not land in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Check with local pilots for other restricted landing areas.

Weather

Live Wind Usage

  • On your phone, open the link below and bookmark it or "Add to Home Screen".

  • It is optimized for use while in-flight and will auto-update frequently.

Live Winds

If you have a suggestion, correction, or addition to a flying site, please contact webmaster@rmhpa.org.

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