We were hoping for some mountain flights near Santa Barbara and the first two days delivered! It was the weekend so there were lots of people flying.
We met the group at Parma Park, the landing zone for the Skyport and EJ Bowl launches. We'd heard a lot about the Parma LZ . . . and how sketchy it can be! Lots of trees and rocks to navigate on your way in.
We, along with some other new and new-to-the-site pilots, got a site briefing from Mitch Riley (who we watched compete in this year's Red Bull X-Alps). Yep, the LZ has many hazards! But Mitch gave really good info on how to approach it and, fortunately, there is a lower LZ just down the hill that you can bail out to if things don't go exactly right.
|A pilot just after launching from Skyport.|
|Site briefing and the lower landing zone at Parma Park|
|A very full van on Saturday. There were even more people on Sunday!|
The launch area at Skyport is . . . well, "not the friendliest" would be a good description. It's steep and not very big. And crowded with over a dozen paragliding pilots (plus the hang gliders taking off from a pullout in the road just above). One of the experienced pilots was very kind to help lay out wings for all the pilots that went before him. Basically he kept them from sliding down the steep slope. Mitch helped the new students launch and it was a bit nerve wracking to watch! Thankfully, both Andrew and I launched without issue!
|The small "get ready" area at Skyport.|
|Steep launch slope at Skyport.|
We both had great flights (Andrew was up 1.5 hours) and managed to navigate through the trees and rocks and land safely in the main LZ. Everyone else landed safely but some in various locations. One on a plateau in another area of the park, one with his wing in a tree below the lower launch, and one who barely missed a tree in the main LZ but fell, got scraped up a bit but was okay. The next day, a new pilot sunk out and landed on a road near the park and even one of the tandem pilots landed in a small tree with his passenger. (I'm so glad we did our first mountain flights from VOR which has a nice launch area and a huge LZ!)
Sarah and Logan, a couple from Santa Barbara that we'd met on the SIV course the previous week, arrived just as Andrew was taking off. I landed first and when I thought Andrew was approaching the LZ I got on the radio and let him know what conditions were like. Humorously, Andrew said no that wasn't him and then Sarah thanked me for the information as it was her coming in.
|Sarah approaching the LZ.|
|Sarah and another pilot losing some altitude before the LZ.|
|Logan approaching the landing.|
|Logan making one last turn into the LZ.|
|Love the colors of these hang gliders!|
|Andrew and a hang glider.|
|Andrew approaching the LZ.|
|It's starting to look like busy skies already but the area is large enough that people spread out pretty fast.|
|I landed at the lower LZ this time and got photos of Andrew landing at the higher one. |
In this photo you really have to wonder where he's going to land!