Comment: Our coastal cliffs (2/16/2021)

Past, present, and future flights, meeting times & places, theory.

Moderator: Moderation Team

Comment: Our coastal cliffs (2/16/2021)

Postby sd » Tue Feb 16, 2021 10:50 am

It is not uncommon for there to be excessive wind to the west in Santa Barbara (Wilcox and More Mesa) but not enough wind toward the east end of Carpinteria (Bates). On such occasions, there is sometimes a sweet spot in the gradient somewhere between SB and Carpinteria, and sometimes the sweet spot might align with a launchable coastal cliff that faces somewhat into the wind.

On such occasions I have launched my paraglider from the low cliff on the east end of Summerland. Park at the Loon Point Beach Parking Lot then walk west under the Padaro overpass. Continue west along the railroad tracks rather than following the foot path down to the beach. There is a launchable pad that faces SSW about 400 yards west of the overpass, just past a drain gully. At the launch location, the cliff is fairly low, only about 70 feet MSL. For comparison, Wilcox is over 150 feet and More Mesa is about 110 (as per Google Earth). There is a slightly higher face (about 100 Ft MSL) at Loon Point just east of the east Summerland cliff launch. You can fly to the higher terrain but it’s private property so you can’t launch there.

There can be a possibility (in certain conditions) to transition (jump or bench back) from the East Summerland Cliffs to Polo Ridge, which I did once with my Hang Glider. On that flight it was a strong north day up high. I need to check my log to see where I launched and landed. I didn’t launch from Summerland but ended up there stuck down low in the ridge lift, almost flushing to the beach a couple of times. Was eventually able to track a thermal back part way to Polo ridge (on a 2nd attempt) then make a downwind run for the west end of Polo Ridge where I was able to thermal up to 4K in onshore flow. At 4K I encountered butter smooth wave lift with offshore wind from the north increasing with altitude. Had to keep pulling the bar in more and more as I was backing up away from the coast. Got to 8K but threw in the towel and stuffed the bar because I was concerned that I might not be able to get back to the beach.

There are a couple other cliffs that might be flyable, but don’t know if anyone has launched from them. You might be able launch from the West Summerland Cliff above the freeway, off the QAD parking lot? There is also the Clark Estate Cliff, but that is private property, so I don’t think there are any launch options. Chad has flown from shoreline park in SE conditions.

Paragliders are slow. HGs are much faster. Back in the day, we tried to fly regardless of the weather, rain or shine, windy or stable.

Paragliders are not an all-weather option. They have some advantages over HGs but can more easily be overmatched by the wind and turbulence. If paragliding is your sole aviation mechanism, then there are days it is better to consider alternate activities. I enjoy flying but mostly get my fill so I look for other stuff to do on windy days.

There are numerous PG pilots who buy small gliders so they can fly the coastal cliffs in stronger wind, but that only increases your envelope by single digits? If you want to fly the coastal cliffs on windy days, rather than a speed wing PG, I recommend taking HG lessons from Willy, then add a small HG to your quiver of wings. It will never be too windy to fly Bates when your top speed exceeds 60 MPH.
User avatar
Posts: 410
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2006 10:30 pm

Re: Comment: Our coastal cliffs (2/16/2021)

Postby Gulden » Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:34 am

I had an excellent flight at Loon Point last fall when Bates had gotten too light. I’ve been considering launching from QAD (there are several places to lay out) to soar the ridge on the West end of Summerland, but had always been concerned about flying through potential rotor from the 101 to reach the ridge. I know that this ridge has been soared before, but has anybody tried launching from it?
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:28 am

Return to Flight Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests