GENERAL SITE GUIDELINES
AZHPA promotes and preserves free flight and provides information for numerous flying areas in Arizona.
Our entire State is known for its wide range of extreme conditions, harsh environment, unique demands and challenges for all outdoor activities. It is vital that pilots have a thorough understanding of each site’s individual risk factors and mitigation plans prior to flying. Most of our sites are mountain thermal flying sites and it is required to be adequately prepared and have an adequate skill set to fly here. Special considerations are needed for flying at our sites such as: adequate hydration, flying with extra water and having situational awareness of unforgiving terrain and strong conditions.
Special Note on Thermal Flying
Thermal conditions create a demand for pilots to not only have solid ground handling skills with a connected feel to their glider, but also a thorough understanding of how the local weather conditions play into the forecast models in order to be sufficiently prepared for a short launch window that demands certain launch techniques. Proficiency in high-wind-with-gusts kiting, no-wind forwards and light-wind dynamic reverse launches on shallow slopes are crucial for many of our sites and conditions.
Please be aware that strength of conditions will determine if it is better to a.) launch between the thermal cycle, when speeds are zero or light, to then fly away into the next thermal approaching the hill with ample clearance from the terrain, or b.) pull glider up and launch glider directly into the thermal cycle blowing into launch.
Many times launching during a zero- or light-wind cycle between the stronger thermals is not only a safer window, but a better plan to capitalize on the launch cycles as well as the flight plan.
It was common to see many pilots "waiting for the wind" (which is the thermal) to cycle through launch because they are not comfortable and/or proficient with forward and light wind launch techniques, only to experience a stronger cycle than anticipated once their glider was overhead.
Pilots most accustomed to launching in prevailing winds, onshore winds and lighter thermal ridge lift need local, and perhaps local professional, expertise and guidance to gain the needed insight to fly our sites safely.
Thermal activity can begin as early as 9:30 AM and continue past 5:00 PM at many times throughout the year. Additional altitude is needed to keep clear of terrain, achieving anticipated glide ratio, and avoiding airspace restrictions due to conditions commonly encountering strong lift, sink and turbulence. Active piloting, situational awareness and receiving local pilot knowledge and on-site briefings is crucial and required. Ground handling/kiting is not allowed on any of our Launches or in any Landing Zones and is best practiced early mornings and the last couple of hours before sunset in large grassy parks/areas in winds with minimal gust differential.
Please be aware that we have hike-up launches which means there can be delayed response time for first-aid responders, again reiterating the need for proper preparations, exercising appropriate judgment, staying well within your operating limitations in order to minimize risk for Hang Gliding and Paragliding in the desert and high desert. AZHPA has weather stations available and pilots are encouraged to use them.
Site Briefings and General Guidelines:
All pilots must have a thorough understanding of the individual site briefings and general guidelines prior to arriving. However, they do not replace the need for an in-person on-site briefing from a local instructor and or qualified pilot that has experience flying that individual site. On-site briefings from a local qualified pilot are a requirement.
AZHPA and USHPA memberships are required for all pilots and passengers. Any persons participating in hang gliding, paragliding and mini wing operations are required by law to fly in accordance with FAR part 103 (or part 91 if applicable) and should comply with the general safety protocols described by USHPA. Memberships can be purchased here. (Flying at South Mountain Park and/or Shaw Butte also requires consent to the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department Liability Waiver as well as the USHPA Waiver, both found on the Membership page.)
SAHGA/AZHPA Reciprocal Agreement:
The Southern Arizona Hang Gliding Association and The Arizona Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association have a reciprocal agreement. If you have an AZHPA membership you can fly SAHGA sites, and vice versa, assuming you meet all other requirements per individual flying sites. You will still have to fill out any required waivers (such as the Parks and Recreation waiver for Shaw Butte and South Mountain, and the City Waiver for "A" Mountain in Tucson).
All land management and ownership rules such as: Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service, Phoenix Park and Recreation, City of Phoenix, Cottonwood and Flagstaff rules shall be adhered to at all times.
Precautions for our weather climate and terrain type and features are an essential part of being prepared to fly here.
All pilots must have current airworthy equipment and be flying equipment that directly corresponds with their skill level. All gliders and reserve canopies must correspond with pilots all up flying weight.
Helmets are to be worn for all flights. Kiting is not allowed on Launches or in LZ’s, where space is limited.
Reserve parachutes are required for all flights.
All hooking in and initial pre-flights should be done off launch in appropriate set up areas. Hooking in to glider is not appropriate on launch.
We have a three-strike rule on launch attempts. If you engage your wing and do not successfully launch three times, please rosette your wing and take five minutes off launch to assess whether you should be flying (or not and to let other pilots launch). This is recommended even when other pilots are not waiting to launch/at all times.
Walk up to launch prepared and ready to go.
Forward launching: If you are not comfortable with forward launches, pilots that are confident with this launch technique should be allowed to launch in front of you after five minutes of waiting. Conditions change rapidly. Spending too much time on launch can cause other pilots to miss a launch window due to a pilot that is not comfortable with forward launches waiting for a cycle and holding up the launch process.
AZHPA sites comprise several launches and landing zones, each with its own risk factors and mitigation plans that pilots must understand prior to flying. These launch sites and landing zones include:
Radio Frequency: 151.505 Mhz, DCS code 25: Please note you must turn your DCS on, turn the code to 25, and make sure it is turned on for both transmit and receive prior to arrival. Programming instructions for most popular 2 meter radios can be found here.
Emergencies: Follow the AZPHA General Emergency Action Plan and site-specific Emergency Action Plans below: