USA, CA, San Francisco
Joined Aug 2007
Slope soaring sites SF Bay Area - South
I am curious to try slope soaring (I fly glow for now), can you please recommend:
- slopes in San Francisco (South, like Daly City/Pacifica/Half Moon Bay)
- cheap and good package to get started (Radian?)
- Season: all year round?
Thank you much!
I don't live in SF, but I do know Los Banos resevour is legendary. I have flown there once and agree with the legends of it.
I have also sloped the dunes off Ocean Beach and by the Cliff House. Not sure where that is geographically compared to you.
Best bet is to pay a visit & talk to the fliers.
I've heard about place to slope in DalyCity but take it as rumor for now.
A foamy might be the ticket for starting out.The Radian 'might' be a little light for a coastal site.
You can search this forum for SFBay Area slope sites & slopers.
Here's a brief rundown of some of the local spots and the wind direction necessary. PM me if you have more questions.
Tick Pt- 1 mile north of Muir Beach in Marin County on Hwy 1. West wind. Park and fly. Smallish LZ but big air. Landings can be tricky on big wind days, and you are close to Hwy 1 so use caution on the approach. Officially tolerated by the Parks system.
4-Corners- Mill Valley/Muir Woods area. Called "Homestead Hill" on Google Earth. Has both a west wind and northeast wind side. Large LZ, so good for beginners and large planes. The eastside winds tend to start early this time of year. Officially tolerated and called "Glider Hill" by the Parks system.
Secret Spot- at the end of John Daly Blvd in Daly City. A short hike from the parking lot to the LZ. Park, and hike southwest along the old washed out road downhill. Climb down the stairs cut into the hillside. Walk north along the edge and fly by the stunted pine tree. This is a closed park due to the landslide in 1982, but is unpatrolled and flying seems to be no problem. Very smooth westerly winds.
San Bruno Mtn, Brisbane. Drive up Radio Road and park. $5.00 day use fee. Good in SW wind, or NE wind. Walk away from the parking lot and out past the first row of power lines, I've found it's best in NE wind over the large quarry in Brisbane. Probably *not* tolerated due to someone getting stuck in the brush recovering their plane a few years ago and having to be airlifted out by a Coast Guard helicopter (wasn't me..)
Tilden Park/Vollmer Peak: Cross the Bay Bridge, and take Hwy 24 through the Caldecott Tunnel. Take the first exit Fish Ranch Road and go up the hill. Turn right at the 4 way stop. Go up to the park and look for the Steam Train Parking Lot. Park and hike 10 minutes up the hill to the peak. You'll see a locked gate to your right/east. Climb over and fly facing east. BIG thermals on NE days. You can seriously speck out a big plane in the right conditions. Since this is a site with a couple of flying spots along a ridge pay attention to other planes in the air. Are you on 2.4?
Civic Center Hill- San Rafael: This slope is a bit of a walk but worth it. It's located behind Dominican College in central San Rafael. Drive to the top of a street called 'Aquinas' and park. Walk up the Aquinas Fire Road, bear right at the Y and in about 20 minutes you'll see a steep grassy clearing on your left/west. That's the spot. make sure the wind is actually out of the west, as it's an loong way down that hill to get a plane. Big thermals and you can DS right behind yourself. Huge thermals on the right day. Landing looks harder than it really is- fly uphill toward yourself and go left-to-right and land.
Goat Rock: Located about 5 miles south of Jenner, CA on Hwy 1 in Sonoma County. West winds site with big lift. Drive in the driveway, and you can fly at the "peaked hill" on your left, or drive further down and fly from the parking lot. It's not unusual to get 30+ mph winds and big lift. Landing can be tricky so be careful.
I've flown the dumps a few times but never had a "standout" day there.
If this is your first sloper I'd get a Zagi or a Bee. Your plane will take a pounding in your first year.
Here's how the slope seasons break down:
Best- Spring: NW 15-40 mph winds- cool and clear. You'll fly 'till you can't fly anymore, or until the sun sets.
Great: Spring/Summer. The wind tapers off a bit. As summer progresses the fog gets thicker, forcing us to fly closer, or moving to an inland slope like Civic Center. Skin temperature air and long days.
Not so much: Late Summer/Fall. Cue the guys from out of California who want to come to the Bay Area and see some slope soaring...too bad the wind has left town and the fog is still here. You still get the occasional good westerly day, so keep it charged. Tourists abound at most LZ's so keep an eye out when landing.
Worst: Indian Summer: AKA- build season. Get those repair projects done on that sled you crashed last year.
Getting better: Fall. Northeast Winds pick up.. Cold, early flying at Eastside Fourcorners and Vollmer Peak. Bring some gloves. Hey, at least the sun is at your back. It seems like the cycle starts around 9:00 AM and peters out around 1-2:00 PM.
Awesome: Winter: Find a south facing site and hold on. Huge, 40-60 mph winds coming in ahead of rain squalls. You'll get drenched and love it. Seems like everyone has a secret, off-the-grid south facing site they don't tell anyone about.
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