Ban on R/C Soaring at Torrey Pines - RC Groups
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Aug 07, 2002, 08:41 PM
bjaffee's Avatar

Ban on R/C Soaring at Torrey Pines

The following was just posted to RCSE and a few other soaring related email groups.


San Diego, CA 08/07/02

Effective today the lease holder of the Torrey Pines Glider
Port (San Diego) has permanently banned RC model glider flying at this nationally known slope-soaring site. This action is (apparently) within the lease agreement and (reportedly) has the backing of the city of San Diego. David Jebb is the current lessee and operator of a commercial Paraglider training facility that includes the sale of Hang/Paragliders and accessories. He also sells tandem Paraglider and Hang Glider (PG-HG) rides to the public.

The premise for this action, if taken at face value, is that
RC gliders pose a safety hazard to manned aircraft (PG-HG) and spectators on the ground.and as such are in violation of AMA rules. Fact: In 35+ years no one has ever been injured by a model aircraft at Torrey Pines. It is currently a recognized AMA flying site. Depending on what source is used; there have been between 12 and 16 fatal and many less serious accidents involving PG-HG flights. WE take no pleasure in that. There are some fine and skilled Ultralight pilots who fly here.

We have cohabited the airspace without injury for all of these
years. True; there have been mid air collisions..the blame for which covers the spectrum of such incidents.

The history of slope soaring at Torrey Pines goes back to
the days of Charles Lindbergh who reportedly flew a glider here while The Spirit Of St. Louis was being built in 1927. Full sized sailplanes still fly here in the Springtime when the winds are usually at their peak. The benign weather and consistent onshore breezes from the ocean provide some of
the best RC year round RC sailplane flying in the country. There is no other location to replace it. Paraphrasing one of the paraglider instructors: "He (Jebb) envisions this place as a million dollar paraglider operation.." With the RC community gone there will be ground space to expand the PG-HG operation
considerably. Perhaps Torrey Pines Safety is more properly spelled: $afety.? RC pilots pay the same user fees to the lessee as the ultralights: $7 a day or $150 a year. But we don't need their $1200+ training course and can't buy RC equipment there as they don't carry it.

It is hoped that AMA can intercede and help reverse this
capricious action. They are reportedly in the process...
Your individual constructive thoughts are solicited. Just
saying, "This isn't fair" or; "We were here first" hasn't worked.

~John Davies
~ San Diego ~
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Aug 08, 2002, 12:05 AM
Cal Slope Criminal@DV
Duke58's Avatar
Sorry to hear that, I always wanted to fly there, but if you are looking for help from the AMA don't hold your breath and if you have assumed a defensive position you have already lost.

Hang gliding is a hazard to life and limb and proably some local lizards, attach , attach.

Find some legal way to shut the whole thing down until the courts sort things out or the HG guys go BK!

Need money ? I'll send some .

How many members are there in the Ezone?

Aug 08, 2002, 12:54 AM
bjaffee's Avatar
I'm just posting this from somewhere else...I don't have any solutions...wish I did.
Aug 09, 2002, 01:43 AM
I just want to fly.
sapok's Avatar

official Torey info from Torey pines Gulls

Forwarded message from Torrey Pines Flight Director

> To: All radio controlled aircraft operators
> From: David Jebb, Flight Director, Torrey Pines
> Gliderport
> Date: August 7, 2002
> Radio controlled aircraft operations at Torrey Pines
> Gliderport are inconsistent with the safety code of
> the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). These rules
> were developed by the AMA to insure the safety of
> all involved with model aircraft operations, and
> particularly to ensure the safety of those NOT
> involved in the activity. Every RC pilot at Torrey
> is required to be an active member of AMA. As such,
> each RC pilot has agreed to adhere to the AMA code
> of safety. All radio control flight activities DO
> NOT fall within the guidelines established by the
> AMA and therefore such activities are NOT covered by
> the AMA insurance.
> A full description of the safety code can be found
> at:
> Specifically, these rules indicate:
> . "At all flying sites a straight or curved line
> (s) must be established in front of which all flying
> takes place with the other side for spectators. Only
> personnel involved with flying the aircraft are
> allowed in front of the flight line. Flying over the
> spectator side of the line is prohibited, unless
> beyond the control of the pilot(s)."
> . "I will perform my initial turn after takeoff
> away from the pit or spectator areas, and I will not
> thereafter fly over pit or spectator areas, unless
> beyond my control."
> . "I will give right-of-way and avoid flying in
> the proximity of full-scale aircraft."
> . "I will not launch my model aircraft unless at
> least 100 feet downwind of spectators and automobile
> parking."
> . "I will not fly my model unless the launch area
> is clear of all persons except my mechanic and
> officials."
> At Torrey Pines it is impossible to draw a line,
> curved or straight, that separates the models from
> those not involved. The beach directly below the
> cliff is always occupied. The spectator area behind
> the RC pit must be crossed for RC landings. In
> fact, it is common for the larger planes on their
> landing approaches to fly 15-20 feet over the back
> parking lot and directly over moving automobiles.
> Occasionally, the larger planes on landing approach
> pass over the occupied golf course. Paraglider and
> hanglider pilots must enter this restricted
> "straight or curved line" area in order to launch
> and land. I see no practical way to rectify this.
> In addition, the RC planes are clearly flying in
> proximity to full scale aircraft (paragliders and
> hang gliders). Although a strict definition of
> "proximity" is not given in the AMA rules, there are
> been at least 18 collisions of RC craft with manned
> craft at the site in the last two years. This
> clearly indicates proximity. In fact, all flights
> of RC craft are in exactly the same airspace as the
> manned gliders, and collisions are only avoided by
> the skilled piloting of the RC operators.
> There is a real danger to those not involved in RC
> operations. In the month June 2002, we there were
> at least 8 RC crash. In July 2002 there 8 reported
> crashes. These include three incidents with large
> quarter-scale planes and one involving a crash with
> an airborne paraglider pilot. No one was hurt in
> these crashes, but every crash represents a plane
> that was out of the pilot's control. During the
> first week of August 2002, we have already two
> crashes involving radio control aircraft. One
> aircraft struck a tandem glider on Saturday and the
> second incident involved a large glider crashing and
> nearly striking two citizens on the trail down to
> the beach. Some of these crashes occurred with our
> best RC pilots at the controls.
> We do not need to theorize about the possibility of
> dead batteries, radio interference, mechanical
> failure, etc. being potential contributing factors
> to crashes - crashes are occurring. It is only a
> matter of time until someone not involved in RC
> flying is hurt or killed.
> Because I am aware of that RC operations are not in
> compliance with the AMA safety code, and in fact are
> not safe, the City of San Diego and Air California
> Adventure, Inc., would be legally negligent to if
> someone were to be hurt or killed by an errant RC
> plane.
> This matter has been discussed at length with my
> personal advisors (Torrey Pines Gliderport Advisory
> Board), my attorney and my insurance carrier. Each
> is of the belief that our Company is in a very
> perilous position. Our insurance carrier
> specifically advised me that claims resulting from
> RC incidents will place our firm as well as the City
> of San Diego in a financially and legally precarious
> position. Upon reviewing the Academy of Model
> Aeronautics "Safety Code" which specifically stated
> that "model flying MUST be in accordance with this
> Code in order for AMA Liability Protection to
> apply," the City of San Diego has taken the position
> that the AMA liability insurance would not provide
> coverage to modelers engaged in flight activities in
> the event of an injury or death resulting from
> present radio control flight operations at the
> Torrey Pines Gliderport.
> Effective immediately RC operations at Torrey Pines
> Gliderport will not longer be permitted.
> Pro-rated refunds of the yearly membership dues will
> be made on request.
> I truly regret this action. I know my relationship
> with my friends and acquaintances on the RC side may
> never be the same. I apologize in advance for the
> emotional distress this action will cause.
> Sincerely and sadly,
> --
> David Jebb
> Flight Director
> Torrey Pines Gliderport
> 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive
> San Diego, CA 92037
> 1-858-452-ZULU (9858)
> 1-877-FLY TEAM (359-8326)
> --
Aug 09, 2002, 10:08 AM
Lifes 2 short, go sloping
I have never flown there but was excited about visiting in the next few years and flying there I have to say that if I was hit by a 1/4scale glassed glider it could do some serious damage to a hang glider...I see the owners point and I see "our" point about nothing happening yet. I do think there are plenty of great slope sites in the same area that are safer for everyone.

THis is a bad thing for sure but with the sue happy society we live in it was bound to happen.
Aug 09, 2002, 10:31 AM
Sport R/C Flyer/Sailer/Driver
This may be bad in that now that one flying site has banned R/C aircraft based on our own AMA rules, how many more will follow suit?

Here in the Salt Lake area there are a few wonderful sites to fly at, namely Point of the Mountain and Antelope Island. Both are public lands. PoM is an active full size hang glider port. Both places have the same situations happening as Torrey. How many more places across the USA are like this? Bunches I bet.

Suddenly, the R/C slope community may be in danger of loosing many slope soaring sites based on public use land.
Aug 09, 2002, 12:05 PM
SSP#14 aspirant
Soar_dude's Avatar

I do not think they have a leg

The AMA states full size "AIRCRAFT" According to the FAA a aircraft has to weigh a certain amount and have flight intruments to be a considered a "AIRCRAFT". Also you are to be licensed to fly a aircraft, you are not required to have a license to fly a hang glider, and FAA does not recognize hang gliders as aircraft. Question how many people have died from hang glider accidents at Torrey Pines? How many bystanders have been have been hurt at Torrey Pines due to Hang gliders? Betcha it is alot more then what has happened from R/C Soaring.. hmmm I smell Elitism here.......

Soar Dude
Aug 09, 2002, 03:32 PM
Registered User
Alan W's Avatar
As a one-time visitor to Torrey Pines (this past spring) I'll offer up my opinion. My Wife and I were out there for the San Diego Mid Winter Electric event. I brought along several E-planes including my Seledkin F5B ship that also has a Glider Nose cone.

Flying the Seledkin without power was the Most fun I've had with my pants on. The backdrop of the pacific as you push your plane through the paces is amazing. The lift was Amazing....If i had constant access to a site like this I'd sell all my over-powered E-Sailplanes and sign up as a SlopeHead for life. I forgot about going to the E-vent and instead returned to Torrey Pines 3 more days. It was one of the Best experiences I've had in RC and this is my 17th year.

Flying at Torrey Pines was like trying to Cross Midtown Manhatten traffic at Rush hour.....while reading a book.....with Jimmy Hendrix blasting in your ears over your walkman. Hang gliders and Parasailers constantly cross your field of vision from both ways (left to right, right to left) up high....down low distracting your visual concentration from your plane. And thats the easy part !! you also have them dropping out of the sky right next to you (thats where they land).....and then a Horn starts honking REALLY LOUDLY and OMG !! There goes a Full sized Glider !!! Cool !!! Look at that !!

WAIT !!! I Cant Look....Im Flying my Plane....and its in a 100mph Speed Run !! Watchout for ......EVERYTHING !!! Ohhh....and other RC planes too. I could imagine quite a few people not feeling comfy flying here

Did i feel it was UnSafe ??? No, but the potential is definately there. I think Every pilot having a Spotter is a good start.....

Did i have the Time of my life ?? You bet....and i was planning a return this spring and dreaming noghtly of it

Its a Sad day.....especially for the locals who had paradise taken from them.

Alan W
Aug 09, 2002, 03:41 PM
bjaffee's Avatar
Originally posted by Vinnya42
I do think there are plenty of great slope sites in the same area that are safer for everyone.
Actually, from my recollection of living in San Diego, there really aren't many other good sites. There's Poway, which I think is a ways inland, but there weren't really any other good slopes in the greater San Diego Area.
Aug 09, 2002, 03:44 PM
bjaffee's Avatar

Re: I do not think they have a leg

Originally posted by Soar_dude
Question how many people have died from hang glider accidents at Torrey Pines? How many bystanders have been have been hurt at Torrey Pines due to Hang gliders? Betcha it is alot more then what has happened from R/C Soaring.. hmmm I smell Elitism here.......

Soar Dude
14-16 fatalities from Hang Gliders/Paragliders at Torrey through the years, according to the quote in my original post. Can't confirm where those stats come from though.
Aug 09, 2002, 05:03 PM
David Cairns
dcairns's Avatar
It is also unfortunate that AMA rules are being applied here. As anyone who has actually read them knows, they are written around the safety needs of powered planes, with no accommodation for the common practices of slope soaring. Just another example of how out of touch the AMA can be sometimes.

And yes, I actually am a member.

Aug 09, 2002, 10:52 PM
Senior Member
LWThompson's Avatar
I don't know about you guys, but I am SICK AND TIRED of my AMA not acting. They seem to do nothing when someone needs help. We had the same reaction from the AMA here in Nashville. Although I am a member of the AMA I think some heads should roll if they do not get off their butts and do something here!!! Let's remember to throw out these bums come election time.
Aug 09, 2002, 10:57 PM
Senior Member
LWThompson's Avatar
AND ANOTHER THING... Please get a court injunction ASAP. Let me know it's started and I'll chip in $100.00 to help cover costs. What say the rest of you?
Aug 09, 2002, 11:37 PM
Registered User
I think that is just stupid, why know are they banning r/c????
ive been flying there for years. i know a few people that are going
to be very pissed off!! . i think that is true about the ama safety
code being more in efect with powerplanes,i think the AMA should
write up a new set of rules for sailplane activities.

Aug 10, 2002, 12:15 AM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
I just fired off a simple note to Jay Mealy at:
asking what the AMA is going to do about it. I suggest you all do the same.