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LA BAJADA

P2/H2

Ridge soaring and thermal site between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Speed wings are allowed.

Tandems are allowed. Tandems need to comply with USHPA’s tandem exemption.

Instruction is allowed. Instructors need to comply with USHPA rules for instruction at USHPA-

insured sites and notify SSA officers

La Bajada is a USHPA-insured site.

PILOTS MUST READ THE SITE GUIDE AND BE AN SSA MEMBER TO FLY THIS SITE


 

DESCRIPTION

Location: Between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM, 
Usage: Foot Launched Hang Gliders, Paragliders, 
Season: All year, but best in Fall, early winter, and Spring.
Requirements: H2/P2
Radio info: 151.925
Land ownership: Launch and LZ are owned by U.S. Forrest Service. 
Other use: Sightseers 
Emergency: Santa Fe is about 30 min dirt road drive.
Maintenance: This site can see months with no flying, prepare for some light maintenance of grass, weeds, and rocks.

Launching

Launches: Two west-facing cliff launches at the top of the mesa. Hanggliding launch is a hundred meters north of the PG launch.  The PG launch is down on a small step below the main rim.  
Winds: NW - SW from 0 to 25 MPH. Wire crew needed for winds over 15 MPH.
Driving directions: See the Site guide.  4x4 dirt road becomes impassable in monsoons and in winter snows.
Hazards: No Special Hazards.  Wind speeds can switch to high, gusty winds in sudden unpredictable waves, and this makes evening glass offs the preferred flying type here.

Type of flying: Ridge soaring. Thermic flying is also common, and XC flying is possible (consider Santa Fe airspace). 
Restrictions: No special flying restrictions.  Pilots should NOT land out at the bottom of the cliff unless it is an emergency.

Click here for the Site Guide

TAKE-OFF AND LANDING

Hang gliders typically launch from the natural ramp indicated on the map. Paragliders launch on a ledge 30 ft below the main ridge on windy days, or sometimes from the top of the ridge on light days. The ledge can have a slight wind shadow in SSW winds. Top landing is preferred for all wing types. Top landing areas are indicated on the map. Newer pilots can land in the back area to avoid the rotor. Landing near the ridge is possible in moderate conditions, but pay attention to the rotor area behind the ridge (as with any top landing). Paragliders (and skilled hang gliders willing to hike) can land on the “bench” below the launch.
The Cochiti Pueblo land (red line) should be avoided for landings as well as for bottom access as it is considered trespassing. This requirement is part of the permit with the USFS. We ask all pilots to help us keep our permit! However, pilots SHOULD NOT HESITATE to land on the Cochiti Pueblo land when their safety is at risk. Landings on pueblo land shall be reported via email to the SSA (sandiasoaring@gmail.com). The SSA will report statistics of outlandings but keep the pilot identities confidential.
No sled rides to pueblo land!

FLIGHTS

  • Winds are best from the west, and can turn from calm to 20mph gusts within minutes.

  • South winds should not be flown due to rotor on the front of the bluff.

  • This site is mostly ridge soaring. 

  • Thermic activity can produce large amounts of lift, XC flights are possible.

  • Evening flights are common due to midday gusts and better evening glass-off.

  • Airspace issues with the Santa Fe Airport need to be considered for XC and this information is found in the required site guide reading.

  • Flights to 14k and beyond have been flown from this site.

  • Rapid wind changes are common and pilots should have their speed/glide bar at the ready.

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La Bajada is a great place for our northern and ABQ crews to meet up and fly, and is a spot we all love.

Here's John, in the right place at the right time.... again.

Flying behind the camera, Mario.