Launch: 10,378 feet (3,163 m)
Landing: 5,791 feet (1,765 m)
Thermic, high altitude mountain flying requiring
CL, FL,TUR, HA, (and RLF for hangs)
Tandems must follow USHPA SOP 12-12 and FAA exemption #4721
Miniwings are not allowed currently
SITE ORIENTATION REQUIRED FROM SSA APPROVED P4/H4
PILOTS MUST READ THE SITE GUIDE AND BE AN SSA MEMBER TO FLY THIS SITE
Cibola National Forest Special Use Permit requires pilots to have USHPA and SSA Membership to Fly here.
Location: Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque
Usage: Foot Launched Hang Gliders, Paragliders, Rigid Wings.
REQUIRED RATINGS: P4 or H4 + CL, FL, TUR, HA, (RLF for HGs) See highlighted ratings table here.
Pilot Orientation Required: 1 orientation flight with local Peak Pilot required. Tram only allows Peak Pilots, and accompanying P4/H4 visitors up the Tram. Buy a membership and get on setting up an orientation flight well before your visit.
Documents page has the current Peak Pilot List.
Access: Access the Peak via the Sandia Peak Tram. The Tram does not manage USHPA and SSA pilot requirements. All pilots taking the Tram need to already be on the SSA Tram/Peak 'Yellow' List that is given to the Tram. To be on this list you must already have purchased your SSA Membership, filled out the membership form, given us a copy of your ratings cards, and set up an orientation flight with an SSA Peak Pilot prior to arriving at the Tram. So get prepared before you arrive. The Tram ticket counter does NOT help or participate in this process. They only interact with arriving Peak Pilots that are orienting you. They ensure that a Tram Flight is purchased and that pilots sign the SSA flight log book, and that their waiver is on file (which you do at that time).
Visit the Sandia Tram Website
PG backpacks on Tram: A single backpack for everything, gets taken on the tram with the pilots and other passengers in the main tramcar, no rosette bags, keep bags clean, compact, and out of the way of other passengers.
HGs on Tram should plan more time at the Tram base, since they need to get put on top of the tram car prior to boarding. SSA and the Tram ask pilots to be courteous and helpful with the glider loading/unloading process. Expect it to take extra time for HGs, and be there over an hour prior to your desired launch time.
Season: All year, but best from Spring to early Fall. Spring is the main XC season, summer monsoons often require early day or evening launch times.
Winter can be unlaunchable due to too much snow on launch... (It's a ski area after all).... When flying, bring your winter layers and big gloves.
Wind Directions: SW - NW
See site guide for 'Peak' and 'Crest' options.
Wind Speed: 0-25mph, 6-15 mph preferred.
Landing Zones: Big Sky and ABQ Balloon Fiesta Park are west of and about 5,000 ft below launch. (Balloon Fiesta Park is closed sometimes, so read the site guide and call them with questions).
Radio info: 151. 925
Emergency: 911, ABQ services are many, SAR has active response system here. Personal Emergency Locator (InReach, Spot, etc) recommended.
High Altitude: Acclimatized pilots fly better. Begin monitoring yourself for the effects of Altitude Sickness even on launch. It is at 10, 380 feet. Descend toward the front and/or LZ when you feel bad. Consider flying with oxygen. See Page 6 of this FAA Document.
Hazards: Cliffs at the bottom of the launches require quick clearing and loading of the wing. Close proximity to Tram cables, complicated cliff rotors, intricate rock formations create tricky to read flows. NW wind is hard to read on launch. ABQ Class C airspace above the LZ makes studying the site guide essential, and planning final glides important. Always check for Forest Fire and emergency air operations, as well as military and civilian air traffic. This can be a congested area.
Tram cables: Only turn right after launching. Do not turn left into the tram cables. Maintain a minimum of 300ft above the tram cables. Going under the cables should not be considered! There are communications wires above the tram cables that pilots cannot see, so don't assume you can skirt above them. Watch the video in the banner of the Tram website to see the cables up close: Sandia Tram
Bailouts: discussed in the site guide.
General: Located atop a giant rugged bowl of cliffs, new pilots can appreciate the importance of working the ridge then going out front as soon as nothing is found. This site, exemplifies New Mexican Flying, with evening glass offs, morning glides, and mid-day 'big air' flying for inland experts, occurring year round here. Many west side short XC options exist. Fast and rough climbs are common, and high altitude winds create some solid hanggliding-only days. Thermals and currents directly above the mountain can be extra rough, visitors often find better and cleaner conditions off the front of the range. XC pilots get high and get off the mountain quickly because of this.
No need to fly the deep line here to find thermals.
The New Mexico foot-launch HG and PG records were flown from this site.
See the site guide below for detailed info not cover here.
Spring is the main XC Season.
Weather: NW - NNW and South winds produce bad rotor. Meteo winds always interact with the complex blades and buttresses of rock to create rotors, so know where your windward terrain lies. Pilots should be able to look at ground speeds to understand where meteo winds will produce rotors.
The mountain shouldn't be flown in N-E-S.
10k (700mb) and 12k winds are essential layers to look at while searching forecasts. And experts say that 13.5 can be a good jumping off point to consider for XC.
Shear layers can separate launch from the valley (LZ) so pilots need to look at all levels in the column.
European model can help find ground gusting potential. Rarely are conditions on the mountain the same as the valley. A 25-min glide to the LZ requires pilots to plan ahead for gust fronts from thunder cells. Like Owens or Idaho, we have large areas of flatland fetch that build quickly.
Wind stations on the Windy app, and many data points must be used to predict the Mountain's weather.
Land ownership: Launch is owned by U.S. Forrest Service. LZ is Bernalillo County/ABQ Open Space.
Other use: Siightseers, hikers,
Maintenance: Done through SSA Special Use Permit, While on launch, if something appears amiss, please contact the club.
The Peak Launch Access:
Accessed from the tram, the launch is on the north side of the Ten3 restaurant, which is a minute or two walk from the top of the Tram.
The Tram does not manage USHPA and SSA pilot requirements. All pilots taking the Tram need to already be on the SSA Tram/Peak 'Yellow' List that is given to the Tram. To be on this list you must already have purchased your SSA Membership, filled out the membership form, given us a copy of your ratings cards, and set up an orientation flight with an SSA Peak Pilot prior to arriving at the Tram. So get prepared before you arrive. The Tram ticket counter does NOT help or participate in this process. They only interact with your orienting Peak Pilot and you at the time of arrival. They ensure that a Tram Flight is purchased and that pilots sign the SSA flight log book, and that their waiver is on file (which you do at that time). Your Peak Pilot will guide you through this process.
PGs on Tram: Wings/Gear should be in a single clean, compact, and managable backpack. No rosettes, etc.
HGs on Tram: should plan more time at the Tram base, since they need to get put on top of the tram car prior to boarding. SSA and the Tram ask pilots to be courteous and helpful with the glider loading/unloading process. Expect it to take extra time for HGs, and be there over an hour prior to your desired launch time.
Hike n Fly Approach: is 3500ft gain, 7.7 miles on the La Luz Trail #137
Crest (West-NW ) Launch is accessed solely by the Highway 536, and is gated.
The Tram is not only a great way for pilots to access the Peak but also a great way to check terrain and conditions along the tram route (they even have windsocks on the towers).
Plan 1hr from LZ to Launch, whether taking the Tram or the Highway.
The current Peak improvement was made possible by a generous grant from the Foundation for Free Flight., And engineering and construction by the Sandia Peak Tramway. Sandia Soaring Association appreciates their funding and work. It has helped make this a national gem.