Last Updated: 1/15/2023
Site Director: Anthony (AJ) Seibel
Wind Direction: NW to N wind (ideal is 325 degrees from the left and 355 degrees from the right)
Wind Speeds: P2 (minimum 5, ideal 8, maximum 10) / H3 (minimum 5, ideal 10, maximum 15)
Glide ratio to Primary LZ: 4.2
What’s App Channel Burke Free Flight
The Burke Mountain site, part of the Darling State Park, is well known for smooth evening glass-offs and record setting XC flights. Launch is at an elevation of 2,780’ with designated LZ fields at 1,509’ and 1,344’. Elevation at the summit is 3267′.
Burke Mountain is a ski area and the the launch utilizes a ski trail accessible via a paved toll auto road, which costs $5 per ride. Pilots are expected to meet at 237 Pinkham Rd (known as Cutter Inn) to consolidate vehicles. Launch parking is half a mile past launch at the top of the Toll Road. Do not park in the pull off close to launch or along the road. This area needs to be kept clear for emergency vehicles to access mid-mountain. Early and late season the Toll Road may be closed to cars and launch is only accessible via a hike up. This site is open when the resort is not operational.
- Pilots with an H3 or P2 are allowed with an observer or an approved mentor.
- All first time Burke pilots need a site introduction.
- All pilots must sign the state waiver annually and be current members of USHPA & VHPA.
Launch: Upper Warren’s Way (44.575517, -71.897361)
Elevation: 2763′ (842 meters)
Direction: 332 degrees
Wind: Launch works best with NW to N wind (325 degrees to 355 degrees). Usable with lighter NW winds but expect turbulence in stronger winds with any westerly component. Do not launch in strong crosswinds. Early and late in the day, katabatic winds often set in, which can quickly turn a launchable day into a dangerous down-wind situation.
Wind Speeds: P2 (minimum 5, ideal 8, maximum 10) /H3 (minimum 5, ideal 10, maximum 15)
The launch is 3⁄4 of the way up the mountain at the top of Warren’s Way ski trail. It is a short hike down from the toll road. Launch is an ideal grade and sufficiently wide for one glider to launch at a time. It is bounded by trees, a ski lift, and snowmaking equipment. VHPA maintains windsocks and telltale streamers and removes debris from the primary staging area. No trimming or removal of trees is permitted and pilots should leave-no-trace.
Primary LZ (LZ1): Hidden Field (44.590656, -71.899978)
Elevation: 1509′ (460 meters)
LZ1 is a sizable field affording plenty of room for setup and landing, and is the closest of the two LZs, but it has some noteworthy concerns:
- It is not visible from launch.
- It slopes downhill to the north. (Side landing is recommended for paragliding pilots & hang glider pilots prefer to land down wind up hill.)
- The field is cut periodically, but often has tall grass and is surrounded by trees causing it to become a known thermal source during mid-day conditions.
- The field has an uneven surface and has some tall bushes as well as mountain bike trails (and mountain bikers) to watch out for.
- This LZ is known to have a healthy population of ticks and pilots that land here are encouraged to do a tick check.
A permanent windsock is located in the field.
Access is on Pinkham Road across from Cutter Inn (meet up parking lot).
Due to the specific hazards at this site it is especially important that pilots walk this LZ prior to takeoff.
The VHPA is in active negotiations with Burke Mountain for additional mowing to be done in this field. It was mowed for a mountain bike race during the 2022 season. It will need to be brush-hogged in the spring / summer once it is dry enough to access with equipment. Reach out to the Site Director or ask on the Burke Mountain What’sApp Chat for current conditions in the LZ before planning your trip.
Secondary LZ (LZ2): Burke Mountain Academy Soccer Field (44.592259, -71.907206)
Elevation: 1344′ (410 meters)
LZ2 is a soccer field at Burke Mountain Academy. It is clearly visible 1.25 miles from launch and approximately .4 miles to the northwest of LZ1. Many pilots find the Soccer Field LZ preferable due to the unobstructed laminar airflow coming off a gentle treeless slope, downhill and upwind as well as trimmed grass on a smooth and level surface. Noteworthy concerns:
- Landing into the prevailing wind results in landing across the short side of the field.
- Hang glider pilots should have restricted landing field skills.
- Tall trees bound the southwest end, trees and buildings bound the southeast and northeast sides. To the northwest the terrain slopes steeply away from the field.
- Profanity, smoking, or other activities that are not appropriate for school are not allowed on the Burke Mountain Academy campus.
- If there is Burke Mountain Academy activity on the field, pilots are not permitted to land here and should use the Primary LZ.
Emergency LZ (LZ3) – Burke Mountain Hotel & Conference Center (44.585111, -71.903200)
If it is determined by a pilot in flight that LZ1 and LZ2 are unreachable, the bailout LZ3 is in front of or behind the hotel. Landing in either location requires significant pilot spot skill due to multiple hazards, including: buildings, a snowmaking pond, ski lifts, vehicle traffic, and trees.
Flight Descriptions & Concerns
Although the rounded mountain looks like it would shed lift to the sides, it is surprisingly soarable, especially at the end of the day. Cross-country flights are possible down the ridge and valley to the southwest, as well as up-wind towards the Willoughby Gap and Sheffield Turbines. Ridge soaring and glass-off conditions happen regularly, particularly on days when there is a strong north wind mid-day but diminishing as evening approaches.
- Expect active lift and sink midday. Novice (P2) pilots should not launch midday.
- Unstable weather conditions can cause active and strong valley winds, especially midday.
- Venturi winds are of concern to the east of launch and over the back side of the mountain.
- If winds aloft are strong, blowback is a significant danger, as there are miles of trees and no fields directly behind the mountain.
- Glide ratio to both LZ1 & LZ2 is greater than 4:1. This means pilots should immediately head to the LZ if they sink below launch height.