Last Updated: 1/22/2023
Site Director for Paragliding: Tim Coleman
Site Director for Hang Gliding: John Arrison
What’s App Channel Ascutney XC

Northwest Launch – (HG Only)

Wind Directions: Ideal .. 310 deg from the left and 320 deg form the right
Wind Speeds: HG Min 5, Ideal 12, Max 15; PG Min 8, Ideal 10, Max 15
Glide Ratio: 4.5

South Launch – (HG and PG)

Wind Directions: Ideal .. 170 from the left and 195 from the right
Wind Speeds: HG Min 8, Ideal 12, Max 15 / PG Min 8, Ideal 10, Max 15
Glide Ratio: 4.7

Northwest Launch – (PG Only)

Wind Directions: Ideal .. 325 from the left and 335 from the right
Wind Speeds: Upper PG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max 15 / Lower PG Min 5, Ideal 8, Max 10
Glide Ratio: 3.3

T-Bar Launch (Winter Ski Launch PG and Mini-Wing Only)

Wind Directions: Ideal 315. 305 from the left and 330 from the right
Wind Speeds: Upper PG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max 15 / Lower PG Min 5, Ideal 8, Max 10
Glide Ratio: 5.5

Weather Station:

VHPA Ascutney, West Windsor NOTE: The weather station is currently placed near launch. It is in a shadow where it does not show the true wind direction, particularly when there is a west component. The weather station will be moved to a higher location on the mountain in spring 2023.

credit: Bruce Prince

Overview

NW & S & Ski area launches, premier cross-country flying site.

Mount Ascutney stands alone above the Connecticut River valley. There are multiple bowls and ravines that collect and funnel thermals up the mountain as the sun swings from east to west each day. Many New England cross country flights start here.

Access to the Northwest HG, and South launch is via road through the Mount Ascutney State Park, in Windsor Vermont. A short hike from the parking lot is required for each launch. Access to the NW PG Launch and the T-Bar Ski Launch is via hiking from Ascutney Outdoors.

With permission from Ascutney Outdoors and only when the ski lift is not running and there are no skiers on the slope you can launch and fly a PG on skis, and mini wings are allowed. When winter ski/flying as always be aware of all surroundings.

Pilots have access to the park during the off-season via our special use permit. Access is only permitted with one of several selected apostles that have a key to the gate and are aware of the additional restrictions we must follow during special use such as no vehicles left up top so you need a driver to bring you vehicle down, the apostle cannot unlock the gate to let anyone up then drive away. The key/combo cannot be loaned out. Apostles: John Arrison, Jake Pierce, Jeff Bernard, Bill Gottling, Tim Coleman, Mike Holmes

While the park is open, the meeting place is across the street from the Park entrance. Park there and consolidate into as few vehicles as possible. Sign in with the park rangers at the park entrance and sign a waiver each year. Show current USHPA membership card and current VHGA membership card. Pay $3 / person. Drive up the mountain until the road terminates at the parking lot at the top and park. Ensure vehicles are off the mountain before the park closes at dusk. If you plan to fly to far away places, plan to have someone drive your vehicle down the mountain and park it across the road from the entrance.

Pilot requirements:

  • Pilot must have an H3 or above rating for the Northwest launch and a site intro. Pilot must have an H4/P4 or above rating for South launch and P3 for ski area launch and MUST have a site intro from site directors.
  • Pilot must have a windy cliff endorsement for HG
  • Pilot launching here for the first time must be accompanied by a pilot that has launched here before. If you’ve never flown Mount Ascutney before then your first flight will have to wait until the state park officially opens with a ranger at the gate. No first time flights during pre-season. If you show up you’ll be turned away at the gate.
  • Pilot should have a wire crew on all but the most calm days.
  • All pilots must sign the Ascutney waiver annually, be current members of USHPA & VHPA, and be able to show membership cards to the park ranger.

Site Area Map

Site Area Map

Download a larger printable version of this map here: Full Size Map

Flight Descriptions & Concerns

Good ridge soaring on the northwest aspect of the mountain, excellent thermal soaring, and occasionally good wonder-wind conditions.

Cloud base over Mount Ascutney is usually higher than over the surrounding terrain.

Concerns:

  • Wind blowing over the “arms” of each bowl can create turbulence unless the wind is blowing straight into the
    bowl.
  • Avoid going over the back without being at least 600’ plus over the peak due to the rotor and lack of LZ’s
    on the back side.
  • There are 3 Very large LZ’s but they are surrounded by tall trees used by both HG & PG

Emergency Procedures

In case of emergency always call 911. Once you have called 911, call Hartford Dispatch ‎(802) 295-9425 to coordinate with them directly.

In case of an incident that does not require an emergency system response, but may look like one to a by-stander, call Hartford Dispatch and let them know about the incident and what resources you have to deal with the situation on the scene. By-standers and spectators may call 911, triggering a response. If Hartford Dispatch is aware of the incident already, they can decide how to best respond and avoid needlessly dispatching resources. This is especially important when flying from the northwest aspect of the mountain which has more recreational use.

Launch: HG Northwest 43.443971, -72.45879

Elevation: 2833′ (863 meters)
Direction: 330 degrees
Wind: Works best with northwest winds, but is fine with calm to moderate north winds and light west winds
Wind Speeds: 2mph – 14mph
Rating and Skill Requirements: H4 or H3 with a site intro and supervision from an H4

Not suitable for paragliders! The launch area is too small to safely inflate and launch a paraglider.

A natural rock cliff that faces northwest. The rock drops away under both wings, allowing for a good flow of air below both wings. A couple steps is the most a pilot gets before becoming airborne as the cliff falls away below.

The hike in is about 1/2 mile and some pilots find it challenging with gear. From the summit parking lot, follow the trail at the far (northwest) side of the parking lot. Follow the first fork to the left. (The right fork goes to the lookout tower at the top.) Continue along the trail until you come to a clearing and the launch.

Concerns:

  • Thermal turbulence.
  • Moderate to strong wind will produce “ramp suck”.
  • Difficult to climb up uneven rock surface to launch without help.
  • Wire crew does not have great footing on the north wing.
  • Pilots should not launch from the wooden staging area. This will place the southern wing in a wind shadow and will likely cause the pilot to launch with that wing stalled.
  • A wire crew is required on all but the most calm days.
  • Many hikers visit the scenic spot we call our launch. Be courteous and watch out for spectators that might not know to duck at the appropriate time. Ask spectators to clear the rock and the area immediately below
    launch before approaching with your glider.

Launch: PG NW Ski Slope 43.453972, -72.456453

Elevation: 2140′ (652 meters)
Direction: max 280 – 350, ideal 310
Wind: Works best with northwest winds, but is fine with calm to moderate north winds and light west winds.
Wind Speeds: 2mph – 12mph. Launch is less tolerant of any cross component at higher wind speeds
Rating and Skill Requirements: Pilot must have a P4 rating for this site. To fly this site as a P3 you need to first get a sight introduction from the Site Director. Only P3 who are approved by the Site Director can fly this site independently. P3 pilots who have not been approved by the Site Director yet may fly under the supervision of certain P4 pilots who are familiar with the site and approved for supervising P3 by the Site Director. All pilots need the Restricted Landing Field special skill.

To get up to the PG Launch, hike up the old ski slope maintenance road (follow the Ascutney outdoor trail signs). The route is marked on the site map. Pilots can park cars down at the bottom of the hill in a dirt parking lot. Sign in using the log sheet that is in a lock box outside of the visitor center (CODE;2469) at the base of the mountain. 1.3 mile hike.

It is possible to hike from the parking lot at the top of the mountain down to this launch. This option does not really save any time, but may be easier for some pilots. Follow the Brownsville trail from the top of the mountain down.

Concerns:

  • Pilot must be proficient with ​restricted landing field special skills​. ​Small bailout LZ (APPROX 600 FT LONG)
  • Do not land on the circular horse track to the west of the mountain.
  • Do not land on the tubing hill in front of the Holiday Inn
  • During Ski Season with ‘T’ Bar running,  (Friday 2:30-4:00, Saturday/Sundays; Noon-4:00pm) there is no landing at the Main Lz. All flights are to be either XC or Land at Mile Long Field.
  • Absolutely NO Flying over crowds of people or any of the buildings down near the Ascutney Outdoors bailout LZ. 
  • It is hard to see the support wires for the radio and television towers. The towers also produce significant radiation that can interfere with flight computers, radios, and pilots.
  • Wind blowing over the “arms” of each bowl can create turbulence unless the wind is blowing straight into the bowl.
  • T bar Lift & buildings
  • Do not launch in strong crosswinds. Rotor and mechanical turbulence from tree lines is dangerous.
  • Stronger West/NW days tend to not be good days for flying.

Launch: South 43.435921, -72.449001

Elevation: 2675′ (815 meters)
Direction: 180 degrees
Wind: Works best with south winds but is fine with light to light southeast through southwest winds
Wind Speeds: 2mph-12mph
Rating and Skill Requirements: This is strictly a P4/H4 launch. No P3 or H3, even with supervision. Restricted Landing field endorsement is required because of the small bail-out LZ. XC Endorsement is required. This launch is primarily suited as a starting point for XC flights. There are better options for local soaring flights.

A naturalistic rock mound topped with soil that faces south. The mound provides good airflow to both wings. Situated at the top center of a bowl that naturally funnels the wind and thermals into launch.

The hike in is about 1/2 mile and some pilots find it challenging with gear. From the summit parking lot walk back down the road a short distance and take the first trail to the right (south). Continue along the trail until you come to a clearing and the launch.

Concerns:

  • Launch is small and can sometimes be brushy. Excellent kiting and glider handling skills are necessary. This
    is the primary reason for this launch requiring a P4/H4 rating.
  • There is a small bailout LZ out front with some restrictions. Pilots should either get up and go XC or fly
    around to the northwest to land in the sites designated LZs. The LZs are not visible from launch.
  • Moderate to strong wind will produce “ramp suck”.
  • Thermal turbulence can be unexpectedly strong at times. Since the launch is at the top of the bowl, any
    crossing wind will likely blow thermals across launch. This can cause uneven forces on the glider during
    launch.
  • A wire crew is required on all but the most calm days.
  • Many hikers visit the scenic spot we call our launch. Be courteous and watch out for spectators that might
    not know to duck at the appropriate time. Ask spectators to clear the rock and the area immediately below
    launch before approaching with your glider.

Launch: T-Bar Ski Launch 43.462139, -72.463201

Elevation: 990′ (302 meters) Lower Launch
Direction: max 305 – 325, ideal 315
Wind: Works best with northwest winds. This launch is on the lower 3rd of the mountain. The wind direction may be affected by the valley flow and may be different than the meteo wind, or the winds at the higher launches.
Wind Speeds: 2mph – 15mph
Rating and Skill Requirements: P3 or M2 with Restricted Landing Field Endorsement

This is the top of the ski slope serviced by the Ascutney Outdoors T-Bar. Do not use this launch when the T-Bar is running. This is a good area to enjoy flying mini wings launched on foot or skis. This launch is PG or mini-wing only. There are no suitable HG LZs reachable from this launch.

Do not fly over the T-Bar to the left of launch. Avoid flying low over the Ascutney Outdoors building to the left of the LZ. Always yield to skiers, both uphill and downhill.

Concerns:

  • Narrower launch area is less forgiving of cross winds
  • T-Bar lift infrastructure to the left of launch
  • Only one smaller LZ area reachable from launch
  • Wind can be influenced by valley flow

Landing Zone: Africa 43.453188,-72.482284

Elevation: 947′ (289 meters)

This is a large hayfield surrounded by trees that has a smooth washout in it, starting from the south and widening and deepening to the north. This LZ is used primarily by hang gliders. Paragliders typically use the Mile Long field or the Ascutney Outdoors – Bailout LZ. It has been called “Africa” since a fundraiser for victims of an African drought was held there years ago.

Exit the field to the southwest, not through the mowed yard by the pond on the northwest end of the field. We are not allowed to walk or drive around the circular driveway that is west of the field.

Concerns:

  • The field slopes downhill to the north.
  • The field may not be mowed.

Landing Zone: Original 43.456832,-72.484514

Elevation: 867′ (264 meters)

This is a large hayfield along Coaching Lane surrounded by trees on the north and east side, houses on the south side, and a dirt road and power lines on the west side. It is the second field on the left as you drive up the road. The field gently slopes down from the southeast to the northwest. Pilots typically pack up in the NW corner of the field, next to the road. This LZ is used primarily by hang gliders. Paragliders typically use the Mile Long field or the Ascutney Outdoors – Bailout LZ.

We are not allowed to walk or drive around the circular driveway that is south of the field.

Concerns:

  • The field slopes downhill to the northwest.
  • Do not fly over the fields to the north of the field since they contain horses that are easily frightened
    when gliders fly overhead.
  • Small for high-performance gliders.
  • Pilots have run out of field when landing to the northwest. It is much easier to walk a short distance through the field to the breakdown area, instead of dealing with power lines, a road, and a tree line at the end of the field.

Landing Zone: Mile Long Field 43.454687, -72.477127

Elevation: 938′ (286 meters)

Mile Long Field is the primary PG landing zone. It is a long hay field (only 0.6 miles long) that slopes gently down to the North. The wind tends to flow up the slot of the field making for nice long final glides. The top corner of the field is a frequently a thermal trigger allowing for a low save with a convenient landing zone below. There is a mountain bike trail winding a serpentine through the field. Follow this trail out to the trailhead on the southeast corner of the field.

To access this field drive or walk from the parking area at Ascutney Outdoors to a gate and trailhead parking area near the southeast corner of the field. The trailhead is well marked with signage from Ascutney Outdoors. The route is marked on the site map.

Concerns:

  • There are sometimes round hay bales stored in the field.
  • Occasional mountain bike, horse, or hiker traffic on the trail in the middle of the field.
  • Grass can be very tall. Time your flare accordingly.
  • Occasionally this field will not be available due to mountain bike races or other events. Check with the Site Director.

Landing Zone: Ascutney Outdoors – Bailout: 43.470458, -72.465915

Elevation: 814′ (248 meters)

Ascutney Outdoors – Bailout is a flat area with adjoining ski slope near the Ascutney Outdoors main building. It is right at the base of the mountain, and will sometimes be in a valley wind, which will be different from the wind direction at launch. Approach can be either from the southwest, or the northeast along the base of the mountain. Turn into wind just before landing. A side hill landing on the ski slope is also a good option, allowing for a longer final glide in some wind conditions.

This LZ is convenient for paragliders. It is too tight for hang gliders. Do not use this LZ when the rope tow is running, or when there is an event happening at Ascutney Outdoors. If it is windy or thermic this LZ is not your best option. Use the Mile Long field instead.

Concerns:

  • Avoid the rope tow and Ascustney Outdoors building on the southwest edge of the field. Angle your approach so that you do not need to fly over the rope tow line.
  • Pay close attention to the wind direction as it may be different from the prevailing direction or the wind at launch

Landing Zone: South – Bailout

Elevation: 751′ (229 meters)

The South Bailout launch is a hay field that we have secured permission to land in for pilots flying from the South Launch. It is a moderately sized hay field that slopes gently to the south. Access is from South Mountain Road. The South Launch is best suited as a starting point for cross country flights on days with a light southerly flow. This LZ should only be used as a bailout if you are not able to find lift and go cross country. The South Launch and this LZ are not appropriate for pilots who are just looking to fly site fly.

Before you plan to fly the South Launch contact the Site Director. He will get in touch with the landowner for this LZ and confirm whether it is available or not. It is sometimes used to graze livestock.

Weather

Forecast
Radar
Visible Satellite
VHPA Ascutney, West Windsor
Springfield Airport Weather Observations (KVSF)