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Mount Ascutney

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Site Director: John Arrison …… Tim Coleman for the PGs

HG Northwest Launch

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

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

PG NW Ski Launch

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: 3.0

credit: Bruce Prince

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 both launches is through the Mount Ascutney State Park, in Windsor Vermont.

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.

Launch: HG Northwest (43.443971, -72.458799)

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:

Not suitable for paragliders.

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: 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:

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:

  • 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: PG NW Ski Slope (43.453972, -72.456453)

Elevation: 2140′ (652 meters) Upper Launch / 990′ (302 meters) Lower Launch
Direction:
Wind: Works best with northwest winds, but is fine with calm to moderate north winds and light west winds.
Wind Speeds:

Pilot must have a P4 rating for this site. P3 pilots must be accompanied by a P4 pilot that has been
approved by the site director.

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 have started here.

Good ridge soaring, excellent thermal soaring, and good wonder-wind conditions. Cloud base over Mount Ascutney is usually higher than over the surrounding terrain. Expect active thermals mid-day. Cross country flights are possible down to the east and south.

To get up to the PG Launch, hike up the old ski slope maintenance road (follow the Ascutney outdoor
trail signs). 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.

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 Polo field 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.

Primary LZ (LZ1): Africa (43.453188, -72.482284)

Elevation: 947′ (289 meters)

LZ1 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. 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.

Primary LZ (LZ2): Original (43.456832, -72.484514)

Elevation: 867′ (264 meters)

LZ2 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.

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.

Flight Descriptions & Concerns

Good ridge soaring, 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 Bail out LZ’s but they are surrounded by tall trees used by both HG & PG

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