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Sugarbush

Last Updated: 4/18/22
Site Director: Calef Letorney

Lincoln Peak Launch

Wind Direction: 40 deg. from the left and 65 deg. from the right
Wind Speeds:
HG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max. 15 / PG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 15
Glide ratio:
4.4:1

Snowball Trail Launch

Wind Direction: Ideal 120 deg from the left and 140 deg from the right
Wind Speeds:
HG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max. 15 / PG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 15
Glide ratio:
3.5:1

Stein’s Run Launch

Wind Direction: Ideal 15 deg from the left and 30 deg from the right
Wind Speeds:
HG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max. 15 / PG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 15
Glide ratio:
3.5:1

closeup of paraglider in blue jacket. The background shows the slopes of Sugarbush Ski Resort during the summer.

credit: Russ Kelley

With E, ESE, ENE launches, this high mountain site offer excellent XC flying.

Sugarbush’s top launch is at 3950 ft. from the summit of Lincoln Peak, Vermont’s 6th highest mountain. Sugarbush offers excellent XC flights for East or L&V days. Going over the back is easy as you have 2,800 vert. and abundant LZ options at about 5 to 1 glide. For pilots that are up to the challenge, Sugarbush offers top-notch flights. Due to its East face, Sugarbush is also ideal for morning hike and fly in calm air and morning anabatic flows.

Sugarbush does not permit flying during ski season, regardless of time of day as mountain operations are 24/7. Outside of ski season, when the lift is operating, paraglide pilots can purchase a lift ticket and ride the Super Bravo quad chairlift with their paraglider. The lift takes pilots 2/3 of the way up the mountain, from which it is a quick down-hike to the lower launches or a 35 minute hike to the upper launch. Sugarbush mountain ops no longer promise HG or PG rides to the top and asked we do not call to schedule rides. When pilots arrive, they may ask mountain ops if a ride up is possible. HG pilots should supply their own ladder and tie down straps. Rides are not guaranteed and pilots should be prepared to hike. For lift schedule and hours visit: https://www.sugarbush.com/mountain/hours

Meeting place: Sugarbush Mountain lodge, Lincoln Peak parking lot.

Pilot requirements:

  • Pilots must have a P4/ H4.
  • P3/ H3 pilots may fly with an official observer or Mentor that is familiar with the site.
  • Pilots must first coordinate with the site director and Sugarbush Mountain Ops before flying.
  • Sugarbush does not permit flying during ski season.
  • All pilots must sign the site waiver annually and be current members of USHPA & VHPA.

Launch: Lincoln Peak (44.127282, -72.928058)

Elevation: 3950′ (1204 meters)
Direction: 40 deg. from the left and 65 deg. from the right
Wind Speeds: HG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max. 15 / PG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 15
Glide Ratio: 4.4:1

Pilots can ether launch from the top of the Organgrinder trail or 50 feet higher from the summit of Lincoln peak. The wind often wraps into the Organgrinder launch, making it appear straight when it is quite cross. The glide to the LZ is roughly 4.4 to 1 and the LZ can be difficult to make in headwind and sink.

Launch: Snowball Trail (44.127759, -72.903872)

Elevation: 2782′ (848 meters)
Direction: Ideal 120 deg from the left and 140 deg from the right
Wind Speeds: HG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max. 15 … PG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 15
Glide Ratio: 3.5:1

The launch is a relatively flat ski trail. Setup on the first steep portion, making sure to stay out of the mountain bike trail. After launch, turn left and fly into the main Sugarbush valley. To get to launch, hike down from the Super Bravo quad chairlift, past the Valley House Double down to the Snowball trail.

Concerns:

  • The launch slope is flat and the wind is often coming up the South face (right of launch) causing rotor in the air above launch. Due to the flat launch and crossing winds from the South, pilots often get airborne only to return to the ground several times during their launch run before effectively flying away. To avoid this, it is best to launch into a strong thermal cycle, which have been known to “pluck” pilots off launch and take them right to cloud base.
  • The primary landing zone is not visible from the Snowball launch. The launch is on a ridge and the LZ is North of that ridge. Pilots must fly down the trail until they gain enough altitude to clear the trees and turn left into the main Sugarbush valley, at which point the LZ becomes visible.

Launch: Stein’s Run (44.128388, -72.905927)

Elevation: 2825′ (861 meters)
Direction: Ideal 15 deg from the left and 30 deg from the right
Wind Speeds: HG Min. 5, Ideal 10, Max. 15 / PG Min. 5, Ideal 8, Max. 15
Glide Ratio: 3.5:1

This steep, narrow launch is excellent for forward PG launches in 0 winds or when the wind is ENE.

Landing Zone: Triangle Lot (44.136292, -72.888013)

Elevation: 1460′ (445 meters)

Triangle shaped parking lot in the woods, East (down access road) and across the street (South) from the main parking lot at the base of the resort.

Concerns:

  • The LZ is a gravel parking lot set down in the trees at the base of the resort, adjacent to the thermal generators. Pilots utilizing this LZ in strong conditions are likely to find turbulence and thermals near the LZ. If possible, pilots should gain altitude and go XC over the back where there are abundant large fields and smooth air.
  • The LZ is over 700 feet long with capacity for 500 vehicles, the parking lot LZ is plenty large to land in, but it is triangular and slightly downhill losing 50 feet over the distance of the lot. It is terraced, with drainage ditches between rows. The parking lot sections are rather flat and the ditches between parking sections do not pose much of a hazard, as pilots will easily glide over them to land on the next flat parking area.
  • It is recommended that pilots lose altitude upwind of the LZ and then utilize a standard aircraft downwind, base, final approach. This setup is preferable to setting up at the back of the LZ and using 8’s as the downwind end of the LZ comes to a point, making it difficult to get into with 8’s.

Flight Description & Concerns

Sugarbush is ideal in E wind, but is known to work from ESE-NE. As with any mountain site, evaluation of acceptable flying conditions is treated conservatively. Acceptable steady wind speed for all pilots is 12 MPH or less, with gusts no higher than 14 mph. At times the wind will be more than 25º cross, but easily launchable in thermals cycles for capable pilots. As such, P3 and P4 pilots will use their judgement (in conjunction with instructor) on cross wind.

Please do not land at Sugarbush Golf Course without prior approval on the day of. A short upwind XC from launch, the golf course appears inviting, but we are not welcome to land there without permission. Permission is only granted on the day of and is based on absence of events, tournaments, crowds, etc. Interested pilots should ask lift pass office to call Golf Course for permission to land.

Concerns:

  • Sugarbush is a high mountain site with complex valleys and the associated venturi, rotor, and strong thermals.
  • If there are thermals present there is typically significant sink, which can make it difficult to get to the LZ. The LZ is down in a hole, adjacent to the thermal generators. If possible, the preferred LZ is cross-country, over the back where there are abundant large fields.
  • This site should only be flown by confident, experienced pilots when the weather is ideal.
  • Sugarbush does not permit flying during ski season.

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