New Pilot Orientation

When we fly

Every weekend from Spring-Fall (weather permitting) and sometimes in the winter. A few pilots fly midweek to capitalize on the best flying days.

How we communicate

Paragliders discuss where to fly on the CHGPA Google Group (members only). Hang gliders prefer to use the CHGPA Forum. Based on forecasts we have a good idea whether it will be flyable, but typically wait until the morning forecast before making the final decision on which site to fly.

Carpooling

We carpool from DC and have meeting a few specific meeting points in Manassas and Frederick to consolidate cars so that if we fly XC we have less cars to worry about. Meetup points are listed on our Google Map in the Member’s section.

Launches

All pilots new to a site should seek an introduction from an experienced pilot before flying. Typically you would carpool together to get more site specific information and walk the LZ so that you’re aware of the obstacles.

Our launches are only big enough for one person at a time. They’re slot launches surrounded by trees so perfect inflations and take-offs are needed to avoid pilot induced oscillations getting cleanly out of the slot and away from launch before getting comfortably in your harness. Wind can sometimes funnel into the slot tricking you into thinking it’s straight in when it’s actually cross. There can be sink/rotor at the edges of the slot which has caused many pilots to get closer to the trees than they would like. Perfect launches make it more likely that you’ll exit the slot cleanly.

Preflight: Because our launches are small, pilots should preflight their wing and only move into launch position when ready to launch (connected to the wing and all preflight checks done).

XC Flying

XC flying is our primary goal. We have several good sites where 100k+ flights have been recorded. You can find typical XC routes on Leonardo and see Skyways.

Retrieval

We typically leave at least one car in the official LZ with a key hidden so that anyone who bombs out can get a ride back up and try again.

We hitchhike as much as possible and use signs to make it clear to drivers that we’re pilots: “Pilot Needs Ride” Hitchhiking Sign. Landing near roads and walking to intersections where cars stop makes getting a ride much more likely.

If hitchhiking is not working we use Telegram to send our location and coordinate retrieval from other pilots nearby.

What to bring

  • Fully charged phone with Telegram installed (CHGPA Group chat link will provided when you join the club)
  • 2M HAM radio (HAM Licenses are required to legally transmit)
  • Flight tracker is recommended when flying XC (Delorme is preferred, but SPOT is also good)
  • Airspace is typically not an issue unless you’re going on a longer flight back towards DC. Airspace can be pre-loaded on Flymasters or displayed on your phone using apps such as FlySkyHy or XCSoar.

If you have feedback or suggestions for additional content, please contact vicepres@chgpa.org.