The wind is perfect for teaching hang gliding, that’s what! Tres Pinos is situated in a valley where the air is smooth with consistent, light winds that funnel straight up through the valley and curve up and over the gradual sloping training hills. Our training site has a landing area that is a mile long and half a mile wide.
Flying is great and the landing is easy. First of all, the gliders are fitted with ‘training wheels’ on the control bar. This is for safety and these wheels make it easy to roll the glider back up the hill for your next flight. Also, the landing zone is a wide, flat field with no obstructions that could create turbulence when you come in to land. Back to the air …the air is smooth as it funnels up the valley. This is called laminar air because it is like a laminated piece of plywood – each layer is flat and parallel to the layer below and above it – which is perfect for controlled, straight flights. This is what we like to see when you’re learning how to fly a hang glider.
Pat Denevan, the owner of Mission Soaring Center, has explored just about every corner of the SF Bay Area in his 40+ years of teaching hang gliding and what he has found in Tres Pinos is a great training location. This site has hills offering a gradual slope, firm soil, no obstructions and - perhaps the most challenging to find - it has reliably consistent, smooth wind.
If you pull back to look at the Tres Pinos flying site, you can see how the valley guides the wind – sometimes coming from various directions – to flow straight up the training hill. The cool air from the Monterey Bay and SF Bay in conjunction with the warmer air from the Hernandez Ridge provides the forces that pull the wind through the valley.
Interestingly, because of displacement, merging of air masses and mechanical drag, winds that might be blowing as strong as 30mph at the Coast slow down right before the training hill. From miles of low friction induced by farm lands and one story structures, the air stabilizes and lines up, then flows unencumbered by the large flat field. One after another our students take flight in this really nice air.
Disclaimer: Even with a site as unique and consistent as Tres Pinos, there may be indicators prior to or during a class that would lead an instructor to cancel flying for the day. We hate it when that happens! It doesn't happen often, but sometimes it does. We tell all our students to call our shop within 3 hours of their lesson to hear the confirmation message that their instructor puts on the recorder for every class they teach. If a class has been cancelled, the students may reschedule their lesson for another day that meets their schedule.
Happy flying at our training site in Tres Pinos.