slopeflyer.com

Thoughts of a Slope Flying Convert

Before my recent slope flying trip to South Dakota, my slope flying was rather limited. The slopes I had flown on either were so hard to stay up consistently on, or I was worried about flying out over trees. Besides I could thermal fly a couple of miles from my house. Lucky for me, I was open-minded and gave slope flying a real chance. The following are a few of the reasons that I have a new interest in slope flying.

Exploring

Trying different slopes; the scenery, the lift conditions, the challenge of the landing zone provided new variety for me. I am the type of person that likes to explore, I try new trout streams, bike trails, or web sites on the Internet, it is what makes life interesting. Thermal and power fields are pretty much the same, but it looks like there can be a wide variety in slopes.

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South Dakota Slope Trip 2002 notes by Bill Kuhl

Ed Berris did a great job of describing the September slope trip to South Dakota, I just wanted to add a few comments and offer the digital pictures I had taken. This was my first sloping trip to South Dakota, but it will not be my last. Most of my sailplane flying has been thermal soaring, but I have a new appreciation of slope soaring after this trip.

Taking a trip like this, you have to look at the whole experience, not just the flying. All the things you learn, the camaraderie of being around other people with similar interests, and enjoying the outdoors, no matter what the weather is like. I picked up more soaring knowledge during the meals we shared, than reading a month of Soaring Exchange.

Emil and Larry had their JW’s in the DS grove together

 

 

Observing DS for the first time was a real treat. Watching it on video, makes it look much easier than it really is. Even the very experienced pilots were bashing the hill because their planes were caught in turbulence around the DS groove. I really have an appreciation of the durability and performance of the newer EPP slope planes, how these planes survive repeated crashes on the rocky slopes is beyond me. I joked with the guys, “Imagine if DS was discovered when everyone flew balsa sailplanes?”

As far as my flying, in three and a half days of slope flying, I must of accumulated more stick time than most power flyers in my local club put in during an entire season of flying. But, next trip I will have at least one JW for sure.

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South Dakota Slope Trip September 2002

If you asked anyone that attended this last trip to Chamberlain you would hear what a great time we all had. The first two days of the trip we encountered overcast and occasional rain but the winds cooperated even on those days. By the third day the winds were blowing about 35mph (my guess) and the weather warmed up quite a bit. Sunday was warm and the winds were steady at about 15 to 20 mph, which made for great flying conditions.

About 25 people made the trip this year. Bill Grenoble and Rick Rensi drove all the way from PA to fly with us. Their van was packed with some great looking and flying models of all descriptions. Bill’s sense of humor added to the fun we were already having before we ever arrived in South Dakota. Back at the motel Bill and Rick both buzzed  the parking lot with their small electrics and made a few carrier landings (that’s what they said they were in an effort to save face) on the roof of the motel building.
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Wisconsin Slope Flying Site near Black Earth

Wisconsin Slope Flying Site near Black Earth

by Clayton Greaves

Ceder Ridge Campground
is located 20 minutes drive from Madison’s West side on highway 78 midway between Black Earth WI and Prairie Du Sac Wi. 78 crosses US 14 a couple miles West of Black Earth, turn North on 78.

Below several pictures describing the approach from the south via Black Earth. Turn Right off Highway 78 to Dunlop Hollow Road approximately 5 miles up the road.

The images show the approch to the slope, road sign, the campground entry, the next shows the road up the back side of the slope and the final shot, with the cross is the slope site. If you look carefully at the approach shot the slope is visible in the background. Magnify and look for a white cross at the very top of the face of the hill…

This slope faces Southwest. Huge lift in 15+mph. South winds are blocked by a nearby hill. West winds are workable but increasingly challenging.due to obstructing trees and the lack of a west facing pilot position.

This is a foamy only site with very little margin for error on landing. The narrow landing area behind the pilot position at the cross is surrounded by high trees. In strong winds you fly over the top and drop down in the campsite behind. Hairy stuff, especially for the uninitiated.

Camping is available though primitive. The owner welcomes glider fliers and there is a camp fee box at the entrance shack where I drop a $5 bill as I pass. Rarely do I see any sign of life at the gate.

The area is infamous for its proliferation of folks of, shall we say “alternative” sexual orientation- Mazomanie nude beach overflow is my theory here…Overnighting at Cedar Hills is not high on my “adventure meter”, though the idea of awaking and immediately stepping out onto a slope is quite appealing.

The solid granite faces of the hill are rugged going when descending to claim a downed plane… beepers pay off here. I once hit the stone, nose in, “full tilt boogie” in combat with my original Zagi LE. The wing bounced several feet, rolled inverted, wabbled and continued to fly away… Amazing and memorable stuff. Pine trees around the crest provide cover from falling (plane) debris – kind of… In a head on collision my wing went belly to the wind and charged back at us and through the pilot position it impacted a tree at a dangerously high rate of speed and feet from my startled opponent–“crunch, splinter” .. ” I planned that”. The evergreen in question is to the right in the cross photo. This is the best and relatively safest place to stand. There is a nice swing out there on the corner but the best seat is right on the stone face, feet dangling over in the wind.

Plan dinner or cocktails at the new Rookies restaurant at the 14 and 78 intersection, then go buy rock climbing shoes at the famous and prolific Shoe Box shoe store in Black Earth a mile East. Both local landmarks are owned by the same fellow.

Cedar Hills fills a role for Madison slope- a- holics who for need of time or spousal leave- can’t make time to trek long distance to Platteville. Despite the challenges in landing this site can be huge fun in favorable wind conditions. Leave your balsa and composite ships at home, bring a foamie and someone to chase.

Local Pilots

Clayton Greaves

Slope Flying at Theresa Marsh

Theresa Marsh Slope Flying SiteMirko Bodul

Go up past West Bend on HWY 41.
About 7-8 miles past HWY 33, exit on HWY 28.
Go left (west) on HWY 28 for about 0.5 miles, take the first road left AFTER the HWY entrance and follow it. It is called Mohawk Road and snakes around for awhile (1 mile?) finally heads east with Theresa Marsh on the right dropping off gently.

I usually fly from the highest point to the left of the great big, brown sign, indicating that this is Theresa Marsh, wildlife refuge. Others preferred parking in the small lot a little lower and flying from there. Take your pick.

However, to the north of this road on top of this site is a cornfield, with electric or phone wires at the start of this field. If you climb up the embankment you can see how much that drops off to the north. If this is enough of a drop, I would launch to the south, from under the wires and work my way up with the plane and eventually walk north to an optimum spot for DS.

Let’s hope this does drop enough. With South and SSW winds some very good flying can be done here. I have attained huge altitudes here due to a thermal “kick” that comes in with the slope air. But be forewarned that this is not a “smooth” site: flying under 200 feet can be very bumpy.

Local Pilots

Mirko Bodul

Greg Smith

Sloping in Verona Wisconsin

Site Report: Badger Prairie Park, Verona WI
submitted by Clayton Greaves

This slope is adjacent to a gas model field atop the landfill shown in the photos I have attached. Thusly, if you want to befriend fellow modelers at the field it is good practice to stop by- let anybody know where you will be flying and post your frequency to the control board.

This aeromodeling field is administered by the Dane County Parks. An annual user permit is $12 from the parks office. Occasional users could of course pass on this expense and post your AMA card, but don’t say you heard that from me…

South winds are best at this marginal lift site. South Southeast works too but any further to the east and the adjacent highway overpass obstructs the approaching winds. I have a good picture of this area and the obstacles involved. Southwest winds are problematic due to a grove of trees right in front of the slope but due south has the wind coming straight up the hill cleanly. Early this year there was a 36-minute flight with a Boomerang wing. My personal best is about 22 minutes with my Monarch HLG. I recommend you leave the lead sleds in the car when you arrive here. I often profit from thermals here on warm days, the asphalt road ahead of the hill probably contributes to this.

Directions:

From Madison take 151 South about 6 miles to the first Verona exit. At the first stoplight the slope is too your immediate right and hard to miss. There is a frontage road along the south face that leads to the currently active section of the landfill. If the gate is open you can park right at the base of this 50ish foot hill slope. If not, park along the West side or in the lot at the aeromodeling field and walk out to the edge, about 100 yards. I consider this site marginal when compared to the Big M in Platteville but since this is an eight minute drive from my office it makes for a refreshing lunch break stop.

Local Pilots
Clayton Greaves

Base of the slope looking West.

View from the top. Road is due South, tree grove on the right creates turbulence in Southwest winds.

View East from the top. Too much East and this highway overpass comes into play.

Sloping in Stoughton Wisconsin

Wisconsin Slope Flying Sites

Sand Hill Middle School- Stoughton WI
submitted by Clayton Greaves

 

Here’s my slope infected son, age 3, launching my Boomerang at Sand Hill Middle School. What form!!!! The slope is approximately 50′ above the cornfield with about a 30 degree grade. This site, 4 blocks from my home only works with West winds.

Best success here is with lightly loaded hand launch gliders such as my 11 ounce Monarch or 10 ounce Zagi THL to my favorite 15 ounce Boomerang. Before we owned lighter ships we found this site a challenge with 20+ ounce combat Zagis- even in the strongest winds. the foreground is a huge 3/4 mile flat corn field, so the lift band, though narrow, is quite clean.  Even in the best of conditions the lift here is only fair. Combat at this site is possible but would likely be marginal compared to other venues.

Directions: From Madison Take Hyway 51 ten miles south to county highway B. B is for bank- as you crest a hill and on the corner of B is.. you guessed it, a bank branch office out in the middle of hundreds of acres of corn fields.  Turn left and you will immediately see the slope a mile up the road on the right. Turn at the first Right turn, Lincoln Street. The second drive enters the school grounds, around the south side of the building and the slope site on the edge of this playground.

Have fun and impress you friends side slipping you plane between the row of basketball hoops. Balsa ships “need not apply” Be sure to search for lift off the north end of the building ( visible in the photo background).. the stone surface adds thermals in warm conditions.

Note that visits to this site would need to be limited to evenings and weekends so as to not interfere with school activities, kids drooling on the windows, missing class etc. The janitors have been very friendly and once lent an assist when my plane found it’s way onto the roof.

Where’d it go?

 

Local Pilots

Clayton Greaves

Central Coast Area – Sheboygan, Manitowac and Kewaunee

Central Wisconsin Coast Slope Flying Sites

The Kewaunee slope

Kewaunee is about 30 miles north of Manitowoc. There is a very good site on the lake just after the Marina. As you pass the Marina on HWY 42, turn right on Hathaway Drive and follow it to the stop sign. Turn left to go up the hill. At the top of the crest is probably the best place to fly; there is a decent landing area between the road and the bluff. This road is a ridge road for a while. Direction is East to ESE. The interesting twist here is that there is a west facing bluff less than 100 yards from the lake bluff. This could offer Dynamic Soaring possibilities whenever there is a west wind – or even when there is an East wind.
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CRRCSIM – RC Soaring Flight Simulator

Boy is this simulator cool especially for RC sailplane enthusiasts. The way the plane flies is quite realistic. You have the choice of a thermal field and also a slope venue. You can vary parameters of the flying sites and of the planes.

But wait, that’s not all. You also get the ability to try Dynamic Soaring without smashing your pride and joy. That alone is worth the price of admission, of course the fact that it is FREE is an added bonus. Go to Cape Cod, switch the wind to 180 degrees and start your plane from about 100 feet then get in the groove!
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JR X-347 and X-388 radios are still great tools


JR x-347

 

JR 347

If it weren’t for the 8103 and this models limit of 4 models I would use this radio all the time. It is very capable and the minor limitations can be overcome by creative use of the custom mixes.

The JR 347 radio is a good mid level programmable radio. It is out of production but is readily available on the used market. It can be purchased for as little as $150-200. It is a seven-channel, four model memory system and can operate in either FM or PCM mode. The 347 includes programming for two to six servo sailplanes, dual rates, electronic subtrim, exponential, reversing, and both fixed and programmable mixing. Fixed mixing functions include both CROW and flaps from the throttle stick, V-tail, flaperon, flap to aileron, various trims, and more. It has four programmable mixes for additional control. The only significant limit is a two position flap switch, rather than the preferred three position switch, but this can be overcome by creative programming of other switches. The transmitter is both PCM and FM capable.

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Hitec Eclipse 7 – a capable radio at a great price


Hitec Eclipse 7 radio

 

Hitec Eclipse 7

Hitec’s top of the line radio is the Eclipse 7 FM. It sports a 7-model memory and 7 channels and is available with a Spectra module. The large LCD screen helps make programming easy as do the four separate programming loops, one for fixed wing, glow, gas or electric planes, a helicopter mode and two sailplane modes! , one for basic and one for advanced sailplanes.

The Eclipse is loaded with features like a variety of preprogrammed mixes plus five programmable mixes (two in Heli mode), digital trims, servo end point adjustments, dual rates, exponential rates, three flight condition settings per model, shift select, sub trims, servo reversing and more.
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My First McLean Vindicator

I bought this Vindicator used on eBay and really like how it flies. It has been through a lot and is a bit heavy from several repairs but when the wind comes up, it is a blast!

Vindicator (old)

My first Vindicator. This one has a hatched fuse, big tail and 6062 airfoil.

Specs

Airfoil: modified 6061
Span: 60.0
Area: 395 sq in
Surface loading:
Weight: 43 oz (it has been repaired a few times!)
Control: Aileron, Rudder and Elevator
Radio: Hitec Super Slim, JR-341s in the wing and HS-81s in the fuse. 5 cell 600ae sized NiMh pack, which is more like 1000 MaH.
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Virginia Sloping in Bristol at Sugar Hollow Park

Virginia Slope Flying Sites

Bristol, VA – Sugar Hollow Park
The park has a man-made dike that is very flyable. Facing southeast, the dike is about 120′ high and at least 300′ wide, with a 20′ flat area on top before descending about 50′ down the back. Maybe there is some DS potential here, I never tried it myself! Only flew there once, very clean and smooth lift with 10-15 mph wind easily lofted my Zagi to “thumbnail” size.

Notice that hikers share the top of the dike as part of a hiking trail, so choose your landing area carefully! As of 12/26/01, there was no water behind the dike.

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Minnesota Slope Flying in Red Wing

 

Red Wing, MN

Located about 40 miles south of Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN in the Mississippi river valley. It is quite hilly in the area with most bluffs topping out around 300′ above the valley floor. Red Wing is a quaint little town with several antique shops and an 18-mile beautiful paved bike trail. It is very popular with bikers and skaters on the weekends.

Barns Bluff
The hill I like to fly is called “Barns Bluff” and is located right on the north end of town. It is approximately a mile long and tops out at 300′ according to my Cateye Altimeter bike computer. The hill is 90% open on the south face and requires a South to Southwest wind from 12mph to stay aloft. The bluff is very steep and even has some rock ledges you want to stay away from unless you’re rock climbing. The North side of the bluff is even steeper but completely covered with trees. If it were open, this would be one heck of a Dynamic Soaring site as the top comes to a very sharp point.
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Slope Flying at Sleeping Bear Dunes, Empire, Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Empire Michigan

Located in Northwestern, Lower Michigan Sleeping Bear is about 25 miles Southwest of Traverse City, MI. The National Lakeshore encompases a lot of area and there are many dunes from which to fly. Explore a bit! Pyramid Point near Glen Arbor is over 500 feet above Lake Michigan!

The following is courtesy of Tom Nagle from Columbus, OH:

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Slope Soaring at Ludington, Michigan

These are locations we have had the privilege to fly. Some may have access restrictions.
Check with local flyers for information.

Michigan Slope Flying Sites

Sloping at Ludington, MI

Ludington Michigan is named after a 19th Century timber baron who sited the town at the estuary of the Pere Marquette River on the shores of Lake Michigan, just about halfway between the Indiana border and the Sioux. It was the logical place for James Ludington to set up a railroad and wagon ferry across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc Wisconsin, and the steamer still runs today.

Ludington is not nearly as touristy as Leland Michigan, but it does boast several very nice restaurants, a swarm of Victorian Bed and Breakfasts, and a beautiful Romanesque red sandstone courthouse. Also worth a visit is the Pere Marquette National Scenic River. There is plenty of opportunity for lake and river recreation in the area.
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Sloping in New Mexico near Bernalillo

 

New Mexico Slope Flying Sites
submitted by Richard in Albuquerque

Jemez River Dam
Location approx 3-5 mi N of Bernalillo, NM.  A lava mesa suitable for flying foamies and other disposable aircraft in S to WNW winds. Top of cliff is about 150 ft above reservoir. Wear sturdy boots or hiking shoes in the event a retrieval is necessary. Best wind conditions are January thru April. Beware of the very nasty rotor!! Be sure to bring extra strapping tape.

Detailed directions: Take I-25 to exit 242. Go W on Hiway 550 to the intersection of NM528 just past the Santa Ana Star Casino. Turn N on hiway and continue past the Santa Ana Golf Course. Continue straight for several miles to Jemez Canyon Dam, an Army Corp. of Engineers project. At the end of the road is a picnic area. All along the west and south facing cliff is flyable.  One caveat–the mesa is Santa Ana Pueblo land–it may be off-limits during Pueblo religious activities and driving off of the paved road to the south face may be prohibited (depending upon who you talk to). More details can be found at:
http://www.slopecombat.freeservers.com/custom2.html

A topo map of the area can be found at:
http://topozone.com/map.asp?z=13&n=3916822&e=359461&s=25

Local Pilots

Richard Shagam

These are locations we have had the privilege to fly. Some may have access restrictions.
Check with local flyers for information.

Texas slopes in Denton County

Thanks, David. Find other slope info at David’s site and an email link if you are going to be in the area.
http://msinow.com/rc/slope_soaring_in_north_texas.htm

Denton County Sites:
Lake Ray Roberts Dam:
Slope faces SSE, NNW. Aerial photo of the dam.

Directions: Go north on I-35 about 9 miles past Denton to Exit 478. Turn right on FM 455. Go several miles until you cross the dam, then make first right and follow it back to the mid point of the dam, the road ends there at a parking lot. There are restrooms, playground, and covered picnic tables. The park is a $3.00 self pay park. There is a drop box with instructions by the restrooms. To give you an idea how far this is, Exit 478 on I-35 is 67 miles north of north loop 820 and I-35W in Fort Worth. Not sure how far north of loop 635 and I-35E in Dallas.

Notes: S face is grass, N face is rock. I have been told the S face is a delight to fly — nice long grassy slope with plenty of lift, no obstructions. There is a road across the top of the dam, but it is not overly crowded and the slope is plenty tall to avoid any need to stray too close to the road.

Lewisville Lake Dam: I’ve heard that this is a flyable slope, but that flying is not allowed and they will run you off if you try.

Cincinnati Area Sloping – Brookville Dam

Brookville Dam, IN

Brookville Dam in Indiana has been described by some as “the best inland slope in our part of the country”. It is located 2.5 hours from Louisville in Brookville, IN and about 1 hour from Cincinnati, OH. Brookville Lake is located in Franklin and Union Counties on the East Fork of the Whitewater River. The dam is about 1.5 miles above Brookville, Indiana, and 36 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

South winds work best here although there has been some noise made about DS potential in North winds. Several 4 hour, as well as at least one 8 hour, LSF flights have taken place at this site.

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Ohio Sloping – Columbus Area – Alum Creek Dam

Update from Tom Nagel!

The US Army Corps of Engineers has re-instituted its no slope flying rule at Alum Creek Dam.

Apparently the original no-fly rule was never rescinded, just not enforced, and the Westerville Model Aviation Club, whose field is at the base of the dam, had worked out a system to coordinate both sloping and flat field power flying.

Some non-flying officious intermeddler (that is an official legal term) raised the issue, and now the Westerville Club has voted to not allow any slope flying rather than risk losing their field.

Please remove my original posting from the slope flyer web site, and replace it with this information.  Don and I will keep you posted if things change again.

Cleveland Area Ohio Slope Flying Sites

 

Reprinted with permission form Have Sailplane, Will Travel

Outstanding flying can be found on the southern shores of our Great Lake Erie, near the metropolis of Cleveland, Ohio, at the northern border of our country.

 

Much maligned and the brunt of many jokes in the mid 70’s, Cleveland has experienced a true renaissance period. With mass exodus of people to the suburbs in the 70’s, the city realized to keep the population, many changes needed to be made. Effort was put into rebuilding much of the infrastructure as well as revitalization of much of the abandoned or under utilized industrial sectors. Achievements such as renewal of the Flats entertainment district, birth of the Gateway Project with Gund Arena and Jacobs Field, homes of the Cavs and Indians pro sports teams, opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Great Lakes Science Center and the new Cleveland Browns Stadium as well as strong support for the many established cultural and civic organizations such as the Cleveland Orchestra and Playhouse Square illustrate our success in creating a truly “world class” city. Enough, you say?

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Slope flying at Jockey’s Ridge, Nags Head, NC

 

North Carolina Slope Flying Sites

Jockey’s Ridge is a big sand dune that is just off 158, which is the main bypass thru Nag’s Head. It is hard to miss as it is the highest point around.

On the day I was there the wind was about 15-18 mph out of the northeast. I had been flying the SH-50 for about 1/2 hour when Tom from Richmond, VA showed up to fly his Chrysalis. Tom mentioned that the wind direction we had was more like fall wind but not unheard of in July. He said that mid to late fall have more days with useable wind.

The hill had quite a few people on it but there was plenty of space to use. The kite fliers were on the bottom or back of the hill and the hang gliders never got above the crest.

These are locations we have had the privilege to fly. Some may have access restrictions.
Check with local flyers for information.

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