by Dave Garwood – MAY 7, 2008
We like water out in front of our slope sites because without upwind turbulence-makers, we fly in smoother air. One such site available in upstate central New York is Sterling Bluffs in Sterling Park, located on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, northwest of Syracuse and south of Oswego.
The lift in a northwest wind is excellent and the site features a wonderful landing zone which slopes gently into the wind and is covered with long grass. The LZ is larger than a football field and is suitable for initial flight testing of large planes. Memorable maiden flights include Steve Savoie’s large scale Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady, my first flights with the Plain Insane Models all-wood Thorn, and my Yellow Aircraft ducted-fan kit (converted to slope) Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. See photos of the A-4 in “Slope Trash Wheels” in the Slope Trash Magazine section of this website.
The odd erosion patterns present three bowls to fly in which offer some lift on a small variety of wind directions, but I don’t consider the site particularly accommodating to non-perpendicular wind directions. 320 degrees is ideal. The hill is flyable in 290 to 340 degrees.
The site produces strong and reliable lift but may not be entirely suitable as a training site because it’s not trivial to recover a plane that goes down out front. The slope face is steep and presents hazardous footing. That said, I have not seen an instance of a plane that could not be recovered eventually, or an injury to a person on that slope face. There are also tree lines on both ends of the ridge, which we have tangled with a time or two.
20 MPH NW winds forecast at Sterling is a siren song to get out the
Slope Scale iron horses and get together for a Slope Scale Party. In 5-10 MPH lightly loaded sailplanes will fly. At 10-15 MPH DAW foam warbirds and LEG foam warbirds launch and produce plenty of smiles. At 15-20 MPH pretty much anything will fly. I have not seen a slope plane that this hill will not support.
To get to the ridge, drive to the end of McIntyre Road as shown on the online map, park at the barrier and walk a few hundred feet down the gravel road. When the trees on your left open up, cross over into the grassy field, and continue to the lake shore.
Sterling Park Map and Driving Directions
NWS Marine Forecast for eastern Lake Ontario