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?
Also incorporated in this growth was the acquisition of the Cleveland Lakefront Parks by the State of Ohio. Under state management, Edgewater Park and Perkins Beach, where we fly, have been kept open as public recreational areas. State control has left this area with a spectacular view of the downtown Cleveland skyline available to the public.
Perkins Beach is located on the west side of the Lakefront State Park, west of Edgewater Beach, which is west of downtown Cleveland. Perkins Beach is a slight misnomer because you can’t really swim or sunbathe; the area is a rocky wall next to the lake that progresses up the slope to a walking trail and then to a grassy slope of about 35 feet. Total rise from the water surface to the top of the slope is about 50 feet, which doesn’t sound like much, but with nothing out front but water as far as you can see, the lift can be incredible.
The area on the face and at the top of the slope is about a football field in length with a paved walking/bike trail at top running parallel to the slope. Behind this stands a row of trees, which can cause some problems for those who venture a little to far back from the face of the slope. Past this tree line you could fly over the trees and land in an open field near the parking lot if a pilot is hesitant about landings on the slope.
North to northeast winds is ideal for this location. Winds as low as 5mph are usable and when the lake kicks up, 25-30mph is not uncommon. The autumn season promotes many days of north, northwesterly wind that can be very flyable. Late October into November the waters are still warm enough to keep the winds from being too blistering cold. Ideal summer conditions have the lake acting as a giant A\C unit making for very pleasant conditions on a hot summer day but with our south, southwest prevailing winds, evening onshore winds are more common. An effective band of lift stretches your eyesight in either direction east or west and many flights have been taken hundreds of feet out over the water.
Fly what you’ve got! Anything from Scale 3M down to my Red Herring can fly well here. Common to find Gentle Ladies and Wanderers as well as Foaminators, Foamerons, Boomerangs, Samurais and my recent favorite 2M Monarch. They all work when the winds are up. Bring ballast.
Now for the details, you can reach Edgewater State Park off of the Memorial Shoreway, Rte 20. From the south take I-71 to the Innerbelt and take I-90 west towards Lakewood. Follow the Shoreway past the first Edgewater Park entrance and exit the freeway at Edgewater Rd. First stop sign you come to will be Access Rd/West Blvd. where you will turn right into the park. Follow the road to the right; go up the hill and park in either of the next parking lots on the right or left.
Arriving from the west of Cleveland follow I-90 to I-71 north which turns into the Innerbelt and follow the previous directions, or take Rte 6\20 to West Blvd. Turn left or north and follow it to the park entrance.
From the east, I-90 or Rte 2 also lead to the Shoreway and follow it west past downtown Cleveland till you see the park signs.
These are locations we have had the privilege to fly. Some may have access restrictions.
Check with local flyers for information.