Avenue S – Site Guide

North America – USA – California

Avenue S Hang Gliding Site Guide

Avenue S is a ridge soaring site located near Palmdale, California. It is best suited for intermediate and advanced pilots who can handle desert conditions and switchy winds. The site offers a slope launch and a dry lake bed landing zone. It is possible to fly year-round, but the best season is winter when Santa Ana winds create smooth lift along the ridge. Occasionally, thermals can also provide some altitude gain and cross-country potential.

Site Information

The site consists of a desert mountain with two launches: an upper launch and a lower launch. The upper launch is more suitable for light NE winds, while the lower launch is more suitable for stronger and more southerly winds. The launches are rocky and require a 4×4 vehicle to access them. The landing zone is a dry lake bed with power lines on the south side. There are no permanent wind socks or facilities at the site.

The site is located about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, near the town of Palmdale. The nearest airport is Palmdale Regional Airport (PMD), about 15 miles away. The nearest hang gliding school and shop is Windsports, which conducts trips to Avenue S and other sites in the area.

The site is not regulated by any club or owner, but pilots are expected to follow the USHPA rules and guidelines, respect the landowners and locals, and use radios for safety. The site is also under the Palmdale Class D airspace, which goes from ground to 5000 feet above sea level. Pilots should avoid flying into this airspace unless they have clearance from the air traffic control.

Locations and Directions

To get to the site from Los Angeles, take I-5 north to CA-14 north. Exit at Avenue S and go west. Go over the aqueduct, and just past the houses on the right, turn left. Then go immediately right along the pipeline. (This pipeline is being buried, so it may not exist soon.) Go west until you get to a dirt road going south. Take that road for a few hundred yards and you will see wind streamers. The landing zone is there.

To get to the launches from the landing zone, continue south on the dirt road until you reach a fork. Take the left fork and follow it uphill for about 3 miles until you reach another fork. Take the right fork for the upper launch or the left fork for the lower launch.

Flying Conditions and Restrictions

The flying conditions at Avenue S are typical of desert mountain sites: dry, dusty, and variable. The site works best with NE winds between 10 and 25 mph, which create smooth ridge lift along the 2-mile long ridge. The site can also work with S or SW winds, but they tend to be more turbulent and gusty.

The site is not very thermic, but sometimes pilots can catch some weak thermals and gain some altitude above the ridge. The best time to fly is in the morning or late afternoon, when the winds are more stable and less strong.

The site has some restrictions that pilots should be aware of:

  • Palmdale Class D airspace out in front of the ridge, which goes from ground to 5000 feet above sea level.
  • Power lines on the south side of the landing zone.
  • Military aircraft flying low and fast in the area.
  • No facilities or services at the site.
  • No camping or fires allowed at the site.

Pilots should also be prepared for some hazards and risks that are common at desert sites:

  • Switchy winds and dust devils during launch and landing.
  • Desert survival in case of an emergency or crash landing.
  • Snakes, scorpions, spiders, and other wildlife at launch and landing zone.
  • Remote location with poor cell phone coverage.

Pilots should fly within their skill level and experience, and go to the site with an experienced pilot or instructor if possible. They should also use a radio and a GPS for communication and navigation, and carry enough water and supplies for a night in the desert if needed.

Best Times to Fly and Visit

The best time to fly at Avenue S is in winter, when Santa Ana winds create smooth and consistent lift along the ridge. The site can also be flown in other seasons, but the conditions are more variable and less reliable. The site is not very crowded, and pilots can usually find a spot to launch and land without much hassle.

The best time to visit the area is also in winter, when the weather is mild and sunny, and the desert landscape is more colorful and scenic. There are some attractions and activities nearby that pilots and visitors can enjoy, such as:

  • Lake Palmdale, a reservoir that offers fishing, boating, and birdwatching.
  • Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, a park that features a deep canyon with rock formations and hiking trails.
  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, a state park that showcases the state flower in spring.
  • Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, a park that features distinctive rock formations that have been used as a backdrop for many movies and TV shows.
  • Angeles National Forest, a vast wilderness area that offers hiking, camping, skiing, and wildlife viewing.

More Information

For more information about Avenue S and other hang gliding sites in California, pilots and visitors can check the following resources:

  • Hang Gliding Wiki: https://www.hanggliding.org/wiki/Avenue_S
  • Windsports: https://windsports.com/
  • USHPA: https://www.ushpa.org/
  • Hang Gliding Association of Southern California: https://www.hgasc.org/

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