|With its fantastic weather and years of flying knowledge, San Diego is a dream locale for the paraglider pilot. With the flying experience ranging from placid ridge soaring at Torrey Pines Gliderport to the booming thermal sites of Blossom Valley and Horse Canyon, there is something to keep everyone stoked and airborne.
The following is a list of the more commonly flown sites in San Diego County and the surrounding area.
Torrey Pines Pilot Association:
Urban Bliss Torrey Pines Gliderport (TPGP) has be one of the most conveniently located sites in the world (see driving map) . It is a coastal ridge site with about four miles of flyable ridge (depending on conditions). As a function of its accessible location, TPGP can get very crowded with paraglider, hanggliders, swarms of RC gliders and sometimes even sailplanes all having to share airspace. Because of this crowd factor, TPGP requires a P3 rating with a minimum of 50 hours in order to fly as well as a thorough understanding of the "Ridge Rules". Once your comfortable with the local rules, TPGP can be a really great site. For details on the services provided by Torrey Pines visit the Torrey website
If you're after thermals, Horse Canyon is a great place to find them. Located about an hour east of San Diego (Driving Directions) , this site has become a destination for pilots seeking thermal and X-C flying conditions. The potentially strong conditions make Horse a site suited to more experienced pilots, but the evening glass-off and nice LZ are managable for the less experienced. Horse works best in south-southwest winds, but in the Summer, it has a real propensity to switch to NW (cross on launch) very quickly. The best indicator for the predominant wind is the windmill located across I-8--if it is facing northwest, then odds are the winds aloft are probably doing the same. The strong thermals can give an apparent wind at launch that looks more favorable, so be observant once you're up.
This is a very popular sight located right in suburban San Diego (Look for the hills to the east of La Jolla/Del Mar with the microwave towers on top--see picture ). While it is not the most epic set-up, there are great flights to be had and it is an excellent place to practice your basics. If flying early in the day, be aware of developing conditions, because this site is known for it's tight, punchy thermals. Enjoy this site while you can, because suburbia is encroaching rapidly and this site won't be available forever
The Otay Mesa is located in the southern end of San Diego County directly bordering Mexico (from some of the launches you directly overlook Tijuana). Since the area is right on the border, the area is full of US Border Agents and their equipment--the bonus is that there are well graded and paved roads to all of the launches. This area tends to work best with winds from the south, but there is also some smaller training hills that are more west facing.
Located in the state of Baja California Norte, Mexico about an hour and a half from San Diego, this site is a beautful 750' ridge that is set back about two miles from the coast. It can be a really good site with a combination of coastal ridge soaring with a thermal trigger happy area in front. Another thing that makes this site enjoyable is that you have the option of nice primative camping at the launch or luxurious accomadations on the beach. Add cheap food and beer to this and you will probably have a great time--but a word of caution--this is Mexico and you can't afford to be a clueless tourist.