Soaring Site Surveys
These articles were written for the IMSF newsletters in 1996.
Flying Site Survey - Deer Creek's Island Park
As a rugged new flying site, I would like to present the Island at Deer Creek. I went flying there in November and had a great time. To get there, take Provo canyon to the Deer Creek Island State Park (in the summer there is a fee). When the water is low enough, you can walk or drive to the island. On days when the wind is blowing up the canyon (to the NE) you can find great lift and fly over the water facing towards the dam. The area is very popular for wind surfers. The lift is string due to the long level stretch over the water, though the lift band isn't real wide, due to the small size of the island. I was able to fly about 100 yards to the right or left of the center of the island before the lift would drop out. What surprised me was that I was able to fly several hundred yards out over the water. This was rather scary as I wasn't sure if the wind would continue. Once I was flying over the water beyond where a glide would get me back, it was an exciting new experience.
On the negative side, the landing zone consists of large rocks and sage brush. I landed by hovering the plane into the ground with zero ground speed. This is a site for a rugged slope plane, not a thermal beauty. I flew my small foam and tape Whirlwind and did quite well. The larger Visionary would do even better. As a note, these planes make excellent site testing planes to keep in your car and use to experiment with that site you always wondered about flying.
Flying Site Survey - Orem's Water Tanks
While this isn't a great site, it is very close to my home and has provided me with some quick lunch time flying. A noon quickie...
The hill is at the corner of 800 East and 1600 North in Orem, just above the City cemetery. If the wind fails you can always land on the nice lawns, though watch out for the occasional mourner... Just north of the cemetery on 800 East is a small side road that goes to the top of the hill, pull in at the fenced tank and drive to the left and park in the field. You'll want an agile flying plane as the landing area isn't very large. Walk out around the fenced-in tank to the edge of the hill. You'll have a nice view of the valley. The site flies best with a S to SE breeze (out of the SE), I've been able to catch a thermal and really fly away from the hill on a booming summer day, but more reliable flying here requires a breeze. To land, I fly back behind the edge and drop it in, being careful not to land in the fenced tank area. The tank is burried and not an obstacle, but the fence is still a problem. If there is a storm with a really strong breeze, you can fly in the small canyon at the parking area. The lift really picks up with a south breeze as the wind is funelled up the canyon. If you fly too far back when landing, watch out for the many power poles and lines. As I started with, this site is a C+ at best, but worth checking out if you live in the area.
Flying Site Survey - Rush Valley, a dry lake bed & thermal hot spot!
While getting to this field will take some time (34 or so miles from the I-15 exit), it can be an exciting place to fly. Last summer, several club members and I decided to get some thermal time in and practiced flying at this dry lake bed. The thermals were incredible and really booming out in the hot, wide-open valleys. We are also planning a club event to this field which will include overnight camping and a bar-b-que later this summer.
To get there, Take I-15 to the Lehi exit (at the roller mills) head west on the highway through town, you will pass the south end of Redwood Road. As you leave Utah Valley, you go over the first pass, and drive past the Cedar Valley airport, continue on through Cedar Fort. Continue driving now SW through Fairfield where the road turns westerly. When you get to the next ridge (now a full valley beyond Utah Valley) you'll see a sign talking about the pony express, and pointing to Faust, turn left and head out on the semi-paved and dirt road. Now you're getting close, the dry lake bed is in the center of this valley. You continue 6.2 miles on this dirt road until you see a large rock marker on your right. The marker tells of the pony express trail and gives some history. It is also the exact place you turn at to get to the dry lake. Behind the marker is a small dirt road (slightly more than a path) that heads North. Take this small road a mile or so and you will see the lake bed. Warning: you can't see the lake bed from the marker, but have faith, it is there. It is 800 ft long by about 500 ft wide and perfectly flat (the rain sees to that every spring).
Standing there and looking to the North West, off in the far distance you can see the Tooele army depots. There are fields of grass and mustard seed in every direction for many miles with no obstacles at all. The landing zone is smooth but very hard packed dirt. When flying with Tom Hoopes last year, Tom 'hit' (ok, he successfully hunted and found) a thermal with his HLG and specked it out in such a strong thermal that one of the nylon bolts holding his wing on worked loose... while it took us awhile to find his plane, it had fluttered down safely from several hundred feet. I was able to get several incredible flights in where at times, I was so high, Bob Harman worried if I could actually see my plane, and wondered if I would get it down in one piece. Quite a place for thermal activity. I hope to see many of you there some time.
Flying Site Survey - Utah Valley's Squaw Peak
Squaw Peak in Utah Valley is a popular view site/make-out place for teens and college kids in the evenings (seems like only a few days ago...). During the day it offers a spectacular view, and if the wind is from the South West, can be a great soaring site for the brave of heart.
The hill is very steep and goes down for several thousand feet. The landing zone consists of a small parking lot and a steep grassy hillside. Behind the parking lot is a stand of scrub oak trees. Once the leaves are out, you can choose to land in the soft branches of the scrub oak trees. My preferred method of landing on a slope like this is to fly along the hill very close, loosing energy and then fly just up the slope until it stalls just off the ground and drops softly in place. This is another site for a basher or rough and tumble type of plane.
Easter Sunday I drove there to measure the distances and fly if the conditions were right. There were many people enjoying the view, including 3 hang gliders and 2 parasails setting up. They were happy to let me be the air tester or "Wind Dummy". There was lift though it was mostly large thermals passing through. I could launch in a thermal and build altitude to fly in until the next one passed through. I enjoyed several flights, the kind where you get that rush with the toss and that 'high' feeling of excitement. There's no free lunch here as staying up requires searching out the thermals and planning to land if your luck runs out.
On a previous trip to this site, I was so excited to fly that I quickly put my plane together, gave the surfaces a wiggle and tossed her off. It was very difficult to control and ended up crashing several hundred feet below the edge destroying the plane. Upon further inspection, I realized that in my hurry to get airborne, I failed to properly insert a wing onto a wing-rod. Thus the wing surface was loose and the incidence was way off. This sad mistake cost me the plane.
To get to Squaw peak, from Utah Valley, head up Provo canyon. 1.7 miles past the Orem/Provo connector in the canyon, there is a sign "Squaw Peak Road", turn right here and head up. It is a very narrow twisting road so be sure to stay on your side. In 3.7 miles, there is a T intersection, turn right and in a few hundred yards, you'll be there.
This page was updated Monday, June 14, 2004.