Checklist before flying
Pilots visiting our Santa Barbara flying sites will need to:
- Join the SBSA (Annual membership based on calendar year, January 1st – December 31st of current year)
- Get a site intro from a local guide or instructor
- Have all the required safety equipment (see below)
- Read, understand, and adhere to our local Site Guidelines
- Ensure that the mountain and/or beach airspace window has been opened before flight
- Consider watching the very helpful SB mountain flying tutorial videos made by our local guru, Aaron LaPlante, on his youtube channel – Cracka Sauce
STEP 1: Join the SBSA
You must join the SBSA to fly our local sites. Our annual club membership fee is $30 and is payable through PayPal in the provided link above.
Club fees go towards site preservation, public relations, site procurement, site maintenance, website expenses, La Cumbre weather station expenses, SBSA property taxes on the LZs we own, and local events that promote free flight in Santa Barbara.
Over the last 40+ years, the massive efforts of SBSA has kept free flight alive in our urban town. If you have ever flown/landed/kited at Elings Park/Training Hill, Parma Park, East Beach, More Mesa, St. Marys, The T, Wilcox, Bates, Eliminator/Skyport, etc, it is because of the efforts of SBSA to preserve free flight. Without this vital work, our hobby would be long gone at these locations. Your small monetary contribution goes towards these important endeavors.
Unsure if you have paid your club membership dues for the current year?
You can quickly check by looking at our current membership list.
We fly near Santa Barbara airport airspace, and we therefore need to call the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility at the Santa Barbara airport to open the beach and mountain windows. Failure to contact the tower can result in the loss of our ability to fly our local sites.
- Please ask a local guide (see contact info below) to open the appropriate airspace window(s) before flying.
The site where a visiting pilot is most likely to get in trouble is at More Mesa, which sits directly under the approach path to the Santa Barbara airport, deep within Class C airspace. Please read the Site Guidelines page for more information on that site and others.
Required Safety Equipment
All Hang Glider and Paraglider Pilots flying any Santa Barbara site must fly with the following:
- Reserve parachute
- 2-meter radio (charged and functional)
Contact and Arrange to Meet with a Local Guide
Our Santa Barbara flying sites are very sensitive to local politics. Our club has worked hard for decades with local government agencies and the overall community to preserve our flying sites. Santa Barbara is a special place to fly, and we need to represent the flying community in a positive light. Our local sites can be challenging to fly for out of town pilots. Any pilot of any skill level should obtain a site introduction at any new site, and visiting pilots to Santa Barbara should do the same. The only situation where a visiting pilot does not need to contact a local guide is if that pilot will only be flying at the training hill, but please note that the training hill can only be flown when an instructor is present.
SBSA Telegram Group Chat
- Our flying community uses Telegram (http://sbsa.info/Telegram-instructions/) to communicate flying conditions, meet times, flight reports, etc.
- This group currently has over 600 users, so make sure your post is flying related and not repetitive of previous posts. Scroll up once you’ve joined the Telegram SBSA chat to fill yourself in on what has been recently posted
- Almost every flyable day, pilots will post when/where they are meeting (usually in the morning).
Meet Times / Places
- We typically meet near lower Parma Park entrance (Google “Parma Meeting Place” to find this location, located at 2066 Stanwood Drive, Santa Barbara, CA).
- Meeting times are usually between 9:30 am and 11am.
- Please be courteous of neighbors as it is a privilege for us all to be there.
- When retrieving any vehicles or packing up in upper Parma Park, DO NOT park in front of mailboxes or driveways
- Also DO NOT congregate in the middle of the street
- Show up 20 minutes before a meet time and ask around for a Site Intro. No need to blast to our hundreds of members on Telegram about your arrival. Our locals pilots are very friendly and typically more than happy to walk the LZ with you and show you the launches.
Getting up the Mountain
- 99% of the time we use the Eliminator/Skyport launch or the EJ Bowl launch. These are 6 and 8 miles away respectively from the Parma Meeting Place on a smooth 2-wheel drive road.
- The Eagle Paragliding Van goes up the hill most flyable days for their students and tandems, and both Eagle instructors and local pilots will post in the morning if they are meeting that day to drive up the mountain.
- The Eagle Van graciously allows others to pile in for only $5 if there is room. It is a community effort to retrieve the van after flying, so please help out with this daily chore.
- Uber/Lyft is available to get you up the mountain and retrieve from all locations that you may end up over our 60 mile course.
- We encourage using the buddy system. Grab someone on launch, get their contact info, and let them know you are safe after you land.
Fly Away Hang Gliding – Willy Dydo (802) 558-6350
SBSA Liaison – John Greynald (805) 682-3483
Eagle Paragliding – Rob Sporrer (805) 968-0980
Fly Above All Paragliding – Chris Grantham (805) 965-3733
Local Site Guidelines
The local rules and regulations for the Santa Barbara flying area are available in the membership link above. Specific site rules are available on the Site Guidelines page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: “Where is the usual meetup spot to fly in the Santa Barbara mountains?”
A: Google “Parma Meeting Place” to find the right spot. DO NOT park in front of any mailboxes. DO NOT block anyone’s driveway. DO NOT loiter in the middle of the street. This is one of our most sensitive and vulnerable areas. Please be respectful of the neighbors.
Q: “Is anyone going up to fly today / tomorrow / this weekend / etc.?”
A: On almost any day that is flyable, yes people are going up to fly. Locals will post on the SBSA Telegram chat in the morning if they are going up to fly. Be patient.
Q: “Is the Eagle Van going up?”
A: There has basically never been a time when the Eagle Van goes up the mountain and it doesn’t get posted on the SBSA Telegram chat. If the van is going up, you will hear about it in the morning on the Telegram chat. The van generally drives up between 9am and 11:30am, and sometimes goes up for another round after that in the afternoon, depending on the day.
Q: “Is it flyable today?”
A: You are the pilot in command, and with that fact comes the responsibility for you to at least do some very basic weather forecasting for yourself. The primary cause of un-flyable conditions is wind that is too strong and/or white-out cloud/fog conditions. You can check the real-time wind conditions in the Quick look weather for SB mountains link in our Weather section. You can also see real-time cloud conditions via a live camera view of our mountains. Most local pilots are generally looking for light meteorological winds (well under 10mph) and a cloud-base of at least 3,000 feet MSL or higher.
Q: “How do I forecast the weather in SB?”
A: While this is a topic that could be expounded upon in great length, for a basic yes/no decision about whether or not it’s flyable, please consider using the excellent free forecasting website/app, Windy. Look at wind speed forecasts throughout the day for at least the surface level; 3,000 ft; and 5,000 ft. In general, the lighter the winds are the better. Winds above 10 mph are a cause for serious concern, and most locals pilots are looking for winds far lighter than this. Very helpfully, cloud cover can also be forecasted within Windy, among many other things.
JOIN THE SBSA TODAY!
Our annual club membership fee is $30. You can pay this fee by clicking the link below: