The Andy Jackson Airpark (AJX) is the center of operations for the CSS flying site. AJX includes parking, glider storage, portable toilets, landing zone, and training hills for hang gliding and paragliding. It also has a shade structure with chairs, picnic tables, and an outdoor kitchen with running water. AJX is where you will find pilots teaming up for rides to launches or socializing after flying.
Pilots must familiarize themselves with this information before arriving, and this information DOES NOT replace the need for an in-person site briefing from a local pilot or instructor familiar with the area.
Visiting Pilots: All launches and LZs require a P3/H3 rating or above. Visitors NOT meeting P3/H3 requirements must schedule instruction or observation with a local instructor before arriving.
Local Conditions & Hazards
AJX, its parking lot, and most of the surrounding areas can trigger strong thermals. The AJX thermals can bring turbulence, changing wind speed and direction, and both lift and sink within the approach patterns. The AJX thermals trigger most often in the middle of the day and are one of the reasons the CSS recommends that Novice pilots fly only in the morning and evening.
Below are guidelines for mitigating risks associated with the AJX thermals:
- Fly in the morning before thermal strength builds or fly in the late afternoon after thermal strength decays
- Morning is the first five hours of daylight
- Late afternoon is the last two hours of daylight
- If you fly in the middle of the day, remain aloft until late afternoon when thermal strength decays
- Land with Appropriate Speed
- Hang Gliders should drive towards the ground with authority, round-out and ground skim to burn-off energy before flare
- Paragliders should avoid extremes of the speed window such as avoiding speedbar use or being deep in the brakes when low on approach
- Avoid Sharp Turns when low to ground
- Paraglider pilots should avoid sharp turns that can cause rapid altitude drop and recovery pendulum motions. Additionally, remain diligent damp pendulum swings caused by abrupt turns or turbulence.
- Exploit Thermal Lift and Drift to land in between cycles. This is an advanced technique that cannot be taught from a document. Contact an instructor or experienced pilot for more information.
AJX Approach Patterns
AJX can have heavy air traffic. This risk is mitigated by following simple and separate final approach patterns as shown in the site layout diagram for hang gliders and paragliders. The general pattern to approach AJX before final brings pilots over the 750 Launch, as it is directly north east of AJX (since the sites are flyable when winds are SW – SE).
The following is a video flight from the 750 to AJX, with landmarks and approach suggestions for pilots new to AJX (PG perspective):
Hang Glider Approach
The hang glider pilot performs a downwind, base and final starting from the East side of the landing zone. The pilot will fly a downwind leg towards the mountain then turn left for a base leg in front of the mountain, followed by a second left into a final leg that puts the pilot’s heading towards a cone on the East side of the landing zone, as shown in this diagram.
The paraglider pilot sets up their approach North of the landing zone and West of the hang glider training hill. The paraglider pilot performs a series of figure-8’s to burn-off altitude then directs their final approach leg towards the cone on the West side of the landing zone, as shown in this diagram.
AJX Thermal and Paraglider Approach
Review of the approach patterns in the diagram shows the majority of the paraglider approach goes through the AJX thermal. Hang glider and paraglider pilots need to be aware of this thermal and that conditions may demand different approaches. All pilots who fly and land in the middle of the day should have the skills to negotiate the AJX thermal and navigate around other pilots who also must react to the conditions of the day.
Do not scratch low over AJX: Exploiting a thermal close to the landing zone for a low save is not recommended on days with heavy air traffic or when other gliders are on or nearing their approach. A low save refers to any save below the 750 launch and south of the 350 & 450 launches.
Undershooting or Overshooting the Landing Zone
While the AJX landing zone is big enough to accommodate typical landings by Intermediate, Advanced and Master rated pilots; there are times when pilots get it wrong and undershoot or overshoot the landing zone. Below are some steps for mitigating overshooting and undershooting at AJX.
Overshooting The Landing Zone
- If you recognize the overshoot early in your downwind or base leg you can perform simple maneuvers to lose altitude or reduce your glide ratio.
- Hang glider and paraglider pilots can perform s-turns on down wind or base legs to loose altitude.
- Hang glider pilots can go upright early on downwind, base and final to reduce glide.
- If you do not recognize an overshoot condition early, do not attempt radical maneuvers close to the ground just to hit the landing zone grass. Instead, continue to fly your glider and prepare to make a standard landing over the brush in the basin surrounding the landing zone. Also note that the training area on the South-West corner of the landing zone is clear of brush and makes an excellent overshoot area.
Undershooting the Landing Zone
If you are going to undershoot the landing zone the best option is to fly the glider as if it were a normal landing. Setup an approach that puts your final leg into the wind then fly your glider towards the ground with speed and authority, round out above the brush, bleed off speed and flare.
There are power lines on the West and North sides of AJX.
- Paraglider Approach: The normal paraglider approach is constricted by the power lines. The paraglider pilot needs to fly their downwind and base legs close to the landing zone, well away from the power lines.
- Hang Glider Approach: The normal hang glider approach is not impacted by the power lines. However, when there is an Easterly component to the wind at Andy Jackson Airpark, the hang glider pilot needs to constrain their base leg and final leg to the area close to the landing zone, well away from the power lines.
Unattended Gliders & Tie Downs
The landing zone at AJX can have strong winds and strong, gusty thermals. Unattended hang gliders can be taken by the winds and gusts and be a risk to pilots and spectators, and their property.
- Hang gliders should not be left unattended at AJX.
- Hang gliders should be secured using available tie-downs. Video demonstration of using the tie-downs at AJX.
- On busy days, pilots should breakdown their gliders quickly to make room for other pilots.
Park only in the designated parking areas that are identified in the diagram in the Site Layout Diagram. Do not park in the areas designated for approach.
Overnight Parking is discouraged. If you must leave a vehicle overnight please leave a note on the vehicle or let a club officer know
Rides to Launch
People fly CSS sites seven days a week, weather permitting, so it is usually very easy to get site information and a ride up the hill with your fellow pilots. There are several options, including some instructors looking to fill extra space when driving their students. Details about ride options can be found here. You may also check out our forum dedicated to ride sharing and looking for or offering rides up to our launches here.
Training Protocols & Requirements
The Training Protocols and Requirements apply to all training and instruction conducted at AJX. The protocols are divided into two categories: 1) instruction provided for compensation of any form and 2) instruction provide without compensation.
All Training (Compensated and Uncompensated)
- Training at AJX shall be supervised by a certified by USHPA instructor.
- The student shall be a member of the USHPA
- The student’s USHPA membership can be obtained by purchasing a 30 day, temporary membership from the CSS.
- Temporary USHPA membership forms are available from any CSS board member.
- Only USHPA certified instructors can sign-off on ratings per the USHPA guidelines
- Only USHPA certified instructors recognized by the CSS board as a local instructor with site knowledge can sign-off on H2/P2 permission to solo from the launches above the training hill.
All compensated training shall be performed by an instructor who is part of a school that meets the following criteria:
- The school shall be certified through Professional Air Sports Association (PASA)
- The school shall be a current member of PASA as a Small Business Flight School (SBFS) or a Large Business Flight School (LBFS)
- The school shall list the California Department of Water Resources as additional insured using the following:
The State of California, its officers, agents, employees and servants
c/o Dept. of Water Resources, Div of Engrg/Real Estate
PO Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001
- The school shall provide to CSS a copy of their current PASA certification and membership that shows proof of insurance as described above.
Uncompensated training may be performed by USHPA certified instructors after the instructor and student sign a statement of non-compensation. Form is available from any CSS board member.
AJX is a very large, flat, grassy LZ, so there is plenty of room practice kiting skills. However, since flight operations are taking place throughout the day, with both hang gliders and paragliders approaching and landing at AJX frequently, a few guidelines must be followed to ensure safety and minimize both injury and equipment damage:
- All kiting should be confined to the southwest corner of the LZ (again – the LZ is huge, so there is still a lot of room in that area for several paragliders)
- If pilots in the air are observed to be setting up their downwind, base, or final approach, all gliders should be grounded. This helps to indicate to pilots in the air that those on the ground can see them making their approach.
- During the warmer months, dust devils and strong gusts through the LZ are common mid-day. Kiting in the middle of the day under these conditions is not advised and great care should be taken to watch for these anytime you are kiting at AJX. If you are caught off-guard and see a dust devil or gust approaching, it is recommended to ground your wing and dive onto it as quickly as possible to avoid being pulled into the air.
Spectators, Children, & Pets
Spectators are limited to parking area and the spectator area as identified on the Site Layout Diagram. Spectators are not allowed in the HG or PG breakdown area, landing zone or around the training hills.
Children must be supervised by an adult at all times.
Children are limited to parking area and the spectator area as identified on the Site Layout Diagram. Children are not allowed in the HG or PG breakdown area, landing zone or around the training hills.
Pets must be on leash and supervised at all times. Pet owners will be responsible for any damage the pet may cause.
Pets are permitted only in the parking lot or on the patio. Pets are not permitted in the landing zone.
AJX has two porta-potties located in the parking area just North of the glider storage bins.
Last Revised: February 23, 2023