Saturday, June 8, 2019

Trip to Oregon coast June 3-8

It's been a while since going coastal ridge flying and it looked like a stretch of good coastal winds coming up in the forecast, and it coincided with some time off, so Alex and I decided to head down to Oregon to check out the flying sites there.  Site Guide to Oregon Coast.

Oregon has oodles of coastal flying sites, but many of them work best just before, or during, cold fronts passing through.  When that happens the usually too-cross wind straightens up into some form of westerly, and all of a sudden a lot of ocean sites are available!

North side of Cape Kiwanda
We started off near Cape Lookout which is a big point sticking out into the Pacific, which means it will work even when there is a bit of north wind.  But not too much north wind, if that happens then it will be very difficult to get to the LZ in the sink, and given that there is no other LZ except the upwind beach, you will either go into the water (with tragic consequences) or you have to go over the back and attempt to land in the rotor/lee and whatever rocks/beach/whatever you can find.  It's a very dangerous site in summer when the north winds become more pronounced, and we were there just as the "dangerous" period was ramping up.  In fact we opted against flying there when we arrived since it was very north and the local pilots recommended against it, and to go to Kiwanda instead.

Cape Lookout at sunset
Cape Kiwanda is a sand dune which also sticks out into the ocean, giving a (small) playground in either south or north winds.  When it's busy there isn't a lot of room to play, but if you find yourself there on a quiet day, you have lots of room to kite up, do waga, practice your spin landings, and pretty much anything in between.  The south side is closed in summer due to dory launching, and the prevailing wind that time of year is north anyways, so go to the north side!

But if you are wanting more space you will want a bigger ridge or sand dunes.  We also explored Sand Lake (just south of Cape Lookout) and those dunes are certainly flyable in a westerly wind.  And since you probably have to walk out (it's also a motorized quad spot) you will almost certainly have the dunes to yourself.

En-route back to Cape Lookout and the campground (nice camping right at the LZ, tent and RV spots are available plus "warm" water showers we stopped at Cape Lookout and it was actually blowing more onshore and less north, so Alex opted to have a sunset flight while I took photos.  Cloudbase was pretty low and he reported having to make sure not to get cloud sucked around 1200' and it was quite strong in the air, but very smooth.

Oceanside is another flying site north of Cape Lookout.  It takes a SW wind and the day we were there it was too light winds so no flying but lots of beach walking and enjoying the super-low tides (it was actually minus numbers on the tide tables!).  Lots of other people were out enjoying the unusual access to the clams and mussels usually too far offshore to reach by walking out, and it was very atmospheric with the low cloud base and moody skies.

The tunnel connecting the beaches at Oceanside
Our last stop was at Fort Stevens near Astoria, right at the very extreme northern end of Oregon, where there are awesome sand dunes for 10-15 km and multiple access points.  Brad and Maren of Discover Paragliding run a school there, and they were very busy with both paraglider and Paramotor training.  You can access the sand dunes via Parking Lot B, or go to the Airedale shipwreck beach if you'd rather start from there.  Kite up in the venturi and you're good to go!  The dunes are very friendly with a gentle slope back, so getting dragged over the edge is not a big deal, and it's all sand and grass so no sharp or pokey bushes to brush against.  That site is a real treat, and works best in WSW winds of 15-20 kph.

Alex playing at the Airedale wreck site

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