Description of Site: Chehalem is a south-facing ridge. It has been used by hang glider pilots
for many years, and paragliders started using it in 1992. Ridge soaring
is possible at Chehalem primarily in south winds. Wind speed and direction
at Salem as reported on NOAA weather radio are good predictors of conditions
on the ridge. Salem winds south at 6-8 mph often mean soaring conditions
here. Less than that and it's a sled ride, more than that and it's blown
out. Often these winds will keep you at launch level but to get above
launch, you will need to find thermals. Paragliders must be extremely
careful when the wind is strong, as there are trees on both sides of launch
and powerlines behind launch. The wind usually is stronger 20 feet above
your wind meter. Many days here are hang gliding only days, due to wind
strength. Soaring flights of over an hour have been recorded here, and
they seem to happen most frequently in prefrontal and postfrontal conditions.
We have better flying sites. This site's main virtue is being close to town so that if you're skunked, you feel only half as bad. The main disadvantages of flying here are: 1) the ridge is shallow, so you need a lot of wind to soar, which doesn't leave much margin of safety if the wind picks up; 2) the main LZ is a long glide out from launch and there are times when a paraglider will not be able to glide all the way there forcing a landing at the smaller, sloping (and illegal) alternate LZ; and 3) there are powerlines to cross on the way to both the main and alternate LZs and paragliders often have to cross them low.
Directions to launch: REMOVED July 2001 due to private land issues. Contact local pilots for a site introduction.
Site Protocol: Do not land in any fields other than those identified as LZs. This is all private land. The first time you fly here, go with someone who has flown here so you can learn the LZs and obstacles. Park as far to the side on the road as possible so as not to block traffic. Do not drive onto any of the LZ fields. Watch for wires that run along the roads between launch and the LZ -- they are the main LZ obstacles. Do not top land straight back; it is specifically not allowed. The landing zone is usually shut down in spring due to the crop, and usually opens in summer. Be careful with this site. It has been shut down before. Check with site liaison or other experienced pilots to see if the landing zone is okay.
Submitted by: John Saltveit and Steve Roti
Last Revision Date: 10/8/2015