Directions to Site: From Tillamook take Three Capes Scenic route to town of Oceanside. Follow signs for House on the Hill Motel and continue up Maxwell Mountain Road to the summit. Launch is at the parking lot. Note: launch is on private land, see site protocol below.
(Oceanside site photo ©2015 David Le)
Launch is on private property which is pilot friendly. An USHPA membership or foreign equivalent is required. Please use the same etiquette which would be displayed whenever launching from private property. Also please do not launch off the property to the south. This property is marked by some large rocks embedded into the ground south of the launching carpet. This is private property, and its owner does not want us on his property.
There are many pilots who regret turning back at the crest of Hwy 6 coming from Portland because it was raining heavily. Look on MM5 for how much rain is forecast for the Coast Range as well as the wind direction. Some rain on the coast and heavier rain in the mountains is a good sign.
The webcam is useful to aid in interpreting forecasts. NOAA may say “rain”, but when you look on the web cam sometimes you see blue sky with scattered rain cells. Those are some of the best days for flying, assuming the cells don’t always hit Oceanside directly. Other times the web cam shows solid gray and saves you the trip. Don’t leave the web cam open on your browser for long. The web cam is provided by a realtor, Pam Zelinski, and she is charged if too much data is used. The cam has a wonderfully fast update rate, and we’d hate to lose that.
Description of Site: Main lift is at launch and to the south over the town. Strong soaring potential in even light winds from the proper direction. Squall conditions pose a major hazard. Very strong rotor over motel below launch, especially on windy days. LZ is on the beach to the SW below the launch. Be careful of kites and unwary beachcombers.
An emergency bailout in strong southwest winds is to fly north as far up the beach as you can go. A better option in strong wind is don't launch because of the possibility of being blown back. The best soaring is actually on days with moderate wind and unstable air -- in those conditions you'll get higher and have more penetration than on the strong wind days.
On days when the wind is west-southwest or west, it is possible to cross town to the south and fly along the sandy bluff to Happy Camp and back. It is also possible to fly north to Cape Meares and soar the southwest side of the Cape, but it is more difficult to make it back from Cape Meares to Oceanside. If you fly to Cape Meares, make sure you have enough elevation to land on the long rocky beach between House Rock and Cape Meares, because it is not possible to land on the Cape and there is no beach at the base of the Cape, only water.
Good flying can be had when strong rain cells and the attendant squalls are present. Listen to what experienced pilots say about when a gust front might hit. Watch the water. Whitecaps are a very bad sign, especially if they appear suddenly. One good thing about Oceanside is that you can go south of town and get low over the ocean if you are uncertain as to the strength of an oncoming cell. If you can see through the rain from a cell, you probably don’t have to land, just go north or south to dodge the actual rain. If the rain under a cell is so strong you can’t see through it, then you should land when it is still a long ways away. Then again, on many great days, the big cells can be seen out on the horizon, and it will take them 30min to an hour before they come anywhere close, or they might dissipate or pass far to the north or south. Keep your radio on, watch what other pilots are doing.
There are many pilots who regret scratching in front of launch, getting lower, and not noticing until too late that they are behind Maxwell Point (where the old House on the Hill is) and they have to land on Tunnel Beach, which is turbulent, short, steep, rocky, and non-existent at high tide. Watch out for this if the wind has any chance of turning more south, even momentarily. If you are sinking below launch height in front of launch, you probably will be better off looking for thermals over town. The beach in front of town is rarely covered by high tides and extends far to the south, so you can land well even if you can’t turn.
Some pilots regret continuing south of town and the lift dies and they have to hike on the sand a half mile to the nearest road at the Oceanside sewage treatment plant or Happy Camp.
Before heading north to Cape Meares, check that Short Beach is not covered by a high tide. Don’t count on making it back. Few do, even in the best conditions. The landing is not the easiest due to lift near the ground, turbulence from Maxwell Head, a sloped short beach, and rocks. That said, the scenery is spectacular and well worth the hike up from Short Beach and coordinating a retrieve from Oceanside. Let people know before you go. Radios don’t reach from the highway there to Oceanside town.
Site Protocol: Shared by hang glider pilots. Do not land in public parking lot. Land on the beach as far away from people as possible. Launch is on private land, please drive up with an experienced pilot the first time you visit the site to learn the best streets to take and the best places to park. Residents want us to drive slowly on all streets through town so please respect their wishes. Do not drive single-person vehicles to launch, park below and carpool up because of limited parking at launch. Do not park on the grass. One way to show our appreciation to the landowner is to pick up trash on launch.
Other Info: Stores in Oceanside, good food at Rosanna's Restaurant, coffee and good eats at the coffee shop
Site Liaison: Reed Gleason
Others experienced at this site: Sam Mulder, Reed Gleason, Pete Reagan, Steve Roti
Updated August 2014 by Reed Gleason