By Kevin Lee
Southern Oregon offers diverse and beautiful flying opportunities. Our sites range anywhere from 50 feet AGL at our training site to 2000 AGL from the top of Woodrat Mt. in Ruch, OR. Sites in-between include the 900 foot Mid-Launch at Woodrat, the 300 foot training hill outside Hornbrook, CA (Just south of the California/Oregon border), a 1500+ site northeast of the city of Rogue River, in addition to numerous other less known sites all within an hour drive from Medford.
Klamath Falls, an hour and a half drive from Medford, offers untapped potential as a flying area and will become more accessible as pilots start to fly there. Lakeview is within a three hour drive from Medford. Roseburg and spots in-between are just now being explored and also offer much potential. The south coast has also given us a couple of sites which are still being developed and explored.
The weather here in southern Oregon is very accommodating for paragliding, with the exception of our typical summer mid-afternoon conditions, which tend to be strong and windy. Winters can offer more flying than one would think, with ridge lift possible all winter and glass-off happening as early as spring break.
I started flying the valley here as the first "resident" paraglider pilot and found the local hang glider pilots very friendly and hospitable. The sites for the most part are all drive-up and most of the commonly flown sites are very well developed and have good launches. Half of the LZ's are private property and some require a waiver to use, so please check in with one of the local pilots before flying.
For the hiking enthusiast there are numerous sites located in the Applegate Valley and one located just outside of Grants Pass, all of them offering great X-C and glass-off potential.
For the most part, Southern Oregon is wide open for exploration and enjoyment by the flying community, with sites for all skill levels and plenty of alternative activities available for the visitor.