South Side Point of the Mountain
Often referred to as simply “The South Side”, this site is incredible. It sees flyable conditions almost every day of the year, and can be used to learn something every day.
It is about 300 vertical feet from the top to the bottom, with a very consistent slope angle. The consistent morning flow from the south provides great ridge lift and amazing opportunities for kiting practice. An open launch, treeless hill, and huge landing area make it the perfect place to learn to fly.
The South Side is a state park and camping is available. Many visiting pilots will camp in their vans. For people flying into Salt Lake City, camper vans are available to rent and can be used to visit flying sites all around the west.
Where to launch: Launch from the top or anywhere in the middle of the hill. It can often be windy
Where to land and bail outs: Top landing is an option but is recommended only to those with confident high-wind kiting skills.
Vertical from top to bottom: 320′ (100m)
Shuttle service: If landing at the bottom, there are many students and a ride with a school or other pilot parked at the bottom can be shared. If not, a short hike back to the top is easy enough.
Typical weather, time of day and season: Most often flown in mornings within 2 hours of sunrise. When the weather station is reading 12-13mph, conditions are typically very favorable. A link to the weather station can be found in the weather resources page.
Airspace considerations: Busy ridge soaring site with student traffic. While not exclusively a beginner site, there are red and green flags located on the lip of the hill to indicate beginner or advanced conditions. During times when the green flags are up, limit flight time to 10-30 minutes. If the red flags are up, enjoy as appropriate. The red flags may be raised due to high traffic density, not only during beginner pilot weather conditions. General aviation traffic sometimes passes overhead
Property type: Utah State Park
Site history: Hang gliders had been flown here for a few years before 1988, when Fred Stockwell brought a couple of paragliders from England to the hill. The hang glider pilots laughed at the “parapanties”, but Terry Hawkins thought they were fun to play with between flights on his hang glider. Often, Terry and his friends would help each other run and get the paraglider overhead. One day when it was a little bit windier than normal, he decided to tug on the A lines while facing the wing, instead of doing a forward inflation. He leaned back, and the wing pulled him up the hill. As he got higher up the hill, he would yank a little harder on the A’s and then launch. Terry had a special move he called “brake switching”, where he would put both the brakes in his right hand while he turned around to face forwards.
In 2006, the site became a Utah State Park.
Rainy day activities: Salt Lake City is home to a few wonderful museums and cultural experiences. The Natural History Museum of Utah, Alf Engen Ski Museum, Clark Planetarium, and Utah Museum of Fine Art are all worth a visit. Temple Square is the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and has free tours of the Tabernacle and other buildings. If the forecast is unflyable for a few days, a trip to some of Utah’s national and state parks might be worth the drive.