Those who want to learn to fly or improve their skills can do so very easily with our system. Pilots who simply want to get a little more airtime out of their day can go for another flight or two or three... maybe even "popping it" for a soaring flight.
The pilot or student who comes to enjoy the Big O Loop will benefit from the premier foot launch flight training system in the Western United States. Our weather affords 300 flyable days a year and our system allows you to get the most of out each of those days. Nowhere nearby can you cart your wing back up to a launch that allows for a full approach and landing (counting towards all aspects of your rating goals!). Nowhere nearby can pilots below Advanced Rating so easily get multiple flights in per day.
The Big O Loop is, simply, the best place to practice your launch, approach, and landing skills West of the Rockies. Throw in our incredible weather and soaring opportunities and it's almost too good to be true!
No matter the skill level, every pilot is going to benefit from the fun to be had, flying your heart out and landing in a well groomed LZ. After landing, take another flight or hang out for a while with happy hang glider and paraglider pilots.
Now, why we set this up.... This venture has a number of goals:
~ Enhance the So Cal Hang Gliding experience by allowing pilots of all skill levels to get as many flights per day as possible.
~ Pay down the financial obligations of the XC Ranch House (more on that below).
~ Help the instructor community by providing (free of charge to approved instructors) a training tool that allows multiple launches, approaches, and landings in a short time frame.
~ Give a way for paraglider pilots to avoid a bit o' a hike!
~ Have fun!
Now, about the Cross Country Ranch House. A few years back, the Andy Jackson Flight Park was being threatened by development. It still is, but the threat is significantly less because Len Szafaryn and Owen Morse took an incredible risk for the club. Owen and Len formed a LLC partnership and bought the XC Ranch House, specifically to keep it out of the hands of the developers.
For many, the issue died down and the sacrifice Owen and Len made was mentally put on a shelf, much like the commendations they got from USHPA for their actions. However, their obligations and risks still live on, they still have a large property on their credit reports in a declining real estate market. The club supports them in exchange for water and a tenant helps mitigate the costs, but those two income sources combined are not enough to keep the property in the black, even on an interest-only loan.
In October 2009, John Wright came up with this idea to make money for the Cross Country Ranch House. Owen and Len dove into the venture and John fronted a little cash and administration and it has begun. Gene Embree and Rob McKenzie have put a lot of effort into getting the system set up.
In February 2010, Owen and Len did some math and realized the Cross Country Ranch would have to be sold; they could no longer continue financing the land out of their own pockets. They turned to the club and the club stepped up. The Crestline Soaring Society is now on track to purchase the Cross Country Ranch from Owen and Len.
The club is on a roll! RV parking pads have been graded. By the summer season, there should be water and power down to the LZ with improved LZ webcams for the website. We will be building tent platforms for dust-reduced camping.
Our long term goals include a clubhouse, showers, nice bathrooms, a place to cook, and lots of flight park amenities.
The club has assisted in the purchase of a 2010 Polaris Ranger Crew LE with Electric Power Steering. This is the right tool for the job and it should get up to five wings (some PGs) up Via Testes with ease and style. We are working on the rack for it now.
We also will be adding a launch at 500 feet above the LZ, primarily for hangs and a cliff launch at about 375, which will be called the Zeller Launch, in honor of hard working Mike Zeller.
Thanks to all who help and support! We are live and ready to roll!