One mountain trip is included in Airtime of San Francisco’s P3 programs. These trips are a great way to learn to fly some of the local mountain sites. Perhaps an even bigger benefit is the friendships and alliances that come from the trips. These ventures are not just about flying. It is about the whole experience of getting out of town and enjoying special times with friends. The flying is frosting on the cake and helps build your skills and understanding of how air behaves.

For subsequent mountain trips, graduate students can join a trip for no fee (for pilots that have not yet visited a venue). If there is room, graduates can also get radio coaching for $75 / day , if room is available for such.  Non-graduates or P2 Basic program students pay $175/day for Mountain Trips with coaching.

For many of the trip venues we camp. For some other venues, we stay at lodges that have inexpensive dormitory rooms. The purpose of this page is to expand on the primary venues so that students can know what facilities are there and what type of preparations to do and what to bring.

Before going on these trips, it is helpful to read the site guide and gain a perspective of the flight plan and any information provided in the site guide / reference. It is also beneficial to read up on the critical flying situations and basics of thermal flying articles.

Bringing a driver:

For all of the mountains we go to, it is  helpful if there are some non-pilots that can drive some of the vehicles down to the LZ as we fly.   A friend that is interested in flying or a significant other can be a great resource to make the transport issues easier.   If there are not enough drivers, we will leave a car or two in the landing area before we head up to the launch.   The first few pilots to land can then jump in one of these and drive up to launch to “chase” the vehicles back to the LZ.   This takes a lot of time at some venues and is one of the biggest reasons that drivers make things easier.

If you are coming on a trip and are going to bring family or friends, whether or not they are going to drive, please let me know so that I can take this into account for camping/lodging.

As a motivation for a friend, loved one or anyone you bring that volunteers as a driver, I will take them for a free coastal tandem flight if they drive each flight during a mountain trip!


When you fly from mountains, it is necessary most of the time to have gloves with you.  If you get up in thermals or a glass off (Hat Creek), you can get up to colder air.  So, gloves and warmer clothing are necessary even if you launch in hot weather.  You can launch without the gloves on, but keep them in an accessible pocket on the harness so that you could put them on if your hands get cold.

Food Planning:

Some of the venues are so remote that you will need to bring all that you will consume with you.  Below, at the sites list, check each venue to know what is included.  In the past, I tried doing some meal planning.   We made this work a few times and it was great, but the effort to make it go the way it should was way over the top.   So, if you want to do this with some other students, have at it.   Some students in the past have volunteered for example, to make breakfast for the whole group.   If you are going to do something like this, let us all know and perhaps we can come back at you in some way.

If you do not have camping gear for cooking, I have enough to share some with you if you let me know ahead of time.  Other students can also help you out some.

Vehicles and Chipping in:

Most of the mountains we fly require vehicles with at least descent ground clearance.  Some require 4 WD.   A courtesy for all pilots is to chip in some $s for any pilot that transports you up a mountain.   Vehicles are expensive to maintain!   I do not expect students to compensate me for trips up the hill, but graduates should take care of whoever transports you up the hill.  Often the driver might try to be polite and refuse any help, be firm and force them to take the money.   5 – 10 dollars per trip up a mountain is what I would recommend.

If you are a students with a vehicle that contributes, THANKS a bunch!

Camping Gear:

For most camping sites, the following is a list of the main gear you will need.

  • Sleeping Bag and Pad
  • Tent  –   (I have a loaner is you do not have a tent)
  • Cooler and Food
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Eating Utensils – plates, cups, plastic silverware etc.
  • Insect Repellant (some venues)
  • Water for Sites Without
  • Firewood
  • Swimwear (for solar showers when there is no showers)
  • Portable Music player?
  • Toys for playing for some venues (canoes, fishing gear, etc…)

Site Specific Info for Mountain Trips (header links to site guide):

Big Sur – Plaskett Creek Camp
(Note- other camping options used sometimes)
Water Yes
Showers No
4 WD No, but 1 full hour drive to launch! and some ground clearance required
Restaurants Nearby? Yes, about 10 – 15 minute drive south to Gorda (expensive)
Stores Nearby? Yes, but small and expensive, Gorda also.
Non-Camping Options? Lucia Lodge and some other Motels to the south.
Dunlap – St. Nicholas Retreat

Water Yes
Showers Yes
4 WD to launch? No, but moderate clearance required
Restaurants Nearby? Yes – 5 minutes to Twin Valley Restaurant.  We often plan meals there and minimize food to bring.  They also offer breakfast if we have more than 10 “in” for this.
Stores Nearby? Yes, convenience market not too far – ice etc.  For full food,
Fresno is the nearest.
Non-Camping Options? Yes, a couple lodges on Highway 180
Hat Creek– Hereford RV Park and Campground

Water Yes – Also, there is a swimming hole at campground.
Showers Yes
Cell Phone Reception Not directly, but wifi is available at the campground and this might enable Snipe or other services via a laptop.
4 WD to launch? No, but some clearance required.
Restaurants Nearby? Yes – 5 minutes to breakfast spot.   25 minutes to town of Burney, several
restaurants there.
Stores Nearby? Yes, convenience market at camp office.   Full supermarkets in Burney 25 minutes away.
Non-Camping Options? Yes, a couple lodges in Burney, cabins at other campgrounds / lodges not too far.

Potato Hill
– Letts Lake
Water Yes
Showers No – I sell solar showers if you like.
4 WD to launch? Any higher clearance 2WD vehicle should be fine.   Small SUVs should also be fine.
Launch is a 10 minute hike from where we park, so have this in mine in what you plan to bring to launch.
Restaurants Nearby? Not really, Stonyford has a restaurant (60 minutes away).
Stores Nearby? Small convenience market in Stonyford (60 minute drive from campground)
Non-Camping Options? No