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Rotor Awareness | Mussel Rock,  Site Checklist | Emergency Contacts

Mussel Rock Site Checklist

June 26, 2004

Ann Sasaki

The Dump is a great coastal soaring site with varied flying conditions and terrain. Over the years, there have been many serious accidents and incidents involving visiting and local pilots. Please review this Checklist and the more comprehensive Coastal Site Advisory before you fly here. Thanks for your cooperation.

Required Pilot Skills:

  • Minimum of a Para2 rating (or foreign equivalent)
  • Able to ground handle the canopy in high winds
  • Have a strong reverse launch
  • Know how to deflate the wing quickly upon landing in high winds
  • Know how to increase penetration and decrease altitude
  • Familiar with Ridge Rules

Conditions to be aware of:

  • Large Wind Gradient: The wind can be MUCH stronger above the launch. Stay LOW and well in front of the ridge on strong days.
  • Shear Turbulence: There can be strong turbulence where two air masses in different directions meet. Shears are common at Mussel Rock and pilots should not launch into or fly in strong shears.
  • Whitecaps: Whitecaps on the ocean indicate strong winds. Pilots should consider landing when larger whitecaps form.
  • Fog: Fog can develop quickly and creates a dangerous lack of visibility. Do NOT fly into the fog.
  • Rotors: Rotors are found in the lee side of a ridge, spine or other formation. Rotors CHANGE according to the wind direction. Do NOT fly into rotors – you will find severe turbulence.
  • Wind Direction: Wind direction can change. Check the direction as you fly and before you land. Do not fly downwind close to the ground or land downwind.
  • Changing Conditions: Wind direction, wind speed and gust factor can change quickly. Fog and shears can develop rapidly. Always check for changes in the flying conditions and land if prudent.
  • High tide and no beach: In the winter and at high tide other times of the year, there is often NO beach in front of Westlake. Be aware of this and be within glide of an alternate LZ if there is no beach. Check the beach size before you launch.

Hazards to beware of:

  • Power lines and houses along the ridge, major roads and highways behind the ridge.
  • Bowls and gaps where the wind is stronger because of the venturi effect.
  • The ocean is extremely cold and often has large waves. Landing in the water can be fatal due to hypothermia, getting tangled in lines, and drowning.
  • Concrete and other debris at this site because it has 20 years of landfill use.
  • Heavy traffic in the air – paragliders, hang gliders and RCs. Clear all your turns and follow Ridge Rules. Be respectful of other pilots in the air and give them plenty of room.
  • The high Westlake cliffs have a big wind gradient. Do not fly Westlake if you are inexperienced.
  • Equipment all pilots should have:
  • Certified glider in good condition
  • Harness with quick release buckles
  • Helmet, proper footwear, gloves
  • Hook knife or other knife that can cut through risers if you go in the water
  • Speed bar to increase penetration in strong conditions

Please note: It is important to get a site intro from an experienced local pilot or instructor.

Continue to next page (Emergency Contacts)

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