Plowshare Site Information

Site Description

Printer Friendly Version

This site is located at the top of Plowshare Peak off Hiway 166 & located approx. 20 miles WNW of New Cuyama, CA. This site has been a popular Hang-glider site for many years, but Paragliders have had success in the area also in the last few years. It is known as a "mini-Owens Valley."

This site is VERY dependant on a convergence moving down the valley from West to East. If launch is timed correctly, this site can be magical. If launch is mistimed or the day is inappropriate, this site can present the unsuspecting pilot with wind changes in both direction & velocity that can dynamically change flying conditions and safety margins. It is recommended you fly this site while in the company of knowledgeable pilots with Plowshare experience.

Hang Glider Launch is generally off the top (near the antennas) which is fairly flat & smooth. Paragliders usually launch down the spine to the West of the parking area. XC potential from Plowshare is very good. Many hangglider flights in excess of 50 miles have originated here. It is not uncommon now, for PG flights of 20-30 miles from this site.

Special Note: We have only the forbearance of the property owners (National Forest Lands and private communications company at launch). Much of the land in the Valley is private ranch land and the owners are hostel to HG and PG Pilots who land on there property. While rare, they have been known to report pilots to the police and have filed trespassing charges. There are however, lands intermittently along highway 166 which are public national forest lands and these are the designated landing areas. Get checked out on these preferred landing areas and always be respectful of the rancher's private property rights and respectful of all public and private land in the area.

Recommended Site Protocol

  1. This is a Mountain Thermal Site with rapidly changing conditions. All pilots should have repect for this site & the dynamically changing conditions that make this site both exciting and treacherous.
  2. Skills level required by site conditions: Intermediate level pilot (H-3, P-3), Novice level pilot recommended with 'instructor' supervision.
  3. All pilots should wear a helmet and a reserve parachute.
  4. All flights must be in accordance with FAR Part 103.

Site Hazards

It is a long way to the LZ (fields near Hwy 166.) If lift is not forthcoming near the hill, head out to the flats, sink can be quite strong in the foothills.

This is a Mountain Thermal Site with rapidly changing conditions. All pilots should have repect for this site & the dynamically changing conditions that make this site both exciting and treacherous.

There are STRONG WINDS in this valley.

Best Flying Conditions

Intermittently good much of year. Best in spring and summer. Launch early enough to avoid the strong winds and/or get on the "wrong" side of the convergence.

Conditions best for convergences and XC is to launch late morning into N or NE winds before the switch. Winds tend to die down just before the switch to W to SW (off the back), so don't wait too long or you will be driving down. After launch, loiter around the ridge until wind in the Valley starts blowing W to NW down the Valley. You'll know when the convergence comes in when you can move out into lifty air in the Valley. If the convergence isn't working, sometimes good thermals can still cycle up the north faces and can present some good out and back XC opportunities along the mountain ridge.

Copyright 2005 © All Rights Reserved All code, design, style, layout and hosting is provided by  Vantage Technology Group, Inc. No part of this website or the operational code may be copied or duplicated without written permission from San Luis Soaring Assn..

Site Specs
Site Rating:
P3 or Higher
P2 with Instructor Supervision
USHGA Sanctioned?:
Paperwork Required:
Type of Soaring
Mountain Thermal/Convergence
XC Potential
Access to Launch:
2WD Dirt
Launch condition:
FAIR - Scrub/Grass
LZ condition:
GOOD - Pasture
Launch Location/Elev.
3,800' ASL
LZ Location/Elev.:
Near Hiway 166
1,400' ASL

WX Links:
Plowshare Mtn. Wx
Branch Mtn.
Google Earth Files