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One of the premier hang gliding and paragliding locations in the world, Lake Chelan has been host to some of the most prestigious events.

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The Butte Launches


  • LOCATION:
    Chelan, Washington (mid-state)
  • SOARABLE:
    Ridge & thermal, primarily cross-country flying
  • ROAD TO TOP:
    1 mile asphalt and 2 mile dirt, 2WD, 20 minutes to top. All vehicles MUST carry both a shovel & 10/BC fire extinguisher.
  • PROTOCOL:
    USHPA intermediate or equivalent required, parachute & helmet. Supervised novices may fly morning and evenings with instructor on launch.
  • LAUNCHES:
    Elevations - 3,890' MSL and 3,700' MSL
    All directions, generally launching southerly
  • TYPE:
    At the 3,700' level, there are several slopes (E to NW), and at the 3,890' level slope launches face SE and NW.
  • OBSTRUCTIONS:
    At 3,890' level, buildings block the path to the slope launches. Carry in and set up gliders on the slope near launch. At the 3,700' level there are four launches; facing south east is Ants in the Pants launch (be careful when the wind is crossing from the right); to the S is Between the Rocks, named for large rock formations below on either side (the wind tends to be laminar not vertical, good launch technique is needed); to the SW is Green Monster, named for a gangly tree below on the left (in wind can be turbulent); to the NW is Lakeside, which has no obstruction and is mostly used for ridge soaring and student flights, but can produce XC flights.

Landing Zones (LZ)


CHELAN AIRPORT

  • Elevation - 1,260' MSL
  • Type - Municipal airport, LZ turbulent in wind
  • Protocol - Approach & land on SE side of runway ONLY. Aircraft approach patterns are either directions on river side. WATCH FOR AIRCRAFT!

JUNKYARD

  • Elevation - 1,200' MSL
  • Type - Grassy field. Absolutely do not drive on grass - hot cars start fires! Park carefully on side of road to avoid obstructing through traffic.
  • Obstructions - Power lines on E end of LZ - very thermally. TURBULENCE in the afternoon.

CHELAN FALLS PARK
  • Elevation - 700' MSL
  • Type - Grassy strip on river side
  • Obstructions - Narrow landing approach, with water, trees, buildings. Large power lines to the N.

 

TURNPOINT COORDINATES



Code Name Latitude Longitude
BUTT Chelan Butte 47 48' 25.65" 120° 02' 01.27"
JYLZ Junkyard LZ 47 49' 48.54" 120° 00' 35.72"
SOCR Soccer Field 47° 47' 53.50" 119° 59' 05.40"
AIRP Chelan Airport 47° 52' 09.77" 119° 56' 37.11"
WATE Waterville Airstrip 47° 39' 21.99" 120° 03' 46.41"
WITH Withrow Grain Towers 47° 42' 08.96" 119° 48' 36.50"
DOUG Douglas 47° 37' 14.19" 120° 00' 13.28"
FARM Farmer Grain Towers 47° 36' 44.59" 119° 48' 47.76"
PATE Pateros Bridge 48° 03' 01.95" 119° 54' 14.13"
MANS Mansfield 47° 48' 55.55" 119° 37' 47.94"
BREW Brewster Airport 48° 06' 17.42" 119° 43' 13.42"
BRID Bridgeport Dam 48° 00' 07.58" 119° 39' 14.99"
PANG Pangborn Field 47° 23' 55.07" 120° 12' 45.60"
LEAH Leahy Junction: West Corner 47° 55' 07.50" 119° 23' 27.40"
SIMS Sims Corner 47° 48' 57.14" 119° 21' 45.74"
17H2 Inter. SR 17 & Hwy 2 47° 37' 25.20" 119° 20' 51.00"
DRYF Dry Falls Store 47° 37' 34.20" 119° 19' 57.80"
COUL Coulee City Airport 47° 36' 48.70" 119° 14' 59.40"
EPHR Ephrata Airport 47° 18' 22.69" 119° 31' 18.35"
SOAP Soap Lake (17 & 28) 47° 22' 52.61" 119° 28' 59.20"
OKAN Okanogan 48° 21' 21.62" 119° 35' 42.26"
HART Hartline Grain Tower 47° 41' 23.54" 119° 06' 18.44"
OMAK Omak 48° 24' 45.47" 119° 30' 46.06"
GRAN Grand Coulee Dam 47° 57' 20.36" 118° 59' 18.55"
ALMI Almira Grain Towers 47° 42' 42.70" 118° 56' 11.00"
WILB Wilbur Airport 47° 45' 26.58" 118° 44' 25.12"
CRES Creston 47° 45' 31.31" 118° 30' 59.15"

Riverside 48° 30' 11.7" 119° 30' 20.1" 53.9
Tonasket 48° 42' 23.9" 119° 26' 41.7" 67.8
Oroville 48° 56' 21.7" 119° 26' 08.7" 82.9
Canadian Border 49° 00' 01.0" 119° 27' 43.4" 86.5
Davenport 47° 39' 15.3" 118° 09' 28.9" 87.8
Reardon 47° 40' 11.3" 117° 52' 40.3" 100.6
Spokane (River Park) 47° 44' 36.1" 117° 32' 07.7" 116.1
Idaho Border 47° 42' 51.1" 117° 02' 35.1" 139.1

 

  • Random Butte Information
    By Buck

The Butte road has opened on April 1 over the last 10-15 years. Weather early in the spring is usually quite unsettled. Each front brings at least a couple days of wind, and if the weather systems cause rain, you can count on 2-3 days of wind and over-development.

By early June the wind is much less a factor, and by mid-June, July and August things are very good, getting progressively more stable by the end of August into September. October is cooler with a little more wind, and then it's all over by the second week of November.

The Butte road is usually closed due to fire danger the 1st of July. To go up the road, you must have a 10 BC fire extinguisher and shovel, and you must be a current USHPA member as insurance is mandatory this time of year. Do not drive off the road and absolutely do not park over vegetation as hot vehicles start fires fast! Please carpool to keep traffic on the road to a minimum.

In May and June, the Butte can be ridge soarable early in the morning and sometimes in the evening. By 9:00 AM the wind will die and the thermals begin to build. Until that point, it's usually good for less experienced pilots; Hang II's with an instructor on the hill ONLY. Thermal strength is up to snuff by 12:00-1:00 PM. Dust devils in the launch and setup area are at times quite violent. Tie-downs are a valuable item. I have seen many bags, pads, etc., fly away; pod harnesses loaded for X/C flight with a rocket chute thrown 10-15’ in the air, and a paraglider pilot jerked powerfully 60’ into the air and then dropped. Beware! Chelan is fortunate to rarely have gust fronts or heavy weather. Thermal drift is usually pretty light. I know of a pilot that landed at 8:45 PM! The air in Chelan is usually strong with lift 1000’-1500’ per minute common.

One landing area that pilots use is called the junkyard. Its located just south of the city of Chelan just west of a junkyard, hence the name. Check it out before flying, and please don't park on the pavement here, but just inside the road off the tall grass. Winds in this LZ are pretty stable in the mornings and evenings, but can be very switchy in the afternoon. A junkyard thermal can get you out from below 100', so beware!

The airport is a popular LZ. Aircraft use the river for their approaches, so make approaches well west of the runway and land in the field at the SE end of the runway, ONLY.

The road up the Butte has a section called the greasy gulch. Beware when the road is wet, it's slippery and driving on it wet tears up the road anyway. If the road is not driven on, it will be fine a few hours after the rain stops. When it’s been driven on, it's all toren up, and takes much longer to dry out, so please don't do it.

Fires are a BIG NO-NO. Smoking on the Butte is another NO-NO. Please don't hassle our wildlife - they were here first - and please don’t hassle or kill any snakes, rattlers included. Watch for them on the road. Other no-no’s include landing in crops, orchards or in city parks. Use regular LZs (Junkyare, Airport, Chelan Falls Park). We have excellent relations with the city, county officials and local residents. Please help by following our community’s rules and be considerate of others. Welcome to Chelan - fly high, alert and hard. Enjoy!

For more information on hang gliding and paragliding in the Chelan area please go to the FAQ page.