The South Launch is for seasoned veterans only (hang 4's and above) and should NOT be attempted by less experienced pilots. Launch altitude is 5,100 feet MSL, so altitude density IS something to keep in mind when launching. The South Launch has had minimal use since it was constructed in 1993. This lack of popularity is due primarily to the convenience and security the Main Launch has offered for more than 30 years and the pucker factor when looking off of the South Launch. The Main Launch is a shorter drive from the Hat Creek valley and offers improved parking, setup and launch area. It also has the security of a 2.9 to 1 glide to the nearest LZ (#1). These are understandably sound reasons for its continued popularity. So, why would someone use the South Launch at all? Personally, I would use it to avoid crowded conditions that can be found during holiday weekends/special events, to add variety to my visit to Hat Creek, to avoid having to drift back from the main ridge, and to avoid the airborne crowds that can sometime gather above the main launch.
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South Launch Particulars
Recommended Rating: ADVANCED with proficiency in restricted landing field, turbulence, and assisted windy cliff launch.
Soaring Season: May thru September
Elevation: 5,110' MSL
Coordinates: N40°48.533' W121°24.900'
Prevailing wind and Speed (summer afternoon): West to Southwest, 15 to 30mph.
Permanent Windsock: Wind streamers below launch.
Parking: Somewhat limited but room for several vehicles.
Setup Area: Irregular terrain with low brush.
Launch: West-facing exposed earthen ramp. Room for sidewire assistants but nose assistant not recommended due to steep drop-off at the end of the ramp. Probably not suitable for paragliding due to the low brush at the back of the launch.
Launch assistants needed: Yes. At least two.
Cross Country Potential: Yes. It’s only eighty-eight downwind-miles to Lakeview’s Sugar Hill, a feat yet to be accomplished.
Nearest LZ: Buttonhook LZ, a 3.6:1 glide away. This LZ is nestled directly below the bench that sits out front, and 660 feet below launch. The LZ is not visible from launch. (see site map)
Water: No., Shade: No., Toilet: No., Trash: No.
Vehicle Access: Excellent gravel road.
Cellular Service: Depends on provider.
Ham repeater: 147.030+
A north or northwest direction in the prevailing wind will still be trying to come straight up the face due to the sun hitting the volcanic ridge face. The air below launch will not be moving up and you may take a rodeo-style ride to the dangerous rocky bench below. If these conditions exist, don't risk a launch. South to southwest wind direction in the valley is common and desirable.
Inspect all LZs before you launch.
This launch is about a 20 minute drive beyond the Main Launch.
Camping and Campfires
Be fire safe and leave no trash
If you plan on camping near launch, please comply with all fire regulations and/or restrictions. Your free REQUIRED campfire permit is available at the following places; The USFS center on Hwy 89 (just south of Fireside), the Old Station Visitor Center and CDF in Johnson Park. NOTE: Campfires at the site (and outside all established campgrounds) will most likely be banned by the end of June due to fire danger.
REMEMBER, YOU ARE THE PILOT IN COMMAND AND SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SAFETY. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OF YOUR ABILITY AND HAVEN'T THOROUGHLY FAMILIARIZED YOURSELF WITH THE SITE BEFORE FLYING...DON'T FLY.
YOU FLY AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Courtesy of the Shasta Sky Sailors