Saturday, December 27, 2014

Summer Trip Flashback: Hang Gliders at Lookout Mountain Flight Park, Tennessee

By Mark Nankivil
On a recent family vacation, we spent a few days in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area enjoying a variety of tourist destinations in and around the city.  On the west side of the city, there is an impressive ridge called Lookout Mountain and on the west slope of the ridge is the Lookout Mountain Flight Park.  Up on the ridge itself you'll find a few buildings housing their sales shop and offices along with a hangar to store hang gliders.  There is also a launch pad for those who will fly from the ridge line.  Down in the valley, the Flight Park also has facilities which include a grass runway, cabins and hangars and they also provide aerotowing services with two ultralights configured for towing hang gliders.  All in all, an impressive set up that caters to hang gliding in a beautiful setting.

The weather while we were there was excellent though midday conditions were somewhat windy with strong thermals rising out of the valley.  Our
first midday visit to the ridge location found one hang glider at altitude
working the lift but air over the launch pad was turbulent and tricky. 
Later in the afternoon, the conditions softened and the hang gliders were out
in numbers with 6 flying along the ridge or in thermals and 4 others
being prepared for launching.  Down in the valley, we watch at least 5
or 6 aerotows with a number of them being tandem rides which the Flight
Park offers.  Once in a while, a Turkey Vulture or a Hawk would pass
through the area riding the ridge lift and marking thermals that some of
the hang glider pilots used.

We enjoyed the visit and the flying action, something you don't see in
the St. Louis area.  The last time I remember seeing hang gliders was up
in the Litchfield, Illinois area a number of years ago and they were
being launched by using a truck tow on back roads in the area.  So if
you find yourself traveling near the Chattanooga area, just off of I-24,
take the time to visit Lookout Mountain Flight Park and enjoy the flying
and the beautiful scenery. 

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