Fort Collins Launch?

We have a growing community of Paragliders up here in Fort Collins. To fly, we must drive to Boulder, Lookout, to fly a safe and “legal” site. It sucks making that drive every morning just to catch a sledder or two. We have a hill up here in Fort Collins behind Hughes Stadium bearing the letter “A” on the east face. This is a drive up site with a 5 min no-sweat hike to launch. This hill is very comparable to the Boulder site. Rumor has it that many years ago, the “A” was open as a launch for hang glider pilots. For some reason, the launch disappeared. I was up there today poking around taking some pictures. It looks as if there are a few areas to launch and an experienced pilot shouldn’t have any problems. I got home and decided to call around Larimer County and Fort Collins Open Space. It turns out that the land on the hill and at the bottom is owned by Fort Collins Open Space. While on the phone with FCOS, they were telling me that landing in a field might be kind of iffy, but they don’t see any problem with it. They told me I should check code to find specifics. I found something of interest. I was wondering if there are any loopholes we can work with. LZ is at 5160’ Launch is at 5770’

FC Municipal Code: Sec. 23-203 (d) (3) Land or launch in a recreation area, or fly lower than five hundred (500) feet above a recreation area, any type of aircraft, including hot air balloons and hang gliders, except within takeoff or landing airways of a commercial airport or in emergency situations.

I have not launched this, but would like to, and would only do it under “legal” situations. The people I spoke with today support a free flight program for paragliders or hang gliders flying in Fort Collins. If we can’t work with the code stated above, we may need to get it changed. I’m in the dark as to how to do this, but am up for donating time, money, and whatever it takes to get a FC Launch/Landing zone established.

Whatcha think? Gimme some input.

I flew there dozens of times “back in the day”. It was the City’s acquisition of the launch and the subsequent “Open Space” restrictions that shut down the site.

While it did yield up a few decent flights, it’s far from ideal. It’s about as shallow a slope that is still physically possible to launch from, and even then, not without a MINIMUM wind of 10 mph up the hill. The launch run was just 2-3’ to the south of the painted rocks and has lots of wire grabbing Mtn Mahogany bushes along the way. To top it off, it only blows in, at most , 2-3 days a month. The rest of the time it’s usually crossed hard to the south.

You had to live a few blocks away from the hill to notice when it was blowing in, as it would usually only last a few hrs, generally latter in the day, and bust your butt up to hill fast to get a flight in. I had several 1-2 hr flights when the stars aligned twice a year, but most of the time it was just an extended sledder.

“Back in the day”, we used the CSU parking lot for landing. I don’t think anybody asked whether it was legal or not, and nothing was ever said to anyone over the many years we flew there. But in this day and age, I’m sure there’s probably some insurance liability issue that would raise a red flag.

As far as getting the Open Space regs changed, it has happened in the past. When Pineridge Natural Area , just south of “The A”, was established, there was a long established bouldering area, Piano Ridge, that got shut down via this clause…(It shall be unlawful to) (5) Climb rocks or boulders with or without ropes, fixtures or other apparatus.

The local climbers rallied and got the City to reopen the area for climbing by including this stipulation in the regulations “Unless a sign has been posted by the Service Area that the particular natural area or a portion thereof is open for such use, it shall be unlawful to:”

It would be a long uphill battle though since among other things even kites are banned !

Thanks for the history on the site. I didn’t know much about it besides that new regulations had got it shut down. How many years ago did this happen? I do know a paraglider pilot that launched “The A” in spring of 2010. He took a 2 hour flight over Horsetooth and landed safely. The launch up there is very small along with your runway littered with scraggly bushes. I wouldn’t use this as a training hill, but as a launch for experienced pilots. I agree that the winds aren’t always good on this hill, but 2-3 days a month is better than nothing! When I was calling around to various offices trying to find out jurisdiction and legality issues, all the people I talked to seemed entertained by the idea of flight. I’m sure some of these folks would back us up if we wanted to get a flight program going on in FTC. The officials don’t have a problem with us flying. I don’t think it would be too hard to get the city code revised. I’m anxious to talk with some city officials and get the low down on some details. I’ll need lots of details for my case also. I’m going to need a regional population of pilots in the area. Statistics. How many pilots flying FTC actively. Site management information. Insurance. This is where RMHPA or a local club would be handy.

What ever happened to this idea? I assume the OP hit some sort of hurdle that wasn’t cleared and just didn’t follow up on the forum(?).
I’d be curious to know whether any additional efforts were ever put into the idea of a launch from the hill in front of the Horsetooth reservoir, whether restrictions are especially stringent, whether they’ve been updated at all, and/or if anyone knows anything about it anyway. Thanks!

With the demolition of Hughes Stadium and the sale of the University owned land, at the bottom of the hill, to private developers, there may not be any point in further efforts.

Bummer. Thanks for the info, Dave. :slight_smile: