A Sweet Ridge & Thermal Site South West of Phoenix

Oatman is a bit off the beaten path and away from the congestion and airspace restrictions found at the Metro Phoenix sites. Offers good ridge soaring opportunities when a good wind is in the forecast.


Location: Gila Bend, Painted Rock Dam.
Usage: Hang, Para, Rigid; Foot-launch
Season: All year, but very hot during Summer.
Requirements: Hang 2.
Affiliation: Arizona Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.
Radio info: USHGA standard business band frequencies, 2M Ham with proper license.
Land ownership:
Other use: Sightseers and campers near launch, military jet training on weekdays.
Emergency: Gila Bend.
Maintenance: Arizona Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.


South Launch: Great for ridge soaring and a good thermal collector.
SW from 0 to 25 MPH.
Driving directions: Take Painted Rock Road off I-8 (about ten miles West of Gila Bend) and go North. Where the road veers right and a dirt road continues West, follow the dirt road to the South LZ. The road to launch is by the riverbed on the East side.
Road conditions: 4WD dirt road in fair condition after turnoff to South launch.
Parking: 6 vehicles max.
Facilities: None.
Setup area: Max. 10 gliders.
Hazards: Power lines going up south face of mountain from LZ. High speed jets on weekdays. Crosswinds on launch from right (SW) are generally turbulent and produce little lift.

North Launch: Faces small valley crosscutting the mountain.
Winds: N from 0 to 25 MPH.
Driving directions: Same as for South launch but continue on paved road to top of mountain.
Road conditions: 2WD paved road in fair condition.
Parking: 6 vehicles max.
Facilities: None.
Setup area: Max. 10 gliders.
Hazards: Several large telecummunications antennas, some with cables. High speed jets on weekdays. Crosswinds on launch should be avoided.


Type of flying: Ridge soaring and thermaling.
Restrictions: No special flying restrictions.
Hazards: Power lines on south side going up face of mountain and East of LZ. High speed jets on weekdays.


South Landing Zone: Large, flat areas with room to overshoot and undershoot.
Driving directions: See directions to South launch.
Road conditions: Gravel, 2WD.
Parking: Next to vegetation.
Facilities: Gila Bend.
Hazards: Power lines to East of LZ. Several ravines about 15 to 25 feet deep should be avoided.

North Landing Zone: Large, flat areas surrounded by tall vegetation and barbed-wire fence along dirt road.
Driving directions: Same as directions to South launch but continue on dirt road where paved road to launch begins.
Road conditions: Gravel, 2WD, 4WD after erosion by rains.
Parking: Ends of LZ.
Facilities: Gila Bend.
Hazards: Barbed-wire fence, tall trees.

7 Responses

  1. Hi, on the way back from Marshall to El Paso I tried to find the north launch. Followed directions but eventually came to the dead end by the dam. Can you please clarify the directions to north launch?
    • Hi Buzz, It's been a while since I've been there but I think once you get up the mountain you stay right when the road forks. The gate is locked right now. Bill Comstock can give you exact directions, his number is listed on this page.
  2. no weather links for each site?
    • Hi Shane, perhaps those links didn't move over from the old site, I'll have to ask Chris the webmaster. Thanks for pointing that out.
  3. Kris Thomsen
    I understand we're locked out. I'd like to apologize for not getting out ahead of this. For the last several years there has been no lock. This is a BLM real estate issue in that the tower owners have asked for a lock. At one point we were asked to pay a very sizable fee for very minor improvements that greatly improved launch saftey in a major way. Based on that I can imagine the tower owners have a very large amount invested in leasing and equipment. We are a noncomercial recreation group. The BLM has been contacted and they have invited us to meet with them. Also they emailed an appropriate form to fill out. This will be sorted out shortly. Let cooler heads prevail. The official I spoke with is someone we have interacted with before and is nice. I look forward to this like the next thermal. If you have a picture of the lock and gate send it to me Kris Thomsen 602-809-1668. If you hiked up and flew it kudos to you PG pilots. Argh!
    • bob
      any updates? being local now, I'm very interested to fly this site.
      • Hi Bob, Bill Comstock or Kris Thomsen would be the ones to ask about this, but I don't think the road is open yet.

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