RVHPA completed Phase 2 of The Whaleback Site Improvement Project in July 2011. This phase completely reconstructed the launch to create a much larger launch area with a greater degree of options for wind directions, expand the parking area to accommodate six vehicles with a turnaround, and create a new sign kiosk. The new launch has 160 feet of launchable slope face that allows launching in NNW to SSW winds.
Please keep in mind that The Whaleback is an inland high desert flying site and that conditions can change rapidly and can be very strong and turbulent. Be sure your skills are up to the conditions you will encounter. If you are unsure, do not launch. The Whaleback is a minimum P3/H3 site and requires flat slope launch skills. All P2/H2 pilots are must fly with guidance of an experienced mentor and only when conditions are appropriate. Flying XC here is demanding and is recommended for experienced XC pilots only with a thorough briefing of the challenges of the XC routes. Read the site guide thoroughly before flying and get a site intro from an experienced pilot.
The parking area has been expanded to fit six vehicles. Be sure to carpool efficiently to launch. Please park head-in at the designated parking area on the left when you arrive. Park tightly to create room for others. Please do not parallel park because this will greatly reduce available space for others. The wide area on the downhill side of the parking area is to be kept unobstructed as a vehicle turnaround. Please do not drive across the launch area and do not park in the layout area on the south end of the launch.
The new launch is quite different than the previous Whaleback launch and is different from most other launches in the area. In short, the launch is now a relatively flat slope with a fairly steep drop off at the lip and requires the skills and techniques of flat slope launching. Paraglider pilots should lay out their wings well back from the lip of launch, kite their wing overhead, and when ready, run hard to ensure the wing is fully loaded before stepping off the lip. Flat slope launching requires that the wing be fully loaded and ready to fly prior to stepping off the flat slope and on to the drop off–the wing should fly off the top of the launch without the pilot running down the steep slope below. This is the proper and safe way to launch a paraglider at Whaleback.
Have fun, be safe, and fly high.