On most nice days at Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, Washington, a look skyward will reveal hang gliders soaring above the 1800-foot high “Poo-Poo Point” launch area. Most of those pilots are members of Western Washington’s most active hang gliding club- Cloudbase Country Club.
The origins of the club date back to 1970’s, when a group of pilots from the “North End Club” came together and gave the club its current name. There were other active clubs during that time, including the Pacific Northwest Hang Gliding Association (PNHGA), the Chandelle Northwest / Seattle Free Soaring Society, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Over time the CBCC became stronger and is now the largest club in this area, representing pilots primarily from the Pacific Northwest.
As land is being consumed and urban sprawl gives us less sites to fly, the CBCC’s primary purpose becomes apparent- to protect the flying sites that we have, and work towards securing more places to fly in our area. To that end, CBCC is a member club of the United States Hang Gliding Association. As hang gliding has evolved and our society has become increasingly litigious, landowners have become more reluctant to let pilots launch and land on their soil. Being a member club of the USHPA provides insurance for those landowners and allows us to ally some of their fears of being sued should something unfortunate happen on their land. CBCC and USHPA provide site insurance for the two most popular places to fly in western Washington- Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, and Dog Mountain to the south near Morton.
Tiger Mountain has been flown for many years- long before Issaquah was built up to what it is today. In the early to mid 70’s, pilots flew from what now can be seen as the towers on the true summit of Tiger. These early flights were mostly flydowns, but as gliders and pilots evolved, soaring became common and today 50 mile flights are possible with good weather conditions. Being so close to Seattle, it has been a constant challenge to keep Tiger open to free-flyers. Working with the Department of Natural Resources, a landing area on Issaquah-Hobart road has been secured, and the Poo-Poo Point launch area designated for our use. The CBCC does a yearly road clean up and sponsors fly-ins periodically to show our support for the site.
Dog Mountain near Morton has a colorful history of hang gliding, and is arguably the most consistently soarable site in our state. Overlooking Riffe Lake, Dog is perfectly placed to offer great ridge soaring, and occasionally thermal flying, almost anytime the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Dog has hosted United States championships in the past, and continues to be a fantastic place to fly and recreate. Very few summer days go by without hang gliders launching from the short concrete ramp on top of Dog Mountain. CBCC leases the launch area from Champion Lumber Company, and maintains a restroom and the launch area for the use of pilots year-round.
CBCC pilots fly all over the northwest, and Chelan in eastern Washington is a world-class cross country site with flights into both Canada and Idaho. Three events are held yearly in Chelan, with the beach-in being the first event of the year and a great kick off to another season. Held at the end of April when Lake Chelan is down, pilots compete in spot landing contests, speed gliding, and usually get to do some cross country flying to boot. The most popular event of the year in the Chelan Cross County Classic held at the beginning of July with the Chelan Fliers club. Pilots from all over the country come to compete in the open-distance contest that happens to be the last call-your-own-task, open-distance cross country meet in America. 100 mile flights are common for the top competitors, and the week-long event raises money for local charities and shows our support for our best cross country site.
As any outdoors-man knows, Snoqualmie Pass is a beautiful place to visit year round, and during the summer hang gliders can be seen flying from Rampart Ridge, overlooking lake Keechelus and the ski areas. This site offers amazing vistas of mountains, valleys, ice fields, waterfalls, lakes, and sometimes even a mountain goat or two. CBCC members can be found flying from Black Mountain near Canada, Blanchard Hill overlooking Puget Sound near Bellingham, Saddle Mountain near Mattawa in eastern Washington, and aero-towing from the airport in Morton. The Northwest is a spectacular area of the country of hang glide, and the CBCC is devoted to keeping this area open so that we may enjoy the use of the sites for the foreseeable future.
Cloudbase Country Club is also committed to developing new members of the flying community. Our club meetings and website offers newcomers a forum to learn about the sport, meet some experienced pilots, and find an instructor to help them start their flying journey. Learning to fly takes a commitment, but the rewards are great and club members enjoy giving new pilots the help they need to learn to fly. There are many tandem pilots in the club that can give those just wanting a taste of the sport a nice flight from a nearby site.
Cloudbase Country Club is a collection of diverse people and personalities held together by a love of hang gliding. Come join us at a CBCC meeting, or better yet, in the air. Our enthusiasm for the sport is contagious, and I guarantee you will find the best of what Northwest hang gliding has to offer from our members.