Blanchard Hill, located at the north end of the Skagit valley near Mt. Vernon, is an excellent soaring site, even for novice hang glider pilots accompanied by a sponsor who’s familiar with the site conditions and the landowner requirements at both launch and landing. Overlooking Samish Bay, the view toward the west includes the San Juan and Gulf islands, and to the south is an ever-changing patchwork quilt of farm fields tucked in the northern Skagit Valley. It’s not uncommon for bald eagles to join pilots in the air at Blanchard. Most pilots agree that soaring with the birds above this spectacular landscape provides one of the finest hang gliding experiences in western Washington! Blanchard is administered by the North Cascades Soaring Club.
Protocol: USHPA-insured site, USHPA membership required. Intermediate/H-3 (or Novice/H-2 when mellow).
Contacts: Konrad Kurp, 360-293-7109, or Jeff Beck, 360-739-5648
Flying Season: Spring, Fall, Summer, Winter
Access: Gravel, 2WD, gate is currently locked (5/1/11) so there is no road access to launch.
Launch Elevation: 1250 MSL
Type: Slope, earth ramp
Faces: W, S
Notes: W and S launches within walking distance of each other.
Soarable: Yes, R/T
LZ Elevation: 2 feet MSL
Type: Grassy swamp/dry road
Obstructions: Very high grass, deep puddles – best landing is on the E-W road in the center of the LZ
Notes: 5 to 1 L/D to LZ. BEWARE: Some pilots have failed to reach LZ in strong conditions.
Additional Notes: Soaring potential excellent as site is located just above the mud flats and water with no inhibitors for lift.
North Cascades Soaring Club administers several other sites in northwest Washington, some of which are behind locked gates, most of which have sensitive landowner issues or extremely challenging launch and/or landing. Contact Jeff Beck or Konrad Kurp for more information on NCSC’s sites.
Blanchard Site Records
FW Lionel Space 50.1 Miles
FW Flex wing hang glider
RW Rigid wing hang glider
All incidents should be documented via the current USHPA incident reporting protocols with a courtesy copy to the site contact. Any incident involving non-pilot property damage, injuries or assistance from non-pilots(EMS, police, public bystanders etc) must also be reported as soon as practical to the site contact.
In an emergency, Call 9-1-1 first.