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POM North Side

Salt Lake County Flight Park

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Draper, Utah

Revised 01 Feb 2024


N40º 28' 28,2" W111º 53' 34.08

40.4745, -111.8928

Elev 5100' / 1554m

Ratings & Skills


(Non-rated only with instructor supervision.)

High Altitude, Foot Launch

Radio Comm

Primary . . . . . . . .  447.800

Alternate . . . . . . . . 447-8.25

Emergency . . . . . . 146.560

Attention all users! POM North Side is Utah's most popular ridge soaring site for hang gliders and paragliders. Both the lower and upper benches are subject to heavy use by pilots of all skill levels, including students and tenders. No pilot should fly at this site who is not a current USHPA and UHGPGA member holding the minimum USHPA ratings and skills indicated unless under the direct supervision of a USHPA-certified instructor or observer. Visiting and first-time pilots should familiarize themselves with the known hazards and site sensitivities described in this guide. As pilot-in-command, you alone are responsible for assessing your fitness for flight, the airworthiness of your glider and equipment, the suitability of the current conditions for launch and recovery, and for continuously monitoring glider position and performance to ensure a safe landing at an approved landing zone. If in doubt, do not launch.

POM North Side Rules
  • Follow all posted Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation regulations.

  • Motorized aircraft are prohibited.

  • Wear a helmet any time you are attached to a glider.

  • Kiting in or upwind of the hang glider landing area is prohibited.

  • Immediately before launching, clear traffic and yell “Clear” or “Launching.”

  • Adhere to standard Ridge Rule and thermaling right-of-way procedures.

  • Apply the 20/20 Rule:​ If 20 pilots are flying in the traffic pattern along the front ridge, wait for one to land or fly away before taking off into the pattern. If you have been flying 20 minutes and are in the pattern with pilots waiting to fly, land or fly away to give these pilots a turn to fly too.

  • Do not perform aerobatics above residences or within 300 feet of the setup and launch areas.

  • Paragliders landing in the green grass area must yield the right-of-way to bystanders.

  • If crowds prevent landing in the green grass area, land in the hang glider landing area and exit the LZ promptly.

  • Land before official sunset (FAR Part 103).

  • Do not park in the red-curbed t-zone at the west end of the parking lot near the restrooms. Emergency vehicles need this turn-around area clear when exiting the parking lot.

Incident Awareness and Response
  • Fly with the Zello app open in the background and the UHGPGA channel live. Click here for app and channel. Announcements will be made over the channel, just like walkie talkie.

  • While airborne, be alert for the lights or sirens of emergency vehicles below. They may be responding to a flight incident or accident in the park or its environs, including the Upper and Lower LZ or along your route of flight.

  • The presence of emergency vehicles, smoke canister, and/or car on launch with its lights on and alarm blaring requires you to land. A helicopter (or gust front) may be en route.

  • If you see any of the 3 (above), and it is safe to do so, pull big ears as you descend; Multiple wings in big-ear configuration catches the eye of other pilots.

  • Upon landing, secure wings as soon as possible.

  • Familiarize yourself with alternate LZ’s away from the Flight Park. Consider scouting these LZ’s on an off day. Talk to an instructor about arranging a pre-planned off-site landing and retrieve at Steep Mountain Park, Wheadon Farm Park, or the South Mountain Golf Course.

‘Benching Up’ and Staying Safe at the North Side
  • Watch this video of top tips for TOP LANDING at the North Side.

  • Changes in wind direction, velocity and useful lift can be subtle and gradual—or pronounced and dramatic. Pay close attention to your glider’s performance throughout your flight. If in doubt, land before conditions exceed your limitations.

  • Winds aloft will be stronger than surface winds at launch and can easily exceed safe limits for H2/P2 pilots. Loss of penetration and uncontrolled blowback are serious threats to pilots soaring near the ridge of Steep Mountain (the upper bench).

  • Under conditions favorable for H2/P2 pilots, expect some difficulty climbing high enough to safely ‘bench up.’ Ironically, the harder you have to work to gain the altitude needed to transition to the upper bench, the safer conditions are likely to be once you get there.

  • Paraglider pilots should not base launch or in-flight decisions on the perceived performance of speed-wings and mini-wings launching from the top of Steep Mountain.

  • Brisk winds and buoyant conditions in front of the lower bench are an indication of

    1. a high likelihood of strong rotors at the base of Steep Mountain (between the parking lot and the hillside), and

    2. potential out-of-limit conditions at altitude in front of Steep Mountain. Consider remaining in the lower bench pattern rather than benching up.

  • After a successful transition to the upper bench, and as you start your climb, remain within the upwind lift band well away from the face of Steep Mountain. At altitude, continuously test your ability to penetrate to the north away from the hillside. Until you gain experience, stay in front of the tallest portion of Steep Mountain rather than flying out to the shoulders.

  • Steep Mountain produces dangerous rotors in the lee of the ridge line across its entire width. Do not cross the ridge line towards the south at any point, including the peak and shoulders. If you find yourself blown back and unable to penetrate back to the north,

  1. do not attempt to top-land;

  2. gain as much altitude as possible and fly west (towards the freeway);

  3. fly south over the South Side and land in the open fields to the south of the South Side LZ.

  • Midday conditions at the North Side demand technical flying and advanced skills. Midday launches should only be attempted by very experienced pilots and only from the upper bench.

Click here to read to 2023 Safety Officer Message and Report!

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UHGPGA 2023 Safety Report

Dear Pilots,

Thank you for all the safe flights you’ve made this year. We always hope there won’t be any accidents, but unfortunately there were several this year involving one fatality and other serious injuries. We deeply regret the loss of life and injuries. We wish comfort, healing, and peace to the families and individuals affected.

Please read the safety message prepared last spring. It’s at the end of this report and also on our website. Most pilots seem not even know about it. The message encouraged a 20:20 rule flying the front ridges on the south side ridge and north side front ridge and it may not be a coincidence our fatality happened on one of the most congested flying evenings of the year.

Paragliding and Speed Flying

The 2023 flying season saw several incidents among paragliders and speed flyers. These include North Side blowbacks, high wind soaring, and others. When flying these small aircraft, it is important to keep in mind that most of the time they are quite easy to fly. This fact often leads to complacency in piloting, mental awareness, weather decisions, and more. It is important to periodically check in with oneself as the pilot in command, follow checklists, and remind us of the true gravity of our sport. When we are truly in touch with what we are doing, it is clear the precautions we need to consistently take.

  • Follow checklists

  • Mental / Emotional Check in before flight

  • In-flight self-reminders

  • Conservative decision making (maneuvers, weather, etc.)

  • Extreme caution to avoid flying ABOVE skill level

A Short Note on Progression

The relatively easy flight characteristics of paragliders and speedwings often give a pseudo feeling of confidence in once’s ability. It is important to remember that our air sports demand a high level of respect. Very quick progression (downsizing speedwings, stepping up paraglider performance categories) should be avoided at all costs. Remember, slow is fast and fast is slow... A fast progression often leads to physical injury, fear injury, steps back due to lack of fundamentals, and more. Quite a slow progression when looking at the big picture! On the contrary, a slow progression looks like nailing the fundamentals, an appropriate degree of confidence and caution, and a high degree of skill. A much quicker (and safer) progression when looking at the big picture!

Hang Gliding and Paragliding

There were two hang glider/paraglider collisions this year. Many are not comfortable discussing accidents, but we do so to learn from the accidents to help avoid them in the future.

In the North Side fatal accident, the hang glider pilot on a circling southeast flight path from the front ridge to the back ridge did not see the tandem paraglider pilot approaching from the front ridge to the back ridge on a south intercept course. The hang glider pilot circled around one last time barely above the paraglider wing, lost lift, and settled onto the wing. Both gliders dropped to the ground, killing the

paraglider pilot and severely injuring the paraglider passenger and the hang glider pilot.

Both pilots failed to maintain adequate separation from each other’s aircraft. The brightness of the sun in the general direction of the approaching yellow paraglider wing was deemed a factor. Neither pilot took any observable evasive action.

In the second North Side incident, the paraglider pilot landed in the bailout area with the hang glider pilot landing second. The hang glider was not able to clear the still inflated paraglider wing and collided with it. Fortunately there were no injuries.

Although lower pilots have landing priority, once pilots land, they are responsible for clearing the landing area immediately. Both pilots failed to maintain adequate separation from each other’s aircraft.

A Short Note on Awareness

A very constructive way to study any accident is to ask what could I have done as the pilot to avoid the accident? As pilots we can hope other pilots will avoid us, but the responsibility is on each of us to maintain awareness and adequate separation from other aircraft.

John Heiney tells his students:

  1. Don’t run into anyone.

  2. Don’t allow anyone to run into you.


John told us Dan Racanelli was serious about this at Funston (San Francisco hang gliding site) long before paragliders. If Dan could sneak up on you and kick your king post or nose plate (do not try this), shame on you. You had to go land.

We must maintain awareness always while flying. We must scan for traffic all the time, not just around us but far enough away to stay out of the way of approaching aircraft, especially landing aircraft. Keep in mind it is harder for hang gliders than paragliders to deviate from a flight path once committed to landing—especially while on final approach.

Too often paragliders are not aware a hang glider is on a landing approach because the hang glider is not anywhere nearby and land where the hang glider has been planning to land.

Wear helmets and eye protection that allow for a wide field of view and work in all lighting conditions. A good set of polarized auto darkening sun glasses helps the entire sky remain visible even while facing the sun.

A Short Note on Evasive Action

When any lack of awareness and lack of separation sets us up for a collision, there may still be a chance we can avoid the collision by taking evasive action. Hang gliders, paragliders, and speed wings are all capable of evasive maneuvers. Learn these maneuvers with the aircraft you fly at safe altitudes until performing them becomes instinctive. Not taking evasive action or hesitating before taking evasive action can use up any remaining time left to avoid a collision.

Other Suggestions

Some club pilots were asked for suggestions to help us all be safer pilots. Here they are:

  • Be aware pilots flying toward the sun may not see you.

  • Paraglider pilots need to stay aware of faster hang glider speeds and larger blind spots. Hang gliders need to stay aware of slower paraglider speeds.

  • Increase margins in scratchy conditions among terrain and other pilots.

  • Student and newish pilots should fly with a streamer.

  • Do not tailgate.

  • Scratch free sunglasses cut down glare and really help with visibility.

  • Realize faster aircraft need more room to turn. Slower aircraft are not always giving faster aircraft enough room to turn.

  • Stay current.

  • More experienced pilots should try to fly other sites more to leave the point less crowded for students and newer pilots.

  • Leave the smoother air to the paragliders and the rougher air to the hang gliders.

  • Make the north side a P3/H3+ site.

  • Establish standard patterns and procedures for operating in more congested areas at the point.

  • Only make right hand turns when benching up at the north side.

  • Enter the north side front ridge traffic pattern at or below a certain altitude when returning from the bench.

  • Fly at least 75 to 100 hours per year with half these hours in areas with moderate traffic, otherwise avoid flying with mixed wing traffic.

  • Avoid complacency and always scan for traffic.

  • Mitigate risks through consistent training, proper traffic scanning, and avoid dense traffic areas when possible.

  • Newer pilots should avoid flying with mixed wing traffic.

  • Hang glider pilots should develop the ability to fly away from the high density paraglider traffic areas most of the time except as necessary to descend, approach, and land.

  • All paragliders and hang gliders must clear the landing areas as soon as possible.


From your 2023 Safety Officers

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