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One of the premier hang gliding and paragliding locations in the world, Lake Chelan has been host to some of the most prestigious events.


I want to take a tandem hang gliding flight at Chelan. How do I set this up?

There are no tandem-rated pilots who live in Chelan, so you'll need to make prior arrangements with a pilot to meet you there. Go to USHPA.aero for a list of current instructors in Washington state and their contact information. Jeff Beck and Peter Gray are the most active tandem hang glider pilots as of summer 2009.

How much does a tandem flight cost?

Typically it's around $150, but prices vary among the tandem pilots.

How long will I be in the air?

On a good, soarable day, for as long as you want to stay up! Your tandem pilot will do his best to give you as much airtime as possible, but soaring is dependent on weather conditions.

Can I arrange to fly on a specific day?

You can try, but weather conditions sometimes make flight unsafe. Your tandem pilot will be able to make a good call a few days before your desired date, but scheduled flights are always dependent on the weather. In Chelan in the summer, it's unusual (but not unheard of) to have more than a day or two of unflyable weather in a week, so if you can be flexible you'll probably get to fly.

Is tandem hang gliding physically demanding?

Flying tandem with an instructor requires that you be able to run several steps to get the hang glider flying - you'll practice the launch run on flat ground before you take off. Very young children and great-grandparents have flown tandem. The most important "fitness" factor is the ability to follow the instructions of your pilot quickly and precisely.

I'd like to learn to hang glide. Where can I take lessons, and how much time does it take to learn?

Go to USHPA.aero for a map of the U.S. with links to instructors in every state. If you're just visiting Chelan, you may find it more convenient to take lessons near your home. Or you could choose to take a dedicated vacation to learn to hang glide; consider going to Joe Greblo, Rob McKenzie or Tammy Burcar in California, or Matt Taber at Lookout Mt. in Georgia. All these instructors have excellent schools that teach year-round.

Hang gliding is a skill-intensive sport that requires several days of ground school and bunny-hill flying before you'll be competent to get very far off the ground. Again, your best bet for learning is to contact a school and sign up for a lesson package.

I'm a rated hang glider (or paraglider) pilot and would like to make Chelan a stop on a flying vacation. What's the protocol for flying at the Butte?

The landowners of both the launch and LZs at Chelan Butte require USHPA membership for insurance purposes - be sure your USHPA membership is current. As with most big-air sites, it's smart to connect up with a site-savvy pilot [include links to email pilots: Tom Johns, Larry and Tina, Peter and Naomi, Dave Norwood] before heading up to fly. Better yet, plan your visit to coincide with one of many annual fly-ins or comps at the Butte (early May, early July, late September, late October - check the Cloudbase Country Club's Events page for this year's dates).

If you plan on flying at Chelan during the summer, be sure your launch and landing skills and your bump tolerance are in peak form. Launches can extremely challenging, and the mid-day thermals tend to be strong and turbulent. If you're not an experienced mountain thermal pilot, you'll have more enjoyable flying if you plan your trip for late summer or early fall, when it's still plenty soarable but not as intense. Or plan on flying before noon or in the evening, and enjoy the lake during the middle of the day.

How about paragliding?

The list of paragliding tandem pilots and instructors is at