Mt. Tom

Last revised: May 11, 2022

  • Flight Type: Ridge and Thermals with XC potential. Excellent “wonder-wind” at the end of the soaring day.
  • Required: valid current USHPA and NEPHC memberships
  • USHPA Rating Requirement: H3/P3, P2 with mentor
  • Wind direction: Launch 1: WNW (Ideal: 290-310 degrees, OK: 270-330), Launch 2: WSW(Ideal: 220-240 degrees, OK 215-245)
  • Wind speed (PG):
    • 8 mph minimum
    • 10 mph ideal
    • 15 mph maximum – do not launch a standard sized paraglider in wind exceeding 15 mph unless you are certain you have the skills and your glider can penetrate.  Mini wing operating limitations at the pilot’s discretion.
    • +5 mph maximum gusting (mini wing)
    • Make certain you check winds at higher altitudes before launching.
  • Wind speed (HG):
    • 10 mph minimum
    • 15 mph ideal
    • 20 mph maximum – depends on experience and skill of the pilot
    • +5 mph maximum gusting
    • Make certain you check winds at higher altitudes before launching.
  • Launches: The launch areas on Mt. Tom are located on private property — not Massachusetts State Park property.    We are permitted to utilize this space only if we strictly adhere to the rules and regulations that govern NEPHC club membership. The launch areas are small and rocky; forward launches are not possible.
    • Launch Elevation: 1500ft (457m)
    • Launch 1 (WNW) : 42.242079, -72.647993West-Northwest facing cliff launch.
    • Launch 2 (WSW): 42.242403, -72.648304 West-Southwest facing cliff launch.
    • Min Req Glide Ratio to LZ: ~1.1:1
  • Main Landing Zone: 42.249534, -72.654258Contact the locals to inform them that you are flying before you hike up. This field may be closed for tall hay. All pilots should avoid flying too close to horses and houses.
  • HG Landing Zone: A larger field to the South is recommended for hang gliders.
  • Airspace: This site has restricted airspace behind launch (Westover AFB) and South West of the field (Barnes Airport). Occasional low flying aircraft (C5 Galaxy and F15 fighters!) in the area. Before flying XC check a sectional map for airspace.
  • Hazards: Steep rock cliff, TV towers, other towers on the ridge, power lines in the landing area.
  • Best time to fly: Year-Round. However, at the end of November the tarp to make launching easier is put away.
  • Vehicle Access: None. Hike to launch only.
  • Parking for hike up: 42.236676, -72.651627 This is the Log Cabin parking lot, address is 500 East Hampton Rd, Holyoke, MA.

Rules and Regulations

  • First-time pilots must get a site introduction from a qualified club member. See the Mentor list and check social media, FB and WhatsApp for contacts.
  • P2 requirements:
    • Launching at Mt Tom requires top-notch kiting skills. Rotor frequently makes launching very challenging.
    • Launch and fly only under direction of a qualified mentor. Be sure to arrange with a mentor before you show up at launch.
    • P2s are required to fly with a high-vis streamer at least 2m (6ft) in length.
  • Land only on the designated landing area.  See the image on this page.
  • Respect the LZ area. Minimize disturbing the kind people that allow us to use their property. No alcohol. Pack up quickly and quietly and leave the area.
  • Remember: the launch is an environmentally sensitive area.   We are guests of Holyoke and Easthampton and fly there only because of their generosity and support! 

Safety

  • Always follow USHPA Safety guidelines. 
  • Never fly alone.
  • Always have your speed system connected.
  • Stay clear of the launch area when others are trying to launch, keep spectators back away from the launch area.  
  • Check winds aloft as well as monitoring surface wind forecast. Be aware of launching into building conditions.
  • Use a GPS equipped variometer to monitor your ground speed into the wind. 
  • Avoid flying too far back (east) of the ridge, danger of getting blown back.
  • The area to east of the ridge is restricted airspace.
  • Watch out for the powerlines at the East end of the landing area. Unless you are very low always try and land away from the powerlines. Always give yourself a lot of altitude heading in to land. Never try to squeak over the powerlines!
  • Stay well clear of the radio, TV and microwave towers to the South of launch and the wind turbine towers to the North.    
  • Don’t fly low over the neighbor’s houses near the LZ.
  • Be aware that at the end of the day, the wind can blow downhill (catabatic).    

Directions and parking

  • Parking to meet your NEPHC Mentor in the parking area near Log Cabin and get hiking directions to launch.
    • Address is 500 East Hampton Rd, Holyoke. 

Local topography of Mt Tom
Mt Tom Ridge Line
Setup and Launch area
Mt Tom Launch and Landing Zone (LZ)
Landing Zone (LZ)
Parking area (Log Cabin)