Educational by Chapter of the Powered Paragliding Bible

I: First Flight

01 Training Process

02 Gearing Up

03 Handling the Wing

04 Prep For 1st Flight

05 The Flight

06 Flying With Wheels 

II: Spreading Wings

07 Weather Basics

08 The Law

09 Airspace   

10 Flying Anywhere

11 Controlled Airports

12 Setup & Mx

13 Flying Cross Country

14 Flying With Others

III: Mastery

15 Adv Ground Handling

16 Precision Flying

17 Challenging Sites

18 Advanced Maneuvers

19 Risk Management

20 Competition

21 Free Flight Transition

IV: Theory

22 Aerodynamics

23 Motor & Propeller

24 Weather & Wind

25 Roots: Our History

V: Choosing Gear

26 The Wing

27 The Motor Unit

28 Accessories

29 Home Building

VI: Getting the Most

30 Other Uses

31 Traveling With Gear

32 Photography

--- Not in book ---

33 Organizing Fly-Ins

34 Places To Fly

35 Preserving the Sport

36 Tandem

AC 103

FAR 91 for Ultralighters

FAR Preamble 


Enforcement Run Amok 

Chapter 8 

Harassing Animals 

Who Owns The Air

Filing A NOTAM

Washington Airspace  

Shipping Legality 

It's Probably Illegal  

Base Jumping Legality  


Airports & Ultralights  

Getting Banned  

Flying Wilderness Areas

Jets & Hang Gliders Sylmar

Probably Not Legal  

PPG & Airports? 

PPG Base Jumping  

2010 Tandem Exemption  

Getting Shot At   

Sport Pilot

Rogue Inspector

Is This Legal? Clouds/Vis

Soaring & Surviving Sylmar

2017-09-15 Hang Gliding or Paragliding Near Airliners at Burbank Airport

Questions were raised by a long time hang glider pilot about increased sightings of jets crossing their popular soaring site, Sylmar. It's about 12 miles northwest of Burbank Airport in CA and has good flying most of the year.

It turns out that at least one airline has a new RNAV (computer flown) visual approach to runway 15 that puts them really close to a commonly used "spine" on the mountain. Thermals are wicked up these spines, making them common hangouts for hang glider (HG) and paraglider (PG) pilots. Legally, the HG/PG pilots can be there. So I got looking and overlaid the newly created RNAV visual RW 15 that airlines are using on a sectional (Terminal Area Chart, actually) to see where their computers are taking them. It's below.

Technically, hang gliders (or any ultralight) are not allowed to fly inside the dashed magenta lines that include BATTT & MATRX but the other locations are fair game. Of course the hang gliders bear the legal responsibility to keep clear but a planeload of dead people, or their congresspersons, won't care. So we should collectively work to mitigate the risk.

Don't think of solutions, think of mitigations. Here are my suggestions.

1. Hang glider pilots should avoid flying in this area given what we know about the route. Yup, it's legal now, but a lot of things used to be legal.

2. The airlines (at least one) already caution their pilots about hang gliders there but reality is that this is a very busy approach and pilots may not spend much time scanning. Yes, of course, they should, but I'm simply doling out what happens in an airline cockpit on an approach that tends to leave you high and working to manage energy. The airlines should suggest using another runway when possible to avoid this risk.

3. ATC should advise pilots if they know hang gliding operations are taking place. That would require cooperation with the Sylmar Soaring Association which they've offered to render.

4. Hang glider and paraglider pilots flying in close proximity to airliners or any aircraft traffic for that matter, should carry a portable transponder. I don't yet know if that's even legal but am trying to find out. A new standard, ADS-B goes into effect by 2020.

5. Of last resort is the minimally effective "see and avoid." Keep a good lookout on both sides of the window pane.


This is an overlay of the Runway 15 RNAV Visual in use by at least one airline.


© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!