REVISION DATE: 2/22/2023
“A” Mountain is a small, infrequently flown ridge-soaring site in a heavily trafficked / populated area just west of downtown Tucson and within Sentinel Peak Park.
Sentinel Peak/“A” Mountain, is a prominent landmark, hiking trail, park and sunset-watching destination. Every day, hundreds of people walk, bike and drive on Sentinel Peak Road, which climbs and encircles Sentinel Peak Park. The Peak and the surrounding Santa Cruz Valley have a rich archaeological history dating back over 4,000 years. The area’s first inhabitants grew crops at the mountain's base along the Santa Cruz River, which is known as Tucson’s birthplace. Sentinel Peak was used as a lookout and for signal fires by native Americans prior to and since 1692 and later by early settlers as well as soldiers during the Civil War. The "A" was built by University of Arizona (UA) students in 1916. Every year, UA students and alumni kick off Homecoming festivities with a ceremonial lighting of the “A” on the mountain.
Primarily flown as a ridge-soaring site in winter. In spring and fall thermal flying is possible with southerly winds. Hazards abound, and adherence to Federal Aviation Regulation Part 103, and U.S. ridge rules are paramount.
- Current SAHGA (or AZHPA) and USHPA memberships.
- Signed City of Tucson liability release, returned to a SAHGA board member.
- P3/H3 rating
- Local guide, and site briefing, required for all pilots new to the site.
- ID card (carried with you) provided by SAHGA that indicates all other requirements have been met.
- These requirements are restrictive but are the terms demanded by the City of Tucson for the privilege of flying in a busy city park. Please help us keep “A” Mountain open for flying by observing these rules.
- CAUTION: Read all the general requirements and warnings here.
- Required HG special skills: FL, CL, RS
- Required PG special skills: CL, RS
- Respect the usage rights of other park patrons
- Be a good representative of SAHGA as you will be very much in the public eye when flying this site
- Err on the side of caution when making decisions on launch and in the air, as there are many hazards and little room for error
- Adequate clearance from bystanders is required when setting up and launching so no spectators can be injured in the event of an uncontrolled launch. This should be accomplished by establishing physical barriers and briefing onlookers. Pilots may not launch without adequate crowd clearance.
Know Before You Go
- Using the provided images, familiarize yourself with the details and potential hazards of the site.
- This site exists within a busy city park, and pilots should carefully consider proximity to spectators and vehicles before setting up and launching
- Launch and LZ are dotted with natural hazards in the form of cactus and desert vegetation and should be flown only by very experienced local pilots or visiting pilots with required local guide.
- The LZ is not visible from the launch
- Be aware of the forecasted changes of wind direction and conditions.
- The large primary LZ east of launch, in front of the “A”, is not suitable after wind has switched westerly due to rotor, and contains cactus and other desert vegetation. Exercise caution when landing.
- This site is located under the outer ring of the Tucson International Airport class “C” airspace. Ceiling is 4,200 feet MSL, edge is several miles north. DO NOT ENTER CONTROLLED AIRSPACE!
- This is a very small ridge-soaring site and careful observance of ridge rules is required when multiple HG/PG are airborne.
- Congested VFR airspace below the floor of class C, particularly weekdays. Watch for helicopters and other general aviation aircraft traveling this heavily-used corridor.
- Large asphalt parking lot near the top of “A” Mountain adjacent to launch. Accessed by a paved road on the north side of the park.
- There are no facilities at the LZ or launch. The nearest restrooms are in Tucson.
- 32.208511, -110.994333 (Google Maps link)
- SSE-facing asphalt ramp on the south end of the parking area
- PG Winds: 5-15 mph, max gust rate 5 mph over 5 seconds
- HG Winds: 12-15 mph, max gust 5 mph over 5 seconds
- Wind Direction: “Go” 140°-160°, “Caution" 125°-180°
In the past, pilots have launched from the slope just below the "A". This launch is now closed and not expected to reopen. This area is littered with broken glass, making launching there rather hazardous to both pilot and equipment.
Designated Landing Zone
- 32.210235, -110.986974 (Google Maps link)
- Large empty dirt lot directly east of “A” Mountain.
- Not suitable if the wind turns west.
- Observe FAR Part 103 restrictions about flying over congested areas.
- Soarable at around 15 mph winds.
- If it is not soarable, you must head directly to the LZ after launching.
- The only available cross-country route is north to northwest.
- Do not fly further east than the LZ.