Vista Trail to Dillon Beach

Launched at just after 2 in 25ish winds. Just a tad of west cross. Leo and Scot were off within minutes after me.

Bee-lined for the Grade and had just passed 3,000 when clouds started to form around and below me so I started heading out over the water, still climbing. Over the next 20 minutes the Grade really grew a big cap cloud and we had to fly out and spiral down a bit to stay clear of the clouds.

After 15 minutes of this and some photos I thought I’d head over to Jenner to check out the lift there when Scot inquired as to where I was going. Leo said he’d eventually land and chase us if we wanted so just like that Scot and I headed out.

Maintained at 2300ish all the way to Jenner then sunk all the way to Red Hill to about 1,400. Turned into the wind expecting a fast climb out but it was pretty light. Had a SLOW climb there then moved southwest to the better faces overlooking Wrights Beach and got back up to 1900.

We decided to keep going and headed over to Coleman Valley, then the faces overlooking Chancelor Guest Ranch, then the smaller ones to the southeast of Bay Hill Road overlooking Bodega Bay. slowly getting lower and lower. Would have been nice if it had been stronger.

Half way between Bay Hill Road and the Bodega Bay golf course we worked a few little knobs and gained a bit in some light thermals but eventually the bottom fell out and we were on glide for a landing next to the east end of Doran Beach on the golfing green.

But then I remembered the little cliffs that start up at the east end of Doran so I pulled on some speed to get there with a bit of altitude so I could do a few passes before landing.

Was slightly cross on the cliffs from the west but good enough for a pass to the southeast so I ventured that way to see what was up. Meanwhile, Scot came into the cliffs low (unzipped at this point) but we found that we could sustain here. I think I got there at 380 feet above sea level.

After about 10 passes to make sure the lift could sustain us there, I flew to another set of faces a few hundred yards further southeast (and away from our only LZ) but figured I could get back if I started to sink out.

The next set worked and I was able to fly back to the cliffs overlooking the LZ at the green. So now at a whopping 430 feet, I made another move further southeast to some higher cliffs that faced just a bit more into the wind. These were a long way from the golfing green LZ but I knew that just over the hill out of sight to the southeast was the American Estero and its nice big bailout beach LZ.

This set of cliffs worked much better. Plus, we were getting out of the windshadow effect from Bodega Head that was blanketing our first section of the Doran cliffs.

Worked this next set to about 700 then crossed the American Estero, flying over a section of very low and crappy ridge to a short but pretty high and vertical cliff that was facing right into the wind. I knew that if we could climb out on this one, we’d have Dillon made because the rest of the cliffs were pretty high.

Plenty of lift on this one so Scot and I just kept floating along, working the bowls at about 700 feet and enjoying the view on this never before soared section of ridge between Doran and Dillon. No beaches to land on but miles and miles of top landable terrain all over the place. At that point we asked Leo to go to Dillon.

Pulled into Dillon Beach and floated around at 800-1050 over those nice southwest faces with the houses all over them for about 30 minutes then landed for a 2.5 hour flight. I think Scot said it was 19 miles from launch. Leo showed up just as I was unhooking from my glider.

On a slightly stronger day, I believe that a flight from the Grade to Dillon would be pretty straight forward. A big thanks to Mr. Jones. Next time, Leo, I’ll drive for you!

– Andy

2 thoughts on “Vista Trail to Dillon Beach

  1. Sean

    Dang, I hope this group is still around. These flights are epic. I just got into PPG, and am looking for pilots to fly with, share some good tmes, and gain experience using thermals, ridge lift, etc.

    Sean – Santa Rosa

  2. AlanHolbrook

    Hi Andy,
    That flight makes me drool, wondering if a PG could hope to have such a flight along the local coast. Has the SW permit been renewed, or did you treat the site as an ancestral homeland?

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