Hull Mountain

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Location: Mendocino National Forest. 25 miles NE of Ukiah, Ca, USA 7 miles NE of Lake Pillsbury.
Delorme 65 D5.
Oak Flat LZ – N39 26.562 W122 56.789.
Timberline TO – N39 30.647 W122 56.382.
Hull Peak – N39 31.333 W122 56.222

Google Earth Placemark file: If you have Google Earth installed on your computer (it’s free),
click this link to import a collection of placemarks for this site into Google Earth.

Elevation: Timberline Launch – 5800ft MSL.   Hull peak – 6800ft MSL.   LZ – 1800ft MSL’.

Launch:

  • Drive to launches: 45 minutes up rough dirt road, 4WD is best or 2WD with good ground clearance.
  • Timberline (main launch): Faces SSW, easy launch, nice slope, 4000ft vertical.
  • Top: 3 Launches, all 5000ft vertical, SW through E. Steep and fairly rocky. None as easy as Timberline. Use caution.

Season: Typically May through October. Snow determines how early you can drive to launch. In late fall northerly winds (over the back) begin to predominate, effectively shutting down flying.

Ratings: This site is on public land, and thus no ratings are required, but common sense must prevail. Unsupervised pilots should be H3 minimum. Paragliders do on occasion fly from Timberline, but the general consensus is that it’s not advisable and pilots should be P4 minimum. It is a long glide out to any LZ. Though H2’s with previous high flight experience can fly from Hull in ideal conditions and under experienced supervision, Hull is a dangerous place for an inexperienced H2.   It is absolutely NOT the place for initial high flights.

Cautions: Typical mountain big air and turbulence. Long glide out, pilot must follow ridges and allow for sink. 5-to-1 to the first good LZ, 6-to-1 to the primary LZ. Winds at altitude may be quite variable, but there are often strong headwinds – over 20 mph – coming up the Eel River Valley and off Lake Pilsbury as you get lower, severely degrading your glide angle. Winds in the LZ can be strong by the lake, and turbulent conditions are not unusual near the airstrip. Aircraft regularly use the airstrip – use common sense to avoid their flight patterns. The Forest Service may shut down the whole area if they are fighting fires.

Flying: Spring and early summer flying can be erratic over the mountain itself, but convergence frequently sets up over the flats and lake. By mid summer Hull is flyable most days. Good thermal flying, 10,000ft MSL is common, 16,000ft MSL is the record. House thermals are over the Peak, Lower Launch, Red Spot, and the House. It’s often possible to cross to Sanhedrin Mountain to the west (beware the long glide back to the LZ with few bailout options) and to fly down to the dam on Lake Pilsbury to the south (don’t land in the lake on the way back!). XC is difficult because of the intimidating surrounding mountain terrain, but can be done by experienced pilots who are familiar with the area.

Landing: It is best to land by the lake – 1800 MSL. The lakeshore is a wide, flat, grassy area, with very consistent afternoon winds generally making for easy landing conditions. In the spring the lake water can come up to the tree line, forcing you to land further back in the big grassy strip (the slot) toward the road. You can land anywhere in the “slot” if you’re short, or the lake is high, but it will often be turbulent if you’re behind the trees. By summer the main LZ target circle is dry but high water can leave behind lots of driftwood – look out for it on final. With the afternoon lake breeze, many pilots tend to land short of the spot. If the wind is coming over the trees watch out for turbulence. Landing on the airstrip itself is not recommended & aircraft use the airstrip fairly often, and final approach can be very bumpy because of thermals. If you can’t make it to the lake, it’s OK to land south of the airstrip in the vicinity of the windsock.

First Time Pilots: This site is a great place to gain altitude and thermalling skills, but, you must keep safety uppermost in your mind. Before flying Hull for the first time, read this page thoroughly.   Print it out and bring it with you to Hull.
If you are a Hang 2 or Hang 3 pilot, read the First Flight Requirements and Procedures at Hull Mountain for H-2 and H-3 Pilots page.
Print it out and bring it with you too.

Facilities:

  • Developed campgrounds: Fuller Grove, Pogie Point, Navy Camp, Sunset. Restrooms, picnic tables, fire pits, water, paved roadways. Boat ramps at Fuller Grove and Sunset. Swiming, boating, fishing, sailboarding on the lake.
  • Undeveloped (free) campground: Oak Flat. Restroom, no paved road, no water, limited number of camp sites. Also, free camping is legal in the National Forest outside of Pillsbury Basin itself.
  • Resort: Pillsbury Resort is on the west side of the lake, accessed via the road to the west of Soda Creek store. Cabins, groceries, boat dock, boat gas.
  • Soda Creek store has basic groceries, ice, vehicle gas, phone.

General: Launch is on USFS land (Mendocino National Forest), LZ is private PG&E land. Sonoma Wings chapter #88 keeps in touch with the Rangers on an irregular basis. Radio: 2M simplex – 147.495

Hull is a great place to fly in the summer. It is soarable almost every day. The lake is very nice for swimming, but the wind may get strong in the afternoon in the LZ. This is a very good vacation destination, although crowded on Memorial Day and the 4th of July.

Emergency: Willits Repeater – 145.130, offset -600kHz, CTCSS tone 103.5. Key 911 to access emergency services. End call with your call sign and # key. Soda Creek Store – 707-743-2148

Records: The first pilots to fly Hull were Dave Mason (who discovered the site), Glen Woodbury, Ric Lee, and Wally Anderson, in the spring of 1975.
First flight to Elk: Stretch Strachan, 8-7-82, 17 miles.
First flight to Potter Valley: Sharol Strickland, 6-5-83, 17 miles.
First flight to Central Valley: Dave Thor, to Elk Creek, 84(?)
First flight to Willits: Joe Baltz.
Longest flight: Rich Sauer, 67 miles to Pope Valley, 85(?).
Highest altitude, Roy Wormington, 16,000 MSL, 8-30-87.

As with every new site, PLEASE check in and get advice about the conditions from a local pilot before flying here. There are no site monitors but most weekends during the summer you’ll usually find pilots at Hull.