Baldy (Eagle River)

Above: Baldy Launch.
Right: Baldy from School LZ

Launch: 1850’ MSL
LZ: 300’ MSL
Vertical: 1550’
Horizontal: 1.3 miles (4.3 Glide)

Site Description:

Baldy is a favorite local site for many reasons: it is one of the few sites that requires less than 10-minutes hiking from the parking area and it provides great thermal flying, soaring, or simple flights. Most of the low brush has been cleared over the years in the launch area providing a grassy, mellow knoll where several wings can lay out at a time. Good thermal days will often put cloud base at 6500’ or higher and cross-country potential north to Palmer, South to Flattop, or east to the visitor’s center (12 mi).

The Arctic Air Walkers (AAW) have worked hard to acquire and maintain an established LZ @ the Harry McDonald Memorial Center. The AAW have a dedicated landing zone of better than 5 acres that is landable in any direction. There is even a new Kiosk that is dedicated to our activities. An annual pass is required to utilize this site.

Works Best When:

Spring and early summer provide the best thermal conditions and XC flights in nearly all directions have originated here. Look for North-northwest light winds up to 12 mph. Call the windtalker before heading up (694-3017).
Afternoon thermals can be strong and expect over-development if cumulus clouds form before noon. If you enjoy a nice hike, continue past the first bench up Baldy (3038’ MSL) itself and launch in just about any wind direction except east (be prepared for a rocky/tundra terrain).


P3 Rating or better. Flat slope launch experience and a site orientation are strongly recommended. There are areas of sink that must be avoided and there are only trees between launch and LZ. A modern wing with good glide is a must; not to mention good judgment on when NOT to launch!
The Arctic Air Walkers pays annual fees to insure this site through USHGA. Contact an Arctic Air Walkers member for information on how to join the club.

Potential Hazards:

  • Launch is a fairly shallow slope so if you run long you may be pulling your wing from the alders.
  • The area between launch and landing is a hot traffic zone for light aircraft heading in and out of Anchorage.
  • To the pilot’s left (south) along the ridge about halfway down is a very large home sitting by itself. The owner has strongly asked us to stay 500’ away from his place; unfortunately it often happens the best lift is there. Imagine a 500’ diameter dome over his place and stay away from it. The house is roughly 700’ below launch.
  • Everything opposite the highway from launch is military airspace (Don’t go there!).
  • A large radio antenna is positioned right by the launch. Stay clear of it and attempt a top landing only if you’re quite experienced.

Getting There:

Contact a local pilot for a briefing before flying this site.


This site description is by no means meant to be complete.  Contact a local pilot for a briefing before flying any site and fly within your USHGA rating limits.