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Cross Country Flights - General information

Granada is a fantastic place for cross-country. It Has hosted various PWC events, and pilots have flown over 150km from here. In summer, cloudbase can be as high as 5000m with wide thermals. There is a chain of big mountains (3478m) that runs down towards Almeria. To the east there is a huge expanse of flatlands lasting hundreds of kilometres. To the north there are lesser chains of mountains (2000m) running towards the flatlands.

Sierra Nevada is great for cross country flying. You just have to remember that they are not flatlands, and it is not advisable to find yourself at the bottom of a gorge because you were too stubborn to land up top when you had the chance. Likewise, mountains of 3478m are no place to be in high winds. Be sensible, check your ground-speed reguarly, and the meteo beforehand, and there shouldn't be a problem.

The best time of year for cross-country flying is March to October. In the section that follows, we will try to give descriptions of some established cross-country flights that can be done:


Cenes de la Vega to the beach (+-70km)

Cross-country in Granada

This is one of the most spectacular flights in the area, and requires a high cloudbase (3500m in the area of the Pico de Valeta would be a minimum). Remember that although the cloudbase might be lower in Cenes, it will rise up as you progress into the mountains. From the take-off at Cenes, climb up as high as possible and head west towards the mountains. There are huge landing fields here, and behind them the land drops off into steep gorges again. Take height before the gorges, and if you are not willing to land in very small emergency landing spots by the road, don't commit to heading further east (away from the huge landing areas) until you have regained height (+-2100m minimum). You can often find thermals over the ridges to the left or right of these fields. In the middle it is often sinky.

Continue east, and you will come to another take off (Sabinas) at 2100m. Thermal up higher here (the land is high +-2000m) and continue along the ridge to the ski resort. Before the ski resort on the left, there is a huge rocky outcrop. You can often find thermals here.


Work your way up to the 'pico de valeta' (the distinctive peak behind the ski resort) and achieve maximum altitude here (you're going to need it!). Now you have 2 options: either head off on glide towards the beach (south) or follow the ridge west along to the end, where you will encounter a peak called the 'pico caballo'. Whichever option you choose, the next part involves a HUGE glide over the picturesque valleys and villages of the Alpujarras. If you get the chance to gain some extra height along the way, take it. You will arrive low at the 'Sierra de Lujar', a chain of mountains about 2000m high which you must cross to get onto your (almost) final glide to the beach. If you manage to get up above this ridge, you ought to be home and dry................I just hope you've got somebody waiting to bring your car down from the take-off and collect you!!!!!!!!!

Cenes de la Vega to Baza(+-90km)  

This is another classic flight, and again requires quite a high cloudbase. There are various ways to go: one requires 4000m to go comfortably, 2500 should suffice (just) for the others.

Method 1:Follow the instructions for the route 'Cenes de la Vega to the beach' up to the point where you arrive at the 'Pico de Valeta'. Follow the ridge along to the east. A route that will take you infront of, and over, the highest peaks in the iberian peninsular. The views and thermals are not for the faint-hearted. As I have said before, 4000m at the 'Pico de Valeta' would be advisable. You can do it with 3500m, or even less, but it is very uncomfortable due to the harsh landscape, long walkouts and small landings. Anyway, follow the chain until it starts to drop off. You will see the flatlands in front of you. Leave the ridge and head NE towards the larger town of Guadix. You will probably experience a lot of sink as you leave the Sierra Nevada chain, and it it not uncommon to end up in the first village 'Jerez de Marquesado'. It is also worth noting that quite often the westerly wind which you have been experiencing is reversed when you reach the flatlands. In this case it is a good idea to make it an out and return or, by heading north towards

Guadix first, a pretty respectable triangle. If you don't want to leave the ridge, and prefer to carry on towards Almeria, be careful about keeping landing options open; the ridge is covered in trees, and becomes shallower and shallower in gradient, making it more and more difficult to reach the flatlands and abundant landing.

Once you reach Guadix, carry on straight east. This will take you over a smaller set of mountains and you will find the town of Baza at the other side. From there you don't need any more help from me...............
Method 2: Involves getting as much height as possible above the take-off in Cenes (2200m ASL would be a good minimum). Head back towards the big lake that you can see behind you 'Pantano de Canales'. Try to get additional thermals over the ridge on the northern side of the lake. When you get to the end of this ridge, search around for a thermal. This will make your life much easier than if you jump the gap onto the next ridge above the village of 'Guejar Sierra'. If you do have to look for a thermal on this next ridge ('Sierra de Calar'), be advised that it is not very steep, and the wind tends to accelerate there. The overall effect is that the thermals are very inclined and hard to take to the top. Assuming you overcome this, continue above the ridge heading
Method 3: Involves taking as much height as possible above Cenes, and then heading straight north towards the next set of mountains. You will fly directly over the landing field (hopefully a minimum of 1500m above it). Head out over the badlands, where you are almost definitely going to walk out if you land. Luckily it's not a long way, and if you have taken sufficient altitude at the start, you should have enough on glide alone to get to the village at the other side of the badlands. When you get to the next set of mountains, follow them along east towards Guadix. In this section you should pay special attention to the landings, because they're not abundant! From Guadix, follow the instructions from method 1.