Launch Etiquette 

May 31, 2021


This image shows the right way to set up! Note the pilots in the back who have done their checks and clipped in to the back or side of the prime launch pad… they’re rosetted up and ready to layout + launch. The pilots laid out on launch are all attached and ready to fly when it’s their turn.

Don’t be “that guy” or gal.

The flying season is in full swing and our launches, specifically Mt. Woodside and Mt. McKenzie (Pemberton) are busy places! Bridal and Benny are also small, and can be easily crowded on weekends. At peak times, it’s not uncommon for many pilots to be vying for an area to layout kit, conduct a pre-flight, and launch, all at the same time. The last thing anyone wants before taking flight is an unpleasant encounter with fellow pilot, or to be unnecessarily hot and bothered as you take off. As such, it’s important to remember the basics of launch etiquette and right-of-ways:
  1. Set up/pre-flight checks should be done away from the prime launching place. Once you’re ‘ready for flight,’ move into launch position and launch as quickly and safely as possible. ‘Ready for flight’ means you are already clipped in and checks done BEFORE you layout on the prime site.

    To know if you’re “that guy” try this exercise: When you spread your wing out on the prime launch site, and you are not in your harness and clipped to your wing, look around. If you see one or more pilots clipped in, holding their wing in a rosette, and staring intently at you – you’re that guy. This rule is particularly important if the launch is tight.
  2. Tandems first. Our launches cater to commercial tandem pilots who are ‘on the clock’ and with restricted ability to maneuver. Please give way to tandem’s; they’re usually quickly off and flying with minimal disruption to your plan.
  3. Respect instructors and students. Students may need extra time to launch. Remember those first few flights? The last thing any new pilot needs on launch is additional pressure from a traffic jam. However, instructors should also respect other pilots. If your student needs extra time to launch, courtesy may dictate stepping aside and letting more experienced pilots launch. Again, they’ll likely be on their way quickly.
  4. Watch your language. All kind of people can be up on lanuch on a busy day. Keep your cussing to yourself (or at least under your breath if you must). Also be mindful of what you are saying. Low hour pilots trying to calm their mind before launching probably don’t want to hear you telling everyone about that pilot who treed themselves last week.  When in doubt – keep your crash stories and close calls to yourself on launch.
  5. Educate rather than chastise – New pilots and the general public don’t always have the best awareness. If someone is unknowingly messing with your gear or doing something that should be corrected, don’t be a dick. Most people respond well to gentle education rather than screaming and throwing a tantrum.
  6. In the LZ – Please remember to move your kit off to the side of the prime landing area to pack up. Some LZs are smaller and it’s more obvious. Rule of thumb – if you see a pilon in the LZ, move and pack up your gear well away from it!

The list could go on, but we’ll leave it at that. Sharing the launch with a pile of people can be stressful, but it can still go smoothly. If you choose to fly from a popular site that is busy, remember to take a deep breath and prepare to engage politely with those around you.