Due to their 5000 feet of elevation above the city below, spectacular vistas, and the powerful, rising thermal air that summer days provide, the Sandias are world class for hang glider and paraglider flight.
Hang gliders launch from two areas on the mountain: a ramp tucked between antennas inside the restricted area at the top of the crest road, and a more spectator-friendly launch next to the top of the Sandia Tram. At this site, paragliders can be seen launching as well. Pilots and their gear are brought up on the tram and typically attract a crowd as they set up their gliders and prepare for flight.
These pilots launch their wings into what is fondly known to them as Sandia’s “Big Air.” Because of the elevation and dry desert air, pilots can usually find thermals in which they can circle and rise to higher altitudes and fly as far as Texas or Colorado (the longest recorded flight from Sandia is 242 miles!) They can easily make the 5 mile glide to the established landing area at a park in northeast Albuquerque, which is where they will usually touch down after a more typical flight of simply soaring the mountain air.
For more information on these spectacular sports, visit the Sandia Soaring Association at www.flysandia.org