Merriam Crater Slope Soaring
Merriam Crater, located just North of Sheba Crater, is another good soaring site. Take the dirt road to the North (9.1 miles NE of our flying field). Drive 1.7 miles and take the sharp left up the slope along a fence. The road to the North Bench is the first Right about 0.9 miles. Continue up the road to reach the top. This site is also only accessible by 4WD vehicle.
Best winds: The North Bench is flyable with a WNW to NNW wind... you can also fly in NE winds if you park further back. The top can be flown in NW to E winds. The wind is usually stronger at the top as compared to the North Bench.
Thermals will be found in the area year round. On light wind days you can fly your thermal plane from the lower North Bench. The launching/landing area is large, flat, and grassy... NO rocks. On breezy days you can enjoy classic "Slermal" conditions... ride the slope; catch a thermal; gain some big altitude; and then make a heart thumping dive to super-sonic speeds!
You may often share the air space and launch area with the hang-gliders and para-gliders who own this property and maintain the access road. Take the time to introduce yourself. Many of the pilots also fly model gliders when it is too windy to fly their big toys. Fly safely! If it gets crowded, wait or fly somewhere else.
View looking Northwest from the top of Merriam Crater
View of Peaks from the lower NW bench of Merriam Crater 01-17-05.
Download a printable map and directions to Sheba and Merriam Crater.(344 KB PDF)
Dynamic Soaring (DS)
In a NW to N wind you can DS the crater of Merriam. A speedy, efficient (and bounceable) glider is recommended, but a decent combat wing will work.
Throw your glider off the North side, gain some altitude and make a shallow looping dive back into the caldera. Dive in as low as you dare (into the calm air) and glide back to the rim and into the wind. Your glider will shudder as is penetrates the wind shear... and you speed will increase dramatically. Loop back and do it again. Find the best line and shape for your loops and see how fast you can go!
Note: Do NOT try this when there are spectators or hang-gliders "parked" on the rim.
Flagstaff Flyers Radio Control Airplane Club • PO Box 31251 • Flagstaff, Arizona 86003
Charter member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and District X, Charter Number 2456
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