Ed Levin

Last updated on October 17th, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Quick Overview:

Ed Levin is open to pilots of all levels (From students to H5/P5) according to the criteria described in the Ed Levin Site Procedures document. There are specific rating and experience requirements for each launch, so be certain you are familiar with these procedures, have signed the appropriate liability waivers, and meet all requirements before attempting to fly here. Ed R. Levin County Park is located in Milpitas, CA, and is part of Santa Clara County Parks.

Site Committee Chair: Spencer Balona

[email protected]

Hang gliding – Training through H5
(see Launch Rating Requirements below)
Paragliding – Training through P5
(see Launch Rating Requirements tab below)
Mini-wings – M1 special skill recommended

COVID-19 Restrictions

Ed Levin Open to Free Flight with some restrictions

The Santa Clara County Parks department is allowing free-flight at Ed Levin with additional regulations. Any additional rules put forth by the State of California and Santa Clara County Public Health Department also apply, and so do the standard WOR Ed Levin site procedures. Pilots may fly under these rules:

  1. Please fill out and carry a hard copy of the SCCPD waiver with you.  The parks have temporarily suspended mailing the SCCPD helmet sticker and ask that you carry a filled out hard copy of their waiver until they start mailing their sticker again.  Note: The old WOR helmet stickers are no longer required.  This information is now on the WOR membership card along with gate codes.
  2. When carpooling to any launch areas (including retrieves), pilots must be from the same household and be ready to provide valid ID with matching addresses.
  3. Instruction under WOR’s permit is limited to gatherings of 3 households.  Commercial instruction may be allowed under different rules – please check with your instructor, since commercial instructors operate under their own permits.
  4. Both the pilot and passenger participating in a tandem flight between non-household members must wear masks.
  5. No more than 12 pilots are permitted in the launch or landing zone at any given time. This should be managed on a first-come first-served basis.
  6. Pilots must always have masks with them, are encouraged to use them at all times, and must use them when within 6ft of other park users.
  7. Pilots must always maintain a 6-foot distance from all park users not from the same household

Pilot Requirements

To fly at Ed Levin, you must:

  • Be a member of USHPA
  • Be under the guidance of an instructor, or have the appropriate rating and experience requirements per the site procedures
  • Sign the WOR Ed Levin Waiver
  • Sign the SCCPD Ed Levin Waiver (see note below about mailing this is to the parks.  It’s recommended to print out a 2nd copy, filled in, and carry it with you)

Please refer to the Ed Levin Site Procedures for full details.  An abbreviated synopsis:

300′ Launch: P2/H2
600′ Launch: H4/P3 or H2/H3/P2 + 3 flights from at least 300′ + site intro and first flight with a member of the Site Introduction Team
1750′ Launch: P3/H3 or P2/H2 + 4 flights from at least 500′ + site intro and first flight with a member of the Site Introduction Team

All drivers and spectators who enter the permit area must sign the Ed Levin Waiver

SCCPD Waiver / Sticker

*See COVID-19 guidelines above for the current temporary guidance for this waiver*

The Santa Clara County Parks Department, the authority regulating Ed Levin park, requires WOR members to sign an additional parks waiver before flying Ed Levin. The signed waiver must be mailed to the address below. You will be sent a sticker by mail that must be displayed on your helmet as proof of signing the parks waiver. Note that WOR does not require or enforce the parks waiver/sticker – it is up to the parks office and the rangers.

Email the completed Waiver to: [email protected]
-or-
Mail to:
SCC Park Permits
Santa Clara County Parks
298 Garden Hill Drive
Los Gatos, CA 95032

50′ launch at Ed Levin

Launches

Ed Levin’s launches are named for the number of feet above the landing zone.  The training slopes are called the 40′, 50′, and 60′.  A mid-hill launch for training called the 150′. The main training hill is called the 300′.  There are 3 launches from the 600′ hill, called the North, West, and South launches.  The top of the mountain, called the 1750′, has a North launch, South launch, and Backside launch.

Please refer to the site procedures for rating requirements, recommended wind speeds and direction, and glide ratio to the LZ.

All of the launches at Ed Levin are grassy slopes. Most have an excellent angle for encouraging great launches. There are no trees or other obstructions at launch, nor are there any significant upwind obstacles to create nasty rotors when launching into recommended wind directions. Caution is required when launching from the 1750′ Back Side launch. Conditions that make this launch useable can place the LZ in rotor when the wind is strong. When doing a backside launch, you should head towards the LZ immediately, as you can get trapped on the back side and not make the gap leading to the LZ. You should think twice before using any launch when the wind has any East component. Even if the flags on the 300 and 600 foot hills appear to be favorable, it’s it may be rotor from the top of the ridge curling around and blowing back up the slope when the winds are strong. In these conditions, launching might be uneventful, but you may find yourself in significant sink as you fly away from the hill, and have a tenuous glide all the way to the landing zone. The 40, 50, and 60 foot training launches have a fairly shallow slope, and require aggressive takeoff runs.

Launch Altitude in Feet AGLBest Wind DirectionRecommended Wind Limits
(min / ideal / max)
Glide Ratio to LZ
40NWHG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
n/a
50SWHG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
n/a
60SEHG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
n/a
150SWHG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
3.0:1
300W,SW,SHG: 0mph 10mph 12mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 12mph
3.2:1
600 SouthSW,S,SEHG: 0mph 10mph 15mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 15mph
3.5:1
600 WestW,SWHG: 0mph 10mph 15mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 15mph
3.5:1
600 NorthW,NWHG: 0mph 10mph 15mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 15mph
3.5:1
1750 North/TowersNW,W,SWHG: 0mph 10mph 15mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 15mph
3.8:1
1750 South LaunchW,SW,SHG: 0mph 10mph 15mph
PG: 0mph 5mph 15mph
3.8:1
1750 Backside LaunchNW,W,SW,SHG: 0mph 5mph 10mph
PG: 0mph 3mph 10mph
3.8:1

The following procedures are taken from the Ed Levin Site Procedures.

Pilot Proficiency Requirements

No restrictions for indicated rating, and higher
Some restrictions
LaunchPG requirementHG requirement
Lower launchesP2H2
Students with instructor supervision (basic or advanced)Students with instructor supervision (basic or advanced)
150P2H2
P1 requirements completed* with instructor supervision (basic or advanced)H1 requirements completed* with instructor supervision (basic or advanced)
300P2H2
P1 requirements completed*H1 requirements completed*
600P3 H4
P2 under one of the following conditions:

  • Under an instructor’s supervision (basic or advanced)
  • Without instructor supervision, after having completed 3 flights from at least 300’ AGL (at Ed Levin or elsewhere).  First launch must be in the presence of an instructor or a member of the Site Introduction Team, with site introduction provided.
H2 or H3 under one of the following conditions:

  • Under an instructor’s supervision (basic or advanced)
  • Without instructor supervision, after having completed 3 flights from at least 300’ AGL (at Ed Levin or elsewhere).  First launch must be in the presence of an instructor or a member of the Site Introduction Team, with site introduction provided.
1750P3H3
P2 under one of the following conditions:

  • Under an instructor’s supervision (basic or advanced)
  • Without instructor supervision, after having completed 4 flights from at least 500’ AGL (at Ed Levin or elsewhere).  First launch must be in the presence of an instructor or a member of the Site Introduction Team, with site introduction provided.
H2 under one of the following conditions:

  • Under an instructor’s supervision (basic or advanced)
  • Without instructor supervision, after having completed 4 flights from at least 500’ AGL (at Ed Levin or elsewhere).  First launch must be in the presence of an instructor or a member of the Site Introduction Team, with site introduction provided.
1750 back sideP3H4
P2 under one of the following conditions:

  • Under an instructor’s supervision (basic or advanced)
  • Without instructor supervision, after having completed 4 flights from at least 500’ AGL (at Ed Levin or elsewhere).  First launch must be in the presence of an instructor or a member of the Site Introduction Team, with site introduction provided.
H2 or H3 under one of the following conditions:

  • Under an instructor’s supervision (basic or advanced)
  • Without instructor supervision, after having completed 4 flights from at least 500’ AGL (at Ed Levin or elsewhere).  First launch must be in the presence of an instructor or a member of the Site Introduction Team, with site introduction provided.

*All USHPA “Required Witnessed Tasks” must be completed including the written exam.  Additionally, the student must be under the instructor’s insurance to provide 3rd party liability coverage equivalent or better than that of a USHPA member.

 

Pilots may connect with members of the site introduction team by joining the Site Introduction Telegram group.  A link to the group is available on the chat page.

Emergency Information

First-aid equipment is available in a lockbox in the landing zone, 20ft North of the vehicle entrance gate. Locate the lockbox and learn the combination before flying Ed Levin. There is a pay phone in the LZ which can be used for emergencies. Calls to 911 do not require any payment. Please also print and review the Emergency Procedures listed in the Ed Levin Site Procedures.

In addition, please submit a report for any accidents, incidents, or site concerns via the Accident/Incident/Concern Reporting Form.

Visiting Pilots

Flying Ed Levin as a visiting pilot is somewhat challenging due to our high level of regulation and oversight.  Included in this is the requirement to have multiple waivers filed with the club and county parks, and significant restrictions on the use of launches for Novice pilots (H2/P2).

You can not fly unless accompanied by a current WOR member.

Please refer to the Ed Levin Site Procedures for additional information and view our Visiting Pilots page.

Visiting pilots may connect with members of the Site Introduction Team by joining the Site Introduction Telegram group.  A link to the group is available on the chat page.

Road & Weather Information

Road Information for Ed Levin Park
408-355-2200, then menu 4, then menu 6

Best soaring conditions
Ed Levin is usually soarable from the top launches in pre-frontal conditions. Post-frontal generally can’t be done because the road to the top is closed when wet. For the same reason, timing your pre-frontal flights can be challenging. More than one pilot has had to leave their vehicle on top until the road was dry enough to pass, sometimes several days. Ed Levin is not generally thermal soarable in the summer due to an omnipresent inversion, but some of the best pilots seem to be able to break through the inversion or get long flights below it. Legend has it that on perfect days, some pilots have launched the 600 foot hill and managed to work their way up the ridges and over the top.

It’s beyond the scope of this website to provide you with a comprehensive list of weather resources, but the list below might prove helpful:

Windslammer
Mt. Alison Wx station (closest station to Ed Levin, but at times it’s significantly different from local winds)
Windy airgram

Gate / Lock Combinations

Combinations are printed on Membership Cards and changed February of every year.  The combination can only be shared with active WOR members and drivers who have signed the Ed Levin Waiver.

ALL individuals (spectators, drivers, etc.) who ride in a car past the gate must sign an Ed Levin Waiver.  Completed waivers should be placed in the Lockbox. Pilots must inform drivers of Site Procedures.

Anyone who gives a pilot a lift up the hill must first confirm (before heading up) that the pilot meets the requirements for the launch to be used.

Please refer to the Site Procedures for requirements.

Landing Zone Characteristics

There is a single LZ at Ed Levin used by all launches. It is a very large grassy field, with trees defining the southern and eastern boundaries in sort of a tipped over “L” shape. If the wind is anything between 90 and 270 degrees, you should take care to stay far enough back of the trees trees to avoid any rotor. The most common direction in the LZ is WNW, but it does vary, especially when fronts are passing through. One of the attractive features of Ed Levin for the newer pilot is that since all launches use the same LZ, for a given wind condition the same landing approach can be used for any of the launches at 300 feet or above. For example, one can fly from the 1750 foot launch arriving over the LZ and burning off altitude until they are just above the 600 foot hill. Then they can fly the same approach last used from the 600 foot hill given similar conditions. As always though, be aware of current conditions and don’t count on everything being the same as your last flight.

 

LZ Altitude in Feet MSLBest Wind Direction
400WNW

Tandem Flights

Tandem flights at Ed Levin are permitted only by a pilot who has:

  1. A current USHPA membership card on their person showing an appropriate Tandem rating or Tandem Instructor appointment
  2. A current WOR membership card on their person.

Unless a tandem student has proof of WOR membership, the tandem pilot must have the tandem student either:

  1. Register on this website as a student pilot
  2. From their My Account page, complete the Ed Levin Park Waiver

or

  1. Fill out a hard copy of the Ed Levin Waiver and place the completed registration form and waiver in the Tandem students folder in the Ed Levin landing zone lock box before the tandem student enters the flying site.

All tandem students must have a USHPA membership (temporary or full). A tandem student must not enter the Ed Levin flying site without a USHPA card obtained in one of the two ways listed above.

Photos from Ed Levin