Spenceville Wildlife Area Soaring Site

Spenceville, California

Description:  This field is located about 20 minutes drive from Grass Valley, and is a large enough area to fly three meter open class ships with an upstart, if a bit cramped for a winch. This a state wildlife area and is open to the public, and the field is a short walk from a paved road.

Directions:  This site is a satellite of the main Spenceville Wildlife Area and is located a few miles away from the usual hiking and equestrian sites. From Grass Valley, drive west 12.7 miles on Highway 20, and turn left/south on Smartville Road at the "Beale AF Base" sign near the totem pole and rock sculptures. Drive another 0.9 miles, and vear right at the fork, onto Hammonton-Smartville Road. Drive about 2.3 miles, and park on the left/south side of the road at the faded yellow steel gate. You will see signs on the gate advising you not to block the gate, and a few words about turkey hunting, cleaning up after yourself, etc. There are also small but distinctive yellow metal signs on the fence every hundred yards or so, and about 0.2 miles further are the "main" gates on either side of the road, but these gates are a bit further walking from the closest open area. Gather up your stuff, and hop over the gate. If the ground is damp, walk over the little earth bridge across the tiny stream/marsh, and set up in the field a little to your southwest at the base of the slope.

Flying:  Hey, this is not the greatest thermal site I've ever seen, but it beats all over flying around goal posts, discus throwers, and soccer players at the local high school field when flying a big ship. The grass is also conviently mowed by cattle periodically, which is not always so at the main Spenceville site where the grass can be waist deep. Yes, thanks to the cows, you need to watch where you step, and the rocks are impressive in some places. Make sure you clear your landing area before you launch--there are occassional rocks in those tufts of grass. With a north breeze, you can launch, then fly a little slope lift against the hill while waiting for the next thermal to gather. If the wind is blowing from the southwest, launch hard and high, and park it in the wave from the upwind hill, and wait for the thermals, or work the thermal draft on the lee side of the hill. The darker marsh area in the center of the region can be a nice thermal generator. This place is lush green in the winter and spring, but bone dry and yellow in the summer.

Yahoo map of the area. The site is along the tiny Wellman Creek.

TopoZone topographic map of the area. Fly just to the right/east of the "C" in "Recreation"

Intelllicast Weather at Beale AirForce Base, just a few miles away to the SW.

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Rob Crockett
3/2000