Shelby Flatlands
Looking down on Camp Dirt and the tow paddock

Shelby, MT


Montana XC Flatland Flying

Shelby State Record Encampment


Towing Fly-In and state record attempt

This week is open to everyone; paraglider and hang glider pilots of all skill levels. However, as it is a record attempt, serious record contenders (experienced XC pilots) will have launch priority during the best hours of the day (approximately 11:30am - 1:30pm). This is not meant to be an instructional week, but more of a concerted effort to break the state record. Less experienced XC pilots are welcome, but these pilots should understand that their designation may change from "pilot" to "support crew" around 3pm. Hang glider pilots: please practice and refine your towing foot-launches before you get to Shelby. We tow weekly in Bozeman.

Shelby Summary:
Somewhere around 2002, Will Lanier and Andy Macrae sat down over a beer or two and started thumbing through an old Gazatteer for the state of Montana. They wanted to pick a flying site that would be great for flying far. This meant no obstructions (terrain) downwind and many retrieve roads for the first 150 kilometers or more. Launch near a town would be nice, and a fast highway down the primary flying route would be great. Shelby was the answer.

Shelby History:
Several trips were made to Shelby over the next few years, and eventually a 200km (125 mile) paragliding flight and a 182km (113 mile) hang glider flight were made off of Bozeman Paragliding's original trailer winch. Will launched his hang glider on foot, just as paragliders do. At altitude, we had a light tailwind of about 15kph, and cloudbase was around 3,300m. We landed a little past Havre on Highway 2 after about 6 hours in the air. This was May of 2005.

Shelby Potential:
With a strong probability of higher cloudbase and stronger tailwind on most good days, coupled with wings that fly much better and pilots who have learned to fly faster, 300km flights from Shelby are well within reach.

The Tow Paddock:
"Camp Dirt" is where we camp and tow from, located just a couple of miles NE of Shelby on King Road. (Google Maps) There are tow roads in all four (N, S, E, W) directions and very little in the way of obstructions such as powerlines or barbed wire fences. It's an ideal place to tow paragliders and hang gliders.

The Flying:
The flying is mostly thermal flatland flying, with a few small mountains in the distance, including the East and West Buttes near the Canadian border, as well as the Bear Paw mountians near Havre. These are relatively small mountains that are easily flown over or around on good days. Ground elevation of the flats is around 1,000m, while the top of lift could be well over 3,500m.

XC Distance From Launch:
Canadian Border to the north: 55 km (34 miles) - Bring your passport!
Fort Benton: 112 km (70 miles)
Havre: 151 km (94 miles)
Zurich: 200 km (125 miles) - Would tie current state record of 125 miles!
Malta: 287 km (178 miles)
Glasgow: 380 km (236 miles)

Where To Meet/Stay:
There are several options for hotels and motels in Shelby. Take your pick when you arrive, or come stay with the campers in the flats. GPS coordinates of campsite (abandoned house, camping to east of equipment garage and south of silos): 48.5250, -111.7508 or Google Maps. It's a great spot for tents, campers or sleeping in your vehicle. Bring a sunshower if you have one.

We will generally be flying and retrieve driving on the same frequency: 151.550mhz. This may change if retrieve generates too much chatter.

Please Bring (Mandatory if wanting to be retrieved):

Highly Recommended: