Hang gliders coming off Mount Sentinel from above the “M” are just as much a part of Missoula icons as Saturday Farmers Market, and Griz Football.
But now, they could be moving their launching site miles away near Tarkio, Montana. University of Montana Golf Course is currently the landing site for hang gliders launching from Mount Sentinel, but is now being surveyed for new construction of Missoula College. The Missoulian reported this story, here are some highlights:
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with that site (South Campus) until we know if the Legislature funds Missoula College,” said hang glider Craig Johnson. “If they do build there, we’re hopeful they’ll make some accommodations.”
Johnson, treasurer of the UM Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club, said changing land ownership and new development have jeopardized access to flying sites across the West.
Johnson believes Mount Sentinel became the first inland foot-launch site in the 1970s. It’s been used ever since, and the South Campus area has long offered the run-out pilots need to land.
While club members hope to continue using the South Campus landing site, even if Missoula College is built, they’re now forging a new relationship with William Wheeler, a Tarkio-era rancher.
Wheeler has allowed gliders to launch from Martel Mountain above his property and land in a meadow he commonly mows.
Read the full story here.