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The flying sites...

General location:

The competition is based in the hotel Courtyard Marriott, located on Autopista Duarte only 5 km S from Santiago and 5 km from the Santiago International Airport (STI). The flying goes on around a beautiful valley in the center of the Dominican Republic, with Cordillera Central to the west. The area is over 70 km inland and is about an hour NW of Santo Domingo, the capital city.

The area is right upwind from the Cordillera Central, with mountains over 2800 m high, and a major highway running all along the east face of the range.



Casabito is the name of the area where the flying starts. The site is 13 km north of Bonao, the closest city. There is a main ridge, about 1200 m high, with several fingers going down to the valley in front. The takeoff lies on top of one of those fingers, a steep ridge, at 900m ASL, with over 600m altitude difference with the valley.

Takeoff faces east and it's also usable with NE and SE wind components. It's also possible to fly with N and S winds, but the side wind makes it an advanced, technical takeoff and flight.

The predominant winds are the Alisios which blow E to NE all through the year.

The site is flyable from 9:30 AM and even earlier, as the sun warms the steep east-facing slopes and a regular anabatic flow is already set by 10 AM. Takeoff is accesible by regular vehicles: cars and even motorbikes (uninsured motoconchos are a blessing).

Valley view from a ridge in Casabito, the main site for the 2007 XC Challenge.
(photo by Helen Hawkings)

The flying possibilities are many, as one can choose to fly over the plains, which work great by noon, or over the mountains.

Heading north, the mountains start dropping only 15 kms away from takeoff, and venturing into the vast Valle del Cibao is a good bet for a flatlands continuation of an otherwise mountain flight.

The great plains of Valle del Cibao, on the north XC route.

Heading south, the east face of the central range prolongs for over 80 kms. A combination of mountain and valley flying is the easiest way to sort out the few gaps on the ridges over this route. Sticking with the mountains all the time, on the other hand, is more challenging and technical, for experienced mountain pilots.

XC flight over the first ridges.

Heading back from takeoff there are several possible routes for seasoned XC pilots. A combination of wide valleys and high mountains guarantees amazing flying over wonderful terrain.

Presa de Rincon.

The site has obvious potential for out and returns and triangles, either using the valley or the mountains heading west.

Conditions are really good in February, the driest month. We expect +2 to +5 thermals, with cloudbase around 2000 m ASL over the valley and higher over the mountains.

The first ridges of the eastern face of the Cordillera Central.

      The following photos are courtesy Augusto Espinosa...


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Read everything about the 2006 XC Challenge at 2006.CaribbeanXC.com or the 2007 event at 2007.CaribbeanXC.com