Canaan Valley State Park is a park owned by the State of West Virginia. It has been a paragliding site since 1994. Although the site has been flown accident and incident free for the past eighteen years, the site attracts relatively small number of paragliding pilots mainly because of the necessity for the pilot to hike the 1000 vertical feet to the launch.

Usage of the existing site may be further constrained due to the pending construction of a snow tube park and a wobble ball shooting range adjacent to the existing landing zone.

As a replacement for the existing facility, the Mountaineer Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association requested the State of West Virginia to consider the construction of an alternative launching area in the Canaan Valley State Park.

The launch is located on an existing slope facing southwest approximately 300 feet to the South of the top of the exit for Ski Lift A.  A prime landing zone is located at the Miller farm along east Laneville Road (the Millers have provided permission to make use of their field as a landing zone). Other landing zones are the Canaan Crossing entrance meadow and the Canaan Valley Resort visitor’s center.

In eighteen years of flying Canaan Valley, there has never been a paragliding injury or incident involving neither the pilot nor the public. However, the adoption of a site-specific risk management rules and measures can help continue that safety record.


The launch is marked by a sign providing information about the flying activities. The sign warns the spectators to maintain a safe distance from gliders when they are launching or when they are sitting on the ground.

We adapted the USHPA Risk Management Plan, all photographers must sign a waiver and all spectators must remain 30 degrees away from a centerline beginning at a pilot’s launch point and extending into the launch path.


  1. Pilot Skills:

USHPA maintains a five-tiered pilot training and proficiency program that extends from P1 through P5 or H1 through H5:

P1or H1 is a beginning pilot,

P2 or H2 is a novice pilot,

P3 or H3 is an intermediate pilot,

P4 or H4 is an advanced pilot, and

P5 or H5 is a master pilot.

  1. All pilots flying Canaan Valley must be a current USHPA member and must sign a waiver of liability and assumption of risk covering the takeoff and landing landowners. A copy of the signed waivers will be kept at the Canaan Valley State Park headquarters.

  1. Canaan Valley is open for flying only for Intermediate (P3), (H3) or above rated pilots.

  1. The site is unsuitable for mini-wings. The use of mini-wings is not permitted at the site.

  1. Pilot Requirements:

All pilots flying at Canaan Valley must attend a takeoff and landing briefing before flying the site. An acknowledged USHPA site guide that has a signed waiver at the Canaan Valley State Park headquarters must be the person to conduct the site briefing.

All pilots are restricted from takeoff when winds are more than 45 degrees cross at the available launch points, or when the wind is greater than 15 mph when measured at the launch point.

All pilots must maintain a minimum 150ft clearance above or around any roadways or power lines along the flight path.

All pilots must wear a helmet when flying the site.

All pilots must carry a DHV certified reserve parachute.

All pilots must fly with a VHF-FM radio.

All pilots must carry a “tree kit” containing a minimum of 50 feet of rescue cord in case of an unplanned landing in a tree where an extraction may be necessitated.

  1. Flight Requirement Enforcement:

Any pilot wishing to fly the site must register at the State Park headquarters at Canaan Valley.

Any pilot wishing to fly the site must have a waiver in file at the State Park headquarters. The waiver will include a notice that a site briefing has taken place. The waiver will also include emergency contact information.

Any pilot that attempts to fly without providing the signed waiver or without filing the required paperwork with the State Park will be trespassing on the Park property and will lose flying privileges for the site.


The above Risk Management Plan shall be either reviewed on an annual basis or as requested by the Park Superintendent.


The practice of wing suit base jumping, flying of speed wings, and the flying of mini-wings are neither practical nor permitted from the site. In addition, commercial operations and the flying of paid tandem gliders are not permitted from the site.