Revised 6/4/2022

The Burnside paragliding launch was developed on land purchased in 2018 from the Burnside family, north of the hang gliding launch ramp. 

Basic Info Map and Directions
Coordinates35.349455, -85.331651
Wind DirectionIdeal-320° but 280°- 0° is OK
Wind VelocityMin 0mph, Ideal 2-12mph, Max 20mph, Max Gust 8 mph
Elevation MSL2,280 feet
Elevation AGL1460 feet
Glide to LZ4:1

The Tennessee Tree Toppers owe a debt of gratitude to the Foundation for Free Flight for their financial support of this project.

Flight Requirements

  • You must read and understand our Flight Regulatory Program (FRP) requirements before flying club sites. The FRP is available at the Henson Gap clubhouse and on this web site. Pilots attempting to fly at Henson Gap who violate these requirements are subject to censure.
  • You must be a current Tennessee Tree Topper Member in good standing with a current USHPA membership and rating to fly our sites.
  • You must have an USHPA Paragliding rating of Novice (P2) or higher.
  • Novice pilots should have mountain flight experience at a different site before first flights at Henson Gap.
  • If you are a Novice pilot, you must be briefed and vetted by a Director prior to your first flight. See the Site Briefing Request page for information.
  • First mountain flights are permitted only under supervision of a club-authorized observer at launch and radio contact with the pilot throughout the duration of the flight.
  • Tandem flights and student solo first mountain flights are permitted only when supervised by a USHPA certified instructor authorized by the club.
  • Solo student flights require instructor radio contact with the student throughout the duration of the flight.

Potential Hazards

  • As winds increase, a venturi can form in the gap north of the ramp, resulting in less lift and more headwind. Stay well in front of the ridge to avoid being trapped.
  • Henson Gap may be prone to rapid changes in conditions including sudden increasing winds, thunderstorms, gust fronts and even tornadoes. Consult the weather forecast for the day and maintain awareness of any predicted severe weather and changing conditions.
  • When soaring, do not allow yourself to get too far behind the ridge. Pilots have landed in trees behind launch, please don’t repeat their mistakes.
  • Conditions can often be extremely thermic between the hours of noon and 4 pm in the spring and summertime and are often unsafe for Novice and inexperienced mountain pilots.


  • Before launching from the Burnside launch for the first time, pilots should seek a site briefing from an experienced local member or Director.
  • This launch requires solid kiting skills and if you are not current, we recommend you spend time kiting in the LZ before coming to launch.
  • Launches typically start from the flat area towards the middle of the launch area. Inflations tend to be more difficult when started at the slope. 
  • In light conditions a forward launch from further back is recommended.
  • Once your glider is flying above you, kite towards the launch slope keeping your glider into the wind.  If there is much wind, be prepared that you will probably lift off well before the end of the flat. 
  • Keep your feet under you and knees bent at all times in case you need to touch down again. 
  • Once your wing is inflated and stable, move forward towards the slope transition in torpedo position with brakes off, continuing past the slope transition if needed.
  • Unless you need to abort launch, it is strongly recommended you do not hesitate at the transition.

Launching a Hang Glider

Although the Burnside launch has been used by hang glider pilots, it is rare. In light winds, the ramp affords better clearance from terrain. As winds increase, it can be a much more dangerous than the ramp. We stongly discourage any hang glider launches from Burnside by other than experienced Intermediate (H3) or higher pilots. Any qualified pilot considering launching from Burnside is encouraged to consult with an experienced local hang gliding pilot.

Other Important Notes

  • Unpack and stage your gear along the tree-line at launch, keeping the launch area clear.
  • When preparing your gear, watch for pilots preparing to land on top.
  • Pilots should clear their launches and announce their intent before launching.
  • Pilots intending to top land should be sure that launch is clear and no others are attempting to launch.
  • Pilots intending to top land have the right of way over launching pilots.
  • Spectators should be advised to stand by the tree line for viewing whenever pilots are flying.
  • Please take your trash with you, and keep your speed down to 15 mph when driving past the homes surrounding the Henson Gap site.

Landing – see the Henson Gap Landing Zone page

Cross Country Tips – see the Henson Gap Cross Country Tips page