Flying area

Serra da Estrela is the highest elevation in Portugal’s mainland; with its main peak at 1992m (6535 feet) above mean see level. It is widely known and quite sought for its ski resort (the only one in Portugal), nature sports and especially as a cross-country flying area.

But Serra da Estrela does not only offer excellent conditions for nature sports, it complements its offer with spas, good accommodation and famous restaurants and gastronomy, which makes it one of the most famous holiday destinations in Portugal, both in winter and summer.

In the Noth West of the mountain, Linhares da Beira – “The Cathederal” – is the most recognised take-off in Portugal. A ridge where the west wind creates the perfect conditions for soaring. A great place to start learing and to evolve into thermal flying.

At the core of the mountain range, Manteigas Glaciar Valley is one of the best places for cross-country flights in Portugal, its excellence, proven by frequent long distance flights even during the colder months, makes it a usual spot for leisure flight and is also a prime choice for national and international competition events.

The flying area is situated in the centre of a wide range of high plateaus and open valleys, surrounded by vast plains to East and South, the place is perfect and secure for cross-country flights.

Skyways thermal maps
Skyways Thermal Maps –

The cross-country flying season starts as early as February and lasts until as late as November. From June to September, climbing over 3000 m (~10000 feet) and reaching distances greater than 100 km is a frequent achievement.

Vertical have been hosting competitions at Serra da Estrela since the early 90’s. The site configuration allows for a wide range of possibilities regarding task setting. Depending on the weather conditions, tasks can consist on triangulations held within the mountain range, or expand into the adjacent flat lands, with legs towards North, East or South. The area is in general easy to fly, and the meet director will endeavour to suggest tasks suitable for all levels of experience, challenging for the top pilots and safe for the newcomers. There are no remarkable dangerous places, the visibility is good and the obstacles are normally clearly noticed.