In 1978 Scott Waddell, Garreth Sheppard, and Tim Morley were looking for a new flying site. Driving from Coulterville down the hill they noticed a spot that looked good. Tim said he had noticed a gate without a lock back up the road. They drove up what is now the old road, to the area where the barn is today. There was no road up to launch, so with Tim sat on the hood of Garreth's blazer, his legs wrapped around the glider rack and they drove up the face of the hill, with Tim pointing out rocks and stumps.
Parking on top where we park now, Tim went south, Garreth looked north, and Scott looked all around, after about forty-five minutes they ended up at today's launch. They said "This looks like a good place" There was, however, a little scraggly oak tree about two inches in diameter on top of launch. Scott an Garreth tried to break the tree but could not, so they bent it over and piled rocks on it. They set up Tim's Wills Wing 185 XC, Tim launched and flew for about twenty minutes, then landed about where the picnic table is today. Scott launched and flew for awhile, and landed with Tim, Garreth drove down the hill and picked them up. They were not going to tell anyone about this site and intended to keep it a deep dark secret. The next weekend about ten pilots showed up to fly.
They started flying more and more at this site in 1979 rather than at Bullion, as it was eventually shut down. This site near McClure was all they had to fly. They went to the county recorder and found out who owned the property. It was owned buy five or six people in Modesto. They gave permission to use the launch and fly at no charge. Then they sold the land to a paving contractor, then to another owner, and then sold again and again.
From 1981 to 1982 there were about six regular pilots flying. Tim tried to go to horseshoe several times, but had to leave high enough to make it back to the LZ. Then Chris Arai got high and went to horseshoe and stayed low on the hill for about five hours, trying to get back. Tim was mad because he was not able to stay up at horseshoe, Pat Denevan and Chris Arai said they finally out Morleyed Morley. In 1983 about twelve pilots were flying. They formed a club and received keys from Merced Irrigation District (MID) for use of the upper plateau area as a hang gliding LZ.
In 1980 the club lost use of the lake landing zone for some months due to a hang glider crash landing in the Horseshoe Bend campground area. In 1984, the club lost the site again as a result of some pilots not paying the MID park fees, or camping fees. We again got the site back through the help of Bruce Erwin, in charge of recreation for MID. He fought for us at the board of directors meeting, and with a four to three vote we could fly and land at the MID LZ again. The site has been shut down for a day or two since then for cutting of trees and poor communication by the club with MID.
1986 was the largest flyin of the century at Lake McClure. Over three hundred pilots launched on a great day for flying and cross country flights. In 1991 Ken Muscio and Judy Leden flew sixty miles south together. In 1995 Shannon Raby flew to Madera (~60 miles) from the current launch location. Recreational fly-ins have been held at the site almost every year since. The current cross country site record is held by Scott Huber with a flight of 122 miles.