Help in Securing a HPR Launch Field

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Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Aug 1, 2014
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I’d like to use the collective experiences and ideas for securing a HPR launch site for our area. In the last couple of years, several clubs in our state have lost their fields resulting in fewer launch opportunities especially when weather and other constraints kick in. Some things we have done have been to work with school groups, scouts, TARC teams, etc to help promote STEM via rocketry. While a valuable service and worthwhile and satisfying effort, it has not yet opened any doors to a HPR field (or even for model rockets). We’ve also run ads in the local newspaper for the need of a field highlighting that we have TRA and NAR liability insurance. Zero responses. We’ve talked with local officials, including some retired NASA folks and still no luck. We’ve spent time looking at old and current private airports, but most are too narrow for HPR use. So, what are some ways that you have been able to find and secure privileges to a HPR field? Thank you very much!
The way I did it was to find locations at least four miles away from any airways (necessary for a higher COA) then cross reference to land owners. Then start approaching the land owners with documents from NAR’s website that show the impressive safety record and documents from NAR or Tripoli describing our insurance.
Never done this, so no personal experience here. But it may be worthwhile to invite prospective landowners to a launch. Let them see that it is safe, and let them see how the property is treated. In order to win them over, you may need to offer to purchase additional insurance above and beyond (or instead) of what TRA/NAR provide.

At MDRA, we have private insurance that covers the landowner's property. Individual fliers are covered by NAR or TRA insurance as appropriate, but the club does a CYA with the private insurance.

The only real reason I can think of that people would let us use there property is if they are into rocketry. If they like it and want to support it, they usually will.
I'd start with some local farmers in a rural area off season of crop planting or harvesting if out east. Possibly remote wildlife hunting areas private places could help. A lot of acres with few buildings. Deserted salt flats are nice but not everywhere. You guys just need a club, clear airways, insurance, a couple of 7711-2 forms, communications, mutual friendly relationships, guidance from those that have done it, and a little luck.

Tried filing a 7711-2 but eastern Tennessee was hard to meet the building clearances. Land owners are friendlier sometimes than you think. Maybe some club fees or local recognition would help sway them. Start with low power maybe first. You could find gaps in airspace but I'm a student pilot also. Keep it under 18,000 ft and you can avoid class A airspace and Juliet airway routes of airliners. Far enough from an airport usually is class G uncontrolled Airspace which is what you want. The fuzzy magenta rings are class B and C controlled airspace at towered airports. These extends beyond the FAA rocket rule recommendations on airport distances. Have an instructor pilot walk you through it if you are still lost at a local airport. You can go skyvector or pick up some current charts from a local Fbo for general aviation if they do flight training they will have current FAA sectionals of airspace up to date. NAR/TRA has wonderful info.

You may find it easier to commute to an out of state launch site if you are under a time deadline as the FAA treats it as a privilege not a right. They can and will deny paperwork sometimes for months. Fun ain't over till paperwork turned over.
Class D and E airspace is harder to spot. D is a controlled towered airport but the radius of influence is way smaller. I think like 5 nautical miles. Used to fly out of KOLV which was a class D airport. Never seen E but it might be an approach veil. There's also a dotted purple ring called mode C transponder veil but that's for manned aircraft transponders.

Let at me tell you this. Getting clearance in a manned aircraft into controlled airspace is way easier than a unguided model rocket. Dial a frequency request permission to enter class bravo or Charlie airspace... With rocket... A stack of papers.
The airspace rings at airports will have floor and ceiling altitudes in thousand then hundreds of feet above ground level. You may be able to get a HPR site under one of those if it's ultra metro only, but that will be a VERY tough fight.
The only reason I say that is airports like KMEM Memphis international class B had other airports KOLV class D like 20+ miles away underneath its airspace boundaries. Usually a triangular waypoint or a VoR/NDB beacon are also good things to avoid for rocket sites as the aircraft traffic funnels to and from those on victor airways and also any general aviation traffic can use those in 360 degrees to from other airports.

I'd try to introduce someone into LPR/MPR launches first as this is how we can prove NAR\tra is safe at a place ideally suited for HPr. Then then tackle the FAA paperwork. I think lighting an L-3 motor off to someone new to HPR may scare away potential landowners from wanting to help the hobby.
NW of San Antonio. TX, unlike other western states, is mostly privately owned.

That covers a lot of territory! All the way to NM where I live. ;-) So, how far out? Kerrville?

If the county clerk's office has tax rolls online, it may show the land owner. Even if it's not online, you can go to your county clerk's office and have them look it up based on a map location.

You can ask this club SE of San Antonio how they got use of the Beeville airport:

I have heard that Tripoli West Texas discontinued launches due to burn bans in the region.
Contacts for Tripoli West Texas:
Contacts for Tripoli San Antonio:
Yes, Kerrville. I flew once at the W TX of the best I was ever at....but they lost it to a solar farm. They hadn't found anything yet and their website was down the last time I checked. Even emails have stopped. The SA grp never had a site. They used other's fields and mainly the W TX one. I've emailed them (also via TRA) and no responses. I've also flown several times at Beeville, but that's over a 3hr drive for us here. They haven't had any launches in quite awhile due to a variety of reasons....hence the call for help in finding something closer. As big as SA is, I'm surprised that we only have a mod roc field there.
Thanks John, and it just occurred to me that we've worked together before! You and Denzil helped my L3 launch at NSL 2017!
Thanks John, and it just occurred to me that we've worked together before! You and Denzil helped my L3 launch at NSL 2017!

That was a nice flight under not-so-perfect conditions! We are heading out to the Alamogordo launch site on Dec 16 for a research launch.