Launch Site Difficulties...

rickus

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My local NAR club (PARC 710) out of Oklahoma City is having a LOT of trouble finding a local site for low-mid power launches. We’re actively exploring several options including privately owned agricultural property and public spaces.

The challenge with getting permission for private property is that the land is often owned by a trust, or a corporation there are very few sites suitable for launching that are owned by a single individual… I say very few; actually, we haven’t found one. So, "very few" should be read as: “are no.” Trying to navigate the legal and corporate bureaucracy to get to an individual that can give us a “yes” or “no” has been very discouraging.

As for the public space, I’ve been in communication with the Oklahoma City division of Parks and Recreation. Their response was: “Thank you for contacting us with your question. Currently, flying model rockets is prohibited in City of Oklahoma City parks. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.” I thanked them for the reply and asked where I could read about the prohibition of model rockets for myself. They responded with: “Here are the applicable excerpts from Chapter 38 of the OKC Municipal Code, which deals with parks. The complete OKC Municipal Code is available on the City’s website. You can find it by going to okc.gov. On the homepage, select “Government” from the list of options along the top of the page. Then, select ‘Municipal Code.’

§ 38-85. - Definitions.
(26) Model aircraft shall mean a non-human-carrying aircraft capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere.

§ 38-99. - Model aircraft.
Model aircraft flying shall not be allowed in any park except in those areas designated for such activities. (Please note: There are none.)

(Ord. No. 20098, § 2, 1-18-94)”

Now my comment/question: Is it worth pushing back on the prohibition based on the premise that model rockets are incapable of “sustained flight?” For those who have recently been given permission to launch rockets on private land, how the heck did you do it? Did you have an in, or a connection? Did you have to navigate the litigious corporate environment where your pleas fell on deaf ears? Does the NAR offer any help, other than this naive guide to finding a site: (https://www.nar.org/find-a-local-club/section-guidebook/launch-sites/ )? How can this hobby flourish without a space to do it? I welcome all your comments, and/or questions. Thank you!!!
 

mikec

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You might try reaching out to one of the local AMA (model aircraft) clubs to see if they would be supportive. I've never been sure what the AMA's official stance on rockets was and much depends on the individual club, but maybe it's worth a try. FWIW I agree that these aircraft regulations have nothing to do with rocketry, but it's hard to fight these sorts of arguments. See https://www.modelaircraft.org/club-finder
 

rickus

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Read the definitions in NFPA 1122. They distinguish between model rockets and model planes I think. I don’t know if that helps, but that’s where I would start.
Thank you for this suggestion! I feel like the definitions of the particular models is and important distinction to be made.
 

astronwolf

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Being a NAR Section "active person," whether that means you are an officer, chief gopher, or both is pretty tough to manage without help. Lack of decent flying space can turn into lack of ANY flying space in a heartbeat. One mishap, one screw up, one mistake, and your club is out of a field.

Around by me I have encountered corporate owners of large tracts of land. Very difficult to impossible to find someone to speak with. Either that or I just really suck at finding decent places to fly. My track record is about zero. Can't help. All I got is a shoulder to cry on.
 

rickus

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You might try reaching out to one of the local AMA (model aircraft) clubs to see if they would be supportive. I've never been sure what the AMA's official stance on rockets was and much depends on the individual club, but maybe it's worth a try. FWIW I agree that these aircraft regulations have nothing to do with rocketry, but it's hard to fight these sorts of arguments. See https://www.modelaircraft.org/club-finder
There is an AMA club that flys adjacent to a local lake. Their airstrip is surrounded by a dense thicket of trees. Even if they allowed us to launch from their site I’m afraid it would gobble up numberous rockets. But it's a good suggestion and I'm certain there are other AMA airstrips in the area. Thanks!
 

bguffer

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Any grade schools, high schools, universities, home schoolers, STEM organizations launch anywhere nearby?
 

rickus

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Any grade schools, high schools, universities, home schoolers, STEM organizations launch anywhere nearby?
No, not that I know of. Many of these groups used to fly with us, seeing as how we have all of the safety and ground equipment needed. Perhaps they’re still flying but just not publicizing it.
 
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We had a similar discussion lately about whether radio guided descent chutes are limited by the 400ft recreational aircraft ceiling limit. I think you have a case. The regs define what a drone is. Perhaps you could use the FAA rules to differentiate a model aircraft from a model rocket? Mainly, a model aircraft can be "piloted" in multiple directions whereas a model rocket cannot be piloted. One could argue that Frank Burke's rockets can be piloted so avoid those. Click on the following regs:


We've been successful so far with launching MPR at a farm business with the caveat that the main purpose is for TARC/NASA students to launch their school projects along with club launches.
 
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My local NAR club (PARC 710) out of Oklahoma City is having a LOT of trouble finding a local site for low-mid power launches. We’re actively exploring several options including privately owned agricultural property and public spaces.

The challenge with getting permission for private property is that the land is often owned by a trust, or a corporation there are very few sites suitable for launching that are owned by a single individual… I say very few; actually, we haven’t found one. So, "very few" should be read as: “are no.” Trying to navigate the legal and corporate bureaucracy to get to an individual that can give us a “yes” or “no” has been very discouraging.

As for the public space, I’ve been in communication with the Oklahoma City division of Parks and Recreation. Their response was: “Thank you for contacting us with your question. Currently, flying model rockets is prohibited in City of Oklahoma City parks. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.” I thanked them for the reply and asked where I could read about the prohibition of model rockets for myself. They responded with: “Here are the applicable excerpts from Chapter 38 of the OKC Municipal Code, which deals with parks. The complete OKC Municipal Code is available on the City’s website. You can find it by going to okc.gov. On the homepage, select “Government” from the list of options along the top of the page. Then, select ‘Municipal Code.’

§ 38-85. - Definitions.
(26) Model aircraft shall mean a non-human-carrying aircraft capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere.

§ 38-99. - Model aircraft.
Model aircraft flying shall not be allowed in any park except in those areas designated for such activities. (Please note: There are none.)

(Ord. No. 20098, § 2, 1-18-94)”

Now my comment/question: Is it worth pushing back on the prohibition based on the premise that model rockets are incapable of “sustained flight?” For those who have recently been given permission to launch rockets on private land, how the heck did you do it? Did you have an in, or a connection? Did you have to navigate the litigious corporate environment where your pleas fell on deaf ears? Does the NAR offer any help, other than this naive guide to finding a site: (https://www.nar.org/find-a-local-club/section-guidebook/launch-sites/ )? How can this hobby flourish without a space to do it? I welcome all your comments, and/or questions. Thank you!!!
I know that you want local, but you probably need to look outside of OK City city limits.. In the meantime, maybe you can reach out to your nearest Tripoli prefecture and fly with them. Maybe they can help you find a low/mid power field closer to home.
 

astronwolf

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One suggestion I realized I can make is "expand your search radius." Speaking for myself, I would be happy to drive up to 90-minutes, even two hours, to get to a decent field.
 

Buckeye

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I feel your pain.

I agree, expand the search. Big cities like OKC have bigger governments with more bureaucrats to say "no." You are probably better off searching the outlying areas.

Municipalities are far more tolerant of model airplanes than model rockets (lay people think rockets = fireworks). If model aircraft are forbidden, then rockets have no chance. Even if you were to find a public park that was friendly to rockets, then you still have to deal with the other park patrons getting in your way.

Obviously, the best scenario for a club is private property. Yes, an "in" or "connection" is needed, and it is not easy. After years and years of searching, I found a site for personal HPR through a friend of a friend of a friend. Once you find a real person to talk to, country folk are generally friendly and accommodating.
 

SolarYellow

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I live in the third-largest metro market in the US. I've been told by the LHS that LPR launches are allowed at a city park where there are model airplane facilities. Still a good 35 minute drive away. Google Earth says it's about 1600 feet from road to trees in the direction wind blows.

Beyond that, I have to drive 1 hour to an NAR launch with a 2500 ft ceiling (2000 ft w/o dual deploy) or 1 1/2 hours to either of the TRA launches.

I have a friend I visit from time to time who's ~half an hour from Lake Lucerne, which is either covered in water or mud too deep to crawl out of right now.
 

tsmith1315

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@rickus, If you talk to someone, be sure to mention the national club provides substantial insurance for launches by members. You just have to get a permission form signed (and submitted) and follow the safety rules.
Take a copy of the rules and permission form along.
 

David Schwantz

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I just had a thought, my neighbor girls and I fly LPR stuff at their grade school. I did ask a playground supervisor if it was ok, she said yes. Maybe find a school willing to allow it if you put on a presentation, or have neighbor kids that go to that school. We also fly water rockets in our backyards. When it is 100 out, it's kind of fun :)
 

dhbarr

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Along with the model aircraft folks, check to see if there's any groups that fly large kites. Field requirements for model rocketry are usually pretty similar there.
 

4regt4

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Not specifically addressing your issues, but...

I've been using a local soccer complex to do LPR on. It is 400 ft on one side, so I can't get real carried away. But I just set up and fly without asking. If you ask, it's easy for a bureaucrat to say no. About a year ago, I was flying with my grandson. A cop drove up on an adjacent road. He definitely saw us. But seems he had other business, apparently an issue with some transients camping by the river.

Then another time, both a state police car and the local fire marshal pulled into a close by parking lot, like about 250 ft from where I was. Crap, I'm busted. But they went into a nearby art center building. Later they came out and chatted with each other. I set off several rockets while they were there. They didn't even glance over. Who knows? Maybe they thought I had obtained permission (unlikely) or simply didn't care (more likely).

Hans.
 

Sooner Boomer

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We've been having trouble finding a field a bit further south, here in Norman. We used to fly at Lloyd Noble, with permission from OU (back when we had a NAR chapter). It would be great to have somewhere local to fly non-high power stuff. I fear we'll still have to go to Sayre for the high power stuff, though.
 

astronwolf

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After years and years of searching, I found a site for personal HPR through a friend of a friend of a friend. Once you find a real person to talk to, country folk are generally friendly and accommodating.

I have found sites for "personal flying." But as you all know, finding one suitable for a NAR Section is much harder. It's like:

1. Oh wow! Look at that big field!!!
2. But where can about 20+ cars park?
3. Oh... it's within 1500-feet of occupied structures in all directions..
4. And there is a dense housing development down wind...
5. Naahh... I won't bother asking.

Those "personal flying" sites are looking better all the time.
 

4regt4

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One suggestion I realized I can make is "expand your search radius." Speaking for myself, I would be happy to drive up to 90-minutes, even two hours, to get to a decent field.
For better or worse, that's the situation I'm in. Although I can pop up some little ones nearby, for MPR I have to travel about 90 minutes to a couple of fields, one north, the other south. And it's about 4 hours for HPR.

I live in a small town, surrounded by many farm fields. Some have a tree-less area well suited for MPR. But I am not sure how to approach the property owners. I think if some random stranger knocked on my door asking if they could burn propellant in my field, I'd quickly say no. OK, that's probably not the best wording for the question. But you get the idea.

Hans.
 

Buckeye

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I have found sites for "personal flying." But as you all know, finding one suitable for a NAR Section is much harder. It's like:

1. Oh wow! Look at that big field!!!
2. But where can about 20+ cars park?
3. Oh... it's within 1500-feet of occupied structures in all directions..
4. And there is a dense housing development down wind...
5. Naahh... I won't bother asking.

Those "personal flying" sites are looking better all the time.

Totally agree. I can get off a few LPR/MPR rockets by myself at the local park. However, it has to be a weekday, a school day, and in the middle of winter. Otherwise, there are too many civilians walking around making launching and recovery difficult. That's why a public park is difficult for a club.

Yes, a private site for the club also needs the infrastructure to be viable. As for my personal HPR site, yes, I considered everything you mention: A lane for parking, 1500 ft clear of occupied structures, recovery in all directions, and a COA. :)
 

bguffer

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"The challenge with getting permission for private property is that the land is often owned by a trust, or a corporation"

Parents of 4H members might privately own some farmland. You'd have to launch in colder weather months.
 
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I live in a small town, surrounded by many farm fields. Some have a tree-less area well suited for MPR. But I am not sure how to approach the property owners. I think if some random stranger knocked on my door asking if they could burn propellant in my field, I'd quickly say no. OK, that's probably not the best wording for the question. But you get the idea.

Hans.
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