Night launching (Attn: micromister)

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Well-Known Member
Feb 13, 2010
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I saw micromister's post about how it is illegal to launch at night. CRAP!! I was DYING to launch a rocket with a clear payload tube with a glowstick in it. I guess I’m glad I saw that thread. I live in Houston, TX so I’m probably more likely to get in trouble, especially since I’m within a few miles of Ellington field, which is partially airport, partially air force base (the gulf’s first defense against an air strike I believe) However, I noticed this, “FAA limited our models to G motors and reduced our normal 3500' ceiling to 2500 feet, they also required all models to have an external illumination system clearly visible a 2000 feet.” This may be a dumb question, but does that mean that if your rocket only goes up to 1000 feet, then it’s OK? (Probably just wishful thinking, here)

BTW, purely off topic, but just bought SR-71 and Quark, currently working on them, as well as a custom paint job on my Estes Snapsot. Can’t wait to launch them! Will post pix.!
Just to let you know, We have requested a review of the ruling by FAA specifically looking at model rockets under 4oz of propellant and 1 lb in total lift-off weight. Both FAA headquaters here in Washington, D.C. and the Eastern Regional Office in New York are looking at the wording of FAR-101. We are "Hopeing" and I mean don't hold your breath! that HQ will agree with a tenative "first look" by some FAA officials, particularly in Taxas by the way, That our 1lb exemption MAY be extended to night flights.. I am cautiously optimistic this idea may actually fly. We have no way of knowing when or if we will recieve a written, opinion from the officials but the request was formally submitted in January 2004.
On another note there is a section or prefect in the houston that has held at least one or two "open to all flyers" Night launches. Hotrocs is the club name. I believe their flying field is in waco, tx. don't know if that helps any. but ya may want to join the Night Launch Yahoo group at

Night launches are a Kick! Hope this helps a little. Here's a pic of my Micro Night models at last sept's scheduled club night launch:)
Night launching is done legally all the time. It is my understanding that If you fly under a waiver, all the FAA requires a strobe light.

IIRC, Night Launch Glow Wrap in flash mode is also OK as are those little magnetic flickering LED pin thingies. Glow sticks, however, do not cut it. Those LED thingies are great. You can see them from 1000's of feet away.

Don't take my word, though, I'd ask the Tracon controller about it when you call in your waiver. It may be discretionary.

my two cents.
Originally posted by Chr$
Night launching is done legally all the time. It is my understanding that If you fly under a waiver, all the FAA requires a strobe light.

Night launches are A Special condition. Had you read the original thread you'd see the whole FAA Required picture. Launching ANY rocket is expressly forbidden between sunset and sunrise. It's an Airmans safety issue having nothing to do with model size.
I've been running our annual club Night launches since 1993, with full FAA approvals so I do know of what I speak.
We have over the past year or so been exploring the possibiltiy that some the low power models under 1 lb total lift-off weight and flying under the 1500 foot level may possibly fall under the exemption for all mod-roc from FAR 101-1. If so, everyone MAY be able to enjoy the thrill of some low power night flights without the lenghty paperwork back and forth necessary to obtain a Full waiver for Model and LMR rockets night launches.
We understand there has been some varience in the implimentation in various parts of the country. The northeast seems to be the strictest, while the southwest MUCH more lenient.
As stated in the previous post...stay tuned we may acutally have some Good Government news:D
Just a PS to the last post!

I don't just fly micor's at night. but they and models under B power motors are the only models we allow to night fly using cylume sticks. Everything C and about must have a light source per the spec posted perviously.

Ho yeah! Clusters are Really KEWL at night
Here in San Diego there are typically 2 club launch areas, one on a small island on the coast, and one at a large recreation area out in the desert. On the island, we are limited to daytime only flights (you wouldn't want to launch in the dark, or launch HPR anyway - it's not really big enough for that), but out in the desert we launch everything, including night. Granted, that's only once a month, whereas the island launches are just about weekly. We put strobes on ours for the night launches - everything from those flashing magnetic LED's to fishing bobbers that flash and some specifically designed for the rockets by the builders.

Frankly, IMHO, the night launches are easier to watch because the light stands out so well against a dark sky, as opposed to a chute against a blue/white sky.

Whoa thats one sweet pic... Can't even tell where the rocket is!

I'd like to do a night launch somethime, maybe this summer when it gets dark later and I don't have anything to do. I'll do a search on here for more info.
Thanks for the info micromister, for once, I'm glad to be in Texas! Keep me posted. BTW, who has had the best experience with what payloader rockets?
With 58 LEDs it doesn't look very bright. I'll try to sign up for that group.
It doesn't have to be super bright, I've actually remove a couple stings of Leds reducing the count to 43 I's a club number thing;)
it is very visible in real life:D actually the nose cone a PNC-80K is illuminated with a single 12000mcd Orange 10mm LED epoxied in it's base. heres a better look at the payload section
I fly this rocket at least once or twice a year:D