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RSO How much and what experience

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Walldiver7

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I'd like to know what the TRF community thinks a good RSO looks like. In other words, how much and what kinds of experience do you feel qualifies an individual as a good RSO? If there's an on-going discussion on this already, please direct me to it. Thanks!
 
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blackbrandt

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Tripoli East NC requires you to be L2 to RSO.
 

cerving

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Most clubs require you to be a L2, preferably with enough experience so that you can ask the right questions and know when something "doesn't look right". If somebody brings you a big stubby rocket on a K1999 and they can't tell you exactly where the CP/CG is, you have to have the cujones to tell them that you're not gonna let it go. That's really much more difficult than the technical part, especially since they're probably your buddies.
 

Bat-mite

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I don't think an RSO should be allowed to approve rockets above his own cert level.

But the important things are:
  • Can you evaluate if the rocket is stable?
  • Can you evaluate if the rocket is built well enough to withstand Mach transition, fin flutter, etc., where applicable?
  • Can you tell if the motor has sufficient initial thrust to leave the pad at a safe speed (i.e., the 5-1 ratio)?
  • Can you read a thrust curve?
  • Can you tell if the launch lugs/rail buttons are secured such that they will not break off and tip the rocket sideways at launch?
  • Can you evaluate whether the indicated delay time is correct for the motor's impulse to the weight of the rocket?
  • Can you remember to ask people if they closed their quick-links, attached their chute, checked the integrity of their shock cords, etc.?
 

ActingLikeAKid

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I think another worthwhile point: RSO should have flown for at least 6 months or 3 events (whichever is sooner) at the field. You may be L3 certified and build your own electronics and make your own EX motors and teach master classes in glassing....
...but you also need to know that there's sometimes a freaky little wind gust that comes from the southeast. Or that if it's breezy on the ground, it's often blowing 20 knots at 10,000 feet. Or that the goats on the northern side of the field have eaten 3 rockets this year. And so on and so on.
 

Igotnothing

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"...what a good RSO looks like..."
So temped to run off sideways with that setup.
 

georgegassaway

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What kind of launch?

For launches without an FAA waiver, L2 is sorta overkill, and opens the door to some really messed up launch problems if no L2 is available but "club rules" require it (see end of message for how this can implode).

Obtaininig L1 or L2 (or L3) does not necessarily mean a person is therefore a "good RSO". Any more than a person who gets a driver's license is therefore a good car inspector or driving instructor.

I know some L2's who think than having an FAA waver means that, if a plane flies into the area, it is the airplane pilot's problem, NOT THEIRS. So when they launched a big HPR bird when a Cessna was 1/2 mile away horizontally, they were not concerned because it was "their" airspace that the plane intruded into. Or an attitude that "hey it could not hit the plane anyway", never mind the safety code. And never mind that if a pilot saw the launch and felt his plane was at risk of being hit, he'd file a report with the FAA, which could case hell to rain down onto the club. Like permanent loss of waiver (while the plane was not supposed be there, it WAS there. Which did NOT give the RSO authority to launch anyway because the Safety Code is not overruled by the existence of a FAA waiver. Also, just common sense, which they did not have.). So, yeah, being L2 does not mean a person is a good RSO.

There are lots of people who are not HPR certified who are better at being RSO's than someone who is HPR certified.

I went to a launch once that required TWO L2's to be on hand. This was a launch of up to L2 level models, but most of the models were LPR. One L2 required for check-in, one L2 required for RSO. The assigned Check-in L2 was there, but the assigned L/2 RSO was over an hour late. Due to the launch rules in effect, nobody with less than L2 could step in to RSO the launched of less than L2 models.

Nobody could fly a @#$@-ing ALPHA on an A8-3 until THAT guy bothered to show up.

B.S.

Fortunately never attended another launch with such a built-in flaw like that. Dozens of fliers waiting for ONE GUY to show up, to even fly LPR, due to bad planning.
 
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OverTheTop

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Can you tell if the motor has sufficient initial thrust to leave the pad at a safe speed (i.e., the 5-1 ratio)?
This is only a rule of thumb, but it does give an indication to check if launch rail exit speed is sufficient for marginal cases. It can be safe to fly with less than 5:1, but it depends on the rocket, motor and the rail length. Simulations are a better indication, especially for marginal cases, if the rocketeer has considered this issue.
 

Bat-mite

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This is only a rule of thumb, but it does give an indication to check if launch rail exit speed is sufficient for marginal cases. It can be safe to fly with less than 5:1, but it depends on the rocket, motor and the rail length. Simulations are a better indication, especially for marginal cases, if the rocketeer has considered this issue.
5-1 was just an example. If I were RSOing and someone showed me a sim for a less than 5-1 motor that gets off the rail at 50 fps, he'd fly.
 

Walldiver7

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I think another worthwhile point: RSO should have flown for at least 6 months or 3 events (whichever is sooner) at the field. You may be L3 certified and build your own electronics and make your own EX motors and teach master classes in glassing....
...but you also need to know that there's sometimes a freaky little wind gust that comes from the southeast. Or that if it's breezy on the ground, it's often blowing 20 knots at 10,000 feet. Or that the goats on the northern side of the field have eaten 3 rockets this year. And so on and so on.

Like that last part about the goats ...... lmao!
 

Walldiver7

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..... And the ground wind speed at the time of the launch.

This is only a rule of thumb, but it does give an indication to check if launch rail exit speed is sufficient for marginal cases. It can be safe to fly with less than 5:1, but it depends on the rocket, motor and the rail length. Simulations are a better indication, especially for marginal cases, if the rocketeer has considered this issue.
 

dr wogz

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of course, the same can be said of lots of people in a position of authority..

Someone might want (or need!!) to be an RSO or LSO, but isn't suited, but becomes one anyways (narcissist behavior). Is / should there a method of revoking his stature (due to attitude, personality, etc..)? Is / should there be a method of electing / choosing a candidate who would make a good RSO / LSO (based on attitude, personality, etc..)?

I remember a story of a small R/C club folded, because the president who got elected to said position refused to abdicate once a new president was elected. Despite the rules & club constitution, this guy held onto power (rubbed a lot of members the wrong way, pushed 'his' ideas, refused to listen, etc..), and closed the club, rather than let the next guy steer the ship.
 

Walldiver7

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I agree that there are certain "types" that aspire to the positions of power... whether or not they have the experience to be good leaders. Our section/club is dealing with all of the issues you have brought up. Our solution was to work hard to produce an air-tight policy and bylaws so that we can all behave appropriately :). We've really beat each other up during this process lol, but I am hopeful that the outcome will be worth it. This is why I'm on here tying to get the feel of the TRF community about what one component of a good club, a good RSO, looks like. (And yes, I very much appreciate the light-hearted joking about how I've worded my inquiry!)


of course, the same can be said of lots of people in a position of authority..

Someone might want (or need!!) to be an RSO or LSO, but isn't suited, but becomes one anyways (narcissist behavior). Is / should there a method of revoking his stature (due to attitude, personality, etc..)? Is / should there be a method of electing / choosing a candidate who would make a good RSO / LSO (based on attitude, personality, etc..)?

I remember a story of a small R/C club folded, because the president who got elected to said position refused to abdicate once a new president was elected. Despite the rules & club constitution, this guy held onto power (rubbed a lot of members the wrong way, pushed 'his' ideas, refused to listen, etc..), and closed the club, rather than let the next guy steer the ship.
 

Walldiver7

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This would be for HP launches. What you saw, at that launch you described, was very poor launch management. Sounds like they had no contingency plans in place.... and thus, the launch was a big disappointment. Thanks for sharing this; I will see that our Launch/Safety Committee discusses the "what ifs".




What kind of launch?

For launches without an FAA waiver, L2 is sorta overkill, and opens the door to some really messed up launch problems if no L2 is available but "club rules" require it (see end of message for how this can implode).

Obtaininig L1 or L2 (or L3) does not necessarily mean a person is therefore a "good RSO". Any more than a person who gets a driver's license is therefore a good car inspector or driving instructor.

I know some L2's who think than having an FAA waver means that, if a plane flies into the area, it is the airplane pilot's problem, NOT THEIRS. So when they launched a big HPR bird when a Cessna was 1/2 mile away horizontally, they were not concerned because it was "their" airspace that the plane intruded into. Or an attitude that "hey it could not hit the plane anyway", never mind the safety code. And never mind that if a pilot saw the launch and felt his plane was at risk of being hit, he'd file a report with the FAA, which could case hell to rain down onto the club. Like permanent loss of waiver (while the plane was not supposed be there, it WAS there. Which did NOT give the RSO authority to launch anyway because the Safety Code is not overruled by the existence of a FAA waiver. Also, just common sense, which they did not have.). So, yeah, being L2 does not mean a person is a good RSO.

There are lots of people who are not HPR certified who are better at being RSO's than someone who is HPR certified.

I went to a launch once that required TWO L2's to be on hand. This was a launch of up to L2 level models, but most of the models were LPR. One L2 required for check-in, one L2 required for RSO. The assigned Check-in L2 was there, but the assigned L/2 RSO was over an hour late. Due to the launch rules in effect, nobody with less than L2 could step in to RSO the launched of less than L2 models.

Nobody could fly a @#$@-ing ALPHA on an A8-3 until THAT guy bothered to show up.

B.S.

Fortunately never attended another launch with such a built-in flaw like that. Dozens of fliers waiting for ONE GUY to show up, to even fly LPR, due to bad planning.
 
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Walldiver7

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John, Thanks for your input; that's a good list. I'll bring this up with our launch/safety committee. Your list makes me wonder if NAR has developed a test to qualify as an RSO... ?

I don't think an RSO should be allowed to approve rockets above his own cert level.

But the important things are:
  • Can you evaluate if the rocket is stable?
  • Can you evaluate if the rocket is built well enough to withstand Mach transition, fin flutter, etc., where applicable?
  • Can you tell if the motor has sufficient initial thrust to leave the pad at a safe speed (i.e., the 5-1 ratio)?
  • Can you read a thrust curve?
  • Can you tell if the launch lugs/rail buttons are secured such that they will not break off and tip the rocket sideways at launch?
  • Can you evaluate whether the indicated delay time is correct for the motor's impulse to the weight of the rocket?
  • Can you remember to ask people if they closed their quick-links, attached their chute, checked the integrity of their shock cords, etc.?
 
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georgegassaway

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I want to point out that the NAR's Trained Safety Officer (TSO) program is way overkill complex and very few have ever completed it. The person who came up with the criteria is an aerospace professional and treated it more like a required professional training program than a HOBBYIST program.

I was on the NAR Board at the time and was quite concerned that this overkill program would be used by some clubs as a "requirement" for their RSO's. Because again, so few have ever completed it, that if club rules required being an NAR TSO, there would be more examples like the one I gave where if ONE specific person was late, or could not make it, nothing could fly because that was the rule (rules can be changed, but to do so in the middle of a launch is not a good idea. Which is why the launch I referred to earlier was stuck with it).

So, anyway, I wanted to point out that the NAR TSO program is best left as a voluntary thing and NEVER as a requirement for launch officials. Indeed when the initial idea for creating the program was approved by the NAR board in 1996, it was approved on the basis that it be voluntary, and NEVER required (this was even before the program was fully detailed and ended up as more difficult and overkill for a person to complete it, than intended). There was a very specific discussion in that regard, "Carrot vs Stick", and this was meant be a "Carrot" program (optional), not a "stick" (required)

It has been few years since I had info on the number of those who completed TSO training, but last knew of, it was about 14. No typo, fourteen. Probably a few more than that by now. But it was a very stagnant number, years went by without anyone being added. One year the total even dropped by one (the TSO cert is good forever, someone did not renew their membership).

The original plan was a good idea at the time but the implementation made it too unwieldy/impractical. And even if it was more like originally intended, best left optional.
 
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milehigh

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I agree with all of what George posted.
In my opinion, a good RSO should have the following qualities:

- COMMON SENSE. This trait pretty much covers everything else.
- A solid base of knowledge about rockets and large amount of rocket flying experience. Most knowledgeable model rocketeers who have been around the block a few times can virtually look at a given rocket design and instinctively know that it will be flight worthy or not, just from experience.
- A good manager -treating everyone fairly, but being tough when he/she needs to.
- Knowing the safety code and rules of COMMON SENSE inside and out, and abiding by them. No rule bending, period.
- Being level headed and patient, and having the ability to interact with all types of personalities.
- Leaving ego at home.

I don't believe for minute that somewhat who happens to have an L2 cert. is automatically qualified to be an RSO. It takes a lot more than a piece of paper.
 

Walldiver7

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George, Thank you for that information... and your insight. Very helpful.

MileHigh, I agree with you 100%... especially that last one!
 

georgegassaway

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You're welcome.

Not stressed much so far....... there should always be options for there to be several people available who can RSO.

The more requirements piled on, there fewer there will be available, and you run into the problems I referred to if someone is late or cannot make it.

Also not brought up yet is the fewer who are approved to RSO for a club's launch, the more those who are approved spend so much time as RSO that one day they're going to get burned out (and this is ignoring the more relevant issue of fairness for them to be able to fly too or just not have to bear that responsibility so often).

So the more who are capable of being a good RSO, that can be available to be RSO, the better.

This is not a contest of picking the "Best" RSO and then sticking that person with the job for 100% of the time for every launch.

Develop a group of people who can RSO, so any one of them can run the range and at any given launch there should be several available, even if one has volunteered to do it the whole day. That is the way a lot of clubs do it.

I know this will be a bit off to the side, but at a launch....... EVERYBODY who knows rockets should be an RSO. No, I do not mean officially designated as the one running the range at the moment. What I mean is that no one person can be as aware of everything happening, as multiple people can be. Sometimes an RSO in charge may not hear an airplane in the area...... this is when anyone should shout "Airplane" if it seems a countdown is about to happen (or shout "airplane" really loud if a count has started). Anything that might not look right, a crooked nose cone, whatever, make the RSO aware of it. So, everyone else are sort of unofficial "deputy RSO's", but should feel free to help point out something that the RSO may not realize. That is not meant to open the door to second-guessing the RSO in charge, or cause conflict, only to make aware - the RSO in charge deciding what to do.

Also to take out some complacency others might have with the idea that nobody else needs to pay attention to, or bring up any possible problem since there is already one person in charge. But that one person can't be aware of everything.
 
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