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astroadrian99

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Hey guys, so I am currently looking for a launch site with a ceiling of 30,000 ft as close to Orlando, FL as possible to test a rocket to be used for the Spaceport America Cup. I would really love the assistance in finding a location as so far, I don't see anything in Florida, but maybe there is something in Alabama or Georgia or Mississippi or Virginia. Thank you.
 
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astroadrian99

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Closest you’re going to find is Argonia, Kansas. Kloudbusters.
Really, there is nothing in Virginia or Tennessee or even Ohio? I find it Surprising that non of the Eastern states have one as excluding Maine, they are all closer to me than Kansas.
 

RocketRev

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"Too many Trees, Airports, Cities, and too much air-traffic," etcetera..... That may all be true in some places, but don't forget the real reason for our shrinking waivers: the growing "Nanny State."

I've been with Quad Cities Rocket Club since its founding way back in the middle 90's. I was the founding prefect and the one who got and kept our first waiver for quite some years. We had a standing waiver of 25K AGL at both our Illinois and Iowa launch sites. We even had the same waiver ceiling for our NIGHT LAUNCHES! Imagine that, 25K Foot AGL waiver for a night launch east of the Mississippi river. The only requirement was that every rocket had to have lights that could be clearly seen as far horizontally as the rocket flew vertically. Ah, the wonders of xenon-strobe lights.

Fast forward to 2021..... there are no more cities, no more airports, no more air-traffic, and certainly fewer trees, all for 100 miles around our launch site, than there were back in the middle 90's. And still our waiver has been cut to 15K for one reason and one reason only....
...........the ever growing Nanny State.

Sad.

Brad
 

jrap330

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Really, there is nothing in Virginia or Tennessee or even Ohio? I find it Surprising that non of the Eastern states have one as excluding Maine, they are all closer to me than Kansas.
Yes a lot of Air Traffic.. Jets cruise between 20k and 30 K miles.
 

jrap330

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"Too many Trees, Airports, Cities, and too much air-traffic," etcetera..... That may all be true in some places, but don't forget the real reason for our shrinking waivers: the growing "Nanny State."

I've been with Quad Cities Rocket Club since its founding way back in the middle 90's. I was the founding prefect and the one who got and kept our first waiver for quite some years. We had a standing waiver of 25K AGL at both our Illinois and Iowa launch sites. We even had the same waiver ceiling for our NIGHT LAUNCHES! Imagine that, 25K Foot AGL waiver for a night launch east of the Mississippi river. The only requirement was that every rocket had to have lights that could be clearly seen as far horizontally as the rocket flew vertically. Ah, the wonders of xenon-strobe lights.

Fast forward to 2021..... there are no more cities, no more airports, no more air-traffic, and certainly fewer trees, all for 100 miles around our launch site, than there were back in the middle 90's. And still our waiver has been cut to 15K for one reason and one reason only....
...........the ever growing Nanny State.

Sad.

Brad
I think air traffic is more dense now than ever.
 

Spitfire222

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"Too many Trees, Airports, Cities, and too much air-traffic," etcetera..... That may all be true in some places, but don't forget the real reason for our shrinking waivers: the growing "Nanny State."

I've been with Quad Cities Rocket Club since its founding way back in the middle 90's. I was the founding prefect and the one who got and kept our first waiver for quite some years. We had a standing waiver of 25K AGL at both our Illinois and Iowa launch sites. We even had the same waiver ceiling for our NIGHT LAUNCHES! Imagine that, 25K Foot AGL waiver for a night launch east of the Mississippi river. The only requirement was that every rocket had to have lights that could be clearly seen as far horizontally as the rocket flew vertically. Ah, the wonders of xenon-strobe lights.

Fast forward to 2021..... there are no more cities, no more airports, no more air-traffic, and certainly fewer trees, all for 100 miles around our launch site, than there were back in the middle 90's. And still our waiver has been cut to 15K for one reason and one reason only....
...........the ever growing Nanny State.

Sad.

Brad
lol How nice it must be to be able to ignore the possibility of any reasonable explanation for things one doesn't like, and simply attribute it to some mythical "Nanny State" 🤣 And then you all wonder "wHy Is RoCkEtRy DyInG??"....Exhibit A
 

hobie1dog

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lol How nice it must be to be able to ignore the possibility of any reasonable explanation for things one doesn't like, and simply attribute it to some mythical "Nanny State" 🤣 And then you all wonder "wHy Is RoCkEtRy DyInG??"....Exhibit A
Uh OHHH, now everyone is going to challenge you to find the site.
 

watheyak

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The FAA doesn't have the time or resources to do something for no reason at all, or just to hassle us lowly hobbyists.

There's more to the Quad Cities story than you are aware of, even if you were the Prefect.

I've always had outstanding service from the FAA. They genuinely want to help us. Sometimes they can't.

Calling it a "Nanny State" overestimates their capabilities. They can't even pass a budget...
 
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RocketRev

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Hello Vince,

My comments about the Nanny State were meant as the only reasonable explanation that I've heard, for the area where I've been flying rockets for the last 30 years. Out here near the Mississippi river, there has been only a minimal increase if any, in commercial air-traffic flying over our launch site. I would be happy for somebody to posit a more reasonable explanation for the 10,000 foot (40%) cut in our FAA waiver. And that's to say nothing about the total loss of our high power night launch capability. We do still do a night launch, but its limited to G motors.

The commercial air traffic flying near our launch site has not changed the altitude at which they are flying through the area. There are certainly no new commercial airports within 100 miles of our launch site in the last 25 years. There has been no explanation for the decrease in our waiver altitude other than "Sorry, that's just the way it is." And I've asked.

The closest commercial airport to us is the Quad Cities Airport and it has not moved or added any new runways and we haven't moved closer to it in the last 20 years.

To be frank with you, I think that somebody in the higher ups at the FAA office that we deal with, which is by Chicago, IL, decided that it would be less work for them if they simply cut all the waivers in our area down to this bare minimum, rather than deal with our waiver applications one at a time. And yes, they've all been cut. And I'm not talking about a cure that involves a "spoonful of sugar."

So, what's your reasonable explanation for the 10,000 cut in our waiver? Are you going to posit the complete reasonableness of the federal bureaucracy?

Still hoping to hear an actual reasonable explanation for the 40% cut in our FAA waiver other than, "Sorry, that's just the way it is."

Brad
 

RocketRev

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Hello Scott,

Back in the middle to late 90's, when I was getting the QCRC FAA waiver, we were dealing with Kansas City, if my memory is correct. And they were incredibly helpful. When I called them up back in the middle 90's they literally walked me thru exactly what I needed to do in order to get that very first 25K waiver. Night launch? Same rules as day waiver with the addition of the lights. They did not want us flying during twilight! But that was quite reasonable and easy to accommodate as we were all stopping to eat supper anyway.

If there's more to the story, I wish somebody would fill me in. I've been on this club's board of directors for 25 years. So if there was some reasonable explanation, I'm sure that somebody would have mentioned it. Even after 9/11 back in 2001, we had our waiver reopened before the local airports were flying again. We had a great relationship with the FAA out of Kansas City. Never a single hassle except one time we had our waiver postponed for like 8 hours while POTUS was flying into and out of the Quad Cities Airport.

The best explanation that I've heard is the "they don't want to deal with us any more than they have to" explanation. And I don't appreciate that, when its my tax dollars that are supposedly at work. And the regional FAA office treating all of us like we were the exact same location just because it lessens the amount of work they have to do seems unreasonable to me.

Brad
 

dr wogz

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Our club president recently "discovered" he has to make a 3rd call: Air defense.

He originally was told to call the local airport (Burlington, VT). and because we are over X feet (8K i think?! we have a waiver to 10K') we are told to also talk to Logan (Boston, MA) He was told a few years ago, that we are also in a major 'air defense' corridor, so we need to advise them as well. With that, he make three call at the start of our launch day, and three at the end of our launch day..

SO, maybe the nanny state is just adding extra allowances for granny & her fear of Communist Mexicans.. (be careful what you wish for..)
 

DuaneW

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Really, there is nothing in Virginia or Tennessee or even Ohio? I find it Surprising that non of the Eastern states have one as excluding Maine, they are all closer to me than Kansas.
The bigger problem is air traffic route density this side of the Mississippi. That and plain old population causing the lack of any sizeable fields that could support that waiver.
 

MClark

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This map shows where the airplanes are.
No surprise there is a hole over Black Rock and Argonia.
Find holes in the east, figure out what is on the ground, start sucking up to land owners, try to get a waiver.

M
 

boatgeek

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"Too many Trees, Airports, Cities, and too much air-traffic," etcetera..... That may all be true in some places, but don't forget the real reason for our shrinking waivers: the growing "Nanny State."
...

Fast forward to 2021..... there are no more cities, no more airports, no more air-traffic, and certainly fewer trees, all for 100 miles around our launch site, than there were back in the middle 90's. And still our waiver has been cut to 15K for one reason and one reason only....
...........the ever growing Nanny State.
There may not be more airports, but there are definitely more flights than 15-20 years ago. Number of passengers boarding planes is up about 10% from 2003-2015. Traffic into the Chicago-area airports was up 4% in a single year (2013-2014) in that time, when the national numbers were relatively flat. So yeah, more planes. And I'm presuming that as the air corridors fill up, they also spread out, potentially impinging on areas that weren't affected before.

There's also routing changes to think about. Planes landing in Seattle come a lot closer to my house than they did 5 years ago because of changes to the approach routes into Sea-Tac. I wouldn't launch from anywhere near my house, but it would definitely be a consideration if I asked for a waiver.

Just looking at the flightradar site linked above, I see two airliners at altitude going within 20 miles of your launch site in the last half hour or so. With that size airway close to you, I'm not shocked that the FAA wants to keep you below 15K feet. For that matter, you're about the same distance from a good-sized airway that our local club's late lamented launch site was. We had a waiver of 14K AGL. So that seems fairly evenhanded.

So it seems like there could be lots of explanations besides the nanny state if you care to look.
 

jsdemar

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Every request >=18k MSL has to go through FAA HQ for an Aircraft Hazard Analysis (AHA). This is a relatively new requirement (~3 years). Below 18k, the decision is up to the regional FAA and the local air traffic control office. The AHA isn't trivial... it takes weeks due to the backlog and priority is given to commercial launches. The boom in New Space companies has put us far down the list.

The other difficulty with higher waivers is the clear radius requirement. Our Safety Codes say 1/4 the altitude or 1500 ft, whichever is greater. The FAA will double that, or even clear more distance if there's more traffic. So, for 30Kft AGL (assuming a low elevation Eastern launch site), the FAA will start with a 2.5 NM clear radius. If there is a Jet airway or other IFR route nearby, that could be doubled. Take a look at the sectional charts online for IFR maps to see how difficult that is almost anywhere in the US. Near the coast and near international borders, there's an additional controlled zone (ADIZ).

An open waiver for a rocket club is a lot more work for the FAA. A single event waiver for an individual or college team is less work. Knowing the above limitations, locate a reasonable hole in the air traffic patterns, get landowner permission, and file your own waiver for one or two test flights. If they see that you've done your homework and that you understand the difficulties, they'll be more open to looking into it. But, it may take 60-90 days to get the COA.

Over the last 5 years, my waiver (in southern NM) went from 150K to 75K to 13K. The FAA has been very helpful recently and I may be able to get back above the 18K AGL limit.
 

Dane Ronnow

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It doesn't help you guys in the eastern half of the U.S., but one of the nice things about living in the Southwest, particularly Nevada, are the dry lake beds. The Go-Fast team launched a rocket in 2014 from Blackrock that hit 385,800 feet. That's a serious waiver!
 

dhbarr

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One thing we forget with so many 15km fields in the US is that many of our international friends have to travel, well, internationally to access any such site at all.

Obviously I'm spoiled living only a few hours from Kloudbusters, but being able to just slap rockets and motors in the trailer and drive ~20 hours to several fields is something a lot of people would be pretty jealous of.
 

BDB

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The Lake Winnipesaukee High Power Rocketry club launches from the lake in New Hampshire when it freezes. I’m hoping to get several launches in next month.

I know that they requested a 30k waiver for this year, but I haven’t heard if it has been approved.
 

watheyak

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Hello Scott,

Back in the middle to late 90's, when I was getting the QCRC FAA waiver, we were dealing with Kansas City, if my memory is correct. And they were incredibly helpful. When I called them up back in the middle 90's they literally walked me thru exactly what I needed to do in order to get that very first 25K waiver. Night launch? Same rules as day waiver with the addition of the lights. They did not want us flying during twilight! But that was quite reasonable and easy to accommodate as we were all stopping to eat supper anyway.

If there's more to the story, I wish somebody would fill me in. I've been on this club's board of directors for 25 years. So if there was some reasonable explanation, I'm sure that somebody would have mentioned it. Even after 9/11 back in 2001, we had our waiver reopened before the local airports were flying again. We had a great relationship with the FAA out of Kansas City. Never a single hassle except one time we had our waiver postponed for like 8 hours while POTUS was flying into and out of the Quad Cities Airport.

The best explanation that I've heard is the "they don't want to deal with us any more than they have to" explanation. And I don't appreciate that, when its my tax dollars that are supposedly at work. And the regional FAA office treating all of us like we were the exact same location just because it lessens the amount of work they have to do seems unreasonable to me.

Brad
Hi Brad,

The change could be something as simple as a change to an instrument procedure to an airport, and not even necessarily one that's nearby. In our search for the site in Arizona, one candidate was disqualified due to an arrival into LAX. Go figure.

Your timeline also seems to coincide with the push for a change to more GPS, or RNAV based procedures, which came with massive changes to the procedures at many airports. Or even what's known as "diverse departure". They'd mess up whole swaths of airspace.

If you really dug into the airspace above the site, I'm sure the answer would become apparent.

All these things just make ATCs job easier. But this isn't out of laziness. If ATC's job is easier, the skies are safer.
 

mo2872

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One thing we forget with so many 15km fields in the US is that many of our international friends have to travel, well, internationally to access any such site at all.

Obviously I'm spoiled living only a few hours from Kloudbusters, but being able to just slap rockets and motors in the trailer and drive ~20 hours to several fields is something a lot of people would be pretty jealous of.
That is a nice benefit, one I am going to try to capitalize on more this year myself. It is somewhat amazing though, that the “air capital of the world” manages to have that awesome waiver.
 

jbr

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Sayre, OK had a 25K waiver and 5 mile radius also, bumped down to 18K and 2 mile radius
 
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