Where to Launch Estes Rockets?

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mobius_one

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Where's a good place to launch Estes rockets without getting into trouble? My son is five. He asked me about the model rockets that were sitting on my model shelf, so I bought a few engines and we went to the local county park- largest park in the area. We had a great time launching it. We built another Estes rocket together and took it to the park for its maiden flight. Lots of fun and brings back good memories. But someone called the police. The policeman didn't ask us to leave though. He exited his vehicle, watched us perform a launch and then left. We were responsible- brought a fire extinguisher, jug of water, etc.

I remember this being the very reason why my parents gave up launching rockets when I was a kid- people called the cops.... we got a talking to....

Somehow it's okay to hit a baseball from the same park, going over 100mph; but launching a rocket results in calls to the police?
 

Zeus-cat

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Well, they didn't stop you, so...

To be safe, call the office that runs the parks and ask if you can launch in the local parks. It would be best to say you follow the model rocket safety code, and then actually follow the code. Look it up on the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) webpage.

Where are you located? There are clubs around the country that have organized launches and all the equipment. Best thing I ever did in rocketry was join my local club.
 

eljefe

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May I ask where you live? I'm guessing a largish city? Smaller towns are generally not so intolerant of rocketeers.
 

kuririn

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Local ordinances vary. Check with your municipality's Parks and Rec division.
In my county there are designated parks from which you can legally fly.
They are listed on the Department's website.
I've had someone call the cops on us. When they arrived we showed them a printout from the Parks and Rec website showing that we could fly from that park. Cops explained it to the caller.
Having said that, make sure you observe all safety rules and fly safely.
Last thing you want is a high profile incident.
 

mikewrt

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+1 what @kuririn and @Zeus-cat said. For right now I'm a lone wolf (meaning I don't fly with a club at a sanctioned launch, some day) and fortunately the city park down the road from me has a section that is approved for model aircraft, including model rockets. I want to keep that privilege so I follow the city rules, fly safe and always clean up all motor casings, any wadding that falls in the field, spent igniters, igniter plugs and other peoples trash too. If the officer didn't approach you then I'm guessing you are fine and he probably knows that but you need to find out so you know.
 

mobius_one

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I live in a small town. It's in kitsap county, Washington. The park has signs which state no fireworks, no radio control models, no drones, no helicopters. I guess with it being near July 4th, people easily assumed I was launching fireworks. The officer didn't seem to mind- but from my past experience, I've always gotten a talking to. I grew up outside Seattle and had similar encounters even 20 years ago. Got kicked out of my high school field for playing with "explosives".

My family was responsible about it. Like you say, pick up the trash. Keep a safety minded culture.

For what it's worth though, it was a lot fun. Wow. I forgot how exciting rocket launching was. My kids loved running to catch/retrieve the rockets. All the other kids playing at the field began joining us and doing the countdowns.
 

kuririn

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Call or email your county parks dept. and get a definite yes or no.
That way you'll know if you're in compliance or not.
Might help you in the future.
 

BABAR

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Make sure your rocket and motors are appropriate for your field size AND wind conditions
Emphasize these are field size minimums. You don’t want anything landing in neighbors yards or public streets.

Set up your site as isolated in the park as you can, accounting for wind, and launch either straight up or if angled, angle AWAY from any crowds in the park.

If there are others present, don’t launch any untested scratch designs.

Be nice. Encourage questions from kids, parents, and officers. Show them how it works. Encourage them to do the countdown with you and if Safe and practical, let one of the kids press the launch button if okayed by parent.

Try to launch on days with no crowds, I find my park opens at 7:30 a.m. and it is generally cooler with lower winds in the mornings, and emptier on weekday than weekend mornings.

If you get there and crowds, winds, or other factors are not optimal, pack up and go home and build rockets. Better to miss one day of launches than have something “suboptimal” occur and lose the site for good.
 

rklapp

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Local ordinances vary. Check with your municipality's Parks and Rec division.
In my county there are designated parks from which you can legally fly.
They are listed on the Department's website.
I've had someone call the cops on us. When they arrived we showed them a printout from the Parks and Rec website showing that we could fly from that park. Cops explained it to the caller.
Having said that, make sure you observe all safety rules and fly safely.
Last thing you want is a high profile incident.
Unfortunately, most of the parks on our county parks list are about 50m wide.
 

Blast it Tom!

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It's a problem in my area to be sure, and Pittsburgh is roughly equivalent to the Seattle area in terms of small fields, hills, and lots of trees. I've found a surprisingly large horse pasture a few miles from my place, though. To find 2000' x 700' clear and flat in Western PA is doing something, but Google Earth is your friend. Question is, will the owner giver permission, and then... how to avoid horse "by products"!
 

berlinetta

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I remember back in the day, when my dad would take us, he had to get a permit from the fire department. I believe that has changed.

However, anytime I launch on my own anywhere with my daughter, I carry my NAR license with me in case someone does call.
 

jrap330

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I live in a small town. It's in kitsap county, Washington. The park has signs which state no fireworks, no radio control models, no drones, no helicopters. I guess with it being near July 4th, people easily assumed I was launching fireworks. The officer didn't seem to mind- but from my past experience, I've always gotten a talking to. I grew up outside Seattle and had similar encounters even 20 years ago. Got kicked out of my high school field for playing with "explosives".

My family was responsible about it. Like you say, pick up the trash. Keep a safety minded culture.

For what it's worth though, it was a lot fun. Wow. I forgot how exciting rocket launching was. My kids loved running to catch/retrieve the rockets. All the other kids playing at the field began joining us and doing the countdowns.
[/QUOTE No RC models does not sound encouraging so call local parks dept and the county parks dept if you have a county park near you. No Farm land nearby because that is optimum but you need courage to ask for permission
 

Joshua F Thomas

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Same issues here in Connecticut - density of trees means field size is limited.

COVID has actually helped, as the usual athletic fields aren’t being used. Go early in mornings, and you’ll be done by the time anyone is awake enough to care.
 

lakeroadster

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Call or email your county parks dept. and get a definite yes or no.
That way you'll know if you're in compliance or not.
Might help you in the future.
That's great advice.

Emailing is best because you have a paper trail. If they approve of you launching, then print out the email and keep it in your range box. That way you'll have it to show the "authorities" when you're at the launch site.

Another thing to be aware of is "Burn Bans" during periods when drought conditions exist.

We have an RC park here, that's where the city prefers rocket launches... but not now, due to a burn ban. It's a fluid situation, what is allowed today may not be allowed tomorrow.

Good luck!
 
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neil_w

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We have an RC park here, that's where the city prefers rocket launches... but not now, due to a burn ban. It's a fluid situation, what is allowed today may not be allowed tomorrow.
I think what you mean to say is that it's a "lack of fluid" situation.


I'll show myself out.
 

NateB

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If the park rules state no RC aircraft, drones, or helicopters, I would think that launching a rocket would be violating the spirit of their regulations. Chances are high the cop didn't say anything because he didn't think you were hurting anything or breaking any laws. PD get these types of calls all the time, they have to respond and it irritates them the same as you.

Do you have another park or school field in the area? I'm lucky to have a large park with several soccer and baseball fields grouped together. It usually only busy in the afternoon and evening.
 

mobius_one

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Thanks for the replies everyone. All very good advice. I feel like I'm following the rules and using good judgment. Dave, the club location you provided me is in Port Hadlock, some 2hrs drive away from me. Certainly doable; but quite far never the less.

I have several local school fields. They're "banned" in light of the covid crisis. Ironically, the county park is open? I don't understand how these rules work.

Agree about timing. I go to the field very early in the morning or in the evening, when no one is out and winds are calm. As a side note, I also enjoy flying airplanes as a hobby. I keep phone numbers for nearby airports with automated weather reporting systems. Gives me an accurate picture of the wind speed and direction.

In case you'd like to know- go to skyvector.com and right click on any airport near you. If it has a AWOS / ASOS there should be a phone number listed and it will give you the automated weather report, updated every minute. Wind speeds are reported in knots (1.14 mph)
 

Blast it Tom!

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Thanks, mobius_one! I'd check with the airport when I was young, but that was 50 years ago! Now I know how to do it again! But isn't that knotty of them to give wind speed in knots? :p
 

mobius_one

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Yes! And temperatures are in celsius. Visibility is in statute miles. And barometric pressure is in inches Mercury!!!
 

Dee55

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Yep, I just got back into the rocket hobby and I started lauching in a public park. I called the county frist and as soon as I said rocket she hollered out NO!!!!!! LOL. But the cops said it was ok as long as nobody is around .. but now I have a great place to launch on private property that I got permission from the owners. The picture is of the private property I now use to fly.
 

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NOLA_BAR

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Finding a safe place to launch is probably the most frustrating part of this hobby. In my much younger days I was fortunate to have a large open space of private land within walking distance from where I lived. It’s now houses and a big box grocery store. There is a small playground/ball field near where I live now, but I only go early on a weekend when there is no wind and no people. The NAR chapter in my area does not have a field. To launch D motors or larger I attend a TRA launch, but it is a 4 hour drive each way. They have a nice field and try to have 4 launches per year, at best I make it to 1 or 2.
 

GlenP

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Some of the newer fields that have artificial turf with the rubber pellets under the fake grass may expressly prohibit model rocketry, they would likely have signs posted. Glad the police did not give you any trouble. I used to launch at a neighborhood school field with our Cub Scouts once a year and never had a problem. The school had their own rocket club and would launch there also.
 

Blast it Tom!

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<Sigh> I hear all you guys. Since starting back at this in January, I have yet to ID a field. I can go to a school field (grass), and it's fairly big, 735 x 383 average, but it's wedge shaped, and there are schools to the west and east that would vie to see which could act as SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" recovery barge... Western PA is all hills and trees. There is a horse pasture not too far from my place that is 2000' x 800', but again, permission, horses, etc. Pittsburgh Space Command (NAR) and the local Tripoli group both have nice launch fields, PSC's has a waiver, but both are at least an hour's drive and if it's windy that day, you don't launch, or at least I don't.

And I'm out in eastern Montana, and next to where I'm staying is a clear farmer's field which, by Google Earth measurements, is bald minmum 12,000' x 12,000', and I'm pretty sure I've seen bigger. 😖
 

gna

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Where's a good place to launch Estes rockets without getting into trouble? My son is five. He asked me about the model rockets that were sitting on my model shelf, so I bought a few engines and we went to the local county park- largest park in the area. We had a great time launching it. We built another Estes rocket together and took it to the park for its maiden flight. Lots of fun and brings back good memories. But someone called the police. The policeman didn't ask us to leave though. He exited his vehicle, watched us perform a launch and then left. We were responsible- brought a fire extinguisher, jug of water, etc.

I remember this being the very reason why my parents gave up launching rockets when I was a kid- people called the cops.... we got a talking to....

Somehow it's okay to hit a baseball from the same park, going over 100mph; but launching a rocket results in calls to the police?
My guess is once they found out you weren't setting off fireworks, they left.

My daughter and I were launching rockets in a local park a few years ago. My wife was convinced we would get arrested. The police came, watched a few launches, left. I'd say you're probably fine.
 
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