Range Operations and Safety
In all cases, as the launch operations expand and the club becomes bigger more rocketeers and spectators will be present on the range during firing operations. At this point, and when any high power rockets are launched, safety considerations dictate that one there be individual, the Range Safety Officer (RSO), who has overall responsibility for all activity on the range. The RSO must decide if the conditions are safe for a launching before the countdown can begin. He must be sure that:
2. The engine is a NAR Safety Certified type,
3. The sky is clear of conflicting aircraft,
4. The rocketeers and spectators are at a safe distance, (see the safety code)
5. The rocketeers and spectators are attentive to the fact that a rocket is about to be launched, before he allows the launch countdown to begin.
Insurance and Damages
Independent of the type of firing system employed, the basic range layout will remain the same. (See figure below). The range itself is a large, open area relatively clear of trees and other obstacles. Its size depends on the power of the models to be flown, and a guide to field size can be found in the launch site dimension table following the NAR Safety Codes. Selection of a field of the recommended size or larger will not guarantee that all rockets with properly functioning recovery systems will land within the range area, but only that a malfunctioning rocket will not be likely to impact outside the recovery area should a recovery system failure occur.
The exact set-up of the “Firing Area” will depend on the type of launch system chosen. However, the Firing Area is generally located at the center of the range so that it does not have to be moved if the wind shifts during the launch session. On small fields the Firing Area may be located nearer the upwind edge of the range so that models will drift down over the range area. However, the Firing Area should never be located along the edge of the range area, to avoid problems caused by malfunctioning rockets impacting outside the range area. The designated Firing Area should be marked off with rope or flag line barriers at all launches where more than a few rocketeers or spectators will be present, to avoid the hazard of having an inattentive modeler or uninformed spectator wander into the Firing Area during a launching.
A Generalized Model Rocket Range
If the launch site is located in an area where large numbers of spectators would be likely (such as a public park) or if advance publicity makes it likely that there will be a large number of spectators, a specially roped off “Spectator Area” should be provided. For safety reasons, the Spectator Area should be crosswind from the Firing Area, not upwind (where weathercocking rockets with recovery failures will crash) or downwind (where rockets on recovery devices will be landing). Since spectators at rocket launches are already showing some interest in the hobby, a table with club information packets encouraging them to join your section can be located in the Spectator Area. A club member should wander through the Spectator Area occasionally, answering questions, explaining model rocket safety, and promoting your Section.
Misfire Alley Range
Launch Rack System
The Launch Rack System for model rocket ranges attracts new rocketeers to the club by allowing them to get involved in the hobby without investing in their own launch system. A single rack, consisting of nothing more than a wood sawhorse with holes drilled in the crossbar to accept 6 or 8 1/8” x 36” launch rods, will not require a great financial investment on the part of the club. A firing panel, with individual launch cables running from the battery through a firing switch on the panel to each launch position on the rack can also be easily constructed at low cost from parts available at any electronics supply store.
is safe for loading.” The next group of rocketeers then goes out to the pad to load their models on the rods. The LCO does not arm the panel by inserting the safety key until he is instructed to do so by the RSO, who has determined that all rocketeers have left the pad
High Power Launch Range
Other Range Features
As the number of rocketeers and spectators attending your launches increases, many other additions can be made to make your range more comfortable and convenient to use. When running a contest, a bulletin board can be used to post up-to-the-minute contest results. This allows participants to know what performance they must beat in order to move into first place, and allows spectators to get more involved in the excitement of the contest.
A “Range Store” selling various rocketry supplies is a great convenience for the modeler who forgets something, or needs to make an on-the-field repair. If the club already maintains its own supply of parts and engines for sale to club members, this “store” can be brought out to the range and manned by club members during the flying session. For large gatherings, the local hobby shop or one of the numerous traveling rocketry vendors may be agreeable to the idea of bringing out a trailer full of rocket supplies to sell on the range.
A refreshment stand, with cold soda in summer and hot chocolate in winter, can be a profitable operation for your section. At all-day launches, or weekend regionals, you can add snacks or sandwiches if there is no restaurant within easy traveling distance of the range. At each launch you will discover more little things you could add to the range to make its operation more fun.
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