Range Duty Positions and Procedures

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Range Safety Officer (aka “RSO”)

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The Range Safety Officer is responsible for checking each rocket to try to ensure that it will make a safe flight, and also for ensuring that the flight cards are filled out correctly and completely, and that the flyers are authorized to fly.  The RSO must be HPR certified to at least Level 2.

The RSO must first verify that the flyer:

  • Is wearing a wristband of a color indicating that they have registered to fly on the current day, have paid their range fees, and have signed the liability waiver.  All flyers — even ROC Executive Members — must register, pay their fees, sign a liability waiver, and obtain a wrist band.
  • Is certified to the appropriate level, if flying a high-power motor.  Cert level should be marked on the flyer’s ROC badge or wristband.  If it isn’t, ask to see the flyer’s current (unexpired) NAR or TRA membership card.
  • Has filled out the “bold” sections of the flight card legibly and completely, and has initialed the card where indicated to acknowledge personal responsibility for his flight.  The following information MUST be present and legible:
    • Flyer name (or Parent name if flyer is a minor)
    • Flyer current cert level and TRA/NAR number(s) (if HPR flight)
    • Date
    • Rocket Name
    • Motor(s)
    • Launch rod or rail size
    • Initial to acknowledge personal responsibility.

The RSO should then inspect the rocket and question the flyer in order to ensure that the rocket will make a safe flight.  Some of the items to consider for every flight:

  • Are the launch guides secure?
  • Is the motor retained securely?
  • Is the rocket construction sufficient to survive flight on the installed motor(s)?
  • Is the rocket stable? (Ask the flyer about the CP location and how it was determined, and obtain the CG by balancing the rocket.)
  • Will the rocket drag- or pressure-separate?
  • Will the rocket recover safely?
  • If electronics are used, how are they “safed” and “armed”, and what precautions have been taken to ensure that they function as planned?
  • If motor ejection is used, is the delay appropriate for the flight?

If the RSO is not satisfied that the rocket will make a safe flight, and that the flyer is authorized to fly it, then the RSO MUST refuse to allow the flight.

If the RSO is satisfied, then initial the flight card.

Pad Manager (aka “PM”)

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The Pad Manager is in charge of assigning pads to flyers, and shares responsibility with the LCO for restricting access to the range area, and for helping to maintain the “flow” of the launch.

As soon as the rockets on a bank of pads have flown, the PM should collect flight cards and assign flyers to the empty pads on that bank, based on the size of rod/rail that the flyer needs, and the size of the motor (both should be marked on the flight card).

In assigning pads, the PM must follow the following rules:

  • The flight card MUST have been initialed by the RSO.
  • Anyone under 18 MUST only be assigned pads on the front row, except for Jr. L1 flyers, who may fly off the middle row, but must be accompanied by a certified adult flyer.
  • Only certified HPR flyers (and those attempting cert flights) may fly off the middle and back rows.
  • The Front row is only for motors up to “G”.
  • The Middle row is only for motors up to “K” (or clusters/airstarts/staging up to “J”).
  • The Back row allows flights up to “M” (or clusters/airstarts/staging up to “L”).
    • Prefer loading “M” and complex “L” flights on the left side, back row.
    • Second choice for “M” and complex “L” flights is right side, back row.
    • Last choice for “M” and complex “L” flights is center side, back row.
  • Do NOT assign any pads unless those pads are already EMPTY.
    • If there is a rocket on a pad, DO NOT ASSIGN THAT PAD to anyone else.
    • If there are any people already heading out or loading rockets on a bank, DO NOT ASSIGN any more people to that bank, even if there are empty pads on that bank.

As soon as a side is open to load, send out one and only one batch of people to each of the three banks to load their rockets, as a group.  If you have Pad Helpers, send them out with any groups that might need help.  NEVER send anyone else to a bank until it’s been flown and is open again, even if it has open pads.

If the LCO hands you a card for a misfire, put it back in the slot for the pad to remind you that the pad is still in use, so you won’t assign anyone else there.  When the person who had the misfire comes back with a new igniter, wait to send them out with the group that is loading rockets on the empty pads at that bank.

When the LCO finishes launching a “side”, hand him the cards for the next “side”, arranged Front bank, Middle bank, Back bank, with cards arranged in numerical order within each bank.  If there are any red cards indicating the need for high altitude windows for that “side”, notify the FAA contact at this time.  If there is anyone still prepping a rocket on that “side”, have the LCO tell them to exit the range and come back to it after it’s open again (pull their card out of the batch you hand the LCO).

Launch Control Officer (aka “LCO”)

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The Launch Control Officer is in charge of operating the Launch Control Panels, and is the person on the microphone.  the LCO shares responsibility with the Pad Manager for ensuring that unauthorized people are not allowed onto the range, and for maintaining the “flow” of the launch.

A few notes to keep in mind while launching:

  • Our pad distances allow for flying up to “K” motors from any bank, even with all other banks occupied.
  • To fly “L” motors (which must only be flown off the back row), the adjacent (middle) pad bank on the same control panel (“side”) must be unoccupied.
  • To fly “M” motors (which also must only be flown off the back row), all three of the pad banks on the same side must be unoccupied, as must the back and middle banks on the adjacent side(s).

Always launch and open for loading/recovery in the following order:

  • Launch Left Front, Left Middle, Left Back.
  • Open Left side for loading/recovery.
  • Launch Center Front, Center Middle, Center Back.
  • Open Center for loading/recovery.
  • (Launch “away” pads, if any.)
  • (Open “away” pads, if any, for loading/recovery.)
  • Launch Right Front, Right Middle, Right Back.
  • Open Right Side for loading/recovery.
  • Make any necessary announcements.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.

Arm each bank just before you are going to fly it.  Disarm it as soon as you are finished with it.

For each bank you launch, check for Red cards before starting the bank.  Make sure you know why each card is Red: is it a cert flight?  Is it a high altitude flight?  Verify that the appropriate witnesses are watching any cert flights, and check with the FAA contact to ensure any necessary high-altitude windows are open before launching those flights.

If necessary, SKIP a card, and hand it back to the PM to fly in the next round.  DO NOT HOLD UP LAUNCHING A BANK BECAUSE OF ONE FLIGHT THAT ISN’T READY.  Skip it, and give the card back to the PM.

If you’re flying an “L” or “M” motor, make sure that the necessary banks are unoccupied (see above).  Ask people to quickly move out of the way, if need be.  (They can come back as soon as the rocket has flown.)

Check the sky for aircraft, and check the range for people who are where they shouldn’t be.  If both are clear, count down and launch the rocket.  If you (or your spotter, if you have one) see a rocket drift (or fly) over the parking area, call “Heads Up!” and point out the location of the rocket, repeating as necessary until the rocket is safely on the ground.

In the event of a misfire, LEAVE THE ROCKET THERE, and hand the flight card back to the PM.  The person whose igniter misfired will need to go out with the next group going to that bank of pads to replace the igniter.

Pad Helper

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Wander the range helping folks that may need assistance. Mostly helping youngsters and their families hook up their rockets to the front-row pads for the first time.

Check leads and ignitors on front-row pads for shorts and pulled wires. Helps to prevent mis-fires.

Direct traffic as the different parts of the range open and close.

[Editor's Note: More to come. rtd]


One Comment on “Range Duty Positions and Procedures”

  1. ai6pg says:

    The best way to recruit is to talk with them one on one and ask them to volunteer for either a position that interests them or for which you think they can rise to the occasion for the job.
    That’s based on my experience as a Camp Director and BSA Woodbadge.


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