Field Job Descriptions

Range Safety Officer (RSO):

A detailed description of duties and responsibilities can be found on the Tripoli website.
The RSO must be a METRA member, with level 2 or higher Tripoli certification. All flights must be approved by the RSO before they can be loaded on a pad. While the ultimate responsibility for the flight resides with the flyer, the RSO provides an important check. The RSO can reject any flight that does not meet the requirements. A summary of duties is shown below:

  1. Ask for a completed flight card. Check information for accuracy.
  2. Verify flyer is a paid up METRA member, as well as either TRA or NAR with sufficient certification level for the motor(s) installed.
  3. For high power rockets, be sure that there is no igniter installed, and ask the flyer to make sure there are no armed electronics controlling deployment charges.
  4. Visually inspect each rocket to determine if it is structurally sound for flight and that the materials used in construction conform with the safety code. Check for: loose fins, sound rail buttons/launch lugs, adequate motor retention, sufficiently tight joints/nose cone to avoid premature separation.
  5. Check the stability of the rocket. Kits are likely OK; Ask if the flyer CP is ahead of Cg, and how they determined it.
  6. Is the motor safe for the rocket? Make sure the thrust to weight ratio is greater than 5:1 (see charts). If surface level winds are low, Cp is well ahead of Cg, and the rocket is a known stable flyer (NOT a first flight), the thrust to weight ratio can be lower, 3:1 at a minimum.
  7. Will the flight exceed our waiver ? Ask flyer how they determined it. Check motor thrust/altitude charts is there is concern.
  8. In case of a reduced ceiling due to low clouds, make sure the expected altitude is below the cloud deck.
  9. Determine that the chosen recovery method will be safe (appropriate for the flight and not undersized).
  10. Stamp the flight card as “Heads UP” in the following cases: flyer suggests it, first flight, certification flight, cluster lit on the pad, high power and multiple stages, or any rocket you consider marginal.
  11. If everything is OK, sign the card and direct the flyer to the entrance to the field where they can wait for the LCO to announce it is safe to load the pads.

Launch Control Officer (LCO):
The LCO controls the flow of a launch, and may be assisted by a “button pusher”. The LCO must be level 2 or higher certified member of both METRA and Tripoli; the “button pusher” must be approved by the LCO and follow all instructions from the LCO. The Launch Control Officer’s primary duty is to launch the rockets with an audible countdown after ensuring that the range and sky are clear. A summary of duties is shown below:

  1. After pads are loaded, ensure that all people are well behind the LCO area and none are still in the pad area. Announce that pads are “hot”, and that no more flyers can enter the pad area.
  2. Visually check that pad rack boxes are armed by observing that the warning flashers are active at each rack.
  3. Turn on the launch controllers.
  4. Read pertinant infomation before each flight from the flight card over the PA system (flyer’s name, where they live, project name, motors installed, expected altitude, expected main chute deployment altitude, recovery system details, etc).
  5. Announce “heads up” flights over the PA system, ask all to stand and pay attention to the launch.
  6. Check that the sky above the launch site is clear of air traffic (planes) before launch. Call “sky is clear” over the PA system, and give a chance for others to check sky to confirm that there are no planes.
  7. If all appears safe, give a countdown over the PA, then launch.
  8. Follow the fight, at least until initial deployment.
  9. Warn the crowd over the PA system if the flight is recovering unsafely, in which case call “Heads UP!” and sound the air horn.
  10. If there is not a lot of flyers waiting for pads, follow the flight until it lands, giving updates over the PA system.
  11. Put flight cards after use inside the flight card box.
  12. After all rockets have been launched, disarm all of the launch control boxes, and announce that the pads are safe for loading.

High Power Pad Manager:

  1. Safe the Pad rack (in order:)
    Safe/deactivate the launch controller.
    Starting with the nearest rack of pads: Turn off toggle switch on the rack controller.
    Note pad rack warning light stops flashing.
    Work your way out to the farthest rack following the same procedure.
  2. Help Flyers Load Rockets on Rod/Rail
    Make sure rocket is on appropriate pad for impulse and rod/rail size.
    Make sure there is freedom of movement on the pad, i.e., no binding of any sort.
    First, allow flyer to activate any electronics.
    Then, allow flyer to install igniter(s).
    Before igniter clips are connected to igniter, touch/scratch the igniter clips together, then separate clips from each other and connect to igniter.
  3. Clear all flyers from pad area. Flyers to return to spectator areas.
  4. Notify the LCO that pads are clear and ready to arm.
  5. On command from LCO, arm the pads – Start arming the furthest row of pads first, then arm the next row of pads, working your way to the LCO, one color row at a time:
    Turn on pad box with toggle switch.
    Note that pad rack warning light comes on.
    Proceed to next row and do the same.
  6. Pad Manager returns to LCO table.

High Power Pad Coordinator:

  1. Make sure flight cards are initialed from RSO.
  2. Verify launch lug / rail button size on the rocket with the size indicated on the flight card.
    Direct flyer to the correct rack/pad based on lugs/buttons and total impulse.
  3. Maintain order. Do not allow flyers to go to pads until LCO says its OK.
    Use ropes/bungee at end of flight line to control number of flyers out at pads, i.e., use your discretion to make sure that there is no congestion at pads.
    Allow only the number of flyers, setting up at the pads, that you and the LCO feel is safe at any one time.
    Do not allow last minute flyers, unless the LCO permits.

Low Power Pad Manager/Coordinator:

  1. Safe the Pad:
    Safe/deactivate the launch controller.
    Turn off toggle switch on pad rack rail.
    Note armed indicator on pad rack rail goes out.
  2. Make sure flight cards are initialed from RSO.
  3. Verify launch lug size of the rocket with the size rod indicated on the flight card.
  4. Maintain order. Do not allow flyers to go to pads until LCO says it’s OK.
    Use ropes/bungee at end of flight line to control number of flyers out at pads, i.e., use your discretion to make sure that there is no congestion at pads.
    Allow only the number of flyers, setting up at the pads, that you and the LCO feel is safe at any one time.
    Do not allow last minute flyers, unless the LCO permits.
  5. Loading Rocket on Rod
    Make sure rocket is on appropriate launch rod.
    Make sure there is freedom of movement on rod, i.e., no binding of any sort.
    Allow flyer to install igniter(s).
    Before igniter clips are connected to igniter, touch/scratch the igniter clips together, then separate clips from each other and connect to igniter.
  6. Clear all flyers from pad area. Flyers to return to spectator areas.
  7. On command of LCO, arm the pads.
  8. Pad Manager/Assigner returns to LCO table.