Setting up a XC course - RC Groups
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Sep 03, 2012, 03:22 PM
I need some building time in t
scaflock's Avatar

Setting up a XC course

Hey Guys,

Now that I've moved out to Arizona, I've been looking for a nice piece of land to set up as home base. I've got one particular property in mind already and the area looks like it should be good for practicing XC flying. The lot is a nice flat 20 acres so I'll have plenty of room for launching and recovery and it's mostly a desert/rural/agro area.

What I want to know is what do you feel makes for a good XC course? I've scoped out a couple of routes that start and end at the property. The shorter course is 25 miles and the longer version is 35 miles. Other features include:

1. low traffic area
2. over all area is pretty flat but there is a slight rise towards the west.
3. Ridge line borders the west side of the course Maybe a total of 250' elevation change
4. several "bail-out" areas along the course in case one is needed.
5. About 20 miles from nearest model airfields so there shouldn't be any ferq problems while flying the course.

I've added a picture I saved from Google Earth with the start/finish shown as well as both routes shown. It's interesting that at the far side of the long course there just happens to be a bar and grill.
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Sep 03, 2012, 06:34 PM
LSF303-AMA Fellow
tkallev's Avatar
Make sure you aren't near any full scale airports and their airspace, arrival and departure corridors. Don't fly over areas that have a lot of people on the ground (soccer and baseball fields with tons of kids). Make sure the road has a wide enough shoulder so the chase vehicle has room to move over and allow other traffic to pass ... likewise enough shoulder room to pull over and thermal.

Have fun!

Be Safe!
Sep 04, 2012, 01:10 PM
I need some building time in t
scaflock's Avatar
Safety is always my #1 priority. No sense in giving the FAA any ammo to use against us. There is one airport to the north-east of the course at about 4 miles away as well as another to the south-east at about 8 miles. Neither of these airports seem to be used much by FS pilots. I'm planning on picking up a scanner that will cover the FS aircraft frequencies so I/We can keep tabs on them as well as getting to know the airport managers and keeping them informed as to when we're running our own flight ops.

The roads in the area provide plenty of room to pull off to thermal or let traffic pass. In fact the road that forms the western leg of the longer course is dirt and shows no sign of any traffic at all. I think that road would consider itself lucky to see a dozen cars on it in a years time. Usually the most traffic I've seen in this area is from the regular sweeps by the Border Patrol as we're very close to the Mexican border.

No sports fields along the either of the courses so that's not going to be a worry. The only thing even close to one is at a elementary school that is located at the south/east corner of the course(s). If flying on a weekend then there shouldn't be any concentrations of people or kids in the area to worry about. Last but not least there are zero "Tree Tunnels" along the course since this is the desert.
Sep 04, 2012, 07:42 PM
Registered User
I agree with everything that's been said except for the assumption that you're not violating anyone's airspace due to the lack of air traffic. There are several different types of airspace and they have different meanings and different uses at different times. For instance, if I have your location correct, you're right in the middle of the Tombstone C MOA. That's a military operating area. The rule in there is simply be careful when you fly through. It might be hot, it might not. They may be playing at 50,000 feet or they may be operating at ground level. You're also in the middle of the Tombstone Alert area. I've never had to deal with them and don't know much about them but it's a concern too. You're also just outside the approach for Bisbee Douglas Intl.

My recommendation is to go to an airport and buy a "Phoenix Sectional" and learn exactly what's in your area regarding airspace. The $10 will be well spent. An even better plan would be to get an hour of ground school from a local flight instructor. The going rate at many places around the country is $40 for flight instruction although a discounted rate for ground school is common.

Then you'll know the rules for which we all are responsible. You won't be guessing.

Sep 05, 2012, 01:26 AM
I need some building time in t
scaflock's Avatar
Great idea Mike!!! I know that the local J.C. has ground school classes That I could take. ( well as certification classes for UAV pilots ) I've been thinking of getting my FS Sailplane ticket so it would also apply towards that goal.

Looking at the pic of the sectional you posted I can see that you're right about the MOA. Looks like I am going to have to check into altitude limits etc for that area. Granted in the month and a half I've been here checking out different properties in the area and I haven't seen a single plane of any type, that's no excuse for not following the rules. If it means I"m not going to be able to do XC in the area then I can look into other areas with less restrictions. I've only been looking in this area due to the good prices and great weather conditions.
Sep 05, 2012, 02:03 AM
I need some building time in t
scaflock's Avatar
Did a little looking on-line and found an FAA website where you can download the latest sectionals for free. The next release for my area is due out next month so I'll hold off until it's out so I have as current info as is possible.

They're in ZIP files but that won't be a problem
Sep 21, 2012, 01:51 PM
I need some building time in t
scaflock's Avatar
Well I went ahead and grabbed a copy of the Phoenix sectional from on-line and had a look at it. Turns out that just north of the Tombstone MOA is another piece of property that's the same size, has a house that's about 20 years newer and costs about 10 grand less. Looks like I'll be getting this property instead. Now I just need to figure out a practice route for that area. I may have to do "laps" to get the distance, but none of the route will be in controlled airspace.

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