The Ban on Flying in National Parks - The Lump Overlook

Can you help us save an important flying site? Read on to hear the story and post your thoughts.


Help Us Save a Soaring Site

Roughly 17 years ago my life was changed forever. My dad took me for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and we stopped at a place called "The Lump Overlook." It didn't look like much from the parking area, just a big hill with a walking path. We saw some activity on top and decided to check it out. We saw RC sailplanes flying, silently soaring the skies and I knew I had to be a part of that. That day kickstarted the hobby for me and ultimately my career. I flew off that hill for years to come and 17 years later, I still long to fly there.

I keep in touch with those guys who taught me how to fly and this past week I heard some very sad news, The Lump is shut down as a flying site!

Back in 2014, Policy Memorandum 14-05 was released by the National Park Service which essentially prohibits the launching, landing, or operation of unmanned aircraft on NPS land. We all know what triggered this, the exponential rise of consumer drones along with a dramatic increase in aerial filming drones flying at national parks. The NPS was concerned with drones "harming visitors, interfering with rescue operations, causing excessive noise, impacting viewsheds, and disturbing wildlife." That's all fine and dandy, but none of those concerns are valid with respect to flying sailplanes off of The Lump Overlook. The planes fly out over trees, are silent and have posed no safety issue or environmental impact out there in decades. No one in their right mind would have a problem with this activity in this location. With that thought, some of my old flying buddies have been trying to get a waiver to fly there, but have been turned down with the Policy Memorandum cited as the reason.

The policy memorandum states in the background portion that "Except for the limited existing use of model aircraft in some parks, the use of unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the NPS is a new park use. As unmanned aircraft have become more affordable and easier to operate, they have begun to appear in some park areas. Although their use remains relatively infrequent across the National Park System, this new use has the potential to cause unacceptable impacts such as harming visitors, interfering with rescue operations, causing excessive noise, impacting viewsheds, and disturbing wildlife." That seams to indicate that the primary reason for the ban is due to new use in locations not suitable for the activity. It should not have banned model aircraft use where it had already existed safely for at least 20 years or more. They should absolutely be able to get a waiver from this policy to continue flying at The Lump.

What Can You Do to Help?

If anyone has any background in this area, has retained a waiver to fly on National Park Service Land, or has any ideas on actions that can be taken, please reply below and fill us in. I'm sure that The Lump is not the only location this policy has affected and others may need this information to help save flying sites in their area too. I'm hopeful that something can be done and when/if the site is reopened, you can bet I'll make a trip out there to celebrate.

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Jan 10, 2018, 11:11 AM
Registered User
Thanks for doing this Jason. I flew the Lump and Thunder Hill for many years. Lee Parker and Mike Severt , and Scott Wimmer in the photo are some of my long time flying friends. Sorry I was out of the hobby for a while when you were flying there. I will certainly be there for the celebration if we re-gain access!

Jan 10, 2018, 11:25 AM
Registered User

The Lump

Hey Jason

Great article, right on point.
Hopefully someone has gained permission to fly on NPS property and can let us know how they did it.

Jan 10, 2018, 11:53 AM
Pompano Hills Flyers
Dangerous James's Avatar
Blame the drone jerks for the Hell they caused us. Great article
Jan 10, 2018, 11:54 AM
Registered User
These regulations stem from the "shut .gov land down for everybody but me" crowd (most often the tree huggers). You should live out here in the western US where the feds own tons of land. They live to shut down federal land for everything except looking at it.
I feel your pain but this is where things are headed.
Good luck on getting your flying site back.
Jan 10, 2018, 11:59 AM
Gliders ain't drones!
Zenmaniac's Avatar
A similar nonsensical global RC ban was enforced several years ago at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park in Michigan (, one of the premier slope sites in the Midwest.

As I understand it, it was the result of an argument with a park ranger and a quadcopter pilot who was insisting his craft wasn't an "airplane" so the rules at the time didn't apply to him. Hence the rule "No RC".

Virtually all of the flying sites there are over Lake Michigan, so no hazards to individuals or noise issues -- frankly, the wind howling through the trees makes WAY more noise than a RC slope plane.

Here's a video from a friend of mine from several years ago. Better days.

Sleeping Bear Dunes! Slope Soaring (2 min 56 sec)

-= Dave
Jan 10, 2018, 12:08 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Yep, surely common sense can prevail and something can be done. Blaming doesn't help, but hopefully shedding more light on the issue can.
Jan 10, 2018, 12:40 PM
Suspended Account

I hear tell the AMA can get the government to do their bidding.

Sorry! Someone had to say it!
Jan 10, 2018, 12:45 PM
Suspended Account
OK, seriously. I'd start with the local state representative and senators. The ones in Lansing not DC. See if you can get one or more of them on your side and go from there. They should be able to open doors for you with the park services.

Also, touch base with the local park gurus. Ask them for the history behind the total banning. Then ask if there were any issues when it was just the gliders. Then ask if there isn't some way to allow just the gliders. Offer to help phrase the new signs, etc.
Jan 10, 2018, 01:46 PM
Team Spektrum FPV
aaronredbaron's Avatar
This is all a direct result of a specific incident at the Grand Canyon... very frustrating
Jan 10, 2018, 02:02 PM
Suspended Account
Originally Posted by aaronredbaron
This is all a direct result of a specific incident at the Grand Canyon... very frustrating
I read that thread and detected a lot of "I have rights! I can do whatever I want!" attitude among the posters.

That is hands down the fastest way to be shown the door and barred from returning when dealing with government agencies.

I do hope those posters have matured some since then.
Jan 10, 2018, 02:12 PM
I think I go fly
pyrobus's Avatar

I'm from the goverment and I'm here to help

One of the three biggest lies...

Let us punish the legitimate users of the lump.

No more fun times. This is sad.

Im sorry but alot of great flying sites have been shut down for the wrong reasons.

Let no good deed go unpunished!
Last edited by pyrobus; Jan 15, 2018 at 11:25 AM.
Jan 10, 2018, 02:17 PM
Registered User
Hello everyone,
I have flown the Lump for over 20 years and have enjoyed it tremendously.
Last week I talked to the park rangers at the bluffs office about this situation.
The park rangers were very courteous to me about this, but it is basically out of their control, due to the "higher up in authority people in command" that makes the rules.
So I would like to ask the "higher up in command" several questions....
How many people have been injured or killed by driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Probably several. How many people have been injured or killed riding a motorcycle on the Parkway. Probably several. How many people have committed suicide on the Parkway? Probably several. How many people have slipped and fallen to be either injured or killed on the Parkway? Probably several. How many people have been killed or injured by flying a remote controlled sailplane on the Parkway? A big fat zero!
People still drive on the Parkway, people still ride motorcycles on the Parkway, people still commit suicide on the Parkway, people still slip and fall on the Parkway, but people that fly sailplanes that have a perfect track record get banned. I believe that has been unjust to us. Everyone that flys there respects other people and the parkway land. I have never met a better group of people, than the people that fly the Lump.
Thanks Jason for this article
Jan 10, 2018, 03:22 PM
Oleg Golovidov
olgol's Avatar
I flew at the Lump a couple times in the 90s!
I think I actually recognize one face on your pics Jason, Mike S?? do not remember the last name.

Quite sad that it is no longer a RC soaring place. I know there was a small group of very active Lump flyers years ago there.
Jan 10, 2018, 03:37 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Mike is bodman in the post above yours! So cool that you've been there. That's where it all started for me!!

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