Southern Arizona Rocketry Association

Range Procedures

  • All flyers must register for the event either prior to the launch or on the morning of the launch. A QR code will be posted outside the registration area for easy check-in to avoid the payment line. You can check in online and quickly collect your wristbands and any merchandise you purchase.
  • High power fliers, please be prepared to show your current Tripoli or NAR  membership card with certification level at the registration table.
  • All projects with an installed impulse greater than 1280 Newton-seconds ("K" impulse class or larger) require notification of the Range Safety Officer (RSO, Stephen Lubliner) on or before 27 March 2023.  Email  Notifications after that date will be allowed to fly only at the discretion of the RSO.
  • The use of spark producing motors is subject to the Range Safety Officer's review of field conditions.  Do not automatically assume that spark producing motors may be flown.  The use of spark producing motors if they are not permitted will result in immediate expulsion from the Desert Heat event.
  • Depending on range (e.g. dry grass) and weather conditions (e.g. excessive wind) additional flight restrictions may be imposed.
  • The maximum permitted altitude for this launch is 5,000 feet above ground level (AGL).

Non-rocket Activities

Model Aircraft: There shall be no flights of unauthorized drones, quadcopters, UAVs, model airplanes, or other remote controlled aircraft anywhere at the TIMPA facility, day or night.  Violators will be required to leave the TIMPA facility.

  • Exception: Rocket launched, radio controlled gliders, are permitted if the flyer is a NAR or AMA member.  Flyers are required to coordinate frequency use with the RSO.
  • Exception: Pre-authorized radio control aircraft demonstrations scheduled in advance as a part of scheduled Desert Heat programming.
  • Exception: Pre-authorized drone video scheduled in advance as a part of scheduled Desert Heat programming.
  • Kites: Kites are permitted south of the parking area away from any camping vehicles and tents.

Rocket Check in and Safety Inspection

  • Please fill out a flight card (blue for model rockets, pink/red for high power; ask if you are not sure.) completely before the safety check and pad assignment. Officers will not accept incomplete cards.
  • All rockets must be inspected and approved by the Range Safety Officer (RSO) or qualified safety inspectors prior to each flight.
  • Model rockets (G power and below) may be presented for check in with igniters installed. 
  • High power (generally H power and above) rockets shall be presented with igniters removed, and igniters may only be inserted when the rocket is in launch position on the pad
  • Electronics that control pyrotechnics shall not be powered when presented for check in.
  • Rockets with a total installed impulse greater than 40 Newton-seconds ("F" class or higher) are required to use 1010 or larger launch rails.  There will be exceptions granted on a case by case basis for "oddrocs", e.g. saucers, pyramids, and spools.
  • Please be prepared to show that your rocket is powered by a Tripoli or NAR certified motor, that it will have a stable flight, that it will have sufficient velocity (> 50 feet per second) leaving the launch pad, and that it will recover safely, under current conditions.  If you are referring to a flight simulation or other documentation, be prepared to show your simulation, your documentation, and answer questions about the simulation parameters, e.g. launch weight and coefficient of drag.
  • If staffing allows, we will utilize a "roving" check in officer who may come to your preparation area for very large and/or complex projects. 
  • If the RSO or LCO rejects your rocket at the safety check, you must correct the problem(s) and have the rocket checked again before flying.
  • The decisions of the Range Safety Officer are final and may not be appealed.

Launch Operations

  • The pad assignment volunteers will assign you a pad after the rocket is approved by the safety inspection staff. Once you have a pad assignment, please move away from the gate area the pad assignment volunteers instruct you to proceed to the pad.
  • When the pad assignment personnel instruct you that your pad is ready for loading, enter the launch area through the correct gate and go to your pad. In some cases, you may have to change the launch rod or rail at your pad. If you have any questions about this or difficulty with your pad, please ask the pad manager for help.
  • When on the range, please stay near your pad bank. Other pad banks may be launching while you are loading at another bank.
  • Only the minimum number of required personnel shall be present at a launch pad. 
    • For model rockets this number is two (2) people maximum (not including range personnel).
    • For high power rockets the maximum number of people is four (4) while placing/erecting the rocket on the launch pad (not including range personnel).  Only one person is permitted at the launch pad, not including range personnel, when arming rocket pyrotechnic electronics and/or placing the igniter in the rocket motor.
  • After you have loaded your rocket, leave the launch area through the gate.
  • If your rocket misfires (fails to start) we will observe a 60 second wait before approaching the launch pad.
    • In general, we will allow you to stay on the launch pad while you troubleshoot the failure to ignite.  If you remove your rocket from the launch pad notify the LCO and/or pad managers so you may be removed from the launch que (they will generally return your flight card if this happens).
    • For high power rockets electronics must be safed before working on the rocket.  Only one person, not including range personnel, is permitted at the launch pad unless you are removing the rocket from the launch pad.


  • Do not attempt to catch any rocket.
  • If your rocket lands a long distance from the launch site, please take a cell phone and water with you.  Bring a partner, and notify somebody that you are leaving the site so any long absence may be noted.
  • You may pick up or move another flier's rocket that has landed only if you have the owner's permission to do so.
  • If you are a long distance away, and the rocket is undamaged, and no one appears to be looking for it, you may carefully bring it back to the LCO table; if the rocket is damaged, please note the location and report it to the LCO.  Be advised that larger models with electronics may have unexpended charges; it is recommended that you leave the rocket in place and notify the owner.
  • If the rocket is being dragged by the wind, please carefully stop the rocket and place the parachute under its body tube or nose cone, and note the location and report it to the LCO.
  • If you find a reloadable motor casing or other part that has separated from a rocket, wait until it has cooled off and bring it back to the registration table.
  • No attempt will be made to recover rockets that land on power lines by any Desert Heat participants.  Range personnel will call the power company to request rocket removal from power lines.

Fire Response

  • SARA provides fire equipment at its launches to respond to small fires that could be started by rocket operations.
  • SARA will periodically conduct fire briefings during the duration of Desert Heat for registered flyers.If a potential fire situation is observed, range operations will cease until it is confirmed that a fire does not exist or until the fire is extinguished and firefighting equipment is returned and serviced (e.g. refilling water).
  • The parking area is the congregation area in the event of a fire (if the fire is in the parking area spectators should move away from the fire).
  • Parents must maintain the safety of their children.
  • Spectators are requested to remain on site to prevent blocking a fire company response.
  • Only registered Desert Heat flyers will respond to a fire.
  • Fire responders shall be 18 years of age or older.
  • The "Indian Pump" water extinguishers weigh about 45 pounds.  Only able bodied individuals should carry these firefighting implements.

Night Launch Safety Rules

Desert Heat provides its flyers with the spectacular opportunity to fly at night! To help ensure the safety of all spectators and participants, the following range safety protocols will be in place at the night launch. Please read this carefully if you plan to attend the night launch, as some of these rules will require advanced planning. Be prepared.

·         Personal Visibility: All participants who enter the range--either the launch pad area or downrange to recover rockets--are required to wear reflective vests and a light emitting source; red lighting is preferred. Personal light sources may be battery powered lights or chemical glow sticks. 

·         Rocket Lighting: All rockets, regardless of size, must be actively lighted to be visible at night from at least 300 feet away. Lights must be visible all the way up and all the way down. All separable sections must comply with lighting requirements independently of each other. Glowsticks do not meet this requirement. LEDs can meet this requirement, but they must be properly secured to the model.

·         High Power Rocket Lighting: High power rockets must have dual redundant lighting systems. Redundant means no shared power supplies, switches, etc. The RSO will need to see each circuit illuminated independently, so no single point of failure can cause a failure of all lighting systems. At least one of the circuits should flash, strobe, or blink. High power rockets must be checked in with the RSO before dark.

·         Night Launch Motor Impulse: No motors larger than K impulse.

·         Night Launch Ceiling: 3000 feet above ground level is the maximum permissible altitude. 

·         Night Launch Complex Rockets: No complex (staged or clustered) rockets.  

·         Sparkies: The use of spark producing motors is subject to the Range Safety Officer's review of field conditions.  Do not automatically assume that spark producing motors may be flown.

There are many reasons behind these rules, and we have done our best to keep the rules simple and limited in scope, without compromising safety. But some of these rules deserve a bit more explanation:

·         The airspace is reserved exclusively for rocket flights authorized by the Range Safety Officer (RSO) and under the control of the Launch Control Officer (LCO). Launch operations will stop if any unauthorized aircraft are in the area. Operators of remote controlled aircraft will be required to leave.

·         The reflective vest and personal light requirement is to ensure that the LCO can see anyone who is at the launch pads or down range recovering a rocket. Inexpensive vests and lights are available online, commonly sold for biking, running or walking. The RSO will not permit anyone on the range who is not clearly visible at a distance.

·         Glowsticks do not produce sufficient light to track a rocket--particularly a model that does not deploy a recovery device. Small, inexpensive LED lights are available online, but they must be properly secured to the model.

·         Individuals may have vests and lighting to loan or sell at the event, but do not count on others to help you comply with these rules. Be prepared and bring your own supplies. 

If you have questions about these rules, please email beforehand or see the Range Safety Officer on the night of the launch.

Range Procedures for Spectators (And Everyone!)

Spectators are welcome at Desert Heat! We do ask that you register for the event as a spectator for free and that you abide by these rules:

·         Everyone attending Desert Heat (both fliers and spectators) should understand and follow these rules to ensure safety

·         Firearms: No firearms or other weapons are allowed at the TIMPA facility. 

·         Parents, please keep your children under control and be sure they understand these rules.

·         Unless you have a wrist band, you will be required to remain south of the chain link fence; you may not enter the ramada area past the registration desk.

·         If the LCO announces a flight as a "Heads Up" flight, that means get on your feet and pay attention until the rocket's recovery device deploys or until the rocket is on the ground.

·         Pay attention! Every flight is potentially dangerous to you and your family. If the Launch Control Officer (LCO) yells "Heads up!" or activates the siren they  mean it!

·         Do not attempt to catch any rocket as it lands. Even a small rocket can cause an injury.

·         Do not pick-up or move any rocket that is not yours, unless you have the owner's permission.

·         No motorized vehicles are permitted on the field except those given permission by the RSO, LCO, or event director.

·         Please drive slowly as you approach and within the launch area. There are children present and a vehicle can raise a surprising amount of very annoying dust!

·         Please keep control of your trash and carry it off the field when you leave.

·         TIMPA is a desert location.  The hazards associated with desert living include critters, e.g. rattlesnakes, gopher holes, dehydration, sunburn, thorns, and heat exhaustion.  Please exercise adequate precautions to avoid injury during the Desert Heat event.

Copyright © 2022 Southern Arizona Rocketry Association (SARA)
SARA is a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in Tucson, Arizona

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