“Should I fly here?” is a better question than “Can I fly here?”

Suitability has tripped up lots of us so here are some tips to help. You must already have some idea of how long your launch run is, especially in dead calm conditions. Use the ruler feature of Google Earth, or some other means, to measure while at your home location.

If the trees are a swayin’, on the ground I’m a stayin’.

Launching is more demanding than landing so if the site is good to takeoff, it’s probably good to land. Be mindful of changing winds, though. It’s easy to launch from a site that was suitable in morning’s calm, only to come back to a windy, rotored nightmare. Don’t ask how I know that.

Here are some tips for a prospective site.

  • It shouldn’t require the motor to keep running. Be able to either circle before an obstruction or be high enough to turn around for at least a downwind landing.
  • Distances are deceiving and should be walked off if you haven’t measured using Google Earth or something else..
  • A skinny corridor is OK if you have enough skill to handle steering your launch.
  • A crosswind (like a road) is OK if you have enough skill to takeoff in a crosswind.
  • There should be minimal risk of rotor or mechanical turbulence. A runway surrounded by trees is a good example. What are the tree tops doing? If they’re wiggling, even though it’s calm on the surface, it’s probably turbulent. As wind increases (> 5 mph) such mechanical turbulence gets treacherous. Not only turbulent, but sinky.
  • Crashes have befallen pilots who got into the descending portion of a rotor and couldn’t couldn’t climb over an obstruction they thought was far enough away. That’s one reason why it’s so import to never accept a site that requires the motor to continue running.
  • The surface must be appropriate to your landing gear. Carts don’t like hidden holes any more than ankles do. “If there’s doubt, Walk it out”