Below is a list of document received with regards to the addition of a Geotextile Fabric to our existing runway. .
Dave Holland provided the below – he asked these questions of other clubs currently using the Geotextile runway.
Scott PélotPresident, Fly-A-Ways RC Club
I am a member of the TCRCM club in Washington State. We are exploring the possible installation of a Geotextile runway parallel to our grass runway. I am hoping that you or one of the other members of your club can provide some insight.
What I’m looking for is information on the following:
1. How long your Geotextile has been installed? For about 10 years. It was put in when we acquired the field we are presently leasing.
2. Has there been any hidden maintenance costs with its upkeep/maintenance? Nothing hidden, only some expected. We do occasional “patching” in areas that have gotten ripped or damaged (due to vandalism done by kids on ATVs). We did a full re-covering about 3 years ago where we put the new layer overtop of the old. That has proven to be a good choice as it is even more robust now having a second layer. For the most part the only fixes are where there has been damage due to prop strikes. Some edges have torn a bit, but that has been minor.
3. Has it affected the membership level either positive or negative? Interesting question. I don’t believe it has been a negative factor at all with most commenting on how much they like it. Personally I’ve never heard a “negative” comment about it. Some wish we had pavement or blacktop but that has never been an option considered due to our land lease not allowing anything “permanent” to be done to the land.
4. Based on your experience- when do you expect it will need to be replaced? We did a recovering in 2018. It had weathered at some of the seams, and we also wanted to extend the width of our runway to include a taxi-way. The recovering was easier than placing the original as we just followed the footprint of the old material and stapled the new material on top of the the old. I was concerned with the two layers “slipping” or creating wrinkles, but we have seen no bad effects from adding the 2nd layer.
5. Who is the manufacture of your Geotextile? On the PO Order from Convoy Supply Inc. it is called “Terratex HD” or “GeoTex WSF315”, and it came in rolls of 17.5’ x 258’.
6. Are there certain types of models that don’t work well on it? Not that I’m aware of. It plays like pavement to most scale models and is easy on wheels. We also painted stripes and lines on it, and it takes to that well.
7. Are there any traction issues, such as with crosswinds, types of tire compounds, etc.? No, see above note.
8. Has rain/water caused any problems? Our field is currently watered with a combination of large cannons and small stream rotor sprinklers. The cannons would probably still run water over the top of the Geotextile area. The west end of our runway floods each winter as the land is lower there and buts up to a stream that is purposely flooded by our land owner (for bird hunting). Once the water resides, there is no damage or discoloration. On a given day that it rains, the runway area is the fastest to dry before the gravel parking area or grass around the pits and runway. Water filters through the material to the ground without pooling up. (That’s the part of it being landscape material doing its job).
9. And finally.. do the majority of the club members like it or are there complaints? I’ve never heard a complaint, only positive remarks.
Additional notes: If you or someone would wish to come by and take a look at our setup I would welcome that. Also, if you choose to move forward in installing this material, there are a handful of tips we can share for your best results, although a verbal conversation while on-site looking at the material would be best to convey this info. How to overlap, how to staple, stretching correctly, issues to avoid, etc.
Looking forward to your reply. Thank you for your time and happy flying!
David…Here’s what BAMS has experienced…Jeff
1. Initially installed in about 2013. The runway was re-aligned in 2018 and some new fabric was added.
2. Maintenance has been limited to minor repairs for prop strikes, loose staples, etc. Occasional heavy rains cause some erosion and deposits of silt (which must be removed).
3. Changing from a grass runway to the fabric definitely contributed to an increase in membership.
4. With proper maintenance (patching, etc.), we expect it to last at least 5 more years.
5. We successfully fly all kinds of A/C with no fabric-related problems.
6. We have not seen any problems of this type.
7. We don’t irrigate and water related issues are limited to silting and erosion.
8. It has become an integral part of our flying experience and most, if not all, members are satisfied with the field. There are occasional gripes about localized bumpiness or needed patches which are periodically corrected.
Some things to keep in mind are: a proper base is ESSENTIAL (we graded the site, created and leveled a base of crushed rock and “road base”, rolled it with a 7 ton roller, secured the fabric with many staples, then added a center-line and FAA mandated markings. Also, be sure that the positioning and alignment are precise – changing either is a BIG job.
Member Comment – I also have 4 Edf 64mm Jets that I can not fly them from grass. Hand launch only. I crash my f-35 lighting 70mm Edf. Not good for grass. This jet couldn’t run fast enough to take off. At the end of the field I crashed it. Never could fly that jet after some repaid. A runway for smal planes will be grate with out compromising the senter of the field that we use. The tall grass area could be used for small aircrafts.
Re: the statement: “There is a reason that over 75 % of the radio control model aviation flying sites in our country have grass runways.“
This is utter nonsense! It may have been the case in 1975 — but this is not 1975. Making up fake news might work in D.C. but it doesn’t fly here.
I spent the past couple hours ascertaining the disposition of every AMA club within 200 miles of ours.
63% of clubs within 200 miles with membership over 29 that have a runway have an asphalt or geotextile runway.
37% of clubs within 200 miles with membership over 29 that have a runway have grass including TCRCM
Of all the AMA clubs within 200 miles with membership greater than TCRCM:
· 79% have hard surface runway (19 clubs)
· 21% have grass runway (5 clubs)
I’ve created a chart showing the name of every club with 30 or more members and the composition of their runway – except for a handful that have no runway and two that I’m not sure of. This does not take into account clubs such as Walla Walla which are NOT AMA clubs but do have asphalt runways. It does include drone, U-control, freeflight, and sailplane fields which have no runway. I’ve attached this file.
There is a reason that 79% of larger clubs within 200 miles of us have hard surface runways.
“Burn the land and boil the sea but you can’t take the sky from me.”
R. Scott Page
Jim, after reading the last couple of comments regarding the proposal to install a geo textile runway surface at TCRCM I feel compelled to make a response. The comments from one individual against the proposal seem to make statements that are either not factual or are simply opinion. I believe we should consider going ahead with the proposal and provide the membership with an option to consider that may enhance the hobby that we all share and enjoy. I would like to go on record as being 100 percent in favor of continuing to proceed with the proposal. The geo textile surface appears to be the least invasive approach that is currently available and also appears to be the most affordable. If I understand it correctly, the proposal would not eliminate the grass runway. In fact the majority of the runway would remain as grass. The addition of a geo textile surface would open up the field to a greater variety of model aircraft. In addition I believe it would also open our club up to all skill levels of R/C flyers. If, after giving it a try, the majority of club members are not happy with the results, simply remove the geo textile surface and revert back to all grass.
SCUTTLE-BUTT GOING AROUND ABOUT FABRIC RUNWAY
I have heard bits and pieces about the plus and minus or a new fabric runway. So I asked my brother-in-law that flies with the AMA is 3495 Puget Sound Silent Flyers their experiences with it. I felt there input was a lot better that the negative rumors going around that have nothing to do with the fabric!
My brother-in-law sent these questions to their club president, Dan Neeland. And he sent back the following answers. Please form your own options. Not someone else’s!
What I’m looking for is information on the following:
1. How long has your Geotextile has been installed?
The runway was put into service in early Spring of 2021. For us that means it has nearly 2 full seasons of use to date.
2. 2. Has there been any hidden maintenance costs with its upkeep/maintenance?
No. We kept aside a reserve fund to deal with things that might come up and have not used it. We have been experimenting with “Flexseal” for fixing small tears and may purchase some in the future but that is a fairly low cost item. It is important to note that small gashes for events like prop strikes are not “running”. The fabric seems to have a ripstop quality.
3. Has it affected the membership level either positive or negative?
Not only has our membership grown but existing members are far more active.
4. Based on your experience- when do you expect it will need to be replaced?
We were told to expect a 7 year service life. Based on my observations it will be closer to 10 years. The replacement cost will be for the fabric alone. This expense should be less than the maintenance on a paved runway which would require sealing and crack repair. The oldest fabric runway we toured while developing the project was 10 years and still serviceable though kind of ratty looking.
5. Who is the manufacture of your Geotextile?
We used US Fabrics US 230 . This is a woven polypropylene filter fabric which is marketed for this use. This is simply heavy duty polypro filter fabric. USF also markets it as US2500 for general construction. There are many other companies’ products that are nearly identical but this one is recognized by the AMA which was useful in securing a field improvement grant.
6. Are there certain types of models that don’t work well on it?
Taildraggers with non-steerable tail wheels flown by pilots with no rudder skills can have difficulty. Models that land fast need to be aware of the additional roll-out although the grass ends provide nice secondary braking.
7. Are there any traction issues, such as with crosswinds, types of tire compounds, etc.?
No. See above for mention of roll-out issues. One member who flys ducted fans with no glide path control added brakes to his fastest model. That is an extreme case.
8. Has rain/water caused any problems? Our field is currently watered with a combination of large cannons and small stream rotor sprinklers. The cannons would probably still run water over the top of the Geotextile area.
No. This is a filter fabric and was chosen partly for that reason. The effect of rain or (in your case) watering is similar to watering a sandbox. We specifically did not want drainage issues. Drainage is one reason a paved runway could not possibly work for us. We also do fly in wet weather. The drainage of this material installed over sand has proven to be superb.
9. And finally.. do the majority of the club members like it or are there complaints?
It has been a resounding success with membership. There is one glider pilot who actively dislikes it but that may be because it represents change. There are a few skilled pilots who could take it or leave it partly because they can fly off any surface and partly because they don’t consider take-offs and landings a large part of the flying experience. We preserved an equal amount of grass strip. I think this was a good decision. We recognize that you can’t please everyone but that is no reason not to try. We came surprisingly close to making everyone happy.
I prepared the above a few days ago. But after reading over the opinions submitted, I decide to send in mine! I flew off fabric runways at the MAA field for many years. In fact I help install it and the pit area was also fabric. All we flew then, was glow and gas power. There was never a scorched mark on the run way and pit area. Gas motors as large as 5 cubic inches were flown there. After the fabric edges were trenched and spike down, there was never a wind problem. The only repair of the fabric was where ultralight would land and turn around. There wheels stretched the fabric weave. I personally fixed a few of those spots, by gluing down additional small pieces of fabric and those spots, never needed additional maintenance.
I have a balsa and ply plane that could not fly from our grass. So I gave it to my brother-in-law that flies at the Olympia fabric field. He has no problem off the fabric and loves the plane.I think the proposed 30×300 foot fabric runway, with the balance left in grass is the only intelligent thing to do. But, one action should be decided at a time. We should take an opinion poll of the members to see if the members favor it. If so, then a task group should be appointed to figure out how to fund it. With AMA’s, the city of Richland’s help and member’s contributions, the club may not need any other funding.
Thank for all you do Jim.
I would like to state my support for the proposed textile runway. I think that this will greatly improve the flying field and open it to a lot of model aircraft that are not able to operate there now. I have aircraft from Micros to 120cc gas and everything in between. It would be nice to be able to choose to land and take off from grass or a hard surface. Many of the warbirds and edf’s do not do well from the grass if they can at all. And if they are able to take off the landing gear is often damaged during landing. The grass also damages wheel pants on larger aircraft which are expensive. Even though the textile will need to be replaced, I do not believe that it will need to be replaced as often as was stated by some of the comments. These textiles are getting better all the time and offer much better UV resistance than just a few years ago. I think that the textile runway will also extend the flying season as the snow can be pushed off and the runway utilized. Most clubs in the Northwest have hard surface runways and those that do not often do not have them because of lease restrictions and so forth. I think given the choice the majority of clubs would install a hard surface runway if possible. The proposal does not eliminate the grass runway but adds another option for those that prefer or need a hard surface. I see this as a win win as both options will be available to the pilot.
As of right now, I have to fly many of my models at Higgins Field and have to choose which ones to bring to TCRCM. It would be great to able to fly all of the models at one field.