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Understand the Rules for Safe and Fun Flying


1. Field Rules:

The intent of these rules is to promote flying safety, financial responsibility and environmental protection by maintaining order, controlling frequency usage, educating and training fliers, and to act as good neighbors to the community. Rules are based upon the AMA Safety Code, FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-57B, and ordinances as established by the City of Costa Mesa. All pilots must follow these rules to fly at Fairview Park.


2. Permit Requirements:  

All RC pilots are required to Harbor Soaring Society members and have a City permit to fly at Fairview Park. This permit ensures each pilot has financial responsibility and promises to follow these field rules. The permit is obtainable from the City of Costa Mesa, Recreation Division. Applicant must provide proof of adequate liability insurance for the flying of model aircraft in the form of a current AMA membership card or a current homeowner’s/personal liability insurance policy specifically covering model airplane/aircraft flying, with a minimum limit of $500,000. The only exception is for "Free Flight" Models. There are no permit requirements for individuals flying Free Flight aircraft. All pilots must wear their permit clearly visible above the waist while flying.

2.1 Visiting Pilots:
The City of Costa Mesa requires all RC pilots at Fairview Park to have a City permit. The slope area also falls within the scope of the City “Use” permit.

Unfortunately, there are no provisions for temporary, or visiting “guest pilots”.

3. Environmental Protection:  

Vernal pools are large, shallow depressions in the ground that acquire several inches of water during rainy seasons. These pools contain Fairy Shrimp that are an endangered species and are protected by Fairview Park ordinances. Everyone is restricted from walking in the vernal pool areas, whether wet or dry. Pilots should fly over the vernal pools only at an altitude that ensures they will not land in the pool area. In the event of an unavoidable landing in the vernal pool area, the pilot shall call the park ranger and wait for their arrival prior to recovering the model. Launching or landing aircraft equipped with floats is not permitted in the pools. Harassment of animals and birds is not allowed in the park. Do not disturb native plants.


4. Safety:

All pilots must follow the Official AMA National Model Aircraft Safety Code, which is posted at the flying site, in addition to the following field rules.


4.1    Before Turning on Transmitter: Before turning on a transmitter, each pilot must first check the frequency control board to ensure no other pilot is using the frequency the pilot wishes to use. The pilot must then place an identification clip on that frequency on the board. Identification clips are to have the channel number and the pilot’s first and last name. Only then may the pilot turn on the transmitter and fly the aircraft.  Radios using 2.4 GHz are excluded from frequency board requirements.

When finished flying, the pilot must remove the clip from the control board. No clip may be attached to an existing clip. A pilot may use only one frequency channel at a time. When other flyers are using the frequency the pilot wishes to use (and they have their clip on the frequency number), a pilot must make every reasonable attempt to locate those flyers. Check all cars in the parking lot and also flyers on the slope soaring area. Once the pilot using the desired frequency is identified, and if shared usage is agreed upon, flight reservations should be limited to no more than 20 minutes by each pilot. All pilots must display their City issued permit above their waist.

4.2    New Aircraft: All new aircraft must have a radio range check performed before its first flight. Any crashed aircraft should also be radio          range checked after repair.  Initial “Maiden Flight’s” must be done by experienced pilots only, and/or, at other locations.

4.3    Model Aircraft Must Be Identified: All aircraft must have FAA registration visible on the outside of aircraft.


5. General Field Rules:

5.1     Approved types of planes: Approved types of planes include Radio-Controlled gliders, Free-Flight gliders, DGL Gliders (No electric powered aircraft), other types of model's that may not be flown include fuel (gas) powered internal combustion engines, rockets, and any aircraft exceeding the weight limit (10 pounds) set in the Costa Mesa Model Aircraft Ordinance.

5.2     Rules applicable to all model aircraft: Every pilot shall perform a pre-flight inspection prior to each launching of their aircraft to ensure that the aircraft is safe to fly and no unobserved damage was sustained from the previous flight. 

5.3     All pilots must register with the FAA and aircraft must have FAA registration number visible on the outside of aircraft.

5.4     Excluded Flying Areas: Aircraft must not be flown over the Waldorf School, nor the parking lot, residences, and pedestrians on or off the paths. The approved flying area is shown on the maps near the flightline and frequency kiosk.

5.5    Altitude Limitations: Flying is limited to 400’ above ground level.

5.6    Flying Methods: No Combat flying allowed. No high speed passes at low altitude over the runway. Flying near people is not allowed. 

5.7    Days of Use: The field may be used during the first and third Saturdays of the month.

5.8    Pedestrian Traffic: Pilots MUST NOT fly close to pedestrians, skaters and bicyclists using the park. Maintain a safe distance between your aircraft and park users.


6. Specific Flying Areas and Rules. Consult Flying Field Map:

6.1     Gliders: Gliders shall be launched from the designated area marked on the map, using electric winches, or bungee hi-starts. Gliders should use the area north of the runway with care. Gliders in flight have the right-of-way over gliders being launched. Do not fly behind the flight line, (over the paved pedestrian path) or anywhere south of the winchline.

6.2     Hand launched gliders: Hand launched gliders are to be flown from the area designated on the map.

6.3     Free flight model aircraft: Free flight models are currently being flown on a grassy area within the developed part of the park.

7. Large Events 

Harbor Soaring Society (HSS) is authorized to hold model aviation events that are scheduled by HSS and a Special Event Permit has been issued by the City. This applies to events anticipating the attendance of 25 or more participants. During these one 1 day events, the field will be closed to the general public flying for part of each day. The hours must be announced and posted at least two (2) weeks in advance.


8. Regulations Enforcement

Members of the Harbor Soaring Society are empowered by the city of Costa Mesa to enforce these rules by requesting an offender to cease inappropriate behavior. If the offender refuses to change his behavior, the HSS member will contact a Park Ranger who will cite the offender.

Furthermore… All model aircraft pilots must obey the aforementioned regulations, and cooperate with the Park Rangers, Police Officers, or City appointed enforcement delegates.

9. Emergencies. Who to contact

Medical emergency or injury or crimes: Call 911

Flying Field Rules violations and unauthorized activities:

Contact: Costa Mesa Police Communications at (714) 754-5252 and request Park Ranger.

Harbor Soaring Society: Officer: Vice President,  Mike Costello

Address: P.O. Box 1673, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Pilots who cause damage to another person’s aircraft, the private property of another individual or to public property must pay for the damage.

Authorizations, Rules, and Documents

From this Public/Private partnership beginning in 2005 came formal Authorizations and Rules to best serve the Costa Mesa Community as a whole, whether members of the Harbor Soaring Society or not. 

The following references are provided for the record, including agreements with the City, City Rules, HSS Field Rules, AMA Rules, and City Permit Procedures… applicable to all permitted fliers at the park


The original Ordinance 07-01 approving model flight at Fairview Park dated January 2, 2007: Click here to read more

The HSS/City agreement setting forth conditions of this authority, first approved July 1, 2019, and will continue for a period of one (1) year:  Click here to read more

2024-2025 HSS Club Charter: Click here

The Harbor Soaring Society Field Rules: Click here


The City Flying Rules: Click here


The AMA Safety Rules: Click here

Summary of AMA Liability Insurance: Click here

The following documents/Permits are required to fly at our Field in Fairview Park

Membership in the Acadamy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Click here

Harbor Soaring Society Membership Application (required to fly at Fairview Park) Click here

The City of Costa Mesa issued, Fairview Park Model Aircraft Flying Permit Application: Click here


The FAA aircraft registration rule, requires an FAA registration number be affixed to the outside of all of your radio control model aircraft. Click here and select “I fly under The Exception For Recreational Flyers” option. The charge is $5 for three years, for all of your R/C aircraft.

The FAA requires that all recreational flyers must pass a simple aeronautical and safety test, otherwise known as the "TRUST"  (The Recreational UAS Safety Test). It provides education and testing for recreational flyers on important safety and regulatory information. If you fly your model aircraft/drone recreationally under the Exception for Recreational Flyers you must pass the test before you fly.  To take the test, go to Click here.  This is the AMA Site.  Take the test (Don’t worry, it is fail proof) then obtain your “Completion Certificate”. 

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