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Don't Ban Hand-Launched Gliders at Bayfront Park

From: domainremoved <>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2016 16:07:05 -0700

Dear City Council Members,
        At its August 23rd, 2016 meeting the City Council will consider a
proposal to ban unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) at city parks. The
proposal is based on several concerns, none of which apply to the flying
of hand-launched remote control gliders at Bedwell-Bayfront Park.

Hand-launched gliders use thermals and updrafts to stay aloft. They are
silent in flight. They don’t carry powerful motor batteries and so do not
represent a significant fire hazard. They don’t have the on-board power
required to chase or harass birds. Hand-launched gliders are very
light-weight and made mostly of fragile materials that present low risk of
injury. They are flown only within the line-of-sight. There have been a
small number of complaints about model aircraft at the Park, but all of
these have involved powered drones, helicopters and model airplanes with
electric propulsion. There have been no complaints recorded against
hand-launched gliders.

The original master plan for Bayfront Park states that:
“The Park will be a passive recreation area. There will not be any formal
sports fields. It is designed for activities such as: bird watching,
bicycling, hiking, kite-flying, etc”.” The “etc.” in that sentence leaves
room for other activities consistent with the purposes of the park.

Hand-launched gliders are similar to kites. They use the wind and
updrafts to stay aloft, but instead of a physical string they have an
“electronic string” for control. Furthermore, Bedwell Bayfront Park has a
large, unobstructed central area that is well suited to hand-launched
gliders. The wildlife refuges around the Park are beyond the flying range
of hand-launched gliders. Other Bay Area parks allow gliders for
slope-gliding (soaring on the wind updraft at the top of a hill) with
unpowered gliders (Windy Hill Preserve in Portola Valley, Coyote Hills
Regional Park in Newark, Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, and
Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore). However these parks do not allow
powered model aircraft.

Although I do not support the proposed ban of UAVs at Bayfront Park, the
ban currently under consideration should not include hand-launched gliders
and should be amended prior to any decision by the City Council.

Mitch Brenner, Ph.D.
San Bruno CA
Received on Sun Aug 21 2016 - 16:13:20 PDT

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