Virginia Tech freshman students Hanna Lexer, Sydney Burns, and Fetra Ramiandrisoa prepare to launch their rockets to gain Level 1 High Power certification, at Kentland Farm on April 29, 2023. Photo by Bob Schoner.
Virginia Tech freshmen Hanna Lexer, Sydney Burns and Fetra Ramiandrisoa prepare to launch their rockets to gain Level 1 High Power certification at Kentland Farm on April 29. Photo by Bob Schoner.

New River Valley Rocketry, one of the rocket clubs profiled in a July 3 article, has lost its launch site, which is owned by Virginia Tech and is primarily used for university agricultural activities.

“We just lost access to fly rockets at Kentland Farms,” said Thomas “Tweeks” Weeks, club president. “The ag/farm manager’s point is that there’s just too many people and ag groups moving into Kentland to accommodate high-power rockets there any longer.”

Weeks said the club hopes to change the ag department’s mind by bringing down the flight ceiling from its FAA-approved 10,000 feet to 3,000 feet. Virginia Tech did not respond to requests for comment.

Failing a return to Kentland, the group will look for a new home. The required specifications are:

  • Launch location with no occupied buildings within a 1,500-foot radius (preferably 2,000-2,500 feet)
  • Not within 5 miles of an active airport
  • Not within 1,500 feet of a highway

The nice-to-have specifications are:

  • Within a one-hour drive of Blacksburg/Christiansburg
  • Not within 1,500 feet of forests, power lines and rivers
  • No charge for land use
  • Bathrooms nearby or a space for portable toilets

NRVR is fully insured, follows national safety guidelines and has offered supervised launches for children, teens, adult hobbyists and Tech students since 2012. “There are tons of VT students who need a place to fly and refine rocket designs for the big international competitions they’re in,” Weeks said.

For more information or to discuss, contact Weeks at

Randy Walker is a musician and freelance writer in Roanoke. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism...