Launch Report, Bayboro, November 21-22, 2020

Once again, fortune was shining on Tripoli Prefecture #65!  Two days in a row of perfect rocket weather.  Temperatures rapidly warmed into the lower ‘70’s, the sky was clear and sunny, and the winds were very calm.  On Sunday we had some high clouds, but the temps were mild and the winds stayed essentially dead calm until about an hour after we finished flying.  We might have used up all our good luck for fiscal year 20-21, but let us remain hopeful.   The fabulous weather brought out a lot of flyers, even as CoVid-19 continues to run wild in the US of A, but everybody wore their face coverings and cooperated with all the safety guidelines.  As a male in his ‘70’s, I want to send my sincere gratitude to everybody for such aware and considerate behavior.

Let’s look at the motor use summary and then go over some of the important points of Saturday.

Size Sat Sun Both
E 4   4
F 4   4
G 3 1 4
H 9 3 12
I 8 2 10
J 6   6
K 2 2 4
L 3 1 4
M 1   1
Total 40 9 49


As always, the certification flights were the high points of the whole weekend.   Sebastian Lindquist made a successful Tripoli L1 cert flight with his Formula 38, a small rocket with small fins.   This was going up on a long-burn H90 for a “pop-at-the-top” recovery and carrying no tracker device.   This was one of those attempts that tend to disappear at Bayboro, but every young eye on the premises was on this flight, and Sebastian brought it home in perfect condition.  Later that day, Mark Peot flew his Lidia with the Aerotech J350W for a perfect TRA L2 certification flight, and then on Sunday Brian Respess flew an unnamed rocket that was wearing only its primer coat on an Aerotech H135W for another fine qualifying flight.   Congratulations to all of our new flyers!

We had a big group of “new” Bayboro flyers, by which I mean people who have only begun to attend our launches since we started our 20-21 flying season under pandemic conditions.  This list includes Dorsey and Teddy Delavigne, Paul Kraemer, Heath McPherson, Barry Kinnison, and Mark Peot.  Some of these people have been in sport rocketry for a long time, but have never been to Bayboro before, and others are just starting out.   They were busy on Saturday and having a lot of success.

The old-timers were also out enjoying the great weather.   Brent Bierstedt, John Allman, Allen Rose, Matt Willis, Jim Livingston, Tom Keith and Dennis and Joe Hill were putting rockets on the pad as fast as they could.  I also managed two flights on Saturday.

Mike Nay brought back his latest exercise in complexity, called Triple Play.  This was a 3-stage complex project using an Aerotech K805 in the booster, a CTI J285 in the second stage, and a CTI I216 om the third stage.   When I say “complex” I mean that there were 5 separate flight computers on board, which all had to be armed by Wi-Fi, 3 GPS units, and parachutes in each section.   It weighed 19 lbs on the pad and stood 12 feet tall.   All three stages ignited on time, but there was a failure of some component of the chute deployment in stage 3, and that section came in ballistic.

Jim Livingston flew his Carbon Hi on an EX 115mm M motor, and it managed to get itself significantly off-vertical before it reached apogee.  The main chute opened over to the west just north of Clifton’s house, and it spent the night in the trees.  There is a high-tension power line running through a cut just east of the Paul house, and it interferes with reception using the Walston receiver, so the rocket was not located until Sunday morning.  Jim, Joe Hill, and Mike Nay put in 3 hours of heroic effort in the woods Sunday morning, and all the parts of that rocket eventually went home with Jim.

I have attempted 2-stage rocket flights before, and I know how hard they are.   Even a maestro like Mike Nay can only get it to work after a lot of tries.   Matt Willis flew his first 2-stage attempt on Saturday, and it worked perfectly the first time.  He flew a Terrier-Sandhawk model using an Aerotech H550ST in the booster, and staging to a CTI G79ss in the sustainer.  Very impressive.

The team from NC State University High Power Rocketry Club flew their subscale model for the NASA Student Launch Initiative competition for a successful qualifying flight.   The rocket is called Chicken Tendy and is painted in an exact replica of the Bojangles Chicken type-face and colors.  They gave it a fine ride on an Aerotech I435T.

Sunday started with some clouds, but the winds were calm and patches of sunlight began to show through as the day progressed.  I think I can remember every flight in their approximate correct order.

The first rack of the day saw Brian Respess check out his L1 rocket on a G74 to see how it handled, and Robbie Kirk flew his Stretch Iris on an Aerotech H250G.   Both flights did exactly what was expected.   Then, Kurt Hesse and Alan Whitmore loaded up 2 EX motors on the next rack.  Kurt flew his Shiny Diner on a 38mm small I motor made from CP4 and Alan flew the Generic Four Inch  on a 54mm small K motor using a magnesium blue-flame formula.   Successes all around.

Joe Hill made a fine flight of his Iron Moon on a 3” L motor made by Jim Livingston that appeared to be made from the Ferric Fudge recipe.   Mike Nay flew his Blue Iguana on a long-burn CTI K261, and the low thrust of that arrangement sent him on another off-vertical trajectory.   Mike knows his GPS, and with that and persistence, he was able to rescue the Iguana from a swamp about 3 miles away to the north.   Then, Brian Respess make the successful L1 cert flight that I described earlier.

Sunday finished off with Robbie Kirk flying Red Checkers on an Aerotech H165R, and Alan Whitmore giving the Astro*Mollusk 7 a wild ride on a 38mm I motor called ‘Thing 65’.

Stay safe, keep your holiday gatherings small, and join us again in December if you can.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Prefect Retirement and Election

Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters, Friends and Comrades:

The time has come.  I have been prefect of Tripoli East NC since 2006, 15 years, and it is time for me to step down.  I have enjoyed most of my time in this office and met many new friends.  But age is catching up with me.  My back and knees hurt all the time, setting up launch equipment has become a chore, rather than a delight, and I no longer want to attend every launch on the schedule.  Time for new blood.

There are only two statutory requirements for a Tripoli prefect:

  1. Certify new TRA L1 and L2 flyers, make sure all documents get sent to TRA HQ.
  2. Receive and act upon all communications from TRA.

However, that is clearly not all the work that must be done to insure the smooth, successful operation of a good prefecture.  In my opinion, the prefect must either do these things or delegate the authority, and follow up occasionally to make sure the tasks are being done.  I have been very fortunate to have a group of capable, enthusiastic people who have willingly taken on many of these jobs and made my life much easier.

  • Collect launch fees and split between landowner and club treasurer.
  • Maintain good communication with the landowner concerning launch dates, preferred site for our activities on any given month, and any other item that comes up.
  • Call in the NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) every Thursday afternoon before the launches.
  • Transport trailer to and from the launch field.
  • Repair/maintain all club equipment, including the club trailer.
  • Deal with all “PR” issues:  talk with visitors at the launch site, reporters, local residents, and represent the club in a friendly, informative fashion.
  • File the waiver with the FAA yearly.
  • Communicate with Cherry Point MCAS 2 hours before and immediately after every day’s launch.
  • Write launch report.
  • Maintain NAR membership and work with any NAR members who want to progress through the certification process.
  • Each year, the prefect receives between 10 and 20 requests for assistance with school, church, and civic groups for assistance with an amazing variety of programs, demonstrations, science fairs, and things of that nature.  This will require a lot of delegation, or it will drive you crazy.
  • College and High School teams who are participating in various local or national competitions or simple academic projects need guidance and encouragement.  During the past 5 years, 2 high school and 6 different college and university level teams have sought out the Bayboro club for everything from rocketry coaches to simple use of the field for their qualifying flights.  These students approach their projects with much less experience than adults working their way through NAR or TRA certification and require close attention.
  • Ensure that all news about individual launch events is communicated to the membership by email notification and posting on the club website in a timely fashion.

As you can see, this prefecture does not run itself.  Looking at the list has made me exhausted, I need to go lie down for a few minutes.  Somebody has to care enough to do the job.  The next prefect may not place the same importance on specific tasks that I do – and that’s fine, the club must necessarily take on the personality of the leadership.

I will continue to attend most launches, and I will continue to maintain Tripoli Technical Advisory Panel and NAR L3 Certification Committee membership, so I will continue to help flyers in either organization attain level 3 certification.  As a TAP and L3CC member, I will be able to certify new flyers from both organizations in the absence of the prefect.   I will be the first to volunteer to help advise college teams, that’s one of my favorite things to do.  I’ve got a truck and a trailer hitch, so I can tote the trailer on those weekends that I attend the launches.

In January, Dennis Hill will open up the voting by asking for nominations for the next prefect.  I would like to put two names forward for your consideration.    Kurt Hesse and Joe Hill.   Both of these gentlemen are regular attenders, very knowledgeable about all aspects of rocketry, they pay attention to everything that is going on around them at a rocket launch (no tunnel vision), and on many occasions both of them have dropped whatever they were doing to help new flyers, visitors, and academic teams.

Anyone else who would like to be on the ballot, or who would like to nominate someone should get in touch with Dennis and say so.   The more choices the better.  Prefects are obliged to serve for 1 year, and may choose to pass on the responsibility when they wish at yearly intervals.

I am honored that you have chosen to keep me as prefect of your club for 15 years.   I thank you all for this opportunity, you have supplied me with a wealth of great memories.  You will certainly see me at a lot of launches in the future, but perhaps not when it’s 32 degrees and sleeting. 😊

With gratitude,       Alan

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Launch Report, Bayboro, October 24, 2020

The weather for this weekend was essentially identical to the weekend of October 10-11:  Saturday was perfect rocket weather – warm, very calm winds, sunny with a few scattered clouds, and a perfect wind direction out of the southeast.  Sunday featured heavy rain and dense fog.  I’ll put in the flight summary and get into the main events.

Size No.
A 1
C 2
D 2
E 4
F 2
G 1
H 3
I 3
J 1
K 3
L 1
M 2
N 1
O 1
Total 27


As you can see, there was a very broad representation of rocket and motor sizes.  The activity was very well-balanced between low-power and high-power action.  The super-fine weather brought out a lot of projects that were destined for great altitude, so the “away cell” was busy all day long, a total of 5 flights on Saturday needed to be out at the 1000’ post and beyond.  Jim Livingston, Frank Schneider, Kurt Hesse, Alan Whitmore, and Brent Bierstedt all made flights from that pad.

The big news for every launch event is the certification flights.  We had three successful cert flights this weekend, and I am very proud of all these members.  First, new flyer Mark Peot qualified TRA level 1 with a flight of his rocket Eric on an Aerotech H100W.  Then, Dorsey Delavigne, who first visited us in September, made another successful TRA level 1 flight with his Talon using the Aerotech H135W.   Finally, Kurt Hesse made a perfect TRA level 3 flight with his Junebug on a Loki M2550 blue flame propellant.   This time there was plenty of powder in the charges, and all the parachutes came out right on schedule.   Congratulations to all of our successful flyers, and enjoy your new level of possibilities!

A few of the more notable happenings:    Jonathan Moore came in from Rolesville to fly some low-power on the big field and see what sort of action happens at a high-power event.   He had a Herculean struggle with at least one bad motor and some balky ignitors, but overcame.  He flew his Crossfire on a C6, and the Skywriter on an A8.  Mike Nay really enjoys the complex and challenging.   This time he attempted a  3-stage flight with his Triple Trouble with an Aerotech J570W in the first booster, an Aerotech I205W in the second booster, and a G80T in the sustainer.   Most of that project made it back home, but it didn’t go exactly as planned.   The motor in the second stage did not light, and there is some confusion as to whether the third stage lit.   The flight recorder in the 3rd stage indicates some acceleration after separation, but the fin section of that sustainer was never recovered, so he doesn’t know for sure.   No-one on the ground heard the G80 light up.

Frank Schneider has one of those telemetry packages that talks to you, and his flight of the Eiphaistos on a CTI N3301 reported itself at more than 15,000 feet at apogee.  John Allman flew one of those Semroc revivals of the Estes Defender on a cluster of 3 Quest D18 motors.  There was no tracker on this little beast, but I later saw in in John’s hands, so he certainly kept his eye on it.

The homemade propellant contingent gave us the awe-inspiring flight of Jim Livingston’s Viper on a 115mm, 7-grain O6000 made from his white smoke formula.  This was truly spectacular.  The altimeters reported about 10,500 feet, and the Raven download showed more than 900 feet/sec at motor burnout.  That is truly a lot of speed for a 136 lb scratch-built rocket.   Alan Whitmore brought out a new rocket made (99%) with stuff already in his basement, the 5point5 (named for its diameter) on a homebrew 3-grain 76mm L motor filled with Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue #4b propellant.

As always, my sincere thanks to those who helped with set-up and tear-down.

Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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