Launch Report, Bayboro, January 21, 2017

Winter weather in coastal North Carolina is always the biggest variable we have to deal with in our hobby.  This month the forecast for the weekend of January 21-22 was about as bad as we have seen it except for the weekend of Hurricane Matthew back in the fall.  Sixty percent chance of rain on Saturday and 100 percent chance on Sunday.  Hopeless, right?  The only thing I have learned beyond any doubt in the last 10 years of running a launch at Bayboro is to take the weather forecast, add the word “maybe”, and get in the truck and go anyway.  I left Chapel Hill at 6:00 AM on Saturday in a fog so thick that I could not see the end of the driveway.  The roads and fields were filled with mist and murky fog all the way to New Bern.  The sky began to lighten up as I crossed the river, and by the time I got the trailer to the field, visibility was beginning to stretch out.  The ceiling was still very low, however, and I could not see the top of the temporary tower that has been erected north of the current launch site – which is about 150 feet high.  The cloud deck moved up gradually all day long, and by mid-afternoon the ceiling was up to 1500-1800 feet broken to 4000.

Only the hardest of the hard core were there early to help with the set-up, Jim Livingston and Chuck Hall, but by about 10:30 people started pouring in and we ended up staying busy all day.  Motor use summary?

Size Sat
A 1
B 2
C 2
D 1
E 3
F 6
G 6
H 7
I 9
J 2
K 3
Total 42


I am always interested in advertising the new flyers, because they are the future of our club.  Elijah Maybee brought a new rocket with him to fill up the lower end of the motor range.  Thanks to Natalie Harrell for helping to get him sorted out with parachute packing and motor installation.  Sam DeLong was one of the flyers who used to gather at the field at Fentress, and has recently moved to Wilminton, NC.  Sam brought a set of gorgeous mid-power rockets, at least 2 of which were scratch-built, and flew them on motors in the G through I range.  Beautiful flights and good parachute recovery, but I think one of them is still in the field, the Patriot, which was launched on a CTI I242W.

Mike Collier came to pick up his Safety First, which was found in the corn last month, and stayed to fly a bunch of rockets.  The flight that sticks in my mind is the flight of his small V2 on an Estes E9.  This is one of the few V2s that I have watched that did not “wag its tail” after motor burnout.  Eddie Haith brought a new rocket, the Estes Ascender, and made several flights with the black powder F15 motor.

Our academic teams did extremely well this weekend.  The North Carolina School of Science and Math TARC team made four very impressive flights with their rocket Halo on an Aerotech F39T, and gathered a lot of information that will be useful for dialing in their rocket for qualifying flights later this winter.  The North Carolina State University High Power Rocketry Club needed to get the fine tuning done on their subscale model to get the several separation stages done right and to get the parachutes to come out at the right time, and this time they nailed it perfectly!  Their rocket, named Red Rocket, even though it wasn’t, flew on one of the new Aerotech K1103X motors and performed perfectly.

Joe Hill had 2 flights, the first with his Frenzy Primus on a 6-grain 38mm motor that Jim Livingston made from the extremely fast-burn formula called ‘Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue’, and a later flight with the PeeDee on an Aerotech I600R.  The action got thick and fast as the day ended, and I am not sure that that one made it back home, either.  By about 3:30 the wind had shifted from out of the east to a more northerly direction, the only really bad wind direction at this field, as it blows the rockets toward the closest tree line, about 0.7 miles away.

I was delighted to see four Aerotech G64W’s flown this weekend, one of my favorite motors.  Dan Fritsch fliew one in his Pyramid, Eddie Haith used one for his Big Orange, CJ Lucas flew the DarkStar Lite on another one, and Sam DeLong tried one in his Stinger.  I left my only 29/40-120 casing hanging in a tree deep within the malarial black-water swamps at Battleboro in 2007, and I really need to buy another .

The homemade propellant group was represented by Kurt Hesse and Jim Livingston, both of whom flew successfully in their own rockets and supplied others with motors with which to make extremely exciting flights.

Join us at the Museum of Natural Sciences on the weekend of January 28-29 if you can, and, if not, come out to Bayboro February 25-26 for some more high-power adventures.

One of our flyers brought back a rocket that had obviously been lying in the field for a long time, probably more than a year.  The plywood fins had rotted away to mush, and green slime was growing on the 4” diameter white-painted body tube.  It had an Aerotech 38/600 case in it, which was removed from the rocket and we will make an attempt to clean it and see if it is still usable.  The most unusual feature of this rocket is the parachute, which is about 36” to 38” in diameter, black and white, and has the word IRIS embroidered on the white part.  This is an extremely unusual parachute, it has little plastic rings sewn around the edge of the canopy and the shroud lines are tied to the rings.  The parachute is in good condition, the motor case may be usable, and the nose cone is probably salvageable, but the rest is waterlogged and rotted away.  If this is your rocket, drop me an email.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Launch Report, Bayboro, November 19-20, 2016

From the editor: Another out-of-order report from Alan, written just recently, long after the actual launch. Note that we will accept submissions from other attendees. Alan’s rocketry work load will increase this year as he is now in charge of Tripoli motor certification. If anyone is interested, speak up.

Immediately after the November launch I flew to Cedar City, Utah for 4 days and came back to a major problem at work that required my attention.  For this reason, I could not sit down and write a launch report until the event was completely out of my mind, all I had were the launch cards.  Therefore, this report is going to be a little sketchy and short on the sort of details I can remember in the 2 or 3 days after a launch.  But I’ll give it a shot, starting with the motor use table.

Size Sat Sun Both
C 5   5
E 4   4
F 2   2
G 7   7
H 4 1 5
I 7   7
J 9   9
K 3   3
M 2   2
Total 43 1 44


As you can see, this was almost exclusively a high-power launch.  What I can recall of the weather was that it was OK as far as temperature went, but it was windy.  Most people, myself included, brought more rockets than they were willing to fly.  One of the reasons may have been that there were still soybeans in some of the neighboring fields.  There were no A, B or D motors flown this weekend, but Allen Harrell, Ed and Sonya Withers, and Eddie Haith all had at least one Estes C6 to fly.

It has been a while since I awarded the Best Rocket Name award, and in November it went to Allen Harrell’s Wiggle Wump which flew at least twice on the Aerotech E15.  Charles Long also had an E motor flight with his X-15 boosted glider on the Aerotech E6-RC.  I recall that it was trimmed a tiny bit nose-heavy but landed safely.

A lot of our regulars were there.  Charlie Moss and Jeff Goldstein came down from Virginia Beach and Charlie flew several rockets on Aerotech F and G motors.  Jeff flew his Red Stick on the Cesaroni K160, a long-burn motor that I had never seen before.  Mike Collier was very active, flying 4 different rockets on motors in the E through H range.  As I mentioned in one of my earlier (=later, chronologically) reports, one of these was lost, lay in the corn for a month, and was recovered in December by someone looking for their own rocket.

Ralph Malone was there also, flying his Quicksilver on an AT H123W, and the Sudden Rush on 2 different AT I motors.  I think Ralph is from the Charlotte area, but that is one of the details that get lost after too much time.  Steve Polk and his wife, from Oriental, NC, were in a nasty car accident back in the late summer, and are only now getting back into flying some rockets.  They flew the 6722 on the Aerotech H250, and it was recovered safely.

Even more regulars showed up and flew some rockets:  Joe Hill, Mike Nay, Charles Long, and Eddie Haith were occupied all day long.  Joe collaborated with his father Dennis to fly Dennis’s 7.5” diameter Honest John on an AT M1297W.  Dennis assembled the motor and the rocket and Joe wired and programmed the altimeters, and the flight was perfect.

Most of the NCSU teams were on-site Saturday getting the year started right.  The HPR team brought out their subscale model called Quicky and flew it on an AT I435T.  Team 2 flew a rocket called Moon on a J350W, and the other team flew another device called Hall’s Hiros on the same motor.  One of those rockets has some serious recovery problem, but I can’t remember which at this point.

The homemade propellant group was represented only by Alan Whitmore, who flew his first red-flame propellant in a 6-grain 38mm I motor configuration in the venerable Astro-Mollusk 7 (not very red, needs some work), and Jim Livingston, who flew the Sea Hawk on a 54mm K500 and his new Stability Challenged on a 76mm M1500.  In fact, it wasn’t.

I think Sunday must have been extremely windy, or maybe the rain moved in or something happened, but there was only one flight card on Sunday:  Joe Hill flew his new Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan on the new Aerotech H550ST single-use motor.  Trivia question:  Apollo was a god in  the Greek pantheon and Vulcan was one of the Roman gods.  Who was the greek god of fire and the forge?  The first person who brings a rocket with that name to a future launch at Bayboro wins a mention in a future launch report.  Hint:  a character in the old western TV series “Gunsmoke” had a shortened version of that name.

My apologies for the brevity and inaccuracies, but this report spent too much time on the back burner.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Launch Report, Bayboro, October 22-23 2016

From the editor: This October launch report from Alan got lost in the shuffle and is out of order with previous ones. Sorry for the delay.

The first October launch at Bayboro was rained and blown into oblivion by hurricane Matthew on the weekend of October 8 and 9.  Our friend Terry, who shows up at the launches on his 4-wheeler to assist with rocket recovery, reports that on Saturday that weekend, there were wind gusts up to 75 MPH on the field at Clifton’s farm.  In addition, there was about 9 inches of rain that weekend.  Not especially good “rocket weather”.

But, two weeks later we were back under clear, blue skies with moderate winds.  Allow me to insert the motor use summary, and then we’ll get down to cases.

Motor Sat Sun Total
½ A 1   1
B 4   4
C 1   1
D 1   1
E 1 1 2
F 6   6
G 1   1
H 1 2 3
I 1 4 5
J 1 2 3
K   2 2
L   1 1
M 3 2 5
Total 20 14 34


As always, the certification flights will occupy  front center stage.  Richard Harris has been working on his L3 project for almost a year, and on Saturday he decided to put this one up.  It is a 6” diameter Hyperloc 1600 kit fitted out with an Aerotech M1350.  The flight up and the recovery sequence were perfect, but the rocket landed about 1.9 miles to the South (the wind was steady at 10 knots and gusting up to 20 at that time) and spent the night in the beans.  Rich and Frank Schnieder were back early Sunday, and they found the rocket, in perfect condition, before noon.  It was a pleasure to sign the paperwork on that project.

Phill Ash flew the smallest motor of the weekend, an Estes 1/2A3, in a scratch-built copy of the Big Bertha, scaled down to 1/2A size.  Allen Harrell came with his grampa to fly his Cow-cow on B6-4’s for several flights ( I have 3 flight cards, but I think there were more flights).

There is a recurring problem that I have seen at every launch I have attended lately, all over the southeast US of A:  the problem of getting the smallest Aerotech single-use and reloadable motors to ignite.  Phill Ash had this problem with many attempts to get the D10 to light up, and Trevor Leggette was working in a science project involving the same motor (AT’s F26J) in three different rockets, flown multiple times.  Lots of frustration all around, and some unwarranted aspersions cast on the club’s launch equipment.

Another big moment was the first flight of a homemade motor by Chuck Hall.  Chuck machined the casing, the nozzle and the forward bulkhead, and cast up the propellant in my basement.  The motor was a 4-grain 38mm I motor made from the blue-flame formula called “CP3”, and he used it in his Patriot.  The flight was perfect and the recovery was spot-on.

The High Power Rocketry Team from NC State University needed an early-season project to build up some experience and interest among all the new members of the team, so they decided to dust off a rocket that the 2011 team left in the shop, fix it up with new electronics, new recovery apparatus, and fly it on an M motor.  There were a few hold-ups and problems that were all valuable learning experiences, and the rocket finally flew.  The rocket was a little heavy for an M motor, but it deployed the parachute and was recovered safely.  When you think about it, a safe flight on an M motor for the first team effort is an amazing accomplishment.

Frank Schneider brought out a new all-fiberglass rocket that he wants to use for some extreme altitude flights, and he gave it a shake-down cruise with a CTI M1450.  All the events occurred when they should, but the winds were “brisk”, shall we say, and the rocket landed a long way away.  This one also spent the night among the soybeans, but was also recovered on Sunday morning.

The weather on Sunday was even nicer!  The winds were about half of what they were on Saturday, the sky was crystal clear, and the temperature was warm.  T-shirt weather in late October!

Mike Nay made a successful NAR level 1 cert flight, using his EZI-65 and a CTI H97 I-max motor.

Joe Hill introduced a new rocket, which he calls Pee Dee.  He started things off with an Aerotech I284W and everything worked fine.

Alan Whitmore had two flights on Sunday, both to the mile-high territory.  Bertrand Brinley’s Beta carried a 3-grain 54mm J motor, which burned with no smoke and no flame, which made for some very curious lift-off photos.  Then, the rebuilt Stealth Blue flew on a 2-grain 76mm K motor.  Both rockets put the laundry out at exactly the right time and were recovered easily.    Jim Livingston flew his 7.5” diameter V2 on a 54mm K500 (white smoke) to a perfect apogee main deployment and an easy recovery.  Does anybody know why V-2 models always wag their tails and cone around after burnout, no matter how straight the fins are?

Kurt Hesse had another fine flight of his Performer 98 on a homemade L motor and Chuck Hall flew his Extended Little John II on an Aerotech M1550R.  Both flights were perfect.

One of the last flights of the day took most of the day to set up.  Johnny Hoffman likes to come up from South Carolina to do his higher hybrid flights, and on Sunday he loaded up his Hi Tek Red Nek with the Hypertek M1010.  It took more than 3 minutes to fill it with 5.4 liters of nitrous oxide.  When it finally got fired up and took off, it CATO’d at about 1000 feet up.  I have never seen a hybrid CATO anywhere other than on the pad, so this was unusual.  The APCP motors and the hybrids use very different chemistries and physical arrangements, but when they blow up, they both make a LOT of noise.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC


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