Launch Report, Bayboro, September 24-25 2016

The 2016-2017 flying season at Bayboro got cranked up last weekend on a glorious, sunny, warm, and calm day in late September.  The air was still (and very humid) and most rocket recoveries were easy.  The only problem, other than the heat, was that the soybeans are still green and thick.  Rocket recovery in soybeans is a major challenge.  Without a radio tracker it is almost impossible, and with a good, powerful tracker it is a huge physical challenge, and involves a lot of luck and careful planning.  A field of beans cannot be traversed by a normal healthy human being by going across the rows,  you must first determine how the rows are laid out and then travel the length of the field by staying in one row.  Even then, there are significant vines, weeds and other organic hindrance to make a walk through the beans a physical workout like you can’t get at a gym.  In short pants, don’t even think about it.  A lot of flyers have bean stories from this weekend.

Perhaps I should have just cancelled this month’s launch, but I’m glad I didn’t.    We’ll have a look at the motor use summary and then get down to the details.

Size Sat Sun Both
B 1 1
C 2 2
D 1 1
E 3 3
G 7 3 10
H 5 5
I 6 1 7
J 5 1 6
K 2 2
L 2 2
N 1 1
Total 35 5 40

The most important events at any launch are the certification flights, because they are an indicator of the future health of the hobby.  This month we had two.  Henry Hartman had gotten out of the hobby for a few years to raise kids, and has recently decided to get back into it.  He made a successful TRA level 1 cert flight on Saturday with his Cardinal Glory on an Aerotech H148R.  Steven Batten is a regular with the Charlotte club that flies near Midland, NC and he came to Bayboro to get a little more altitude for his TRA level 2 flight, which he pulled off perfectly with a flight of his Spark Knight Rises on a Cesaroni J285.  Steven also gets the long-neglected Best Rocket Name award this month for his whole collection of rockets, which includes the Snowflake of the Apocalypse which he flew on a D12, and the Waiver of Oz, which flew on an Aerotech E20.

We also had a few new flyers.  Ralph Malone came down from METRA country with one of his friends (whose name I did not get) to do some flying in the North Carolina humidity.  Ralph had successful flights with his Quicksilver on an AT H123W and his Sudden Rush on AT’s I357T.

Another new flyer just learning the HPR ropes was Mike Nay, who flew his Astrobee D on a CES G126WT and his G-Force on the Cesaroni G88SS.  Both worked quite well, if memory serves.

A whole crowd of our regular flyers was there and stayed very busy on Saturday.  Tom Keith had 3 flights and his son Matt flew his Silver Arrow on a B4.  This rocket was given to him by our own Joe Hill at a previous launch.  Ed Withers, Ray Bryant and Dan Fritsch each had 4 flights and most of them worked great.

Kurt Hesse is beginning to get into making his own motors in a big way.  This month he made a fine flight with his Shiny Diner on a 38mm I motor constructed with a blue-flame formula, and flew his first 3” diameter homemade motor in his Performer 98 which made a perfect flight to the 8000’ region, followed by a rather athletic recovery in the soybeans.

Charles Long flew his Green Arrow on a Cesaroni I224CL and Joe Hill had an extremely successful flight of his Frenzy Primus using the EXTREMELY loud Aerotech J825R.

Jim Livingston has been making his own propellant since the Truman administration, it seems, and he showed us how it was done with a K500 flight in his Extended I-Roc and an L1000 flight in the very sturdy Carbon Hi.  Both motors were made from his tried and true white smoke formula.  For some reason not apparent at the time, both altimeters in the Carbon Hi fired the main charges but the nose cone did not deploy, resulting in a hard landing.  This rocket rested in the field overnight, and when Sunday dawned about 15 degrees cooler than Saturday, Jim made the long trek through the beans and brought it home, showing some minor damage (the rocket, not Jim).

The 2016-2017 Jordan High School team was on the scene, and under the direction of Dave Morey they made a checkout flight with the latest version of their gyroscopically-controlled variable roll rate rocket, called the Ursa Major.  The motor they chose for this flight was the Aerotech K1000T {which for some reason I cannot find in the list of certified motors}  and it took an abrupt left turn after leaving the rail and ended up in the woods down near David’s trailer.  After about an hour and 7000 mosquito bites, they emerged from the woods with the rocket!  Nice work, guys!

The weather was so perfect on Saturday that Alan Whitmore blew off his RSO responsibilities and prepped the ridiculously large Beélzebob at the away cell and loaded it up with a homemade 115mm N motor made from the always-reliable Black Velvet propellant.  Around noon, the buttons were pushed and Beélzebob rose to 8900 feet and landed perfectly, very close to the launch site.  Later on Alan flew his Astro*Mollusc VII on an 8-grain 38mm J motor made from a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Another great flight followed by a long walk in the beans.  Even the prefect is occasionally obliged to take a long walk in the beans.

Sunday was a very different sort of a day.  Lots of clouds with overcast at 2400’ when we got the equipment set up at 10:00.  The winds had picked up to about 7 or 8 MPH and were blowing directly out of the east, pushing rockets towards the closest soybeans (there’s that word, again).  The cloud deck slowly lifted to about 4000’, but everybody on the field had been there on Saturday and done some degree of exercise in the beans, so nobody was eager to fly very high.  I can tell you about every flight.

Charles Long brought out an Applewhite Saucer and flew it on a Cesaroni G54RL.  Charles also flew his tube-fin masterpiece Delta Heavy on a CT G118 Blue Streak motor, and finished up with the very heavy Blue Toad (another tube-fin drag queen) on an I195R.  This particular flight was remarkable for a coincidence that I have never observed and will probably never see again.  On the way down the Blue Toad hit Charles’ car and put a small dent in the fender.

Dan Fritsch also thought that Sunday morning merited a pyramid and put his up with an Aerotech G53FJ.  Later in the afternoon the winds calmed down a little bit and Dan decided to take a chance with flying his Thumper jr on an Aerotech J425R.  As it turns out, the wind and the soybeans were the least of his problems.  A failure of both apogee and main deployment put this one in the ground ‘way over yonder’.  Dan and Joe Hill went on a safari and finally brought it home, but the nose cone will need to be replaced.

The attentive reader will notice that I have attempted to identify each motor by manufacturer and propellant type, even which such information was not recorded on the flight card.  This is because I will soon be assuming the job of Chairman of the Tripoli Motor Testing division, which certifies all mid- and high-power rocket motors made in the United States.  I am trying to get more familiar with commercial rocket motors, even though, as most of you know, I seldom fly commercial motors in my own rockets.  It’s going to be quite an adventure for me, working with the TRA Board of Directors and with the rocket motor manufacturers directly to make sure that you, the members of both the NAR and TRA rocketry communities, get accurate information about motor thrust curves and delay performance.  If any of you would like to help with the motor testing sessions, your assistance will be very valuable.


Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC


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October 8-9 Launches Cancelled

Due to the impending arrival of hurricane Mathew, the launches in Bayboro for this weekend, October 8-9, have been cancelled.

Join us at the next launch on October 22-23.


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Launch Reports, Bayboro, April 2016

April is usually one of the most active months in our rocketry year, because it contains 2 launch weekends: The historical WELD event held the second weekend of the month, and the regular 2-day launch held on the fourth weekend. It is also the last month in the spring for high-power activities, as we leave the Paul farm to grow crops, and we switch over to low-power events at Butner. I’ll put in the combined motor use summary and then get to some details, day by day.

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