Butner, Saturday May 25 is cancelled

I just heard from Professor Chuck that the May event at Butner must be cancelled.   The Senior Design teams that make unmanned aircraft are “way behind” and will need to use that runway every Saturday and Sunday that weather permits between now and early June.   Let’s all shift our attention to June 22.   I hope to see you there!

Alan Whitmore

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Launch Report, Bayboro, April 27-28, 2019

Wind is our constant companion at Bayboro.  It was the biggest change we all had to adapt to when we lost the field at Whitakers and had to look around for another home, and it is probably, next to the increased travel time from the Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville population centers, the biggest reason that so many Whitakers regulars never made the move to Bayboro.  The wind might be the largest reason that our club growth has been so slow since we moved here in 2007: most people just don’t want to work this hard to recover their rockets.  I can’t say that I blame them, either.   I participated in 2 recovery efforts on Saturday, one rocket to 6000 feet altitude and the other to 10,000 feet, and on Sunday Jim Livingston and I recovered my Spork II from another flight to 10,000 feet, and by the end of the weekend I was absolutely exhausted.   Sam DeLong said it best on Sunday afternoon while we were packing up.  He said he felt like he had been beaten up by 4 or 5 small children for 9 hours straight both days.   Not enough to leave bruises, but enough to really tire you out.  Both days saw the kind of wind that means you don’t leave the tops of your tool boxes open, or the gusts will blow them off your tables even if they contain 50 lbs of tools.

But this group of hardcore rocket people, our current group of men, women and children who really love to fly rockets, have adapted to the situation.  They are strong enough to take the long walks, they carefully size their parachutes and adjust the main chute deployment altitude to bring them down to a reasonable altitude, and they have made the investment in technology to find their rockets even if they don’t see where they come down.

Let’s do the motor use summary table first, and then pick up a few of the highlights.

Size Sat Sun Both
B 4 1 5
C 5   5
D   1 1
E 1   1
F 1   1
H 2 1 3
I 1   1
J 4 1 5
K 3   3
L 1 2 3
N 1 2 3
O 1   1
  24 8 32


There was a surprising amount of low-power activity on Saturday, considering the wind situation.  Everett and Dominic Higgins, and Cate and Davis Wendel were filling up the low power pads in the B through F range, and taking long walks to get these very light rockets home.

Charles Long finally found a weekend off work, and brought his wife to Bayboro for the first time.  Charles flew the Migraine Headache on an H118, the little Stealth pyramid on an H100, and his Little Nuke on an I435.   These were the first three flights of the day, and then he and Kay were off to the beach.  Mike Nay had a great two-stage flight with his Nike-Apache combination on a J435WS in the booster and an H90 in the sustainer.   This one came home in good shape.   Because the total impulse of both motors is in the J range, this one is listed in the J row in the motor use summary table.

Dennis Hill, Kurt Hesse, Joe Hill, and Alan Whitmore all had successful flights and long, athletic recoveries.   The North Carolina State University Senior Design team 1 brought out their Vanguard 1 and flew it on an Aerotech L1390G.  The theme for both Senior Design teams this year was active controlled flight.  The rockets were equipped with fin vanes and active guidance packages for very specific assignments for roll, pitch and yaw changes during flight.  For this reason, both flights were announced as “heads up” flights, but the control programs were executed without major error on both days.

The major events on Saturday were the big motor flights:   Brent Bierstedt brought out his big 11.5” diameter V2 and flew it on a CTI N1800.   This flight was just perfect, the up and down parts executed flawlessly.  I don’t have an altitude report on this one.   A little later, Jim Livingston flew his 127 lb Viper on an EX O4445, made with an interesting mixture of propellant grains:  the basic formula was the old reliable Black Velvet, but for each grain in the 7-grain 115mm motor, the closer to the front of the motor, the higher the aluminum content.

Sunday was a little warmer, but not significantly calmer in the wind department.  Dave Morey was burning up some of the new Quest B4 composite low-power motors, making a preliminary flight of his Semroc Starfire on one of the Quest B’s, and then a flight of his Defender on a cluster of three B4’s.  The Jordan High School rocketry team launched Dark Matters, their entry in the 2019 Battle of the Rockets, on a J425.  Recovery was in three different parts with three different parachutes, but everything came home safe and sound.

The NCSU Senior Design team 2 came in on Sunday to try out there version of the active pitch/yaw/roll control system, also using an Aerotech L1390G.   This rocket was called Thicc Chucc’s Revenge and it required a lot of time to get the guidance program to calm down while the rocket jiggled around on the launch pad in the wind.   Eventually the team used a small lull in the wind to get the guidance program to initialize itself successfully, and the flight went off without incident.  Mike Nay attempted another two-stage project on Sunday, and Jeff Goldstein came down from Virginia to fly his Black Beauty.

Just as on Saturday, the big Sunday events were the biggest motors.   The Duke University AERO team brought their recently-finished Bluestone for a shake-down flight before the SpacePort America competition in New Mexico.   This minimum-diameter project was planned for the 13,000 foot region, and was powered by the CTI N2200 sparky motor.   The Bluestone weather-cocked off to the WSW and no apogee event was visible from the ground, the telemetry stopped transmitting, and the rocket was not seen again.  Alan Whitmore put up the Spork II just as soon as the range opened on Sunday morning, and this flight, powered by a homemade 115mm N motor, also made it up to the 10,000 foot range and was recovered with only minor damage.

We are finished with the high-power portion of our 2018-2019 schedule, and the summer schedule is very much in doubt, so please check the club website for additions and modifications to the summer schedule.   Thanks to all of you who made this season such a success.

Alan Whitmore, Prefect

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Launch Report, Bayboro, March 23-24, 2019

Editors note: Some pictures from the weekend are located at Bayboro Rockets 3-24-2019 Google Photos  Thanks to Darrell Rogers.

I looked back through the launch reports that I have submitted, and I can confirm that the last decent launch we have been able to hold was in November of 2018.   We were able to get in one poorly-attended day in December, but December Sunday, January, and February launches were all cancelled because of weather.  This means that a lot of people had been waiting a long time to do some flying, and the number of cars on site both days was a testament to that.

The weather was cool but not unpleasant, and the sun shone bright both days with a clear, blue sky.   Saturday was very windy, but the direction was out of the northwest, exactly where you want it on this field.   Let’s start with the motor-use summary:

Size Sat Sun Both
C 1 1
E 1
F 3 2 5
G 5 1 6
H 2 5 7
I 7 3 10
J 1 1 2
K 2 1 3
L 2 4 6
M 2 2 4
Total 24 21 45


The main news and big excitement for the weekend was the large number of academic teams on-site to make qualifying flights for the various competitions to be held later on in the Spring.   I’ll mention them as we get to them in the narrative.   The other big news is always the certification flights.  This month there were two TRA L3 cert attempts, which failed in rather spectacular and expensive fashion, and across which I will draw a veil of genteel courtesy to avoid embarrassment.  I will mention that level 3 certification is  difficult, and even the most carefully planned and constructed rockets sometime meet bad ends.  The amount of power involved is such that flyers will meet challenges they have never met before.

There were two teams from Jordan High School in Durham present on Saturday, and the TARC team was making multiple flights on a rocket called N/A which carried 3 eggs with an Aerotech F35W.  The fate of the eggs is not recorded on the flight card.  From UNC-Wilmington, Caitlyn Edwards brought her Seahawk 2 to fly on the Aerotech G77R DMS.   The forward bulkhead popped off at ignition, and a small corn-husk fire was started and quickly suppressed.   Ray Bryant and Paul Schaeffer brought out a new version of an old idea, the ‘flippi-fin’.   This rocket is designed to launch from a tube, and the fins are spring-loaded to fold out and function after the rocket has left the tube.   This was the first version of their idea, and the stability margin needs to be addressed before the beta version comes out.

The other team from Jordan H. S. is entered in the Battle of the Rockets (BOTR) competition, and they have a rocket called Shark Dictator which flew successfully on an Aerotech G138T.   Dan Fritsch had some unusual motors in the box and decided to try them out.   His Screech Dual Deploy flew on the bizarre Aerotech H999N, and somewhat later, his new MAC Performance Ethos flew on the I59WN motor that uses a combination of White Lightning and Warp Nine.   The later flight was not stable.  Steve Polk brought out a new rocket that slightly resembles an old Mars Lander.    He flew it twice on an Aerotech I180W, and it behaved very well.

Robbie Kirk brought out a new rocket called the Bayboro Flyer  and used it for a successful TRA level 2 certification flight using the Aerotech J350W.

The team from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga brought a rocket called Oppie which flew on an Aerotech I600R.   I did not hear which competition this rocket is designed to enter.  The team from High Point University is gearing up for the IREC competition at SpacePort America in New Mexico in June, and they flew the Purple Crayon on a experimental 38mm I motor.   This flight was a big success, carrying a package of 2 experiments to 3200 feet approx.  Another academic team from the NC School of Science and Mathematics flew their rocket Unnamed on the Aerotech K1103X twice, to gather data for their presentation in Huntsville in early April.   One of the NCSU Senior Design teams brought back a rocket called Thicc Chucc which flew on an Aerotech L1390G.   This rocket will ultimately fly with an active guidance system, but that system was disabled for this flight.

The High Power Rocketry Club from NCSU is entered in the NASA SLI competition this year, and their entry, No Promises, needed to make a successful flight to qualify for the event.   The trajectory for this rocket/motor combination was simply not optimal, and the minimum altitude requirement was not met, but the team will be flying in Huntsville nonetheless.

Joe Hill capped off the performance list with a flight of his Short Spoon on an Aerotech M1297W for a perfect flight.

Sunday started out just as clear and blue as Saturday, but even warmer and the winds were much calmer.   There were times on Sunday morning where no wind movement could be detected at all.

A new small Harrell, Sofia, was there with Allen and their grand-dad Tommy, to fly some small rockets, and a new medium sized rocket called Black Leader on an Aerotech G64W.   Unfortunately the nozzle broke and blew out the rear end.   In this case the nozzle fragments came out but the rear closure remained in place: very strange.  Eddie Haith was back with even more flights.    The Rouge flew on a Loki I-377-C, and the Fat Boy on an Aerotech I284W.

Allan Rose was busy with a small fleet of almost identical short plump rockets.   The Bandit flew on an Aerotech I161W,  the Condor used an Aerotech J420R, and the Sundog flew with the Aerotech J350W.  Mike Nay made the weekend’s only multiple-motor flight, a staged flight of Double Trouble on a CTI I180 to a CTI G54R in the sustainer.   All parts of that rocket came home safely.  Chuck Hall flew his 4” Patriot on an Aerotech I218R.  The main parachute came out at apogee, but Chuck got it back anyway.

We were not finished with academic qualifying flights by late Sunday afternoon.   The team from Florida State University had driven all night from a field in Palm Beach to get to Bayboro.  They had a fine flight with a rocket called Jerry Junior that used the Aerotech L1300R.   The team from Georgia Tech had been working toward a Saturday flight when an airframe problem required some epoxy work and overnight curing, so they were back on Sunday to finish the job.   This rocket used the Aerotech L2200G for an excellent flight that might have been the only SLI qualifying flight of the weekend that met all the criteria for qualifying to fly in Huntsville.   This year NASA is in big trouble over qualification for the competition:   The weather all over the United States has been uniformly awful for all of the winter and most of the spring, so the bulk of the academic teams have simply not been able to make an informative and successful qualifying flight.   I’ll report on this problem and its solution when I get back from Huntsville in April.

Alan Whitmore flew the Astro*Mollusk 6 on an experimental 4 grain 54mm K motor, and the Stealth Blue used a 3 grain 76mm EX L motor for a very fine flight to approximately 8700 feet into totally clear skies.   Even Joe Hill’s eyes lost track of that rocket for a minute or so.   Jim Livingston was also flying EX loads to good effect, with the veteran Carbon High on a 76mm L motor made from the CP5 propellant, and the even-more-veteran Viper on a 3 grain 115mm M motor using the BV5 formula.   Both rockets performed perfectly and were recovered in good shape.

We have one more launch this year before we go into summer low-power mode, and our land owner informs me that corn is going in the fields where we usually set up.   In late April the corn plants may be 6 to 10 inches high, and we will need to take special care to step over the rows of corn and walk up and down between the rows as much as possible to avoid damaging our host’s means of livelihood.  April will be a time to exercise some “crop courtesy”.


Alan Whitmore, The Central Scrutinizer

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