Launch Report, Bayboro, October 28, 2017

Our second October launch in 2017 was similar to the first launch (see previous report) in that it was a half-good weekend.  The weather Saturday was just about perfect:  a few high clouds in the morning that disappeared later in the day, and then some extremely high and fluffy clouds moved in.  Temps were in the 60’s in the morning and warmed to the low ‘70s later in the day, the wind was in the wrong direction, but calm by Bayboro standards.  Sunday was just foul, and I managed to get the trailer pulled off the muddy field and parked at Lionel’s house by 10:00 AM.  There was just a drizzle when I hooked up the trailer, but one of the tropical storm bands of rain moved in while I drove up 306, and I dropped the trailer in rain so heavy I couldn’t see the back of Lionel’s house.

This was a great weekend for seeing old friends.  The biggest surprise was seeing Stewart Whiteman, who has not been to an event in Bayboro for at least 5 years, maybe more.  Stewart came to re-certify L1 in TRA, and made a perfect flight with a rocket called Rudd on an H148R.  Dave Hash always helps out with the Astronomy Days events every January, but we hadn’t seen him at a launch in a few years, so it was a delight to see him back in agriculture-land.  David Cox was back for his second launch of the season, making several flights in the E through H range.

We were also privileged to see another successful flight on Saturday, when Joseph LoBuglio used an Aerotech H128W for a perfect flight in his Arcas for a NAR level 1 certification.

This is the season when our academic teams bring out their projects for preliminary performance analysis.   The NC School of Science and Math TARC team, led by Sahil Sethi, brought a rocket called Halo, that they flew twice on Aerotech E28s.  The details are not recorded, but I recall that deployment was safe in both flights.  Lorenzo Shaikewitz is leading another TARC team from Jordan HS and they flew a rocket called Waddle three times on the AT F39, for successful, informative flights.   The Jordan Rocket Team also brought out a rocket called Dark Matters that they plan to enter in the Battle of the Rockets.  This one flew on an AT J500G for a perfect flight and recovery.  For some reason, the lander did not manage to fall out of it’s deployment bag, so that aspect needs a little work.  Somewhere in all the other student flights, NCSSM student Jennifer Wolfe flew an Estes Maxi Alpha Three just for fun on an AT F24, for another perfect flight.

A bunch of the regulars were back doing what they do well.  Allen Rose, Chuck Hall, Kurt Hesse and Dave Morey all had excellent flights.  Dave Morey nailed another one of his spectacular air-start extravaganzas:  loading up hi Loc IV with an AT I245G, followed up by 3 Estes E9s, and then 3 D5s 2 seconds later.   At least one E9 blew up and some of the D5s may have lit, but it is had to tell from the ensuing fire and damage in the motor airframe. When I add up the total impulse of all seven motors, it still classifies in the I range, so this flight is listed among the I motors in the motor use summary.

Jim Livingston was very busy on Saturday, making three  flights on homemade Research motors.  The H-Roc flew twice on 6-grain 38mm I motors, one was a mixture of a little of this and a little of that, and the second flight was made with the extremely exciting “Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue #4” propellant.  Then, later in the day, he flew his 7.5” diameter V-2 on a 5-grain 54mm K motor made with a white-smoke propellant.  All three flights put the main parachute out at apogee (by design), so Jim did a LOT of walking on Saturday, for a man of his age.   Also in the Research area was a spectacular motor failure by your correspondent, in which a 4-grain 54mm K motor blew out the forward bulkhead at ignition, destroying 90% of the Generic Four Inch, a rocket that has been around for 13 years and would have made its 69th flight, if it had stayed together.  The design is just too good to abandon, and you will see Generic Four Inch II at some future launch.

The big deal of the weekend was a joint endeavor by Dennis and Joe Hill, who flew a beautiful scale model of the Honest John on an Aerotech L850W.   This rocket actually needs more motor than the L850, because the HJ laid over coming off the rail like it wanted to play like a real battlefield nuclear weapon and go destroy one of farmer Rice’s barns or something like that.  It got to about 35 to 40 degrees off vertical before the power band really came alive, and it continued straight at that angle.  Max altitude somewhere around 2180 feet.

I hope to see all of you in November…..

Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Launch Report, Bayboro, October 14-15, 2017

This was one of those classic half-good rocket weekends at Bayboro, when the weather really cooperates on one of the days,  and just can’t seem to get it together on the other day.  Saturday was warm and calm, but the clouds started out low, and just never seemed to clear all day long.  The local AWS was reporting 600 feet of ceiling at 9:30, when I arrived at the field, and only rose to 1200’ by 5 o’clock.   Sunday, in contrast, was a gem!  Still warm with calm winds, but the clouds broke up around 11:00, and we had clear blue skies all day.  How about a motor use summary:

Size Sat Sun Total
F 1 1
G 4 4
H 8 3 11
I 8 8 16
J 3 3
K 1 2 3
L 2 2
M 2 2
N 1 1
All 23 20 43


The smallest motor flown all weekend was the F24 flown by Robbie Kirk on Saturday in his No-Name rocket.  Very unusual to have a whole weekend with no low-power motors flown.  The regulars were there on Saturday, looking around in the motor boxes for some combination that would keep them below the clouds.   Most did.   Dan Fritsch, Charles Long, Steve Polk, Mike Nay, and Sam DeLong were busy all day, but almost no-one else was there or flew anything.

Sunday was much better.  Certification flights are always the biggest events of the weekend, and we had two on Sunday.  Allan Rose re-certified level 2 with the Tripoli organization by scoring high on the written exam and then flying another nameless red and yellow rocket on a J350W for a perfect flight and recovery.  Welcome back to Allan!  Cade Brinkley waited all day Saturday for a break in the weather, and when none presented itself, he came back on Sunday for a perfect flight of his beautiful bronze and white rocket, also currently without a name, on the Loki M1650, a motor made with both blue and red flame propellant grains, and which is called Cocktail by the manufacturer.  The motor and the rocket both performed flawlessly for a successful TRA L3 certification.   Cade has posted the on-board video from that flight at      .

Ralph Malone was in town from New York, and he had three good flights on Sunday, using his EZI-65, and a PML Sudden Rush.  Kurt Hesse, who is usually in the homemade motor group, flew his Shiny Diner on an I211W to good effect.  Charles Long and Sam DeLong were both back on Sunday for some much higher flying, and both were very successful.

The good weather on Sunday brought out the EX crowd in a big way.   Jim Livingston and Alan Whitmore were up to their usual sort of EX activities, and Eric Fadely and Jeff Goldstein made the trip from SEVRA-land to fly with us again.   Jeff had two flights that were right at the ragged edge.   The first was a flight of his Swamp Thang on a motor made from one of the low-metals/high red iron oxide formulas that are famous for extremely fast burn rates.   This was predicted to be something like an L3000, and it sure acted that way.   Safe recovery after a high flight.   The other flight was on the other side of the ragged edge:  This flight abused his rocket called Red Stick on a commercial Aerotech K2050 Super Thunder motor.  As soon as it got up to pressure, it blew both the front and back ends of the motor off and the propellant came spinning down, burning from both ends.  Very messy.  The opinion of the senior members of the club is that the ST propellant may not actually be “ready for prime time”.   I certainly would not fly it in any of my rockets.

Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC


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Launch Report, Bayboro, September 23-24, 2017

We got the 2017-2018 High-Power Season off to a great start in Bayboro this weekend, with a little bit of everything.  We had old friends show up, certification flights, lots of people pushing the envelope, and lots of successes.  The weather was great!!  Mild temperatures, clear skies, and moderate winds.  The only problems were the wind direction (towards the closest tree line) and the ground surface (freshly disced corn stubble, which tried to trip you up and turn your ankles at every step.).   It was not just the old guys like myself who were having trouble with the terrain, I heard a number of the younger flyers complain about the footing.   We need to keep in mind that September is one of those “maybe/maybe not” months for our host.   The corn has been mostly harvested, but the soybeans are still on the stalk.  A lot of foot traffic through the beans will just shake the pods off the stalk, resulting in loss of revenue.   I know that there are many of you who have attempted to recover rockets in the middle of soybean fields, and you know that it is not any fun.

Photo by Dave Morey

Therefore, in September we set up where Clifton wants us to set up and modify our expectations accordingly.  We will probably be back at our usual launch site next month.  Even within these restrictions, a lot of people showed up and had a lot of fun.  I’ll stick in the World Famous Motor Use Summary Table here:

Sat Sun Total
A 1 1
C 3 3
D 2 2
E 3 1 4
F 4 4
G 4 3 7
H 7 5 12
I 9 1 10
J 1 2 3
K 1 1
Total 34 12 46


I shall browse through the flight cards and mention flyers and flights that caught my interest.  The order is generally “small motor” to “large motor” but not exactly.  Ed Withers brought a Semroc kit called the Batroc that I had not seen before.  It flew quite well on an A8.  Allen Harrell (ably assisted by his granddad Tommy and Aunt Natalie) had a few flights in the low-power range, also, with two C6-powered flights and Wigglewump on an F24.  Special thanks to Natalie for the cookies, this time both chocolate chip and oatmeal/date varieties.

The first flight of the 2017/2018 season was made by Dan Fritsch, who flew his Madcow Mini Cowabunga on a D12.   This is an interesting coincidence, because in September of 2007, exactly 10 years ago, I made the first flight ever at the Bayboro field with my own Jaguar loaded with an Estes D12.  Somebody suggested that we should make this an annual ritual, for good luck.   The first flight of each season at Bayboro should be made by somebody flying an Estes D12.   Works for me.

We all need to say a big Thank You to Mike Collier, who took most of the launch pads back to his place of business over the summer and completely re-built most of our mid-power launch pads.  The old yellow tripod, which had corroded away to a loose set of steel tubes, was totally reconstructed, and both of the quad-pods were rebuilt in a more stable arrangement.   Both of the quad-pods can handle 10-10 and 15-15 rails, as well as a variety of rods.   Mike also welded the loose nut back on one of the legs of Kelly Mercer’s old Unistrut rail pad.   If that weren’t enough, he also had 2 big decals of the club logo printed up and applied them to the club trailer.   Have a look during the next launch.   We all owe Mike a big debt of gratitude.   Check out the pads and thank Mike yourself at a future launch.   We also need to thank David Cox, who went through the beat-up high-power launch controller and the trolley on wheels that contains the launch relay circuits.   David fixed all the broken buttons and switches, got the continuity check functions working again, and gave us 5 working channels to play with while Kurt Hesse gets the new system finished.

One of my greatest pleasures is seeing old friends from the Whitakers days come back and join us at Bayboro.  This month Thomas Cox returned to the hobby and had a successful L1 TRA re-certification flight using his Blue Phenix and flying on an Aerotech I357T.   Flight and recovery were perfect, so, welcome back to High Power!  Thomas also had some problems with old Aerotech motors left over from the Whitakers days, some of which were very hard to light.  One particular motor never ignited the propellant, but the delay grain lit up and burned for more than 25 seconds, producing smoke out the back until the ejection charge finally fired, popping off the nose cone and parachute.

Mike Nay has been working on his cluster ignition project for a while, and on Saturday he finally got it to work.  His Triple Trouble #2 was loaded with a central E16 and two D12’s in detachable side pods, each of which were designed to come down under its own parachute.   On Saturday, he finally got everything to work on time and in the way they were designed.   The total installed impulse for this flight was in the F motor range, so  this flight is listed under the F motors in the motor use summary.


Photo By Jim Livingston

I haven’t awarded the “best rocket name” award in a while, but this month it will have to go to Steve Polk’s Disturbing News, which resembled a CBU or some other piece of military airplane-dropped weaponry.   This was flown on an Aerotech H180W for a successful flight.  Dave Morey had a great flight with his Loc IV, which used a central I245G and air-started 4 D5’s, mainly for a lot of smoke.  Everything worked exactly like Dave programmed it, and recovery was perfect.

Saturday’s biggest motor was flown by C. J. Lucas in his Eagle Claw 4.  The motor was a homemade 54mm J595, which he made himself, not just the propellant but he machined the casing and nozzle, also.   The flight was perfect and recovery was exactly right.

Sunday was a little more windy, and the direction was still less than desirable.   Robbie Kirk came back to fly some more rockets in the F through H range.  Henry and Sam Hartman joined us on Sunday and took advantage of the great weather to fly several rockets in the G to H range, to great success as I recall.    Sam Delong made the trip from Wilmington to do some serious flying on Sunday.  I have cards in the box that record flights with a G64W, H54W, H180W, J244 and J290 motors.  Apparently Sam likes the white-smoke formulas!

The big deal on Sunday was the culmination of a lengthy, quixotic attempt by Joe Hill to airstart 2 outboard motors using the old-school method of igniting therma-lite segments with flash bulbs, while one end of the therma-lite is stuck up in the outboard motors.   He tried and failed on Saturday, with a central Loki I210 and two outboard AT G53FJ motors.   The I motor lit just fine and the flight was safe and recovered intact, but the outboard G’s did not light.   On Sunday Joe tried again with a central Loki I377CT and the same two outboard G53’s.   This time everything worked exactly as planned, and the flight was spectacular.  A perfect initial I377 burn, followed by a smoky G-motor boost.   Like all successful airstarts, it was a treat to watch.

I have started keeping score on the Jolly Logic Chute Release product.  This month we had 10 Jolly Logic flights, 8 of which worked as planned, and 2 which did not open on schedule.  We shall pursue this matter and try to find out why the successful flights worked and the unsuccessful ones did not.  Every rocket flight is an experiment, and we can learn something if we gather the data and catalogue it.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC


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