Launch Report, Bayboro, NC ? February 25-26, 2012

Two-day winter launches at Bayboro can occasionally have a split personality and this weekend was one of the most extreme examples of this tendency that I have seen.? On Saturday, the combination of high wind, low temperature, and high humidity made the weather conditions extremely harsh and unpleasant, while Sunday had long stretches where there was absolutely no wind whatsoever;? it was still cool, but the sun was out and the winds were very calm and it felt great to be outside.

For reasons probably related to the weather forecast, attendance both days was disappointing.?? On Saturday, I was surprized that as many people showed up as actually appeared, and on Sunday I was equally baffled that more people did not come out and fly.? How about a motor use summary?

Motor Sat Sun Both
A 1 1
B 1 1
C 2 1 3
D 1 1 2
E 3 1 4
F 1 1
G 1 1 2
H 1 1
I 2 2
J 3 1 4
M 2 2
Total 16 7 23


Phill Ash, Jake Boyd, and Pat Harden made the trip down from SEVRA-land to see what the windy version of Bayboro is all about.? I didn?t see any flight cards from Pat, so he may not have brought some low-altitude motors, but Phill and Jake made several flights, including one by Jake on a cluster of 3 F32?s that took an unusually long time and a lot of walking to bring home.? Everything and everybody eventually made it home, but only after a VERY long hike.

Saturday also saw the demise of a rocket that Dave Hash has flown since the Whitakers days:? his Batter Up, made from a plastic baseball bat with some plexiglass fins, fell victim to one too many Estes E9?s, and burned in half.? I?m sorry to see that one go, it was a great little flyer and never failed to draw a lot of attention at the Astronomy Days expositions.

Ray Bryant returned after a few month?s layoff and flew two different rockets on I motors.? His Movie Magic was the latest bird to fly with on-board video recording, and we got to watch that one at the field.

The NC State University Student Launch Initiative team was back with their sub-scale model to demonstrate stability, which they did to everyone?s satisfaction.? The rocket made two J motor flights that were very straight and recovered perfectly.? For the last flight of the day, Clark Moser attempted a TRA level 2 certification flight.? He brought out a brand-new Binder Design Iris and flew it on a motor that I read as a J760.? Unfortunately, neither or Tripoli Motor Testing lists a J760, so I don?t know exactly who made this motor, but it sure behaved like a J, putting the 7.5 lb Iris up to the 5000 foot region.? The main parachute came out at apogee, so Clark and his entourage were doing some serious searching down in the southeastern reaches of the field just before sundown.? I heard later that the rocket was recovered intact, so congratulations to Clark!

The weather picture on Sunday was A LOT different.? When I arrived at the field at about 9:30, the air was completely still, not a breath of wind was stirring in any direction.? As the day wore on, a very gentle breeze out of the northeast arose, but it was apparently a surface-only breeze, because rockets were going straight up and coming straight down.

Jim Livingston got things started with a flight of his Viper on a 3-grain 115mm M motor made from the new ?Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue #4? formula.? Jim was trying a little experiment to try to slow the burn down by using AP 400 for 20% of the AP component, and the result was quite clear, the burn was a stately and controlled affair, but the thrust was still very high: the 102 lb rocket soared up to 3600 feet before a perfect recovery.

Alan Whitmore then launched Red Rudy on a full L motor made from Aluminum ?Everclear?.? This flight was pushing Mach 0.92 at 2 seconds into the burn, and coasted up to 7600 feet before the apogee event at 22 seconds post lift-off.? This one also came straight down and recovery was very close.? Alan was so pleased with the still air that he then flew the slim Red Snake on a 38mm homemade J that attained 8117 feet and fell a few hundred yards away.? By the way, this was the 65th flight of the ?Snake? series of 2 ?? diameter rockets [first the Copperhead, which flew from February of 2000 to summer of 2003, the Smooth Green Snake, which flew from spring 2004 to October of 2008, and the Red Snake,? which entered service in July of 2009] and this was the highest flight yet!

Andrew Billin arrived a little before noon and got busy with 4 flights.? He made 2 flights with his Skyhook, the first on the relatively tame D12 and a second flight on the very energetic E30, to some extreme altitude, but because of the clear air and calm winds, that one was also visible all the way up and down.? A flight of his Mars Lander on a C6 proved unstable, but no damage was reported.? Finally, Andrew reminded us of why Aerotech includes a little rubber gasket to put at the top of the delay grains in the 29/40-120 hardware.? The G64 burned up Andrew?s IQSY Tomahawk and set the grass next to the launch pad on fire.

The weather on Saturday made me want to quit rocketry and take up stamp collecting, but Sunday reminded me of why we do this:? Spending the day with good friends in the wide open spaces flying rockets all day long.? Sunday made me wish I had brought more rockets!!?? Many thanks to Jim, Andrew, and Mike Collier? for helping me take down the equipment and pack the trailer.

Alan Whitmore
Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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