WELD Launch Report, Oct 13-14, 2012

The weekend of Oct 13-14 at Bayboro, NC was a perfect example of the many reasons that I love amateur rocketry.? We had perfect weather, great flights, good friends all around, no structural failures of rocket frames, essentially no motor problems, and almost 100% successful recovery.? It was a delightful weekend, one that I shall always remember as a perfect jewel of experience.

This weekend was a TRA Research event, which we name the WELD launch [Whitakers Experimental Launch Days] to commemorate the first all-research weekend events held on the east coast.? The WELD events at Whitakers saw some truly epic TRA research flights, and even though the excitement level has dropped a little because of the addition of TRA Research days at launches held in Florida, South Carolina, at Battle Park , and the new mega-launches at Price, MD conducted under MDRA auspices, WELD events are held at the best rocket field on the east coast under the best weather conditions to be found anywhere on earth.? If you make your own motors, and you can?t make it to Nevada in September for BALLS, the place to be is Bayboro for a WELD launch.

Let?s look at a motor use summary:

Size Sat Sun All
B 1 1
C 1 1
G 3 3
H 2 2
I 3 3
J 1 2 3
K 2 1 3
L 1 2 3
M 1 1 2
N 2 2
Total 15 8 23


Weather notes:? Early Saturday morning there was a fresh breeze out of the northeast, and the skies were crystal clear blue [insert your favorite blue adjective here:? azure, cerulean, whatever].?? As the day progressed, the winds became even calmer, and there were moments in the mid-afternoon when the air was dead calm.? On Sunday, the clear skies were still there and the winds had shifted around to the south, but very calm.

Our visitors from Southeast Virginia were back to enjoy some more of the wide open space, and Pat, Eric, Tom and Randy put up a pile of rockets (Pat and Tom even stayed overnight and flew some more on Sunday).? Ray Bryant had cooked up two more sugar motors and flew them at much higher Kn?s, resulting in flights that were a lot zippier than last month.? He flew a 4-grain 54mm J515 in his Copper Load, and then a 3 grain 76mm motor rated as a K581.? Both flights were very impressive.

David Cox made another attempt to get his Juggernaut past the 10,000 foot altitude mark, this time with a 4-grain 115mm N motor which featured 4% aluminum powder and 0.5% black copper oxide.? He reports that even this combination was not able to crack the 10K mark, which seems unlikely to me.

On Sunday we had two father/son collaborations:?? First, Tom and Collin Devlin had a B/C motor drag race off of the low power pads, and then, later on, Pat and Joshua Harden attempted some serious altitude with their Wildman jr using the CTI J600 38mm motor.? Unfortunately, the nozzle end of the motor popped out upon ignition, and a few of the internal parts got damaged.

Eric Fadely had two very fine flights on Sunday using homemade ?Tiger Tail? propellant in his Slap the Bull (2).? Motor performance was very sharp and everything stayed together.

Alan Whitmore brought out his two largest rockets in an attempt to burn up 24,000 N.s of propellant in one weekend.? On Saturday, the rocket named Be?lzebob flew on a 5-grain 115mm motor made from the tried-and-true ?Black Velvet? propellant.? The 118 lb rocket flew to around 8700 feet and recovered perfectly.? On Sunday, Spork was loaded with a 3-grain 115mm motor mixed up from Jim Livingston?s White Smoke formula and that flight powered up to the 9800 foot range while producing a massive column of thick white smoke that was still hanging in the air after the rocket was on the ground.? All recovery events occurred right on time and the whole assembly was recovered without a scratch.

On Saturday, Jim Livingston flew the Carbon High on a 3-grain 115mm motor made of the same white smoke propellant described in the last paragraph.?? This was a magnificant flight, topping out at the 10,500 to 11,000 foot range, and the rocket was recovered intact.? Then, on Sunday, Jim flew his 5.5? diameter AMRAAM a little over a mile up with a 4-grain 76mm L motor made from the relatively new ?Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue #4? propellant.? Lift-off was fast and furious and the flame color was rich and bright.? We had a small fire in the corn stubble a few minutes after that one flew, and everybody was very busy for a while, but we eventually got it under control.

Note to self:? I have seen 2 field-fires in Bayboro now, and what we really need in the trailer for this problem is rakes.? Fire extinquishers or water containers really can?t get the job done fast enough.? Buy 2 or 3 rakes the next time I?m in the hardware store.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC


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