Saturday was a great day for rocketry but the attendance, as at most Holiday season launches, was very light.? Temperatures started in the upper 40s, and warmed slowly until the clouds finally dispersed enough for the sun to shine through, and things quickly warmed up to the 60s.? The clouds were fascinating, almost as if the heavens had decided to demonstrate every single kind of cloud in the meteorology textbooks, all in one day.? Then, when dusk came, all of the clouds went from white, to orange, to red, and then to grey.
There was only one minor on the premises, Cayden Dyer, who came along with Craig Anfinsen to fly his Skywriter and Baby Bertha on some A and B motors, and he recovered everything safely.? And, because of the lack of children in attendance, the motor use summary is a little heavy in the mid-range:
I need to mention the poor showing that several commercial E motors made this weekend, but before I do that, I need to remind you that the motor use summary lists individual flights by total installed impulse, and does not detail the total number and size of motors used.? For example, Dave Morey attempted one of his customary Tours de force with his Loc IV with a central 38mm H148R lighting on the pad followed by a simultaneous air start of 3 Estes E9s and 3 Estes D5s.? This particular combination adds up to around 348 N.s of total impulse, so it was listed with the H motor flights.? One of the E9s CATO?ed at ignition, resulting in some damage to the airframe and a lot of parts falling all over the place.?? These E motors were from a previously sound batch of E9s, so Dave decided to static test a bundle of 3 randomly chosen motors from the same box.? Two of them CATO?ed.? All extremely entertaining, but probably not for the man who had spent his hard-earned cash on the motors.? Later in the day, Ray Bryant experienced a CATO of an Aerotech E30 in his Maverick.? That adds up to more catastrophic failures of commercial motors in one day than I have witnessed for experimental motor failures in the entire calendar year of 2012.
Chuck Hall, Tanner Lovelace, Ray Bryant, Craig Anfinsen, and Mike Collier all flew H motors on Saturday.? My favorite rocket name of the day was Ray Bryant?s Gray Slug, an unusually stout and heavy-duty design that he flew on a I357 Blue Thunder motor.? Unfortunately, there were no parachute deployments during that flight and the rocket buried itself in the soggy topsoil.? Ray did some extensive shovel work and recovered most of it, but the heavy, round cherry-wood nose cone is still buried deep in the ground.
The biggest (and by far the loudest) flights of the day were made by Dave Morey, who flew his beautifully finished Starfire on an 3? Aerotech K780R to the 5000 foot region, and Mark Yeager, who made the last flight of the day with his Asp on the perennial favorite Aerotech J350W.? Mark ran into some serious bad luck all at once, as the main parachute did not deploy and the assembly landed on the only strip of asphalt in several miles.? It was getting fairly dark by then, so I did not get a chance to see the damage, but I hope that rocket can be repaired, it is really quite lovely.
As soon as I opened the curtains of our motel room in New Bern on Sunday morning, I realized that the weather forecasting services had missed it again.? Cloudy, drizzle, and extremely low ceiling.? We drove to the field and hung around for a while and watched the clouds not getting any thinner.? By 10:30, scattered splashes of light rain put another layer of slick mud on the bare earth and we decided to pull the plug.? But, immediately after we had stowed the launch equipment and gingerly pulled the trailer out of the mud, Ken Stroud showed up with his test stand and some cameras, so Ray Bryant produced an experimental sugar motor and we pulled a battery and some cables out of the trailer and we set up for a test burn.?? The 3? case would hold an APCP L motor, so the sugar motor was probably a big K or a small L.? The burn went well [no CATO] and good thrust data was obtained.? I shall try to get Ken and Ray to send a photo of the test to Tanner for inclusion on the web site.
Many thanks to all who helped with the equipment setup and tear-down, and I hope to see you all again in 2013!
Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC