Launch Report, October 11-12, 2014
This was a great weekend for rocket weather, with a little wind driving everything away from the soybeans. Long walks and clean recovery was the order of the day, both days. There was not a huge crowd on hand either day, so I can give you an account of every flight, not necessarily in chronological order.
Steve Polk flew his slightly modified Saturn V?ish on a pair of F39s for a very fine flight. Later on, he flew the rocket named (or numbered) 34 on a G76. Dan Fritsch was there both days and was, as usual, very busy. On Saturday he flew his Defender Mk II on an E20W, the Minnie Mag on an I154J, the Duck on a G76, and ? if I am reading the flight cards right ? his Legacy on an F15.
Eric Fadely and his wife Kim almost always visit us in the fall from his home in the Norfolk area, where he usually flies with the SEVRA group, to fly some of his larger homemade motors that don?t fit too neatly onto the little airfield that serves as the home base for the SEVRA group (Southeast Virginia Rocketry Association). On Saturday, Eric put up his Red Max on a wonderful M1300 he made himself. It was a great flight, and recovered only a few kilometers to the east. Chuck Hall also had a notion to fly an M motor, and flew his immaculate Extended Little John II on an Aerotech M1500G. This was another great flight, and he also had to walk a bit to get it all back.
Tommy Harrell was on hand to try his veteran, 2-stage Crazed Pink on another pair of motors, this time two I motors. This one experienced some sort of strange misbehavior, with a lot of cart-wheeling and turning in tight circles until various parachutes started to come out and calm things down. I wasn?t watching this one directly, because I was at the ?away cells? helping Jim
Livingston set up his recently reconstructed Carbon High for a flight with a homemade 3-grain 115 mm M motor. Faithful readers of this series of launch reports will recall that the last time we heard from the Carbon High, it was drifting down in shreds after the CATO of an N motor made by Alan Whitmore. The Carbon High has been completely rebuilt, and is now flying straight and high once again.
There was a whole family of Lee?s on hand, also, flying some small rockets. The flight cards I brought back describe a flight of the Phantom Blue by Lauren Lee, and two flights of the Metalizer, by Alex Lee. I think all of the parts from those rockets made it home safely, also. Jimmy Blackley made a very ambitious flight of his Modified Mad Dog with a J320 motor from Loki.
Alan Whitmore made 2 flights on Saturday, the first one in his Generic Four Inch on a 4 grain homemade 54 mm motor. The second flight is the main reason why this report is a little sketchy on details from the last 3 hours of the launch. Your faithful reporter made a flight with the Spork on a 4-grain 115mm N motor that took the Spork to 11,313 feet, but the main parachute shook out shortly after apogee, and the brisk wind brought the main (expensive) parts of the rocket down in a woods about 4 miles from the launch site. The nose cone, Jim Livingston?s 6-foot parachute, and a Rocketman deployment bag were never seen again. The electronics bay had a radio tracker riding on board, so recovery was easy, if you count dragging a 14 foot parachute out of a tree into a briar patch, slogging rocket parts out of a jungle, driving into a ditch, and waiting until after dark until a tow truck arrives to pull you out of said ditch in a driving rain as ?easy?.?? I was extremely lucky to have Dave Morey and Jim Livingston on the grounds that afternoon, and lucky that my cell phone still held a little charge in the batteries. Many thanks to both of those gentlemen for hanging with me during the boring parts.
On Sunday, Dan Fritsch was every bit as active as he was on Saturday. Dan flew his Liberty II on the extremely spicy Aerotech H238T, his Graduator on an F29, and followed everything up with a perfect NAR level 2 certification flight with his Thumper Jr. on a J270W.
Eric Fadely had 2 more flights on Sunday. The Scratch flew on a homemade K500 made from the Tigertail formula he has been working to perfect, and his Modified Intrepid flew on a J version of the same propellant. All flights were exactly what you would want them to be. Jim Livingston finished his flying weekend off with a great flight of his I-ROC on a homemade I350. After that, Mr. Livingston and I were hip deep in soybeans for several hours, looking for the nose cone of the Spork… see Saturday for details.
We had another launch on October 25, but I had recently fallen and broken a rib, so I was unable to attend. However, Dennis Hill sent me a great report by email that will serve very nicely for that event. Here it is?
The weather conditions were absolutely perfect for yesterday’s launch with no clouds or wind and temperatures in the mid-70’s. We had 11 registered flyers and around 37 flights.
Dave Morey’s Sinister was destroyed when the 3rd set of motors to ignite CATO’d and smoke plumes arched off the main smoke trail that painted the sky with a pretty fair imitation of a white palm tree. Jim Livingston captured outstanding pictures of the sequence of events that’s a must-see. Joe had it on video on his phone but accidentally deleted it when he tried to post it.
Joe Hill had a ‘chute get stuck in the air frame of one of his flights and his rocket was badly damaged when it came in semi-ballistic, hitting the ground hard just behind the LCO table that had everybody scrambling for cover. It hit right where Joe had been standing not two seconds before it hit.
But it was not all miscues and mayhem and some pretty impressive flights were made by a variety of folks. Jim Livingston flew an M1900 to 12,000 feet that was awesome. He expected Mach 2 so enlisted everyone’s help with visual tracking. Good thing, too, because everyone but Jim was able to see it the whole way. After we gave him his line, it took him quite some time to locate it in the east soybean field. That guy who helps us recover rockets on his 4-wheeler helped him. He was out there in his truck and after Jim returned empty handed to retrieve the Walston receiver, he and that guy got in that guy’s truck and headed out for what was eventually a successful hunt. Once again, Walston saves the day and Jim was singing its praise.
We also witnessed a successful Tripoli Level 1 certification flight by Curt Hasse. It was rather tortuous for him, though. He came prepared but didn’t think there was anybody available to witness his flight. After we got him straightened out on that, he took his rocket back to his prep area to swap out the motor for his certification motor. Then after burning an igniter, his altimeter battery died. Then we experienced some launch equipment relay problems that took a team to figure out. Then after user error on setting the launch control buttons correctly caused another false start, we were finally able to got him off the ground for a perfect flight on an H180 with dual deployment recovery. I felt sorry for him, though, as he spent a lot more time on pins and needles than he should have had to before he got there.
So, 2 launches in October and a lot of fun had by all. Join us for the weekend of November 22-23 and we?ll see what sort of action we can stir up.
Prefect, Tripoli East NC