This weekend was the finest rocketry event I have attended in a long time! Lots of people (old friends and new), great weather, good field conditions, and a lot of interesting flights. The only things that could possibly have been improved were the wind direction on Saturday, and perhaps a few less mosquitoes. The recent loss of the Fentress field in Southeast Virginia brought a lot more of our friends from the North this weekend, and it was great to see them all. I have certification flights to talk about, tales of adventure in the deep woods of Pamlico county while recovering rockets, and lots more fun to tell you about, but first, the motor use summary.
The most important flights of any weekend are the certification flights. This weekend we had four. The first to occur was a NAR level 1 cert flight made by Tom Keith, who used an H133 in an Estes Leviathan to make a perfect flight with completely nominal recovery. Tom stayed busy , and made 4 more flights on Saturday.
Joe Hill made a TRA level 2 flight, after passing his written test in the morning, The rocket was an all-fiberglass design which he named 41153.7 (cast your mind back through Star Trek trivia for this reference) and the motor of choice was the ridiculously fast Aerotech J800T. The up part of the flight was excellent, but there were two problems: The altitude that was attained was just too high for motor ejection, and the wind was in the wrong direction. Our local correspondent Terry reports that one of his neighbors saw this one drifting over NC 306 on the way to the far side of the road. This is a cert flight that is still undecided. TRA guidelines specify that the rocket be recovered ?in flyable condition?.?? This particular bird is an all-fiberglass design and can lie in a field or hang in a tree for a long time and still remain in a flyable condition, so this cert flight still has a large question mark hanging over it. Terry knows that part of the county pretty well and the neighbors are mostly friendly, so I wouldn?t be surprised to see this rocket waiting for Joe at some launch this fall.
Charles Long came to Bayboro to attempt an L2 flight, and this was a success. Charles flew his Blue Toad, made from 3? Blue-Tube, on a J354 motor for a fine flight. All parts recovered in good shape.
The big news for the weekend was the TRA level 3 attempt made by Chris Aubright with a 4? all-fiberglass kit from Performance Hobbies that he had assembled and painted with a stunning red/white/blue paint job. The finish on this rocket was just a delight. Chris chose the Aerotech M1315W motor for the job at hand, and predicted a 15,000 flight. Chris and I and Chris?s mentor, Jeff Goldstein, fretted and calculated about the wind direction all morning, and when the winds calmed a bit and moved around to the North we decided to load it up and go for it. The result was a perfect demonstration of the erratic and unpredictable nature of amateur rocket flights: even though the winds were pushing everything towards the southwest, this rocket ended up in the patch of woods a mile to the east. Chris and Jeff came back scratched, mosquito-bitten, sore and wet, but they had the rocket in hand!
Around 2:00, Frank Schneider was ready to pull off the ?main event?. His new rocket , called Pike, weighed 104 lbs on the pad and was carrying a CTI O3400. If my memory serves me correctly, this is only the 3rd O motor launched at Bayboro. [For the record: Ed Rowe, Jim Livingston, and Frank Schneider]
The propellant in the O3400 is Cesaroni?s I-max formula and the effect was just fabulous. This is one fine commercial motor! The LCO on this flight was Dennis Hill, and his ?LCO Remarks? are usually spot-on. I?ll quote this one in full: ?Great Flight. Sloooow Descent.?? …….. Far, Far Away?. That?s the flight in a nut-shell. Frank and his crew spent the rest of Saturday following the GPS signal to find the block of woods where the rocket hung in a tree. They came back Sunday and worked for at least 4 hours to get most, but not all, of the rocket out of the trees. For some reason the main parachute came out at apogee, and the result, when the apogee is over 14,000 feet up, was obvious.?? Just like Chris Aubright, Frank now has a much clearer picture of what it means to drop a rocket in the woods in Pamlico County, North Carolina.
Even with 3800 acres to play in, wind direction matters.
There were two NC State teams on hand this weekend, getting their annual program started with a visit to the launch field. Senior Design team 3 brought an unnamed rocket to fly with an Aerotech H242T, and the flight and recovery were perfect. The High Power Rocket Club made their first flight of the year with an older rocket made by a HPRC group from 3 or 4 years ago, named Red Means Go!. This rocket was powered by a Research L motor made by Alan Whitmore and also flew perfectly. Subscale model of this year?s design will come along in November.
Jeff Goldstein is another flyer who came for the weekend from SEVRA-land because of the great ?Fooferaw at Fentress?.?? Jeff flew his Red Liner on a J410 for another great flight. Charles Long made a first visit to Bayboro and flew all day long, making 5 flights?: his Unspooled flew on an H170 for a very quick flight, for a spool. The Fire-Breathing Turtle flew on an H225, and Charles attempted the tricky cable-cutter recovery on his short and stubby Acme, Inc. which didn?t work very well. The Speedy B flew on a J270 and the first flight of the Blue Toad (unpainted Blue-Tube?) on a J354 white smoke motor. Cert flight, see above.
Sunday was another great day, with a few more very high clouds and a much better prevailing wind direction. I flew my Red Rudy on a homemade baby M to around 6800?, and Jim Livingston flew his new-ish 5.5? diameter all-fiberglass rocket, called the Seahawk, on a homemade L motor in the white-smoke formula. Two students from NC School of Science and Math, Micheal Cooper and Ben Fertick, made 3 flights in their rocket called Smath III, one flight on a C11, and the last two propelled by the D12. The rocket was carrying a ?Pnut? altimeter and a payload of 25 nickels on each flight, so it seems that some data about weight, total thrust, and altitude was being gathered. I wish I knew more about that project.
Chuck Hall staged his Marauder on a B6-0, and then an A8-5 took over with the sustainer. Very stable and all parts recovered in good shape. Charles Long was back on Sunday with another new rocket, the Migraine Headache on a G126 (I need to look that motor up) and another flight of the Unspooled.?? Dan Fritsch made 4 flights on Sunday with rockets of varying sizes, and it was a huge pleasure to see David Cox back after a longish layoff. He flew his D-region Tomahawk on an H123W for a complete success and then tried out a series of saucers that we have seen before. Ed and Sonya Withers, Eddie Haith, and Ray Bryant were there flying a grreat variety of rockets all day, keeping the range so busy that the LCO seldom had time to sit down.
This was one of those weekends where it was just great to be alive: Good weather, good friends old and new, lots of interesting rocket flights, and very few crashes and CATO?s. Join us again on the weekend of November 21-22 and we?ll look for some good weather when we move the launch site out closer to the middle of the field.
Prefect, Tripoli East NC