March is the one month where weather forecasts at Bayboro have shown themselves to be the least reliable. I have found that the best policy in March is to just pack the truck and go, and see what happens. So I went.
Saturday turned out to be a perfectly fine day for everything but extremely high flights, and this was because the winds were out of the southeast, blowing everything towards the northwest, where lies the closest tree line, about 0.7 miles away. [Think about how many rocket club launch sites don?t have any tree lines as far away as 0.7 miles and try to appreciate how good we have it here as guests of Clifton Paul and his family.] The cloud ceiling was high, the temperature was mild, and a lot of people showed up. I?ll insert the motor use summary and then describe some of the specifics.
You will notice that I put an asterisk next to the 1 “H” motor in the list. This is because clusters and multistage rockets are all listed by total installed impulse. Johnny Hoffman flew a beautifully balanced pizza box on 2 canted G80?s for a perfect flight that built up a huge spin rate. Two G?s add up to an H, which is where I classified this flight.
The theme for this month?s launch was the unique, the unprecedented, the never-seen-that-before events. The first event was Chuck Hall?s flight of his recently repaired Extended Little John on an Aerotech M1296W. Chuck did most of the pre-flight prep at home, and this was the first time in all of my experience in rocketry, where an M motor made the first flight of the day.
Shortly thereafter, Stan Ayers, the scoutmaster for troop 244 from Cary, NC, attempted to fly one of his mid-power rockets on (I think) an Aerotech F39. Whatever it was, it was a 24mm single-use motor with a phenolic case and nozzle. When I pushed the launch button, there was a quiet snap sound, and no smoke and no movement. Stan took the rocket off the pad, and a few minutes later he brought back at least a dozen shattered pieces of plastic and a propellant grain that had only a sliver of propellant burnt away. The motor casing completely shattered upon ignition, and no obvious reason was seen at that time. I have seen the nozzle or forward bulkhead end of single-use motors come unglued and pop off several times before, but this is the first time I have ever seen one come completely apart like this one did.
Then, later in the afternoon, Dennis Hill brought an old rocket out of retirement to fly for the first time at Bayboro. The rocket called Ten Forward was built in 1994, and last flown at Whitakers, NC, in 2005. Dennis was not only bringing out an old rocket, but he flew it on one of Tommy Billings? earliest ADEPT altimeters, the ALTS2, which is long since out of production. Dennis put a new battery in it and it worked perfectly. The motor choice for this flight was the 38mm CTI I285. The motor came to life instantly and got the rocket off the rail and moving fast until about 50 feet up, when the motor just shut off, and then restarted about a half a second later. The rocket then continued up to 1400 feet with no further weirdness going on. We have seen plenty of ?chuffs? while the rocket was sitting on the pad, but I have never seen a rocket take off, completely shut off, and then resume burning in time to finish a fairly nominal flight.
Again, it was a day for odd occurrences that nobody had any real good explanations for.
I mentioned the troop master from Cary, but the boys were also busy all day. I?ve got cards for Travis Vashaw, Raghav Chari, Andrew Haynes, Will Trotman, and Joshua Ayers, who filled the skies with A, B, and C motors all day long.
Tommy Harrell was back with a pile of his family with him. Issaiah was flying Hobbes? Allen was working with the little Cow-cow, under the supervision of his aunt Natalie, and Tommy flew the Calvinator on a J316. Everything came home in one piece, as I recall.
Probably the most interesting flight of the weekend was made by the Jordan High School Rocketry team. They have been improving last years NASA SLI entry to make it even better. They are developing a gyroscope-controlled roll control mechanism that will keep a rocket moving without roll for the burn and coast phase, to make a smoother and more stable platform for aerial videography. The roll control for this flight was pretty good, some small tweaks to the programming will be necessary. Propulsion was provided by the Aerotech K1000T, for a fabulous lift-off. Another neat feature of this flight was the intended deployment of a small helium balloon once the rocket was back on the ground. This balloon was designed to provide a visual clue to help recovery. The fishing line broke, and that part of the recovery will need to be beefed up a little.
On Sunday, the weather that had been forecast for Saturday finally arrived in Pamlico County. Rain, more rain, and cold winds out of the northeast. I pulled the trailer out of the mud and headed home.
Prefect, Tripoli East NC