Saturday was the best-attended event at Bayboro since we began holding rocket launches here in September of 2007. (Has it really been that long?) At one point I counted 59 cars and trucks on site, including an ever-increasing group of locals who show up and spectate. Lets start with the motor use summary which will draw your attention to the big emphasis this month: Qualifying and practice flights for academic teams.
The big event(s) of any launch are the certification flights, and this month we had only one. Lionel Overton brought his new Black Brant II back to fly on an Aerotech J350W, for another great flight, and since he passed the written exam back in February, he now gets to spend even more money! Congratulations, Lionel!
Steve Heller and Manny Ballestero got Saturday off to a big start by making one of the first flights of the day on a very large Nike Smoke on a homemade O motor. This flight was almost perfect, with a stirring launch phase followed by a recovery phase that would have been perfect if the shock cord had not snapped and dropped most of the heavy parts on the ground without benefit of parachute. The damage was minimal, and this one may fly again. No max altitude reported.
The smaller end of the motor size spectrum was well-represented by a lot of different flyers, and a group of Civil Air Patrol Cadets (what is the collective noun for a group of CAP Cadets? A ‘flight’?) put up the most rockets in this range. I’ll pick one at random to illustrate how I deal with complex flights, those with more than one motor installed. Camdyn Ensminger flew a two-stage rocket called Rocky on a B6 staging to an A3. The total impulse in this combination adds up to the C motor range, so this flight is listed in the C motors in the motor use summary. Paul Short came to Bayboro from MDRA-land this weekend, and made several flights: His Aes Triplex flew on an A8 and later on a B4, his Twizted carried a B4, and a larger rocket called One Oogly Bird flew on the Aerotech G76G. Paul also pulled a shift at the LCO table, and for this we are all very grateful.
There was only one E motor flight this weekend; John Sampson flew an unnamed Mad Cow kit on an Aerotech E18. The large number of F motor flights could only mean one thing: the TARC teams are gearing up and getting their entries ready for the competition. TARC teams were thick on the ground on Saturday. A team from Jordan HS in Durham made at least two flights with their Valkyrie; NCSMM student Sahil Sathi flew an unnamed rocket; Salal Ofwing had two flights: one rocket was called Superfluous N’ne and the other was unnamed; NCSSM team A flew Solus twice; another NCSSM rocket called Bravo made two flights, once with Jennifer Wolfe on the flyer line of the flight card, and another with Hanna Fulford doing the honors. It is entirely possible that I messed up some of the academic affiliations for the TARC flights, or matched people up with the wrong rockets, and I do apologize. I was rather busy Saturday morning with the college teams.
Eddie Haith had his usuals back for another workout, and had good flights with Crayon on a G53, Chicken Lips on a G77R, and the Purple Haith on an H97. Allan Rose made two flights with similar short stubby rockets using main-at-apogee recovery: one was a LOC Iroc on an Aerotech I284W, and the Sun Dog on the AT J350W. Mike Collier brought three of his rockets: the Onyx flew on an F39, the Child’s Play on the Aerotech G76, and an ESTES kit I had not seen before, called Life is Good which flew on an F24. Dan Fritsch had sat out a few months, but he was back in March giving his Madcow Discovery flights on two different G80’s; one was the G80T and the other was a G80 Skidmark. Dan also flew his Cowabunga on the extremely energetic AT I600T. All of the rockets in this paragraph were recovered safely, I believe.
Dave Morey decided to repeat the cluster/air start extravaganza in the Cluster 10, but this time without any Estes E9’s. The results were, therefore, a lot happier. The two side-pods, containing a total of six D12’s, all lit at takeoff, the side-pods fell away, and then two F15’s and two C6’s were air-started in the core. This flight was a complete success. All of those motors add up to a total installed impulse equal to an H motor, so this flight is classified among the H’s on Saturday. Thomas Cox made two flights with his Blue Phenix, one with the H128W, and the other with one of the two H170’s that are available commercially. (I am trying to become familiar with commercial motors, so every time I see a motor designation in the flight cards that I am not familiar with, I look it up in the on-line listings of certified commercial motors. The exercise has been very informative.) Mike Nay had another fine two-stage flight with his Double Trouble, this time using a CTI I345 in the booster to an Aerotech I161W. All parts recovered perfectly.
Our educational institutions were extremely busy with motors in the upper end of the power range. A team from the North Carolina School of Science and Math is preparing for an entry in this year’s NASA Student Launch in April. They flew their Gemini on an Aerotech K1000T that worked very well. There were two teams of Senior Design students from NCSU working on roll-control projects this year. Team 2 flew a rocket called Bullet Bill and Team 3 flew a different project, called Barbara, both on the Aerotech L850W. Both rockets were recovered safely and I have seen at least one data package that says that a roll-control program was actually accomplished.
This is the 2nd or 3rd time that the team from High Point University has been back with their project Nervous Energy, an entry in the IREC competition, and something went very wrong. I didn’t see the flight, but I was shown several mangled parts after recovery. They have time to fix it before the competition, which I think is in June.
The NCSU High Powered Rocketry Club has been working hard all year on their NASA Student Launch entry, called Flat Earth Research Vehicle. The qualifying attempt on Saturday was just too high, outside the permissible altitude range (and recovery distance) for qualification for this years event. The team drove back to Raleigh, worked all night to increase the weight so that the simulations brought it within the right altitude range, and brought it back to Bayboro on Sunday. You were not there on Sunday because you had seen the forecast. In this case the forecast was correct. Intermittent rain, high winds, standing water and mud everywhere, and much colder than Saturday. Undeterred, the team worked hard all morning and into the afternoon to prep the rocket for flight. Jim Livingston and Chuck Hall were present all day long to endure the clammy cold and help with setting up and taking down the equipment. I thank both of you! The flight of the F.E.R.V. was perfect, the altitude was very close to exact, and the rocket landed close, but moments after the fin section hit the ground, it bounced up and landed on the front, breaking the body tube. Unfortunately, the rules of competition do not allow any repairs or modifications to the rocket between the qualifying flight and the competition, NAR’s equivalent of parque ferme. Therefore, we will not be allowed to compete in Huntsville this year. This is a major bummer, not only for the team, but for its academic adviser Chuck Hall, and the rocketry mentors, Jim Livingston and myself. The team will attend and participate in all events and the Rocket Fair, a signal show of good sportsmanship and team spirit. We are all very proud of this year’s team.
Prefect, Tripoli East NC