After a brief delay while eastern North Carolina recovered from the effects of Hurricane Florence, we met again at Bayboro to officially kick off the 2018-2019 High Power Rocketry season. The weather was fine all weekend, except for the wind direction on Sunday (more about that later).
I shall try to hit all the flyers in alphabetical order, and mention most of their accomplishments, both positive and negative. Dan Fritsch was very busy both days, and on Saturday he made 5 flights: the LOC Iris flew on and Aerotech H550ST, the Madcow Sport-X used an AT H135W, the Discovery flew on an AT single-use G80T, and another Madcow kit, the DX3, flew on an AT G125T. Dan also flew the Mini Cowabunga Extended on an E30 for a very unstable flight. Allen Harrell was on the scene with his grand-dad, and they flew a rocket called Williams (or maybe it was William’s rocket) on an AT G64W, the heavily modified CowCow on an Estes C6 to C6 staging, and his Red Max on a single C6. Mark Hartmann scored a perfect 100% on the NAR level 2 written test and followed that up with a successful L2 flight in his Madcow DX3 using the very loud Aerotech J500G. Also on Saturday, Mark flew his Pitbull on an AT G77R.
Dennis Hill gets this month’s ‘most disgusting rocket name’ award with the first flight of a new rocket made from extremely old parts: A 3” diameter rocket called Lu’s Prolapse. The flight itself was perfect. Joe Hill had 2 very fine flights on Saturday. The Carbon GTR flew on an Aerotech J180T and then the K-Rocket flew on the Aerotech Warp Nine motor J1299N. Nasty fast!
The team from Jordan High School is working on 2 projects this year. Their 2018-2019 TARC project is called Audacity, and they flew it 3 times on two different F motors to dial in their performance for the contest. They also brought back last year’s Battle of the Rockets (BOTR) entry, Beep Beep I’m a Sheep on a Cesaroni I216cl motor. Robbie Kirk was working his way through the alphabet on Saturday, flying the Sky King on an AT D15T, Terra Cotta on an AT E28T, a nameless rocket on an AT F22T, and ending up with his Spike II flying on an AT G54W. All those flights went very well.
Jim Livingston had a mixed day on Saturday. He flew his Sea Hawk on a homemade 3” L900 made from the Black Velvet 5 formula for a magnificent effort: Long, smooth burn and lots of altitude, and it stayed out of the trees. The flight of the new-ish EX-Rocks was less happy. At motor ignition, the 6-grain 38mm Ferric Fudge I500 CATO’ed instantly, destroying everything below the equator on that rocket. He thinks the culprit was likely the accumulated “fines” as the bottom of a bag of old AP 400 that was intended to slow down the burn, but may have had just the opposite effect. The North Carolina State University HPR club brought the new members of the club to the field for an introduction to HPR and to prep and fly a rocket built by last years team, called Ery Nuts II, (a name more typographical than creative, I think) on an Aerotech I435T. The flight and the trip were a complete success. Mike Ney is getting very good at staging, so this weekend he was working on air-starts. On Saturday he flew his new Big Orange on a AT K805G, with 2x AT J340M motors to help out. For some reason the J340’s did not light, and he was able to use them again on Sunday.
Lionel Overton had a fine flight with his Black Brant on an AT J350W. Ed Withers had 3 flights. Corrected Mistakes on a C6 staging to a B4, and this one worked well, so the mistakes were apparently corrected. Then, his Initiator flew with the AT G64W, and then he finished up with a flight of Deere John on the CTI I242w. This flight used the Jolly Logic Chute Release device, which is really catching on. Alan Whitmore flew Bertrand Brinley’s Beta on a homemade 2-grain 54mm J motor for a safe flight.
The University of Tennessee – Chattanooga team, UTC Rocket Mocs, worked most of the day to prep the little Golden Boy, a minimum-diameter 2-stage project designed to attain some serious altitude. This device had an H140 in the booster and a H53 in the sustainer and GPS recovery in all of the sections. For some unknown reason, the sustainer did not light, but was recovered intact. The booster section was not seen again, even after some sustained search work.
Sunday began with high clouds around 6500 feet up, but they began to break up around noon, and provide us with big patches of blue. The humidity was low, the temperatures were great, even for transplanted northerners, but the wind stubbornly remained out of the southeast all day long. This is a problem because for the site we set up in this weekend, the closest stand of woods is located to the northwest. Your correspondent is one of the people who decided not to fly on Sunday.
I’ll list the flyers alphabetically as for Saturday, and mention interesting happenings as they occur to me. Sam Delong had a Sunday that was a lot more athletic than he imagined when he got up that morning. He flew his beautiful scratch-built Warthog on a CTI J140w, and the rocket did what all rockets with marginal thrust/weight ratios do upon take-off: It wandered around during the burn, going this way and that until the airspeed finally was able to stabilize the flight path. Unfortunately, the flight path was almost due north at that point, and the rocket ended up deep in the woods. Sam and I carried the lineman’s pole back into the underbrush for about 100 yards until the GPS unit carried us directly to the trees that held the Warthog. Fin section, electronics bay, and nose cone were arranged almost horizontally, about 60 feet above the ground. We hiked back out of the woods and Sam went looking for ladders and eventually chain saws. As sunset approached, Sam crawled back out of the woods with the rocket, about 50 fire-ant stings, blackthorn scratches, and about a million mosquito bites. When Sam gets his teeth into a project, he just does NOT give up.
Trevor Elliott, who is the academic advisor for the UT-Chattanooga rocket team, was also trying to get NAR level 2 certified this weekend, and aced the written part on Saturday, as did Mark Hartmann. The NAR written test is a lot more detailed and involved than the TRA L2 test, and this is the first time I have administered the test and had anybody score 100%. On Saturday we had two perfect test results. However, Trevor’s L2 flight was not a success, with some airframe damage and structural bulkhead damage that could not be repaired.
Dan Fritsch was back on Sunday to make three more flights. The Sport-X flew on a Loki H125ct motor, his LOC Iris had its structural integrity tested with the violent AT H339N motor, and a new rocket, the LOC Goblin Extended on an AT I140W. All flights were right on the money. Joe Hill and Jim Livingston were planning a big flight in Joe’s Carbon GTR making use of one of Jim’s long 54mm homemade K560 motors made from Jim’s white-smoke formula. Joe fretted about the clouds and the wind direction all day, and finally decided to let the Carbon GTR go for a wild ride. As it turned out, the rocket ended up a long way away from where everybody was concerned that it might end up. When the Marshall transmitter and the Walston receiver finally located the rocket it was almost 1.5 miles away to the east, and the main parachute had never been deployed, so it landed hard. Very, very strange.
Robbie Kirk was back for one more flight, the Sky King flew on an AT F40. Mike Ney brought Big Orange back on Sunday to try the airstart thing one more time. This time he used a CTI K780bs in the middle and lit up both J340’s in the airstart. All the parts on that project came home intact. To finish out the Sunday activities, the UT-Chattanooga team flew another, very similar 2 stage minimum-diameter rocket called Big Red. On this occasion, the booster motor was an H53 and the sustainer was an I204. The badly under-powered rocket crept out of the tower and began to hunt around and gyrate around the body axis. When the second stage finally lit up, it was pointing slightly above 45 degrees from horizontal, and headed off to the south. All parts of this rocket were recovered in the same field we used for the launch, so the max altitude was probably around 2000 feet, which was not very close to the predicted 14,285 feet listed on the flight card. This team needs to take a long, hard look at their performance simulation computer program. Any program that would predict that an H53 would be adequate for the booster motor and that 14,000 feet would be attainable for the package needs to be carefully re-examined.
I had a fine time this weekend, and I hope everybody else did, too. I’ll see you back at Bayboro for the weekend of October 27 – 28.
Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC