Editors note: Some pictures from the weekend are located at Bayboro Rockets 3-24-2019 Google Photos Thanks to Darrell Rogers.
I looked back through the launch reports that I have submitted, and I can confirm that the last decent launch we have been able to hold was in November of 2018. We were able to get in one poorly-attended day in December, but December Sunday, January, and February launches were all cancelled because of weather. This means that a lot of people had been waiting a long time to do some flying, and the number of cars on site both days was a testament to that.
The weather was cool but not unpleasant, and the sun shone bright both days with a clear, blue sky. Saturday was very windy, but the direction was out of the northwest, exactly where you want it on this field. Let’s start with the motor-use summary:
The main news and big excitement for the weekend was the large number of academic teams on-site to make qualifying flights for the various competitions to be held later on in the Spring. I’ll mention them as we get to them in the narrative. The other big news is always the certification flights. This month there were two TRA L3 cert attempts, which failed in rather spectacular and expensive fashion, and across which I will draw a veil of genteel courtesy to avoid embarrassment. I will mention that level 3 certification is difficult, and even the most carefully planned and constructed rockets sometime meet bad ends. The amount of power involved is such that flyers will meet challenges they have never met before.
There were two teams from Jordan High School in Durham present on Saturday, and the TARC team was making multiple flights on a rocket called N/A which carried 3 eggs with an Aerotech F35W. The fate of the eggs is not recorded on the flight card. From UNC-Wilmington, Caitlyn Edwards brought her Seahawk 2 to fly on the Aerotech G77R DMS. The forward bulkhead popped off at ignition, and a small corn-husk fire was started and quickly suppressed. Ray Bryant and Paul Schaeffer brought out a new version of an old idea, the ‘flippi-fin’. This rocket is designed to launch from a tube, and the fins are spring-loaded to fold out and function after the rocket has left the tube. This was the first version of their idea, and the stability margin needs to be addressed before the beta version comes out.
The other team from Jordan H. S. is entered in the Battle of the Rockets (BOTR) competition, and they have a rocket called Shark Dictator which flew successfully on an Aerotech G138T. Dan Fritsch had some unusual motors in the box and decided to try them out. His Screech Dual Deploy flew on the bizarre Aerotech H999N, and somewhat later, his new MAC Performance Ethos flew on the I59WN motor that uses a combination of White Lightning and Warp Nine. The later flight was not stable. Steve Polk brought out a new rocket that slightly resembles an old Mars Lander. He flew it twice on an Aerotech I180W, and it behaved very well.
Robbie Kirk brought out a new rocket called the Bayboro Flyer and used it for a successful TRA level 2 certification flight using the Aerotech J350W.
The team from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga brought a rocket called Oppie which flew on an Aerotech I600R. I did not hear which competition this rocket is designed to enter. The team from High Point University is gearing up for the IREC competition at SpacePort America in New Mexico in June, and they flew the Purple Crayon on a experimental 38mm I motor. This flight was a big success, carrying a package of 2 experiments to 3200 feet approx. Another academic team from the NC School of Science and Mathematics flew their rocket Unnamed on the Aerotech K1103X twice, to gather data for their presentation in Huntsville in early April. One of the NCSU Senior Design teams brought back a rocket called Thicc Chucc which flew on an Aerotech L1390G. This rocket will ultimately fly with an active guidance system, but that system was disabled for this flight.
The High Power Rocketry Club from NCSU is entered in the NASA SLI competition this year, and their entry, No Promises, needed to make a successful flight to qualify for the event. The trajectory for this rocket/motor combination was simply not optimal, and the minimum altitude requirement was not met, but the team will be flying in Huntsville nonetheless.
Joe Hill capped off the performance list with a flight of his Short Spoon on an Aerotech M1297W for a perfect flight.
Sunday started out just as clear and blue as Saturday, but even warmer and the winds were much calmer. There were times on Sunday morning where no wind movement could be detected at all.
A new small Harrell, Sofia, was there with Allen and their grand-dad Tommy, to fly some small rockets, and a new medium sized rocket called Black Leader on an Aerotech G64W. Unfortunately the nozzle broke and blew out the rear end. In this case the nozzle fragments came out but the rear closure remained in place: very strange. Eddie Haith was back with even more flights. The Rouge flew on a Loki I-377-C, and the Fat Boy on an Aerotech I284W.
Allan Rose was busy with a small fleet of almost identical short plump rockets. The Bandit flew on an Aerotech I161W, the Condor used an Aerotech J420R, and the Sundog flew with the Aerotech J350W. Mike Nay made the weekend’s only multiple-motor flight, a staged flight of Double Trouble on a CTI I180 to a CTI G54R in the sustainer. All parts of that rocket came home safely. Chuck Hall flew his 4” Patriot on an Aerotech I218R. The main parachute came out at apogee, but Chuck got it back anyway.
We were not finished with academic qualifying flights by late Sunday afternoon. The team from Florida State University had driven all night from a field in Palm Beach to get to Bayboro. They had a fine flight with a rocket called Jerry Junior that used the Aerotech L1300R. The team from Georgia Tech had been working toward a Saturday flight when an airframe problem required some epoxy work and overnight curing, so they were back on Sunday to finish the job. This rocket used the Aerotech L2200G for an excellent flight that might have been the only SLI qualifying flight of the weekend that met all the criteria for qualifying to fly in Huntsville. This year NASA is in big trouble over qualification for the competition: The weather all over the United States has been uniformly awful for all of the winter and most of the spring, so the bulk of the academic teams have simply not been able to make an informative and successful qualifying flight. I’ll report on this problem and its solution when I get back from Huntsville in April.
Alan Whitmore flew the Astro*Mollusk 6 on an experimental 4 grain 54mm K motor, and the Stealth Blue used a 3 grain 76mm EX L motor for a very fine flight to approximately 8700 feet into totally clear skies. Even Joe Hill’s eyes lost track of that rocket for a minute or so. Jim Livingston was also flying EX loads to good effect, with the veteran Carbon High on a 76mm L motor made from the CP5 propellant, and the even-more-veteran Viper on a 3 grain 115mm M motor using the BV5 formula. Both rockets performed perfectly and were recovered in good shape.
We have one more launch this year before we go into summer low-power mode, and our land owner informs me that corn is going in the fields where we usually set up. In late April the corn plants may be 6 to 10 inches high, and we will need to take special care to step over the rows of corn and walk up and down between the rows as much as possible to avoid damaging our host’s means of livelihood. April will be a time to exercise some “crop courtesy”.
Alan Whitmore, The Central Scrutinizer