Wind is our constant companion at Bayboro. It was the biggest change we all had to adapt to when we lost the field at Whitakers and had to look around for another home, and it is probably, next to the increased travel time from the Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville population centers, the biggest reason that so many Whitakers regulars never made the move to Bayboro. The wind might be the largest reason that our club growth has been so slow since we moved here in 2007: most people just don’t want to work this hard to recover their rockets. I can’t say that I blame them, either. I participated in 2 recovery efforts on Saturday, one rocket to 6000 feet altitude and the other to 10,000 feet, and on Sunday Jim Livingston and I recovered my Spork II from another flight to 10,000 feet, and by the end of the weekend I was absolutely exhausted. Sam DeLong said it best on Sunday afternoon while we were packing up. He said he felt like he had been beaten up by 4 or 5 small children for 9 hours straight both days. Not enough to leave bruises, but enough to really tire you out. Both days saw the kind of wind that means you don’t leave the tops of your tool boxes open, or the gusts will blow them off your tables even if they contain 50 lbs of tools.
But this group of hardcore rocket people, our current group of men, women and children who really love to fly rockets, have adapted to the situation. They are strong enough to take the long walks, they carefully size their parachutes and adjust the main chute deployment altitude to bring them down to a reasonable altitude, and they have made the investment in technology to find their rockets even if they don’t see where they come down.
Let’s do the motor use summary table first, and then pick up a few of the highlights.
There was a surprising amount of low-power activity on Saturday, considering the wind situation. Everett and Dominic Higgins, and Cate and Davis Wendel were filling up the low power pads in the B through F range, and taking long walks to get these very light rockets home.
Charles Long finally found a weekend off work, and brought his wife to Bayboro for the first time. Charles flew the Migraine Headache on an H118, the little Stealth pyramid on an H100, and his Little Nuke on an I435. These were the first three flights of the day, and then he and Kay were off to the beach. Mike Nay had a great two-stage flight with his Nike-Apache combination on a J435WS in the booster and an H90 in the sustainer. This one came home in good shape. Because the total impulse of both motors is in the J range, this one is listed in the J row in the motor use summary table.
Dennis Hill, Kurt Hesse, Joe Hill, and Alan Whitmore all had successful flights and long, athletic recoveries. The North Carolina State University Senior Design team 1 brought out their Vanguard 1 and flew it on an Aerotech L1390G. The theme for both Senior Design teams this year was active controlled flight. The rockets were equipped with fin vanes and active guidance packages for very specific assignments for roll, pitch and yaw changes during flight. For this reason, both flights were announced as “heads up” flights, but the control programs were executed without major error on both days.
The major events on Saturday were the big motor flights: Brent Bierstedt brought out his big 11.5” diameter V2 and flew it on a CTI N1800. This flight was just perfect, the up and down parts executed flawlessly. I don’t have an altitude report on this one. A little later, Jim Livingston flew his 127 lb Viper on an EX O4445, made with an interesting mixture of propellant grains: the basic formula was the old reliable Black Velvet, but for each grain in the 7-grain 115mm motor, the closer to the front of the motor, the higher the aluminum content.
Sunday was a little warmer, but not significantly calmer in the wind department. Dave Morey was burning up some of the new Quest B4 composite low-power motors, making a preliminary flight of his Semroc Starfire on one of the Quest B’s, and then a flight of his Defender on a cluster of three B4’s. The Jordan High School rocketry team launched Dark Matters, their entry in the 2019 Battle of the Rockets, on a J425. Recovery was in three different parts with three different parachutes, but everything came home safe and sound.
The NCSU Senior Design team 2 came in on Sunday to try out there version of the active pitch/yaw/roll control system, also using an Aerotech L1390G. This rocket was called Thicc Chucc’s Revenge and it required a lot of time to get the guidance program to calm down while the rocket jiggled around on the launch pad in the wind. Eventually the team used a small lull in the wind to get the guidance program to initialize itself successfully, and the flight went off without incident. Mike Nay attempted another two-stage project on Sunday, and Jeff Goldstein came down from Virginia to fly his Black Beauty.
Just as on Saturday, the big Sunday events were the biggest motors. The Duke University AERO team brought their recently-finished Bluestone for a shake-down flight before the SpacePort America competition in New Mexico. This minimum-diameter project was planned for the 13,000 foot region, and was powered by the CTI N2200 sparky motor. The Bluestone weather-cocked off to the WSW and no apogee event was visible from the ground, the telemetry stopped transmitting, and the rocket was not seen again. Alan Whitmore put up the Spork II just as soon as the range opened on Sunday morning, and this flight, powered by a homemade 115mm N motor, also made it up to the 10,000 foot range and was recovered with only minor damage.
We are finished with the high-power portion of our 2018-2019 schedule, and the summer schedule is very much in doubt, so please check the club website for additions and modifications to the summer schedule. Thanks to all of you who made this season such a success.
Alan Whitmore, Prefect