The big news about this particular launch was the weather. Conditions for flying rockets were just about perfect: temps in the high 50’s, sunny skies, clear air, and almost no wind whatsoever. A lot of rain and snow had moved through the area during the last of the previous week, and the field was VERY muddy. Even walking empty-handed through the field was difficult, and carrying a heavy rocket was almost impossible. The forecast put a few people off, but attendance was excellent and we all had a great time.
First, the motor use summary:
The big, front-page news is always the successful certifications. On Saturday, Matt Willis aced the TRA L2 written exam and followed that up with a successful flight on the Aerotech J270W. On Sunday, Alex Thomas from NCSU had a successful TRA L1 flight using the Aerotech H283ST. An interesting coincidence: Both cert flights were made with the Apogee Zephyr kit. Alex’s was box-stock, and Matt’s was modified and extended to include space and compartments for 2-stage recovery with altimeter. A big welcome to both of you, and please come back and fly with us when you can!
There were a few first-time Bayboro flyers this month. A Civil Air Patrol squadron from the Wilson/Rocky Mount area visited to check out high power and fly some small rockets. Cadets Noah Haas and Chris Hess were active all morning. Sarah Jane Carlson and her father were in attendance to fly her rocket Alice on a lot of different motors.
The NCSU High Power Rocketry club was delayed by technical problems and did not arrive until Sunday, but a lot of young men and women in red were there on Saturday to fly some “side-projects”. Logan Bilich flew NANC, John Inness flew his Magic Bean (both rockets are return flyers), and Chris Jadelis flew Test-1, all using the Aerotech single-use G80T. Cade Brinkley was extremely busy on Saturday, flying a spool on an E motor (I think, the flight card did not specify), the Max “Kyuh” on a G76G, and he gave his L3 rocket Still Doesn’t Have a Name another flight using a Loki M1882.
Allen Harrell and his grand-dad Tommy are almost always present, but this Saturday we also had Everett and Jesse Harrell on hand flying a variety of rockets in the low-power range. Reminds me of the old days when their aunts and uncles filled up the flight card stacks.
Mike Nay flew his new Blue on an F62, the Go Devil on an Aerotech J450DM [the ground was not only wet, but soggy, so sparkies were definitely on the menu]. Charles Long blasted his MECO off the rail with a CTI H400 V-max and went for some big altitude with his Blue Goose on a CTI K820 blue. Eddie Haith launched his Scooter on a G76G.
The most notable and unusual aspect of this weekend’s launch was the participation of a professional sound-recording team from New York who were interested in obtaining high-quality, high-definition recordings of actual rocket launches, mostly in the higher ends of the power range. They produce commercial sound libraries, and provide sound samples and sound tracks for video games, TV commercials, music videos and other applications. To help them out, a lot of the regulars made good use of the fine weather to bring out some larger motors and fly to big altitudes. Joe Hill flew his Iron Moon on a Loki L930, Alan Whitmore exercised his Stealth Blue on an EX 3-grain 76mm motor using ‘Black Velvet’ propellant, Jim Livingston flew his Seahawk on an EX L900, Dennis Hill gave the venerable Tiberius a fine ride on the Aerotech L850, and the SLI team from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte gave their full-scale entry called Saturn 49 a successful qualifying flight using the Aerotech L2200G.
To help the sound crew get clear recordings free from background noise, we instituted the “silent launch”. After starting a 10 second countdown for the larger rockets, we stopped announcing at 6 and maintained total silence until the very last echo from the trees had died away. Remarkably, the entire crowd was able to maintain silence, even during some very exciting launches, for almost all of the flights. I wish we could do this at every launch. The sounds of these bigger motors are just soul-stirring for me, even as the sound dies away and the echoes wash back over us from the distant tree lines.
Sunday was even warmer than Saturday, and there were a lot of academic teams of all sorts on hand learning the nuts and bolts of rocketry. The main event was the first flight of the full-scale version of the SLI entry built by the NCSU High Power Rocketry club. This year’s entry is called Mean Bean and was powered by the Aerotech L1520T. The flight was perfect, but the recovery was soggy; once again the team from NCSU found one of the rare water-filled ditches in this field. It’s a talent, I guess, you just can’t teach it! Another group from NC State flew the subscale version That’s Hot on an Aerotech J570W to get practice with rocket prep and the use of on-board video cameras. This flight was also perfectly flown and recovered. Harvey Hoopes, who was president of the NC State club last year, was getting ready for an L1 attempt by flying his If It Survives, I’ll Paint It on an Aerotech G74W Economax motor, and unfortunately, it didn’t. I’m not superstitious about rocket names, but …………..
We also had three TARC teams in attendance gathering data and breaking eggs. Team Pegasus, from Carrboro High School, were giving the Pegasus a workout on six F23 flights. Two different teams from Jordan High School worked with their rockets – Fish and Sunset, with the F39 motor to work out the adjustments to this year’s altitude and duration requirements. As I recall, all flights recovered safely and a lot of usable data was collected.
Finally, Ralph Reda brought two rockets from University of North Carolina – Wilmington. The electronics on one never got right, but the other one – Vertical Assault – flew well on a J250 (manufacturer not specified).
In between all the academic qualification attempts, some of the regulars enjoyed the great weather. Robbie and Sarah Kirk flew a few in the lower power ranges, Allen Rose flew 3 of his short, fat rockets [An interesting coincidence: On Sunday night I always organize the flight cards for each day into A, B, C, … M, N, O order to make it easier to sort the data for the motor use summary and to write this report. This month all three of Allen’s flights were together in the middle of the stack. The Bandit flew on an AT I218R, the Skyraider on an AT I366R, and then the Mongrel on a J415W. Motor deployments and perfect recoveries.]
Mike Nay flew a two-stage combination I have not seen before. This was called Double Doorknob and was powered by an AT K1103X in the booster and the K540DM in the sustainer. The staging was perfect, but two minor problems combined to make a major problem for Mike. The sustainer was somewhat off-vertical when the motor lit up, and when it reached apogee, the main parachute accidentally came out. Oops. The farm roads were still standing in mud, and our agreement with the landowner specifies that we not leave ruts in the fields or on the farm roads, so Mike was forced to do the entire recovery operation “on Shank’s mare” as my mother would have said.
Alan Whitmore put up Red Rudy on an EX 6-grain 75mm M motor made from Black Velvet 7 to 10,000 feet, but recovery was a mere ¼ mile away in the slippery mud.
I hope we have not used up all our good-weather luck for 2020, but let’s be positive and all come out to Bayboro again on March 28-29 and fly some rockets.
Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC