Launch Report, Bayboro, September 28-29, 2019

Tripoli East NC kicked off the 2019-2020 season with a big crowd, lots of welcome new faces, and a lot of action on both days.   The heat was absolutely punishing, with many folks getting semi- heat-shocked and dizzy after just one or two long walks for recovery, depending on the size of the rocket and how far they had to walk.  A glimpse into our future.

I’ll insert the motor use summary, and then we’ll get down to some details.

Size Sat Sun Total
¼ A   1 1
A   1 1
B 2   2
C 2   2
D 2 1 3
E 4   4
F 5 1 6
G 4   4
H 9   9
I 2 3 5
J 2 1 3
K 2 2 4
L 1 1 2
M 3 1 4
  38 12  


As you can see, this was mainly a high-power event, but there were a few very interesting low-power launches.

The most important events at any launch are the certification flights, which I will address in alphabetical order.  John Allman had a successful NAR L1 certification flight with his Arcas flown on the Aerotech H195NT.   Abhi Kondagunta had a fine flight with his new Stinger on an Aerotech H220T, and Meredith Patterson then used the same hardware to make a perfect L1 flight in her Shockwave using the Aerotech H180W.  Matt Willis then made a very successful flight in his Zephyr using the Aerotech H100W.  Congratulations to all of you and welcome to High Power!

Sam Taylor brought one of the new Estes Multi-Rok kits, which can be flown in a variety of configurations.  He made one flight as a single-stage with glider using the Estes B6, and then later on as a 2-stage with a C6 staging to a B6.   Since the total installed impulse of these 2 motors adds up to the D range, this launch is listed in the “D” category for Saturday.   Allen Harrell was perfecting his 2-stage skills with his veteran Cow-Cow, in one instance a B6 staged to an A8, and later with a B6 staged to C6

Charlie Moss and Randy Regan traveled south from SEVRA-country to fly with us on Saturday.  Randy flew his 32mmDD on an E20 with some interesting deployment and GPS electronics.  Charlie had a few flights, topped by a small explosion in his Vulcanite 2 using the CTI G250 V max motor.   This little motor produces almost incomprehensible acceleration.  Chris Gillham had a few flights with his Purple Hoser rocket on the F15 and F18 motors.  Dennis Hill flew the Unimatrix Zero on an AT K550W for a superb flight.

Jim Livingston’s Carbon Hi is back from a lengthy repair session and flew on a homemade L850.  Except for a broken nose cone tip, that flight was perfect.  Both Joe Hill and Brent Bierstedt chose the reliable M1297W for flights on Saturday.  Brent had one installed in his Patriot, and Joe had one in his L3 cert rocket, Short Spoon.

The North Carolina State University High Power Rocketry Club has used the September launch to hold an interest-raising field trip for potential new members, and this years event was especially well-attended:  There were about 40 State students on hand, working on an attempt to take the rocket that the club built 3 or 4 years ago, the Vesuvius, and fly it on a homemade M motor, made by the students under the supervision of Alan Whitmore.  The flight was absolutely perfect and recovered very close to the flight line.  The rocket weighed 53.2 lbs on the pad, and flew to 5341 feet.

Sunday was a little hotter, and we all had to take special precautions to stay hydrated and seek shade whenever possible.  It was also even calmer, so with no wind at all, the biting flies came out of the woods and started chomping on bare flesh.  Shades of Whitakers.  The lack of wind also meant that those folks who were going for altitude saw their rockets fall straight down, very close to the launch pads.   I’ll try to address all of the flights on Sunday.

The Hash family was on-site again, helping young Phillip get introduced to rocketry.   Phillip flew his Bandito on an Extes 1/4A3.  This flight was noteworthy for one reason:  this is the first 1/4A motor flown at Bayboro since we began flying here in September of 2007.  We have seen 1/8A’s and 1/2A’s through O motors, but this is the first 1/4A!

Robbie Kirk was back again on Sunday, flying the Wizard on an A8, the Cherokee E on A D12, and the Star Orbiter on an F12.  All came home intact.  Jim Livingston flew his venerable I-Roc on a homemade 38mm I motor.  Joe Hill had 2 fine flights before the heat got to him:  The Voodoo Ranger flew on a homemade I motor, and then Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan on an Aerotech I1299N.   Both were extremely fast burning motors.

Mike Nay flew the 2-stage Double Shot, staging a J290 (?) to an Aerotech I327.  Sam DeLong had two very fine flights, one in an Extreme Wildman using the CTI K490Green, and then his Vulcan on a L1395 blue.

Two EX motors wrapped up the weekend.  Kurt Hesse flew his Performer 98 on a 4-grain 54mm K motor made from the CP4 blue-flame formula and Alan Whitmore flew his Spork II on a homemade 115mm M motor mixed up from Jim Livingston’s white-smoke formula.   Both of these flights were very successful.

Join us again in October if you can.  We are flying on 2 weekends in October, 12-13 and 26-27.

Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Launch Report, Butner, August 24, 2019

Saturday dawned cloudy with a significant probability of rain in the forecast.  But it wasn’t actually raining at that time, so we loaded up and headed to Butner.   Scattered drizzle all the way and some actual rain drops as I turned onto Range Road, but when we finally arrived at the BBCRF, we realized that the day’s main problem was not going to be the weather.   As we crossed the last hill before arriving at Perkins field, we spotted about 200 frisky young Black Angus steers milling around in the space between the last two gates between us and the launch site.   Hmmmmm.   What to do?

Lucky for us Chuck Hall was there, and he drew on his innate knowledge of things agricultural and technical to show us how to shoo cows.  With the help of several of our undergraduate helpers, he kept them herded over around the Northwest corner of their field so that we could open gate one when somebody drove in or out and let the rocket people slip by the bovines into low-power promised land.  We’ll have to buy Chuck supper at a launch soon, to reward him for sacrificing his rocket flying for a morning of cattle wrangling.

Here is a little motor use summary, which provides a good outline for mentioning all of the flyers and participants.

Size No.
1/2A 5
A 4
B 2
C 6
D 9
E 3
F 1
Total 30


All five 1/2A motors were flown by Phillip Burnett, who was attending his very first rocket launch.  He was accompanied by his grandfather, Dave Hash, and his uncle, David Hash, who is well known for his knowledge and enthusiasm by all of us who were around during the Whitakers era.  It was a treat to catch up with David and hear about what he has been doing lately.   All four of the A motors (A8-3’s) were flown by the Fothergill brothers, Jack and Sam, in two almost identical Estes E2X kits.

The B range is occupied by Alex Guarascio who flew his Shuttle Express on an Estes B4, and Gage Ancarrow, who flew his Astro Jr. on a B6.   Some handwriting is so distinct that I can tell who filled out the flight card without any prior knowledge.  The impeccable printing on Gage’s card leads me to think that Mike Collier filled out this one!

When we get to the C range of the table things get a little busier, but all motors were the old reliable Estes C6.   Joseph Guarascio flew his 1:200 scale Estes Saturn V for a good flight, John Allman gave his Tomahawk a little workout, Joe Lobuglio flew his Interceptor, and Mike Nay flew an odd little device called the Twister which brought the nose cone down as a little helicopter and the rest of the body under parachute.   Gage Ancarrow had two successful C motor flights in the Delta 5 and the Amazon.

Reporting gets a little complicated in the D range, because I always classify individual rockets for the ‘motor use summary’ by the total installed impulse.  For example, John Allman flew his CC Express twice with a C11 staging to another C11.   John also flew his Defender on 3 B6’s, which also add up to the D range.  Landon Casstevens also went the ”2 C’s make a D” route when he flew his Maverick on another C11 to C11 staging arrangement.    This is a good time to mention that in spite of the rather brisk wind (by Butner standards, by Bayboro standards it was dead calm all day long) only one rocket was lost to the trees (DRM -I believe it as one of MikeCollier’s).   Congrats to all for intelligent motor/parachute size choices!   To continue with the actual D motor flights:  Joe Lobuglio flew his Estes V-2 on a D12, Mike Collier flew two veterans, Stonebreaker and Diamondback on D12’s, Mike Nay aired out his modified Saturn V kit on a D12, and John Freed flew his neat Mean Machine on yet another D12.

In the E range, Mike Nay flew a rocket called Savage with a D12 staging to a C6, Landon Casstevens flew his Maxi Alpha 3 on an Estes E9, and John Allman gave the QCC Explorer a good ride on another E9.  Mike Nay gets the nod for biggest motor used with a flight of his Blue on an Estes F15.

Dave Morey had originally planned to close down Saturday’s launch at 1:00 because of the anticipated summer heat, but by 12:45 the weather radar stations were showing a lot of rain heading our way, and the 1:00 closing time was beginning to look like a VERY good idea.   We closed the range, packed up the equipment, and by the time we were driving back through Butner the cold front appeared for real.   The drive home, and indeed the rest of Saturday, were very rainy.   Many thanks to all who attended, helped with various aspects of equipment set-up or tear-down, and cow control.  I’ll call Clifton Paul in about 2 weeks and find out how harvest is proceeding in Bayboro, and let everybody know where we will be setting up for the September launch.   Remember that the first launch of the season always includes the ceremonial EX Scraps, Shavings and Poorly Cured Propellant Burn to officially kick off the Bayboro flying season.  Bring your mistakes, your leftovers, and any propellant (EX or commercial) that you would like to see disappear, and we’ll do it in one big fireball at a safe distance from everything except your camera lenses.

Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Launch Report, Butner, July 20, 2019

Our second summer launch of 2019 in Butner was held on July 20, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!

Weather was normal for the summer, hot and humid, little wind.  Flyers heeded my request to arrive early and fly early. We started at the usual 10AM and were done by 1:30PM, avoiding the real heat of the afternoon.

Starting with the August launch the start time is being moved to 9AM. I would like to be done by 1PM. If the schedule works well, we will probably use 9Am-1PM next summer.

We had another collection of Cub Scouts this month that accounted for most of the A-B-C flights. Not quite as many total flights as last month, but very respectable 52 flights in 3.5 hours.

I rebuilt the failed launch control box, so we had both launch banks (9 pads) working this month. The bad power supply cord for the PA system was also replaced, so I think everyone could hear the launch announcements.

Here is the usual summary of flights by motor size:

Size Saturday
A 12
B 16
C 14
D 2
E 3
F 4
G 1
Total 52

For the moon landing anniversary we had three scale Saturn rockets fly. John Allman flew his Saturn 1B on a cluster of four C6-3s. He also flew a Saturn V on an E28 with three parachutes. Both were Estes 1:100 scale I believe. Mike Collier flew a smaller (about 1:200 scale) Saturn V on a C6-5. They all flew successfully!

John Allman’s Saturn V on the pad.

The Saturn under three chutes.
Photos by Matt Jackson.

Out of four 13-mm motors flown this month, three of them failed. Aylie Lewis had an A10 and A3 CATO. Alexandria Dick had an A10 fail. All from different packages.  We don’t usually see the smaller BP motors fail that often. I think all of the rockets survived,  probably due to the small amount of propellant in those motors.  As a reminder, if you save the motor casing and send Estes some pictures, they will usually replace the motors. You should also report motor failures at

Lauren Dick (11 years old) flew some rockets for the first time, along with her sister Alexandria. Lauren is gung-ho and wants to certify Junior Level 1 this fall. She will probably have Pro Series rocket ready to go for the next launch. They flew four rockets on a variety of motors from A-C.

As usual, Eric Noguchi flew a canard boost glider named Kestrel on a B4-2 for a good flight. Unusually, no two stage flights this month, and only the one cluster flight (John Allman’s Saturn 1B).

Allen Harrell flew the largest motor of the day, a G57-5 in his rocket named William. It used a Jolly Logic Cute Release for a successful dual deployment. Mike Collier also used a dual deploy Chute Release in his Grave Danger with an F39-6.

The Jordan High School rocketry team came out to practice flying TARC rockets, getting ready for the 2020 season. They flew some older rockets named Dictator and Squeyed on F39s.

Many thanks to Dr. Joe Lobuglio from NCSSM for helping at the RSO desk, and everyone (including the NC S State students) with set-up and tear-down and launch pad management.

Our last Butner launch of this year will be on August 24th. Please join us at 9AM.

Dave Morey

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