This weekend’s weather is a perfect testament to the ever-changing conditions that Mother Nature provides us with down in Pamlico County. The forecast just a few days prior to the launch called for 50%-60% chance of rain and scattered thunderstorms. Well, luckily, we got in a full day of flying with partly cloudy skies and relatively moderate winds.
The highlight of any launch is always certification flights/attempts. Matt Willis brought back his stoutly built Space Dragon for a TRA Level 3 certification flight after a successful shakedown flight last month. He chose an Aerotech DMS(Disposable Motor System) four grain, 75mm M-1350W for propulsion and when the button was pressed, it came to pressure almost immediately and off the Space Dragon went. Matt got about 9,000ft of altitude and all deployment events were right on time. Congratulations on a successful Level 3 flight, Matt!!
The range stayed busy with a mixture of heavy duty regulars and a couple newcomers. It’s always a pleasure seeing what rockets Brent Bierstedt ends up bringing out because of how nicely finished they are, and how much attention to detail he has. Brent brought out a brand new Bullpup that looked like it had just been sent over by Martin Marietta themselves and flew it on an Aerotech K-1100T. Those types of rockets take a lot of nose weight to get the CG/CP right because of how far forward the fins are, and Brent clearly knows that because it was a perfectly straight flight. He also flew his 11.5″ diameter V2 on a CTI N-1800WT which took it to about 7,000ft or so. The main came out at apogee, the rocket drifted far to the east end of the field, but Brent was able to bring it home after a lengthy search and rescue mission. Dennis Hill was on site with another one of David Rushing’s ‘donated’ rockets and put this one up on an Aerotech G-64W. Allan Rose launched three rockets on various Aerotech I motors, Robbie Kirk kept the low power pads busy, and Mark Peot attempted his first dual deployment flight on a classic J-350W. Mike Nay and Mike McKeon both put up several beautiful flights as well.
Kurt Hesse, Alan Whitmore and Jim Livingston joined us as usual and put up some really cool research flights. Alan brought out a scale model of one of his larger rockets and it looked like he did just that – scaled down all the building techniques, the way the electronics were incorporated, etc. The name of this rocket was Ettarre and he launched it on a 5 grain, 24mm homebrew F motor. Kurt put up his Shiny Diner on a 3 grain, 38mm CP4 motor and ran it at a Kn of 250. It kicked the nozzle out and will need a little repair work, but I’m sure Kurt will have it done in no time and we’ll see the Diner fly again. Jim flew his trusty Sea Hawk on the eccentric Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue #4B propellant formulation in a 76mm, 4 grain configuration which turned out to be about an L-1000. The motor let loose at about 200ft above the ground and the bottom half of Jim’s rocket will need to be rebuilt. Jim has my vote for ‘Best Attitude’ when it comes to this hobby. After the L motor catoed, he immediately burst into laughter. He really doesn’t let those types of things bother him, and that’s just the approach you need to have in this hobby or you’ll get burnt out real quick. I’m sure he’ll rebuild the booster section and the Sea Hawk will see many more flights to come.
The clouds and wind would break about twice an hour and there were a couple people who were patiently waiting for the right time to go for some serious altitude. Heath McPherson launched his 4″ diameter rocket named 4 the Girls on a CTI M-1101WT and got just over 13,000ft out of that flight. Eric Lynn flew with us for the first time this weekend and I could tell he was eager to fly high. He shoved a CTI L-1030RL in his 3″ Shape Shifter 75 which turned in over 13,000ft of altitude as well. Joe Hill brought out a new 3″ diameter rocket called Pink Dog made with ‘canvas phenolic’ to test how strong that material really is. He put it up on an Aerotech K-695R which turned in a supersonic flight to just shy of 10,000ft, and it held together just fine.
NC State was back with the same rocket they’ve been flying for the past couple of months, called 81.5. They chose an Aerotech L-1520T which lifted the 50lb rocket with ease. I believe they had some payload issues, but all the parachutes came out on time and there was no damage done to the vehicle. Lenoir-Ryhne University out of Hickory brought out a 4″ diamater, 10′ tall rocket made out of various 3D printed parts and carbon fiber. They selected a 99% CTI L-1115C as the motor, and the rocket went out of sight rather quickly.
Now, for a not so great note – We had a few people drive in areas of the field this weekend that resulted in us losing the privilege of driving on the field. I was asked nicely by one of the farmers to NOT allow ANY vehicles on the field moving forward. We owe a great respect to the landowners and farmers who are gracious enough to let us all over their land. I’d like to maintain a great/positive relationship with them and this is what’s been asked of us. If you decide to drive on the field, you’ll kindly be asked to leave the launch site and not come back. This is a ZERO tolerance rule. I’ll be posting an updated set of rules on this website in the next couple of days.
We’ve got one more scheduled launch in Bayboro before the season is over, and I hope to see everyone on the weekend of the 25th!
Prefect, Tripoli East NC