May 19, 2018 Butner launch is cancelled

The NC State Aeronautics teams need to use the field all weekend in order to prepare for a competition in June. So, we must cancel the Butner launch this Saturday. We will try again on June 23.

Dave Morey


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Launch Report, Bayboro, April 28-29, 2018

This weekend marked the last launch of the 2017-2018 season at Bayboro and the weather was just perfect!  Warm but not too hot, blue skies, and calm winds for most of both days.  A real rarity for Pamlico County, NC.  Our host was spraying and planting in the field where we usually set up, so we pulled into the field next to the porta-potty and set up there.  I’ll put in the Motor Use Summary to give you a general idea of where everybody was going this weekend, and then fill in some details.

Size Sat Sun Both
A 1 1
C 3 3
D 3 3
E 2 2 4
F 7 4 11
G 4 3 7
H 9 5 14
I 11 7 18
J 6 2 8
K 2 3 5
L 1 3 4
M 4 4
Total 53 29 82


It was a good weekend for high power, as you can see, but the low-power pads were not neglected.  Davis Wendel is another young flyer who first heard about our group at Astronomy Days, and on Saturday he flew his Big Bertha and Baby Bertha on a few C6’s.  He also made a staging attempt that I will describe later.   Ralph Malone was also flying low power this weekend, using the A3 and C6 for two of his smaller models.

The Chute-Release device from Jolly Logic is becoming a lot more popular as time passes and more people figure out how to use it.  There were eight flights on Saturday alone that used the Jolly Logic to open up the main parachute.

Two-stage rockets were also popular projects on Saturday.  Davis Wendel flew his Lodestar  on a C6 to a C6,  Jimmy Blackley flew the Mongoose on a C11 to a C6, Dave Morey brought back the venerable Upscale Arreaux on an I435T staging to an H45W, and Mike Nay flew the Double Shot on a K535W to a J340.  The only problem I remember was that Davis’s Lodestar was underpowered in the booster, and the sustainer lit up in a sort of horizontal direction.

Dave Morey’s Upscale Arreuax. Photo by Jim Livingston.

A lot of our regulars were on hand doing their usual thing and keeping the pads warm.  Eddie Haith, Mike Collier, Charlie Moss, Robbie Kirk, Allan Rose, and Dan Fritsch all had some fine flights.  Several newcomers to HPR were delighted by Johnny Hoffman’s Pizza Box flown on a pair of G40’s.

I have a great illustration of how I classify rockets with more than one motor installed.   Dave Morey brought back his Cluster 10, and flew it by ground-starting 4 x E30T’s and 2 x E28T’s.  After a few seconds he lit up 2 x F67W’s and 2 x D21T’s.   That adds up to 10 motors, and those total impulse figures add up to one I motor, which is where it is listed in the motor use summary.

South Carolina regular Tom Binford made the trip from Statesboro, GA to check out the field at Bayboro and make a few flights that could not be attempted at Camden.  The most exciting by far was a flight of his well-worn Goblin on and Aerotech M750, an extremely long-burning motor.   It was a very good stroke of luck that we got that one on the pads early on Saturday, when the winds were almost dead-calm.  The Goblin left the pad at a very slow crawl, and just kept accelerating for at least 8 seconds, like a bowling ball falling down a well, an absolutely awe-inspiring flight!  Recovery was perfect.  Tom also flew his Ultimate on a cluster of 7x F15s, and another rocket called Was Formula 98 on a 30 year old K675.   This motor required a taped-on thrust-ring, which failed in a fairly spectacular way, which resulted in the motor going this way and the rest of the rocket going the other way.

Tom Binford and his Goblin. Photo by Eric Noguchi.

Joe Hill brought out a new rocket called Carbon GTR, which was inspired by Jim Livingston’s nose cone and fins, and Alan Whitmore’s signature paint jobs.  This one flew quite well on an AT J275W.  Joe also had another successful flight of his Voodoo Ranger on the very strange Aerotech I59WN motor.  The I59 uses one White Lightning BATES grain to get things moving, and then a longish slug of Warp Nine burning in the end-burn configuration until it burns out.  This particular motor has always struck me as an answer to an unasked question, but people do fly them occasionally.  In fact, my own flight records show that I flew one back in January of 2010.

The usual crowd of Research motor enthusiasts were ‘in the house’ on Saturday:  Kurt Hesse flew the Shiny Diner on a 38mm I motor made from CP4, and Alan Whitmore flew his Red Flag of Mortal Peril on an almost identical 4-grain 38mm I motor made from CP3.  Jim Livingston flew his H-Roc on a 6-grain 38mm I motor using his white-smoke, yellow flame formula.  The H-Roc spit the nozzle out for some unknown reason, but no damage to the airframe.

Brent Bierstedt brought out his big V-2 on Saturday and attempted an M motor flight, but something went wrong with one of the altimeters and the nose cone popped off at about the time we were starting the countdown.   Brent put that one back in the truck and brought out a slightly smaller V-2 (Brent has a LOT of V-2’s!) and flew it on a Loki J712 for a fine flight.  Charles Long flew his MECO [insert shameless plug for Carolina Composites here] on another very loud Loki J motor, the J820.  Mike Nay was also in a “J” kind of mood, and flew his Yellow Jacket on the CTI J760.

The only L motor in the stack of cards was Jim Livingston’s new rocket, called the Load-Lifter which flew on a 76mm homemade L1400 made from the old reliable White Smoke formula.   A perfect flight and a perfect recovery.

In addition to Tom Binford’s M750 flight, there were three more M motor flights on Saturday.  Frank Schneider flew a new rocket called the 5 Minute Express on an M2245, Chuck Hall put his Extended Little John II up on the Aerotech M1550R, and Brent Bierstedt flew his Patriot on an M2250 (maybe the same one that was installed in the V-2 earlier).   All flights were perfect, but Chuck gave us a little worry as we watched it land about 50 feet from the tree-line to the north.

Sunday started out cloudy but the skies quickly cleared.  The winds were out of the north, but the clouds and the upper-level winds were moving towards the northeast, so the rockets were coming down all over the place, depending on the altitude of the flights.

The one common theme for the Sunday launch was the occurrence of very strange malfunctions, things that nobody had ever seen before and for which we had no explanation.  I’ll mention them when we come to them.

Jimmy Blackley flew his Espire on an Aerotech F26T, and I think that one may have been lost.  Charlie Moss was back for a second day, and made five flights on Sunday.  CJ Lucas was also busy, flying the Darkstar Lite with an AT G138T, his Phoenix with an I245, and the Nike Smoke on an AT I161W.   I think this last one came in ballistic, for essentially complete destruction.  Dan Fritsch made 3 flights on Sunday.

The first weird incident actually happened all day long.  Thomas Cox tried all day to fly his Norad Pro Max on the Aerotech H268R motor.  He put 2 or 3 of his own ignitors in it, and nothing would light it up, then other flyers started offering their own special ignitors for difficult motors, and everybody failed miserably.  After every 2 or 3 ignitors, Thomas would pull down the motor and scrape the propellant at the top end down to bare propellant, and try again.  Finally somebody came up with a special M motor ignitor that would burn hotter than the surface of the sun for 5 minutes, and we stuck that in there.  The H268R chuffed once, twice, …… and kept chuffing six or eight times until it finally lit up and the Norad Pro Max  was finally on its way.

Sam DeLong flew his Patriot and Warthog, both on K motors.   The CTI K570 burned through near the top end, causing some damage to Patriot in the recovery phase.   Sam’s rockets are all scratch-built, and the finish on them is just perfect.  You all need to take some time to check out his rockets up close, they are all works of art!

Lorenzo Shaikewitz flew his rocket called Hope on an AT I211W, and the ‘Payload/Special Flight Information’ blank on the flight card lists a “Landing Control Thing”.    Hmmm..    I wonder what that was?   Maybe Lorenzo just temporarily forgot the word for ‘parachute’.

Kurt Hesse was trying out a new rocket that doesn’t have a name yet, on a homemade 3-grain 54mm motor made from the mild CP4 propellant.  In mid-burn, the casing melted in the middle and disassembled the fin section.   The burn-through occurred at a place that did not exactly correspond to the end of any specific grain, so this one gets filed under the ‘hard to explain’ heading.

Mike Nay also had a flight on Sunday that fell into the “twilight zone” of inexplicability.  You will recall from a lot of my recent launch reports that Mike has been working hard to perfect the 2-stage flight, with at least 2 different rockets, called Double Trouble and Double Shot.  He has been getting very good at the process, and we were all expecting another perfect Mike Nay 2-stager, when just at the moment of separation of sustainer from booster, the whole affair went horribly awry, and the sky was filled with pieces.  The inexplicable part of this flight comes not from the lack of data (everybody saw it and all of the parts were recovered) but from an excess of data:  So much was going on during the flight and so many broken parts were recovered, that is was impossible to say what actually caused the problem.  I feel sure that Mike will bring that one back again in the fall, all fixed up and ready to try again.

Jim Livingston flew an old Larry Zupnic rocket called LZ889 on a homemade K560 that worked perfectly.   Senior Design teams 2 and 3 from NC State University were finishing up this year’s project, which involved active roll control.  Both flights were flown and recovered perfectly, but I don’t know the results of the roll-control experiments.   Team 2 flew a rocket named Golden Badger  and team 3 was working with an almost identical rocket called Barbra.   Both used the Aerotech L850W.  Your correspondent got Sunday going with the first flight of the day, with a homemade L motor in his Stealth Blue, which disappeared somewhere before the 7800’ apogee, and ended up about 1.25 miles to the northeast, over where the farmers were planting and spraying.   Because the rocket disappeared at motor burnout, and the ground wind were blowing everything to the south, it took a lot of driving around and working with the Walston receiver to finally find the Stealth Blue.  As I got closer to the signal, I also got closer to a prodigious cloud of sea gulls, which were following the tractors around to eat up any seeds that were put down.  The sound of the gull cries were almost the same frequency as the chirps from the receiver, so I had to stick the speaker into my ear with one hand, plug my other ear with the other hand, and aim the antenna with my third hand.   It was very difficult, but everything came home.

I hope to see all of you back in Bayboro in September.   Have a safe summer and join us in Butner if you can.


Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC



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Launch Report, Bayboro, March 24-25, 2018

Saturday was the best-attended event at Bayboro since we began holding rocket launches here in September of 2007.  (Has it really been that long?)  At one point I counted 59 cars and trucks on site, including an ever-increasing group of locals who show up and spectate.  Lets start with the motor use summary which will draw your attention to the big emphasis this month:  Qualifying and practice flights for academic teams.

Size Sat Sun Both
A 1   1
B 4   4
C 5   5
D 6   6
E 1   1
F 16   16
G 6   6
H 6   6
I 4   4
J 4   4
K 3   3
L 4 1 5
M     0
N     0
O 1   1
Total 61 1 62

The big event(s) of any launch are the certification flights, and this month we had only one.  Lionel Overton brought his new Black Brant II back to fly on an Aerotech J350W, for another great flight, and since he passed the written exam back in February, he now gets to spend even more money!   Congratulations, Lionel!

Steve Heller and Manny Ballestero got Saturday off to a big start by making one of the first flights of the day on a very large Nike Smoke on a homemade O motor.  This flight was almost perfect, with a stirring launch phase followed by a recovery phase that would have been perfect if the shock cord had not snapped and dropped most of the heavy parts on the ground without benefit of parachute.  The damage was minimal, and this one may fly again.  No max altitude reported.

The smaller end of the motor size spectrum was well-represented by a lot of different flyers, and a group of Civil Air Patrol Cadets (what is the collective noun for a group of CAP Cadets? A ‘flight’?) put up the most rockets in this range.  I’ll pick one at random to illustrate how I deal with complex flights, those with more than one motor installed.  Camdyn Ensminger flew a two-stage rocket called Rocky on a B6 staging to an A3.  The total impulse in this combination adds up to the C motor range, so this flight is listed in the C motors in the motor use summary.  Paul Short came to Bayboro from MDRA-land this weekend, and made several flights:  His Aes Triplex flew on an A8 and later on a B4, his Twizted carried a B4, and a larger rocket called One Oogly Bird flew on the Aerotech G76G.  Paul also pulled a shift at the LCO table, and for this we are all very grateful.

There was only one E motor flight this weekend;  John Sampson flew an unnamed Mad Cow kit on an Aerotech E18.   The large number of F motor flights could only mean one thing:  the TARC teams are gearing up and getting their entries ready for the competition.  TARC teams were thick on the ground on Saturday.  A team from Jordan HS in Durham made at least two flights with their Valkyrie; NCSMM student Sahil Sathi flew an unnamed rocket;  Salal Ofwing had two flights: one rocket was called Superfluous N’ne and the other was unnamed; NCSSM team A flew Solus twice; another NCSSM rocket called Bravo made two flights, once with Jennifer Wolfe on the flyer line of the flight card, and another with Hanna Fulford doing the honors.  It is entirely possible that I messed up some of the academic affiliations for the TARC flights, or matched people up with the wrong rockets, and I do apologize.  I was rather busy Saturday morning with the college teams.

Eddie Haith had his usuals back for another workout, and had good flights with Crayon on a G53, Chicken Lips on a G77R, and the Purple Haith on an H97.   Allan Rose made two flights with similar short stubby rockets using main-at-apogee recovery:  one was a LOC Iroc on an Aerotech I284W, and the Sun Dog on the AT J350W.  Mike Collier brought three of his rockets:  the Onyx flew on an F39, the Child’s Play on the Aerotech G76, and an ESTES kit I had not seen before, called Life is Good which flew on an F24.  Dan Fritsch had sat out a few months, but he was back in March giving his Madcow Discovery flights on two different G80’s; one was the G80T and the other was a G80 Skidmark.  Dan also flew his Cowabunga on the extremely energetic AT I600T.  All of the rockets in this paragraph were recovered safely, I believe.

Dave Morey decided to repeat the cluster/air start extravaganza in the Cluster 10, but this time without any Estes E9’s.   The results were, therefore, a lot happier.  The two side-pods, containing a total of six D12’s, all lit at takeoff, the side-pods fell away, and then two F15’s and two C6’s were air-started in the core.  This flight was a complete success.  All of those motors add up to a total installed impulse equal to an H motor, so this flight is classified among the H’s on Saturday.  Thomas Cox made two flights with his Blue Phenix, one with the H128W, and the other with one of the two H170’s that are available commercially.  (I am trying to become familiar with commercial motors, so every time I see a motor designation in the flight cards that I am not familiar with, I look it up in the on-line listings of certified commercial motors.  The exercise has been very informative.)  Mike Nay had another fine two-stage flight with his Double Trouble, this time using a CTI I345 in the booster to an Aerotech I161W.  All parts recovered perfectly.

Our educational institutions were extremely busy with motors in the upper end of the power range.  A team from the North Carolina School of Science and Math is preparing for an entry in this year’s NASA Student Launch in April.  They flew their Gemini on an Aerotech K1000T that worked very well.  There were two teams of Senior Design students from NCSU working on roll-control projects this year.   Team 2 flew a rocket called Bullet Bill and Team 3 flew a different project, called Barbara, both on the Aerotech L850W.   Both rockets were recovered safely and I have seen at least one data package that says that a roll-control program was actually accomplished.

This is the 2nd or 3rd time that the team from High Point University has been back with their project Nervous Energy, an entry in the IREC competition, and something went very wrong.   I didn’t see the flight, but I was shown several mangled parts after recovery.  They have time to fix it before the competition, which I think is in June.

The NCSU High Powered Rocketry Club has been working hard all year on their NASA Student Launch entry, called Flat Earth Research Vehicle.  The qualifying attempt on Saturday was just too high, outside the permissible altitude range (and recovery distance) for qualification for this years event.  The team drove back to Raleigh, worked all night to increase the weight so  that the simulations brought it within the right altitude range, and brought it back to Bayboro on Sunday.   You were not there on Sunday because you had seen the forecast.  In this case the forecast was correct.   Intermittent rain, high winds, standing water and mud everywhere, and much colder than Saturday.   Undeterred, the  team worked hard all morning and into the afternoon to prep the rocket for flight.  Jim Livingston and Chuck Hall were present all day long to endure the clammy cold and help with setting up and taking down the equipment.  I thank both of you!   The flight of the F.E.R.V. was perfect, the altitude was very close to exact, and the rocket landed close, but moments after the fin section hit the ground, it bounced up and landed on the front, breaking the body tube.  Unfortunately, the rules of competition do not allow any repairs or modifications to the rocket between the qualifying flight and the competition, NAR’s equivalent of parque ferme.   Therefore, we will not be allowed to compete in Huntsville this year.  This is a major bummer, not only for the team, but for its academic adviser Chuck Hall, and the rocketry mentors, Jim Livingston and myself.   The team will attend and participate in all events and the Rocket Fair, a signal show of good sportsmanship and team spirit.  We are all very proud of this year’s team.


Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC


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