Launch Report, Bayboro, February 22-23, 2020

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:

Size Sat Sun Both
½ A 2 1 3
A 5   5
B 1   1
C 7   7
D 3   3
E 1   1
F 1 11 12
G 5 3 8
H 2 1 3
I 1 2 3
J 2 3 5
K 1 2 3
L 5 1 6
M 1 1 2
All 37 25 62

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

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Launch Report, Bayboro, January 18-19 2020

The weather report was discouraging, the conditions were pretty much exactly as predicted, and people stayed home in droves, but those who came were active and had a good time, although a lot of walking was almost always involved in recovery.   Let me stick in the motor use summary to illustrate the light turnout.

Size Sat Sun Both
A 2   2
C 1   1
D 2   2
E 3   3
F 1 1 2
G 3 5 8
I 1   1
J 1   1
K 1   1
L 2   2
M 1   1
All 18 6 24

There were no successful certification flights this weekend, but two flyers reported their first rocket flight ever.  Daniel Knowler had two flights of his Estes Dragonite on the A6-4 motor and recovered both.   Austin Rich also made his first rocket flight with Alpha 3 on a C6-5.  Congratulations to both of you, and please come back and fly with us again!

Allen Harrell and his grand-dad Tommy Harrell were filling up the skies all day.  The two-stage Cow-cow flew with C6-C6 arrangement and later on a D12-C6 arrangement.  Their Semroc Mars Lander flew on a D12, the Egg Crate and Wigglewump both carried the Aerotech E15W for successful flights, and the Black Leader carried a G26 and then a G125 to successful flights using the Jolly Logic chute release device.

The year got off to a bad start for several rockets and flyers with an unusual amount of rocket carnage on Saturday morning.   Both Estes D12’s used by the Harrells CATO’ed with some damage, and two experienced flyers suffered total losses when rockets came in ballistic with complete or almost complete destruction.  Alan Whitmore and Mike Nay showed up with high hopes and went home minus a rocket and considerably poorer.

The usual EX enthusiasts were on hand, and Jim Livingston flew his I-Roc on a 6-grain 38mm I motor and Kurt Hesse launched his Performer 98 on a 4-grain 54mm K motor made from CP4.   Both flights were successful and recovered intact.   Joe Hill flew his Carbon GTR on an Aerotech J570W for a very fast and exciting flight.

We had two motor flights on Saturday.   The first was made by the NCSU High Power Rocketry Club, who were practicing field prep using last year’s rocket, No Promises, flying on an Aerotech L1390G.  They had a very athletic recovery over beyond the big ditch to the northeast, but all the parts (and students!) came home intact.   Brent Bierstedt brought back his beautiful Black Brant II to fly it on an Aerotech L1040DM.   As I recall, both flight and recovery were successful.

We had a little rain on Saturday night, and the field was cold, wet, and very windy when we arrived about 9:00 in the morning.   A few of the hardest of the hard-core showed up and we flew rockets until about 3:00, when the rapidly plunging temperatures convinced everybody to pack up and go home.   Robbie Kirk was doing a little rocket launching and A LOT of video recording, so maybe he will share the product with us in the future.   He flew 2 different small rockets on F and G power and recovered them with the Jolly Logic.

Paul Schaeffer and Ray Bryant brought out their own tube launcher prototype, called Stalin’s Organ Proto 2, and flew a pair of 3” diameter flip-fin rockets in various combinations on Aerotech G80T single use motors or CTI G80 Skidmark motors.  The flights were all interesting, and not nearly as hazardous as the earlier prototype launches back in 2019.   The stability of the flip-fin rockets was good early in the flights and then they began to wander and cone around.   Strange behavior.

I hope to see most of you next weekend at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh for our annual Astronomy Days exhibition, and then again in February at Bayboro.

Alan Whitmore, Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Launch Report, Bayboro, November and December 2019

November 2019 was a difficult month for rocketry in North Carolina, but we gathered in the cold and rain on November 23 to get some academic projects airborne to meet a few deadlines.  The big deals for this weekend were the SLI teams from NC State University and University of North Carolina-Charlotte, who had their subscale models to fly and demonstrate stability.  The NC State team fielded a rocket called That’s Hot on an Aerotech J570W and the UNC-Charlotte team brought their Return of the Jedi for a flight with the Aerotech I300T.   The flight card specifies two I300T’s but my memory of the event differs.

Another group of the NCSU HPR club brought out last years’ full scale rocket, No Promises, and trained a lot of new club members on rocket preparation techniques by flying it on an Aerotech L1390G.  We also had two NCSU senior design groups working in their ‘proof-of-concept’ flights.  Team ‘Wolf3’ flew the Magic Bean, and team ‘NASB’ flew NANC (pronounced Nancy) for excellent flights, both using the AT G80T.

Mike Nay was also on site, helping with the equipment and flight prep, and he used the nasty weather to exercise his Double Up 2-stager on an Aerotech I500 in the booster to a CTI I100 long burn in the sustainer.   If memory serves, all parts of this came home in good shape.

Fast forward a few weeks to just before Christmas, December 21.  Temperatures were above freezing but the air was wet and raw and an unfriendly wind was blowing almost directly out of the north.   Here is your motor use summary table:

Size Sat Sun
B 2  
C 1  
D 3  
E 4  
F 1  
G 2  
H 1  
I 5  
J 2 1
K 2  
L 2  
M 1  
Total 26 1

The big news first:  We had two successful certification flights this weekend.  David Vestal, from High Point University, made a successful TRA L1 flight with his Loc kit called Fate Amenable to Change on a CTI I285 CL.  A fine flight and it was recovered with a slightly cracked fin.   Andrew Adams was back in town for the holidays, and made good use of his Saturday to ace the TRA L2 written exam and then fly his Sirius I on an Aerotech J270G.   This was a motor ejection at apogee followed by Jolly Logic deployment at 500 feet, and everything worked perfectly.   Congratulations to both David and Andrew!

Allen and Tommy Harrell were working the lower end of the motor size range with seven flights on Saturday, from the B range all the way to several E flights.  John Allman was also busy with the smaller rockets:  he had six flights on Saturday and only one of those came to a bad end.   John’s Arcas failed to deploy a chute at apogee, and came in ballistic.

Bart Merkley made the trip from SEVRA country to check out the scene at Bayboro and flew his Forte on a Loki H-180 sparky and later the Yellow Crayon flew on another Loki sparky, the I-316.  Allan Rose was giving his short, fat fleet their usual workout with and Aerotech I284W in the Big Cletus, and an Aerotech J275W in his Gremlin.   Mike Nay flew the Double Up again with an Aerotech J435WS in the booster and a CTI I100 RLLB in the sustainer.    Another perfect flight that needed the GPS tracker to bring it home.   The J435WS and I100 long burn add up to a total installed impulse in the K range, so this rocket is listed among Saturday’s K’s.

There were a few memorable Research motor flights this weekend, also.   The biggest event was a collaboration between Joe Hill and Jim Livingston who were attempting to break the 10,000 foot altitude mark and go into the trans-sonic range for the max velocity.   They used Joe’s Iron Moon 4” diameter rocket, and a 3” full L made by Jim from the high Isp* formula Black Velvet.   Both goals were reached with large margins!    12,956’ altitude and Mach 1.25 max velocity.   Recovery was in the same field just a few ditches away.   Congratulations are in order!

Jim Livingston flew his I-Roc on a 6-grain 38mm I motor and his Sea Hawk with a 3” small L made from the very energetic ‘Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue #4b’ propellant.   The flame color and length were just awe-inspiring under slightly cloudy skies.   Alan Whitmore flew the Astro*Mollusk VII on a 6-grain 38mm I motor made from Black Velvet, and the Generic Four Inch on a 5-grain 54mm K motor made from a blue-flame formula.   All of these rockets came home with slight or no damage.

Note:  as we were packing up on Saturday night, I found a stuffed animal on my table.  About 11” long, bright yellow, with transverse black stripes on the back and two rosy dots on the cheeks.  The most interesting anatomical feature of the creature is that its ears are longer than either its arms or legs.  If this is yours, let me know when you are coming to the next launch and I’ll be sure to bring it.

Joe Hill was back on Sunday to fly his Carbon GTR on a Loki J-474-CT 38mm motor for a completely successful flight.    The weather forecast was much worse for Sunday, but the weather turned out to be much better:   the winds died down to essentially nothing, the temps were warmer, and it was just an altogether pleasant day.    But, Livingston and I had flown everything we had on Saturday, Joe was done for the weekend, and nobody else showed up.

We are flying again on the third weekend of January, the 18th and 19th, to allow our members to attend the Astronomy Days festivities at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.   Join us at one or both events if you can.

Alan Whitmore, Prefect Tripoli East NC

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