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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Launch Report, Bayboro, February 24-25, 2018

I better get this launch report started before we hold the next launch or I will get things confused.  Saturday was extremely busy, with lots of scout troops, TARC teams, BOTR teams and University teams all trying to get information about their projects and making qualifying flights.  At least two boy scout troops were on hand working on merit badges.  The morning was a non-stop blur of A motor flights, with other scouts using the triangulation method to gauge maximum height.  Twenty-three A motors got used up in essentially identical kits.  One glance at the motor use summary will let you know just what a madhouse it was at the LCO table.

Size Sat Sun Total
A 23 23
B 3 3
C 2 2
D 2 2
E 2 1 3
F 7 7
G 2 1 3
H 4 4
I 7 7
J 5 1 6
K 6 1 7
L 3 3
M 1 1
Total 67 4 71

I’ll hit the high spots by proceeding through the motors in order of increasing motor impulse.  Cade Brinkely found a little spool somewhere, and he was flying it on a C6 and a D10.  It was a great pleasure to see Tanner Lovelace again, and he was extremely busy on Saturday. I have cards for flights he made using an A8, E9, Cesaroni F120, and an F79.  Two Jordan High School TARC teams were hard at work getting data on the Aerotech F67, one group with The Mighty Sven, and the other with a rocket called Nemo, Fish of the Sky.  Dave Morey brought out another one of his masterpieces of complexity, called the Cluster 10.  This rocket left the pad using six D12’s in two side-pods that fell off and were recovered under their own parachutes, and then air-startedfour4 E9’s.  Three of the E9s failed, which is to be expected.  The total installed impulse on this very challenging combination was more than 160 N.s, so this flight is classified under the H motors in the motor use summary.   Jordan HS also has a team working on the Battle of the Rockets competition this year, and they flew their entry Valkyrie on an Aerotech I284W for a fine flight.

Cluster 10 liftoff and sustainer ignition. Photos by Jim Livingston.

Cluster 10 E9 fireballs from onboard video.

After a long layoff to pursue other hobbies (ask him about lawn-mower pulling, sometime) Lionel Overton, one of Tripoli East NC’s best friends, was back with a beautifully finished Black Brant II  which he flew for an L1 Tripoli certification using the AT I285R.  A successful flight and on to level 2!  Mike Nay is getting very good at staging, and on Saturday he made it work again with a flight of his Double Trouble on a CTI I345 staging to a CTI H163.  Charles Long made his last flight with a rocket called The Fire-Breathing Turtle on a Loki J175.  The flight card does not contain any details of what actually happened, but Charles reports that it is indeed not reparable.

Tanner Stroup flew his Fast Mess on one of my homemade J motors and the combination worked well for a perfect recovery.  Brent Bierstedt also had a taste for some high-impulse propulsion and used the Loki J712 in his larger V2 for another fine flight.

In this paragraph I will get into a group of school groups who are all working toward the NASA Student Launch Initiative contest that will occur in Huntsville, AL on April 3 through 8.  The North Carolina School of Science and Math had their as-yet unnamed rocket on hand to fly with the K1000, an Aerotech Blue Thunder motor.  High Point University was also there with another K1000 that they flew in their Nervous Energy.  The team from UNC-Charlotte brought out Rocket Rick and flew that one on an Aerotech L1500.  The High Power Rocketry Club from NC State University made an attempt with their Flat Earth Research Vehicle using an Aerotech L2200G.  This rocket wins my “Best Rocket Name of the Month” award!  All of our High School and University teams had successful flights, but the NCSU rocket sustained some damage that will require a repair and another qualifying flight.

NCSSM NASA SL rocket first flight, K1000T. Photo by Jim Livingston.

Jim Livingston flew his Carbon High on a 3” L motor made from the ridiculously fast ‘Jim Scarpine Tribute Blue #4b’ propellant.  That one topped out at almost 10,000 feet but was recovered fairly close.  The only M flight of the weekend was made by Joe Hill with his L3 rocket, Short Spoon, on the Aerotech M1297W.  Completely successful, as I recall.

I don’t recall what was wrong with Sunday, maybe the weather got cold or windy or both.  There were only four flights attempted on Sunday.  Robbie Kirk flew his Terra Cotta in an E23 and his Red and White on a G77.  Mike Nay made another 2-stage flight on Sunday, this time with his Double Shot on an AT J460T staging to an AT I357T.  This one also worked perfectly and was recovered intact.

Then, I launched the newly rebuilt Generic Four Inch on a homemade 4-grain K motor, and both altimeters failed to fire at apogee and the rocket hit the asphalt road at full speed.  I am sure that many of you have had rockets come in ballistic and hit the dirt, but until you hit something hard like pavement, you don’t know how total destruction can be.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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Launch Report, Bayboro, January 20-21, 2018

The weather in Bayboro was never in doubt for this weekend, but a lot of the flyers in our club live in the central part of the state, and we had between 6 and 12” of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a lot of people were not sure they were going to be able to drive safely on Saturday morning.   However, the temps were very warm on Friday, and most of the hard-core managed to get themselves out and on the road.  Skies were clear and sunny both days, windy on Saturday and very, very calm on Sunday.   Let’s have a look at the motor use summary:

Size Sat Sun Both
C 3   3
F 5   5
G 1   1
H 6   6
I 8 2 10
J 1 4 5
K   2 2
M   2 2
N   1 1
Total 24 11 35


Eli Maybee anchored the upper end of the motor use summary with fine flights of his Litch King  on C6’s and one very nice flight on his Viper with an F27.  Dennis Hill had another C motor flight in a very small Big Dawg that he acquired from David Rushing.  Gordon Cameron has visited Bayboro a few times recently and this month he actually flew a rocket called Majestic on an F15.   This flight was somewhat less than stable, and the Majestic made 3 or 4 full turns before finally exhausting the long-burn F15.  Gordon is one of the old Whitakers hands, and last flew with us about 20 years ago.

The Jordan High School TARC team was there on Saturday, and they made 3 flights with their entry, called Waddle, on the F39 motor.  The data gathered during these flights will help with the modifications they need to make going forward into the national competition.  Thomas Cox flew he new Madcow Formula 38 on an AT G76G.  This rocket was blown out towards the Northeast, after the parachute came out, and was never recovered.  I am fairly sure this was an all-fiberglass rocket, so even if it rains a lot in the next few months, somebody will find it and bring it back in a fly-able condition.

The most important flights at any launch are the certification flights.  We had two successful cert flight on Saturday:  Ralph Reda brought a new rocket called Steeler #1 and flew it on an AT H112J.  Ralph used the Altus Metrum electronics package to bring the parachutes out and recovered successfully.   Lorenzo Shaikewitz flew his rocket called Hope on an I211W for a successful Junior Level 1 certification.   Congratulations to both of you!

Steve Polk debuted a new rocket called Rocket 1, which is a very exact model of the Washington monument (with some fins for stability).  Steve was trying for an airstart, with a central I200W to get the project going, and 2 F40W motors lighting up a few seconds later.  Things did not go exactly as planned, and the F40’s did not light, and the black powder charge blew out one of the sides of the monument, but the parachute came out and brought everything back soft.  Joe Hill brought out another new rocket, the Voodoo Ranger and flew it on an AT I245G, for a fine flight.

You will notice a lack of very large motors on Saturday, and the reason was the wind, which was really quite high.  Everybody was taking long walks on Saturday.   Sunday was an entirely different proposition:  very calm winds and warm temperatures.  The star of the show on Sunday had to be Jim Livingston.   Jim flew his Sea Hawk on a homemade N3400 to within a few meters of the 17,500 foot waiver, and recovered on the field!  This was a magnificent flight, and the recovery was just perfect.   Somewhat later, while your correspondent was recovering the shattered remains of his rocket, Jim flew his extremely up-scale Fat Boy  on another homemade motor, this time in the M range.  Recovery was nominal for this rocket also, but it took the efforts of several people to bring the parts home.  That nose cone was ballasted very, VERY heavy.

Thomas Cox is coming back to the hobby in a big way. On Sunday he certified Level 2 with his rocket called Liberty 4 on a K550W.  This was another text-book flight that worked perfectly.

There are 3 cards in the pile from three different Duke University teams, all coached by Greg Twiss.  The rockets were fairly simple single-stage recovery Nike Smoke  models, and they all flew on the J450 Dark Matter motor.  Each rocket was loaded with a suite of electronic data-gathering equipment, and they were recording air pressure, speed, relative humidity, acceleration, a Geiger counter on one of them, and some light sensors on another.  There were GPS units riding along to help with recovery.  I have not heard any reports about how the data gathering and recording went, but we will hear more in the future, as Greg reports that they all want to come back and fly some more.

Mike Nay is really getting into the two-stage  thing.    On Sunday he had another great flight with his Double Trouble which flew on an I280 in the booster staging to an H112J in the sustainer.  All the parts came home just as planned.

I hope to see most of you at Bayboro on the 24th and 25th of February if the weather cooperates.

Alan Whitmore

Prefect, Tripoli East NC

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