Saturday, April 12, 2014

HARA launch - Saturday, April 12

Today was a good day, even if I had to get up early on a Saturday. My compadres, Nate and Duane, picked me up at 7:45 am (ugh), and we made the 2 hour trip to the Manchester sod farm. Duane, having done the trip several times in the past, knew a few tricks in navigating the Tennessee back roads, so we arrived at 9:45, about 30 minutes quicker than in my past trips. Chuck and Dan showed up with the HARA trailer shortly thereafter, and, after a slight pause to verify we were in the right part of the field, the range was quickly set up. The weather was gorgeous - clear, slightly breezy, and just the right temperature!

Setting up the range. Lots of talking in front of the model rocket pads.
I should mention that our club would not be where it is now without the efforts and energy of our president, Dan Cavender, and Chuck Pierce, who hosts our trailer and is da man when it comes to setting up and running a launch. These guys and the other HARA officers make it possible for us and other residents of north Alabama to launch rockets. I don't say "Thank you" enough!

My rockets -  clones of the Estes Alpha and Yankee - were the first birds taking to the sky this day; there would be many more before it was over. Flying on B motors, the flights were nice and straight, with no recovery issues. My Yankee's paint job got a little banged up, but that's normal "wear and tear."I build 'em to fly, not sit on a shelf. Other model rockets soon followed - the launch had been underway for a couple of hours before the first high power bird blasted into the wild blue yonder.

A dad is hooking up the igniters on his Estes 2 stage CC Express as his kids 
look on. My Cloud Hopper and blue/white Apogee II clones are in the foreground.
The dad in the above picture stole the show early on with his carefully built Apogee Saturn V. This G powered beauty put in 2 flights, and really wowed those of us who know how much work goes into building a kit like this. I probably would have doused myself in gasoline and lit a match halfway through the build. Here's a iPhone video of its first launch:

Things go by quickly in videos, so I created this gif animation showing the launch sequence at 1/8th normal speed:

Saturn V launch (click to enlarge)
Nate and Duane's level 1 and 2 high power certification attempts were a major reason I was at the launch. Both flights went well, though Nate was a little hesitant to fly his Arcas after having deployment/stability difficulties with his first 4 model rocket launches. However, a successful flight of his Estes Satellite Interceptor gave him the confidence to push ahead. I did not envy him the walk he had to retrieve the H powered rocket, but it was worth it. Welcome to the HPR fold Nate!

Duane's scratch built level 2 rocket ("Mighty Mo") flew beautifully (onboard video here), so he moved up in the HPR rank and file (Congrats Duane!). However, his second rocket, an upscaled Estes Cherokee D, came in ballistic, performing a textbook core sample of the Manchester dirt. Upper part of the body tube crumpled, but probably flyable after a little work. There were at least 3 other certification attempts today, along with 4 SLI teams on the field - it was a good day for high power!

The Mississippi State SLI team launched their 2 stage, M motor in each stage, beast of a rocket. After a few false starts, it left the pad with a terrific roar, which was sustained throughout the flight. Cheers erupted when the second stage M motor lit - staging composites is no easy thing - and the rocket looked to have hit pretty close to the projected 16,000 feet altitude. Unfortunately, it drifted well beyond the western tree line, and the MSU team had not returned to the field by 4:30 PM, which is when we left for home. I hope they recovered that rocket - it was really impressive!

I made a total of ten flights:

  • Estes Alpha clone on a B4-4. Good flight and recovery by parachute.
  • Estes Yankee clone on a B6-6. Normal recovery by streamer.
  • Estes Cloud Hopper ("the bunny rocket") on an A10-3T. Straight flight, gentle landing by parachute.
  • Estes Apogee II clone on A8-0/A8-5 combo. Nice staging, decent altitude. Streamer recovery.
  • Estes Meteor clone on an A8-3. Undamaged until after its flight, when SOMEONE stepped on it and broke a fin - repairable.
  • Shrox Bolero on a C6-3. Very nice flight, recovery by parachute.
  • Fliskits Deuce's Wild on 2 B6-4s. Got good onboard video.
  • Estes Nike-X clone on B6-4. Good flight but low altitude. This one needs a C motor.
  • Estes Rogue clone on an A3-4T. Streamer recovery.

The Estes Jetliner made its flight on an A10-3T right after the Apogee II. To say it flew like a pig is an understatement; it barely reached 40 feet before arcing over. The ejection charged fired just after it hit ground and only served to scatter the various pieces around a bit. The fragments are in the trash bin - an A10 is the largest motor this thing can take, and it clearly ain't enough. No sense in building another, but I'll save the nose cone to use in a future model.

Pieces of the Estes Jetliner
I tried all day to capture "good" liftoff shots of my rockets using an app on my iPhone with a (slow) burst mode. I was rewarded with nothing but smoke until my very last flight, when I managed to catch my Rogue in first motion on the pad. I would get a better camera, but I suck at photography, so not much point. Modern technology has limits in compensating for lack of talent.

My Rogue starts its upward journey
I will post the video from the Deuce's Wild tomorrow. It's getting late and I am whipped.

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