Saturday, June 21, 2014

Southern Thunder Day 1...

did not start well. After eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel, Nate and I headed to the field and unloaded our stuff. I then moseyed over to help with the numbering on the model rocket pads, and, graceful creature that I am (NOT!), ended up tripping into a fairly deep mud hole caused by last night's rain. Down I went, taking the impact on my left wrist and getting my pants and shoes thoroughly covered in mud. I was able to change into new pants, but the left wrist hurts and is badly swollen - probably sprained.

While nursing my wrist, I also came to the realization that I had left my rocket parachutes back at home. Flying rockets would not be much fun if they came in ballistic and left nice little holes in the Tennessee sod, so I made a trek to the on site vendors' tents to see what they had. Chris Short had several nice nylon chutes suitable for model rockets, and, after a few minutes and an exchange of 43 dollars, I was back in business. This was the turning point of the day, which had pretty much sucked up till then.

View of the mod roc pads at Southern Thunder 2014. My KSR-420S model
is on the rightmost rod.
The first rockets left the pad around 9 AM, and it was non-stop from that point on. Many rockets (I would guess well over 200, probably close to 250-280) took to the air; I managed to put up four:
  • Balsa Machining Service Mini Bomarc - very stable on an A10-3T mini motor. The parachute was only 9" in diameter, but it drifted into the  Christmas trees on the south side of the field. Ever-reliable Nate managed to find and recover it.
  • A.S.P. Corporal scale model - straight and high flight on a D12-5.
  • Rocketarium scale model of the KSR-420 S sounding rocket - decent altitude on 3 A8-3 motors, landed just 50 yards away.
  • Estes Scamp clone - this flight used one of my many Quest A6-4 motors (I am not a big fan of these, but I need to reduce their numbers). It soared to over a couple hundred feet and landed near Vince's SUV in the spectator area.
Nate's trusty yellow Satellite Interceptor turned in a nice flight, but his Estes Ascender shredded a fin on the way up. His Mercury Redstone had a broken ignitor, which seemed to put the kibosh on another attempt. There were several successful high power certification flights, but the upper stage of the 2 stage M powered rocket built by the Mississippi State Space Cowboys had a motor casing failure which trashed the second stage - the booster landed safe and sound, whereas there was debris from the upper stage scattered in several places on the field. Many rockets drifted into the trees to the South and West, which made me feel very sorry for the owners, who would be no doubt covered in ticks even if they managed to recover their rockets. There was another crying moment when Elliot Laramie's beautiful Estes Interceptor-E came in ballistic, destroying itself against the turf. Interceptors take a long time to build; heck, even decaling them takes several hours, so this was a tragic turn of fate.

There was an amusing moment when the parachute of an upper stage of an Estes Mongoose managed to snag the tip of the Phoenix Missile Works' Alabama flag. No way could you do this intentionally!

A rocketeer attempts to retrieve the upper stage of an Estes Mongoose hung on the Alabama flag.
The hundred rocket launch was supposed to occur at 5 PM, but Mother Nature sent some severe storms our way at that time, which forced the launch to close down for the day. Nate and I got packed up just before the heavy rain hit, and we saw several "easy-up" tents being overturned and collapsed by the strong winds as we were leaving the field. There are going to be some unhappy folks when they return tomorrow.

And return I shall - I still have rockets to fly. Hopefully, I will be a little less of a klutz and not damage myself further.

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