Saturday, October 4, 2014

A blustery launch...

Today was HARA's last high power launch of the season - the Manchester field usually closes for re-sodding in October, so we had one final chance to put up some big rockets before flights resume in late winter (March). Duane and I made the trek up there in an SUV full of rockets - I had 7, including the the Bullpup 1 and my recently finished Viking 7, and Duane had a nice green HPR rocket, along with a Cherokee-D. I also had my trusty new iPhone in my pocket, eager to pit its superior photo/video capabilities against my complete lack of skill in imagery. The iPhone did not disappoint; however, the weather did.

To say that it was windy would be an understatement - the winds were around 10-20 mph out of the northeast all day, right at the legal flying limit (safety code restricts us to winds of 20 mph or less). Not only were folding chairs, flight cards, and small boxes being blown around on the ground, but the rockets were also pushed to the west almost as fast as they left the pad. A few ended up in the western treeline (which was a decent distance away) including a beautiful level 1 certification attempt (apogee parachute deployment) and a level 2 rocket loaded with expensive tracking hardware. It is currently hanging about 100 feet up, continuously transmitting its location to anyone listening on the right frequency.

Nonetheless, I opted to fly a couple of rockets - I spent 3 hours last night prepping 7 rockets for today, and I was NOT leaving the field without flying something. First up was the SAI Hen Grenade, making its debut on an Estes B6-4. Good altitude, and it landed in the parking area. I followed with my Semroc Micron on an A6-4. Decent altitude, but the little devil drifted about twice as far as the Hen Grenade, despite using a small streamer as a recovery device. That was enough to convince me that it was time to stop while I was ahead. I had flown 2 rockets and got them back; I doubted that the rocket gods were going to permit that streak to continue.

SAI Hen Grenade clone heads skyward on an Estes B6-4 (click to enlarge).
One of the more interesting launches of the day was that of a Scout owned by fellow HARA member Art Woodling. Built in 1968, this 46 year-old model rocket took to the sky on an Estes A8-5, but had its trajectory curved by the wind almost as soon as it left the launch rod. Being small, Scouts can be hard to track, and I lost sight of this one. After about 20 minutes of searching, it was found in the tall grass just north of the parking lot, which was a relief. Would not want to loose a venerable classic like that!

Art Woodling's 1968 Estes Scout begins its arcing trajectory (click to enlarge).
The new iPhone performed great - the burst mode of its camera is simple to use, and I managed to repeatedly get 4 or 5 shots of a rocket leaving the pad before it exited the camera field of view (as you can see from the above). Very awesome! It can also shoot 240 fps second video, and I captured a few clips of high power launches in this mode. The first video below is that of a Madcow Arcas leaving the pad on an H motor, and the second is the launch of Daniel Cavender's Pegasus on a K motor. It was the last flight of the day, and an excellent way to close out the 2014 flying season.

(Be sure you select HD in the settings when viewing the below videos)

Duane (who had wisely decided to fly none of his rockets) and I loaded up around 3 PM and headed back to Huntsville, stopping along the way to have some BBQ at Larry's BBQ in Winchester (if it has a pig out front, it is probably good eating). Two rockets flown, none lost, and some nice pictures - not a bad tally for a very blustery day.

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