Saturday, March 28, 2015

Approaching the finish line

We normally have a "TARC regional" in March to gather the teams for practice or qualification flights. Not only does this give teams who do not have access to a good field a chance to get in some flying, it also enables the kids to check out how other groups are meeting the year's TARC challenge. We "crown" a local winner (sometimes there are even trophies, if we can find a sponsor), and a lot of fun is had by all. Unfortunately, this year was rained out...

However, the gathering at the Research Park field last Saturday was as big as any regional. Liberty Middle's Team Orion was there, along with some teams we don't see very often - Tanner, Russellville, and Huntsville Middle. Vince, our local NAR representative, also found the time to come out and join me, Woody, and Nate (Duane was on vacation with his family in the Redneck Riviera). As you would expect, there were a lot of TARC flights - practice and qualification. There were also quite a few non-TARC rockets launched - 59 flights in about 4 hours, making it roughly the equivalent of one of our club launches at Manchester. It was a busy day!

Liberty Middle's Team Orion poses with the Jupiter V (Click to enlarge).
Liberty Middle's Team Orion put in one practice flight with their Pluto rocket, then opted to switch back to the orange and black Jupiter V. In all, they made 9 practice flights and their last 2 qualification flights (69.7 and 28.4 scores), the most of any team present. Even though their scores are probably not good enough to get them into Nationals, I look forward to seeing them in TARC next year. They are a very good team!

Huntsville Middle put in a practice, but their sustainer came in ballistic. The rocket was damaged, putting them out of action for the day. Hopefully, they can rebuild and get their qualification flights done this weekend.

Tanner's rocket takes to the air on a qualification flight
(Click to enlarge).
The "Golden Rat" leaves the pad on a practice flight
(click to enlarge).

The big surprises of the day were the Tanner and Russellville teams, who originate in schools a decent way from Huntsville. We usually don't see them until qualification time, and I must say that this year they impressed in a big way. In the past, Tanner has had trouble making 3 qualification flights; this year, they produced three decent scores (31.0, 28.4, and a 41) using a beautiful white rocket with black trim. It was one of the best-looking TARC birds I have seen this year - I loved the classic lines! Tanner's scores were not bad; the team may have an outside shot at going to the Nationals.

The Russellville team made a couple of practice flights with their rocket - a nekkid bird they called the "Golden Rat." It was a rat in name only - after the practice rounds, the rocket turned in 2 fabulous qualification flights with 8 and 12 scores. These remain the best qual flights in Huntsville so far this year. Even though their 3rd qualification score was a more run-of-the-mill 34.4, Russellville's first two flights were so good that I feel confident that they are heading to Nationals in May. A truly outstanding performance!

TARC flights made on March 21. Green indicates qualification flight (click to enlarge).
Four days later, Duane and I met Jurassic TARC and the Falcon Rocketeers back on the field for some late Wednesday afternoon flying. Unlike Saturday, the day was sunny, but the winds were a bit stronger. Jurassic TARC made two practice flights, then launched their final qualification flight close to sunset. Rocket #2 flew higher than expected, resulting in 42.56 score. Not bad, but I do not think they will make the cut for finals. I thought the Jurassic TARC team did very well; unlike some others, they functioned as a team and made very few dumb mistakes. If these kids return next year, I think they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Rocket #2 makes its last qual flight of 2015 (Click to
Roll Tide's last beauty shot before being crunched
(Click to enlarge).

The Falcon Rocketeers launched Roll Tide on what was to be its final flight.  Up the rocket went, and it came down almost as fast - no ejection charge and no parachutes. Once again the sound of impact reverberated across the field, and Roll Tide crumpled under the tremendous force of collision. It will fly no more. With War Eagle burned and Roll Tide flattened, the Falcon Rocketeers were done for the day; last I heard they were hard at work trying to rebuild War Eagle by replacing most of the body tube.

Roll Tide after its ill-fated flight (Click to enlarge).

TARC flights made on the evening of March 25. Green indicates qualification attempt (Click to enlarge).
Just this weekend left for TARC flights - I expect a few more on Sunday. Then I can collapse...

Tanner's TARC rocket lifts off on a Smokey Sam composite motor.

Jurassic TARC's Rocket #2 blasts off in a sunset launch.

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