Sunday, April 5, 2015

My first club launch of 2015 (Part 1)

Some of the folks at the launch watch a rocket descend to Earth (Click to enlarge).
Yesterday saw me and Duane making the long trek (about 2 hours) up to Manchester for the second HARA launch of 2015 - and our first. We arrived at about 11 AM, having left Huntsville around 8:30 and stopping for a "tasty" breakfast at McDonalds along the way. The field was a bit waterlogged from the thunderstorms of Friday night, but overall not too bad - there were patches of high ground that enabled one to recover rockets without sinking up to the ankles in mud. It turns out our late arrival was not really that late, as we got there in time to attend the traditional "flyers briefing" held before the start of every club launch. The Music City Missile Club (MC2) was working the range this month, enabling us HARA members to concentrate on flying. Next month, we have the range duty.

Flyers begin to gather for the pre-launch briefing (Click to enlarge).
Six rockets accompanied me to Manchester - my Aerotech Initiator (Aerotech F20 motor), an Estes Majestic (Estes E16 motor), an Estes Trajector (Estes E16 motor), my Centuri RX-16 clone (Estes D12 motor), an Estes Firebolt (Estes E12 motor), and my TARC rocket from a couple of years ago, the Over Easy (Estes D12 motor). I would fly nothing weaker than a D motor this day; after all, the launch is held on the wide open expanse of the Manchester sod farm. However, more power = more walking to recover, especially in the 10 mph winds. Duane also brought several rockets - his Estes Death Star, the yellow and black winner of this year's Geezer TARC - the "Beast", an Estes Leviathan, his Estes Mega Mosquito, and a big green and white rocket which would not fly due to the stiff winds.

One of the nice things about club launches is that you get to see rockets built by other people. Many of these are pretty awesome, like the Harley Max that showed up at the field yesterday. It was an Estes Mega Red Max, with a very nice paint job sporting Harley Davidson decals from Excelsior Rocketry. It flew a few times, including one on an H motor that garnered its owner a level 1 certification. A very excellent way to start on the High Power Rocketry path!

The "Harley Max" (Click to enlarge).

The Harley Max heads into the Blue on a G motor (Click to enlarge).
There is too much going on at club launches for me to keep track, especially given that I spend a fair mount of time prepping and recovering rockets. However, I did try to find the time to witness a few of the launches by fellow club members. Woody Bevill - who brought his Mom along for this launch - seemed to want to lose a scratch built mid power rocket; however, it kept coming back, though the "alien passenger" it carried aloft on its first flight was last seen heading into the next county, its little parachute dwindling into the distance. Keith Nyman and his daughter had a good day - his Mega Red Max powered by G motors impressed, and Brenna's Leviathan caught some air on an F motor. Not so for Elliot Laramie, who had a mixed day - after turning in several good flights (including a successful launch of a Quest Quad Runner with a cluster of 4 B6-4's), his "stretched" Colonial Viper did a major arc straight for the pond; I guess it thought it could also function as a canoe. The most heartbreaking event of the day was watching his beautiful Aerotech Astrobee D come in ballistic due to an ejection charge malfunction; not even the soft ground could prevent the rocket from turning into confetti. I would have gone into the trees and cried after that one, but Elliot is a true naval aviator; he simply shrugged his shoulders and said he would build another. There are no wimps in the Navy.

Brenna's yellow and blue Leviathan leaves the pad
(Click to enlarge).
Keith Nyman's Mega Red Max getting on up there
(Click to enlarge).

Elliot's Astrobee-D blasts off on its final flight
(Click to enlarge).
Keith Nyman's 2 stage CC Express heads up the rod,
powered by a C11 in the booster (Click to enlarge).
Duane's Mega Mosquito arcs into the wind on an E
(Click to enlarge).
The 4 B6-4's powering Elliot's Quad Runner leave a trail
of smoke (Click to enlarge).

Duane had a good day - His Leviathan put in a good flight on a Aerotech F, the Mega Mosquito got off the pad without experiencing a CATO, and the Beast once again showed why it was this year's Geezer TARC champion. However, it was the Death Star that garnered the most attention, with the big styrofoam ball perched atop a skinny tube. The first flight on a C6-3 was classic - the model arced into the wind and deployed the chute at a decent altitude. At ejection, the styrofoam ball "exploded" into four pieces, each one descending on a streamer - a real crowd pleaser. The second flight used an Aerotech D10-5 and had Duane's camera taped to the body tube to catch a video of the ball separating into pieces. This flight was not so good - the trajectory was much flatter, and ejection occurred very close to the ground. I am eager to see the video, as it must show the Death Star "exploding" as the rocket is diving into the ground.

Animated sequence showing the first flight of Duane's Death Star
(Click to enlarge).
Not all flying Saturday was for fun - there was also some seriousness. I counted 4 successful level 1 certification flights while I was there, and another HARA member, Ian, certified level 2. There were also some college SLI teams present - Alabama A&M launched their space-themed rocket on a K, only to have the main deploy at apogee. Fortunately, they were able to recover the rocket, though it did take some searching. Mississippi State put up a two stage rocket (M motor to J in the upper stage) on the far pad. It looked like the second stage did not fire, though all pieces landed safely. Auburn and Georgia Tech were in the final throes of prepping their rockets when Duane and I left the field at 4:30; I do not know the outcome of those flights.

A successful level 1 certification flight at Saturday's launch.

No comments:

Post a Comment