Friday, May 1, 2015

Back to elementary school...

This morning saw me hauling an unusual load into the office - four rockets and some basic launch gear. Horizon Elementary School is hosting a Space Week, filled with all sort of activities - projects, telescopes, speakers, and, for the final hours of the final day, a rocket launch. I love these events! Elementary school kids are so enthusiastic and excited by everything, especially stuff that soars into the sky, and I was looking forward to spending an hour or two surrounded by all that enthusiasm. Definitely beats sitting in a finance or group meeting at work...

I met Vince just outside my office building just before 1:30 and we moseyed over to Horizon, where Elliot Laramie was waiting for us. Vince had brought 5 rockets - 3 scratch builds (or kits of which I am not familiar), a Mongoose upper stage, and a George Gassaway "Spider", whereas Elliot had gathered together quite a posse - a Centuri, Xarconian Cruiser, Zooch Mercury Redstone, a Soyuz, a Bullpup, a V-2, and a couple of others. My 4 consisted of an Estes Eagle boost glider, the reliable Snitch saucer, Der Red Max, and a Quest Big Betty with a keychain camera strapped down near her rear. There was a bit of wind out of the east, which caused to us to set up on a corner of the outdoor basketball court in the eastern part of the playground. I was amazed by the number of kids present - there was a "field day" activity going on, with a shave ice truck, a choo-choo train, and several "moon walk" inflatables. I wish we had this stuff back in the Stone Age, when I was in elementary school.

The crowd gathers at Horizon Elementary as Vince prepares a rocket for flight (Click to enlarge).
We started launching very soon after 2, with Vince as the lead off man. I would follow, and then Elliot; we would repeat this sequence until we ran out of rockets or time, as we had to be finished by 2:40 in order for the school to prepare for the dismissal of the kiddos. After a very enthusiastic countdown by the crowd, Vince's rocket soared into the gorgeous blue sky and deployed its parachute for a nice soft landing. We had 3 kids designated as "retrievers" and one of them shot off like a flash to fetch it. I was next, with the Eagle boost glider, but the wind kept blowing the glider off the pod. Vince kindly helped hold the thing on until the count, but the glider again came free just as I pressed the launch button; it lay dormant on the ground while the boost pod did crazy arcs in the air. NOT the way I wanted my first flight to go. Elliot then launched his Bullpup, which flew as all Bullpups do - straight up, with a gentle recovery by parachute.

The first rocket takes to the sky (Click to enlarge).Elliot's Mercury Redstone lifts off (Click to enlarge).
The rest of the flights went well, except for Elliot's Centuri drifting away on its white parachute. I was especially pleased with the air my Snitch achieved on a C6-0, and was happy with the Big Betty flight. She came down just to the south of the basketball court and there was nary a scratch on her bulky bod. But the real highlight, at least to me, was Elliot's beautiful Xarconian Cruiser. Not only did it fly textbook straight, but the slow recovery on the Estes plastic parachute was a thing of beauty, with the rocket landing gracefully just behind the crowd. I was so taken with the rocket's descent that I forgot to snap a pic.

Elliot's Centuri begins its final flight (Click to enlarge).Vince's Spider closes out the launch (Click to enlarge).

Elliot's Xarconian Cruiser gracefully ascends skyward
(Click to enlarge).
A "rocket retriever" keeps his eye on the action
(Click to enlarge).

We managed to fly 13 rockets total - 4 each for me and Elliot, and 5 for Vince. The crowd of young spectators seemed to be well pleased, so I decided that that I should reward myself by taking the rest of the afternoon off to enjoy the extremely nice weather. This I proceeded to do for the next hour or two, after which I downloaded the Big Betty video and extracted a few frames:

Big Betty looks down at the crowd on her way up (Click to enlarge).
Houses adjacent to the school (Yes, I turned it upside down - Click to enlarge).
Folks looking up as Big Betty descends under parachute (Click to enlarge).
Big Betty laying on the grass (Click to enlarge).
Unfortunately, I have no pics of my flights, as I was pushing the fire button on my controller (not coordinated enough to handle a camera and launch a rocket simultaneously). However, it is appropriate that I at least show you Big Betty:

Big Betty (Click to enlarge).
Below is the complete video of her journey today, including the recovery by the retriever (Couldn't cut out all those little feet). I am now going to put that embarrassment of a boost glider into the "disabled" box - if it can't stay on, it don't fly.

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