Sunday, May 10, 2015

May's Club Launch...

Looking out towards the range (Click to enlarge).
Yesterday saw me getting up at the unseemly (for a Saturday) time of 6:30 AM in order to be ready to depart for the Manchester field at 7:30. I had prepped 11 rockets on Friday night, and they joined Duane's rockets and numerous other gear - tables, chairs, range boxes, electronics, and snacks - that occupied most of his SUV. The goal was to arrive on the field at 9 to help with the range setup, but we made a breakfast stop at the Hardees in Winchester for some biscuits. As a result, we arrived about 30 minutes late - Woody had already started unloaded the HARA trailer. There was plenty of work to do - I focussed on setting up the low power racks, while Duane and the others deployed the mid and high power pads. More people showed up and pitched in, and we were ready to fly by 10:15 or so.

Laika on the pad (Click to enlarge).Laika blasts off on Keith's Level 1 certification flight
(Click to enlarge).
This launch would see relatively few high power rockets take to the air - the stiff wind and the high-80's temperatures discouraged high altitude flights, as one was sure to take a very long walk to recover any rocket that deployed a parachute above 1500 feet or so. I was certainly dissuaded; I would fly the 9 model rockets that accompanied me, choosing to leave the two mid power birds - a Semroc Aero Dart and a Thrustline D-Region Tomahawk - strapped inside Duane's vehicle. However, there were a few brave souls who went for it... Keith Nyman earned his level 1 certification flying a blue and yellow LOC Fantom EXL ("Laika") on an H motor; he would fly it again later in the day, along with an Estes Mega Red Max. Woody launched his scratch build, also powered by an H; he did not fly much, as he had the thankless job of being in charge of the range, which was executed flawlessly. Thanks Woody!

Woody sends a model rocket on its way (Click to enlarge).
Despite being affected a bit by the heat, I managed to put up all 9 mod rocs:
  • Estes Athena (A8-3) - This RTF was my "drift test" model. Good boost to maybe 250 feet, and recovered a short way from the pad.
  • Centuri MX-774 clone (A8-3) - Another straight flight, with recovery by streamer. Unfortunately, the rocket landed right on a pile of wooden slats near the pond, resulting in major damage to one fin and considerable scraping of the finish. Still assessing whether I will repair it or build a new one.
  • Canaroc Green Hornet clone (A8-3) - Good flight, with a bit of drift on the rip stop nylon chute. Missed the pond by "that much".
  • Estes Black Brant 3 clone (A8-3) - The maiden voyage for this bird, which went off perfectly.
  • Estes Midget clone (A10-0T, 1/2 A3-2T) - Started out well with a quick take off, but the upper stage did not ignite. The rocket came in ballistic, crunching the upper stage and driving the nose cone into the body tube.
  • Estes Helios with BT-60 booster (C11-0, B6-4) - This RTF performed really well, achieving about 800 feet. It also drifted the farthest, landing well beyond the pond. The walk reminded me how much I missed having TARC kids around to recover my rockets.
  • Fliskits Deuces Wild (2xC6-5) - The C motors put this rocket up to about 700 feet or so, and a lull in the wind caused it to land fairly close to the pads. I really like this model, as it is quite sturdy and reliable.
  • Estes Eclipse clone (1/2 A3-4T) - This black beauty shot off the pad, grabbing some serious altitude before deploying the streamer. It landed in the gravel near the road, breaking a fin (Already repaired).
  • Semroc Micron (A8-3) - My last flight of the day also resulted in a broken fin when this rocket landed in the same area as the Eclipse. Every streamer rocket flown at this launch was damaged, as the wind kept blowing them onto the gravel area.
My Canaroc FK-3 clone next to Nate's Renegade-D (Click to enlarge).
Green Hornet takes to the sky (Click to enlarge).My Micron blasts off on an A8-3 (Click to enlarge).
There were lots of other low and mid power rockets flown. Nate and Vince were there, with Vince putting up his Phoenix a couple of times on E motors and flying a Rocketarium Mega Vortex, which had a loud, fast spin coming down. Nate flew several without mishap, including his Renegade-D  and several smaller birds on C motors (He did a LOT of walking, unfortunately). Duane launched the Death Star on a C6-3, and its multi piece separation and recovery delighted the kids present. A family brought along a uniquely decorated "Frankenrocket", which they called Fireball. It made two flights, recovering successfully each time.

Vince's Phoenix leaves the pad (Click to enlarge).Nate's V-2 heads for London (Click to enlarge).
The Death Star gets going (Click to enlarge).The uniquely-decorated "Fireball" (Click to enlarge).
The biggest motor used Saturday was the J in UAH's CANSAT rocket. It made two flights, the second being the very last flight of the day, around 3:30 PM. After that, we packed up the range, loaded the SUV, and headed south to Huntsville. Nate followed us to Winchester, where we stopped at Larry's BBQ for the traditional post-club launch dinner. BBQ joints with a pig out front are usually pretty decent; Larry's has two, and the pig in the parking lot is mighty big. As you may guess, the food is also mighty good.

Dinner time! (Click to enlarge)

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