Saturday, September 19, 2015

Boy Scout build and fly...

I dragged myself, my range box, and four rockets outside at 6:30 AM this morning to meet Chuck and Duane in the parking lot. After loading the stuff into the back of Chuck's SUV, we headed out to the Hardees in Scottsboro, where we linked up with Woody and three Boy Scout leaders. This morning's mission - help the scouts at Camp Jackson build and fly a few rockets. Sounds pretty easy, but nothing is easy for me early on a Saturday morning.

Camp Jackson was just a short drive across the river from the Hardees; like many scout camps, it's a rather scenic place, being right on the river in the midst of some gently rolling hills. We set up the pads in a small field next to the lodge and a small picnic shelter. I immediately took note of the potential rocket hazards - a few power lines and trees ringing the field except for the river on the east side. Fortunately, there was very little wind, and, despite my expectations of hanging a few in the trees, or rocket splash downs in the water, no rockets would be lost this day. It's not often this happens.

Setting up the range at Camp Jackson (Click to enlarge).
While the scouts were assembling, I took the opportunity to fly three of the four rockets that had journeyed from Huntsville. The BMS School Rocket was up first, making its maiden flight on an Estes A8-3 - straight up, with a nice parachute deploy, and best of all, it drifted back into my outstretched hands. Definitely a good start for the day. I followed this with my Estes Snitch on a C6 motor. This rocket delighted some of the scouts, who were intrigued by its unconventional appearance; clearly they had never seen a saucer fly before. The Snitch is showing its age, being rather battered after lots of flights - one of the plastic supports for a landing leg has cracked. Repairable, but I'm afraid this rocket will not be able to handle many more launches. My final flight was the venerable Der Red Max on a B6-4. Outfitted with a keychain camera, it also put in a textbook performance and returned a not too shabby video. I particularly like the part just after landing, where you can see some scouts running up to the rocket.

Video taken from Der Red Max

The scout leaders had this event organized pretty well, with the first step being rocket assembly in the lodge. The chosen rocket was the Estes Dink, repackaged for the Boy Scouts as the "Scout Voyager". Because of the limited time available for this activity, construction was done using super glue, which got the job done, albeit with lots of sticky fingers and mess. Fortunately, the leaders had ample quantities of nail polish remover (acetone) to help clean things up. After the scouts built and prepped their rockets, they moved on to an outside station, which had some space-related crafts. The final stop was the launch pads.

Scout Voyager rocket
(Click to enlarge).
Building rockets (Click to enlarge).
We had set up three racks, each containing three pads; all were tied into the trusty HARA launch controller. Duane acted as the LCO, with Chuck, Woody, and I acting as pad managers; each scout would get to press the fire button to send his rocket on its way. Launching went smoothly, with no mishaps. Several rockets did not fully deploy a parachute or streamer, but none came in ballistic or were lost. All in all, about 30 scout rockets took to the air (three and a half sets of nine), and everyone had a most excellent time. I was approached by a couple of parents afterwards asking where they could get rocket supplies so they could fly with their kids - always a good indicator of a successful launch.

Demonstrating how to connect igniters (Click to enlarge).Woody powers up the pads (Click to enlarge).
A Dink gets going (Click to enlarge).Up, up, and away! (Click to enlarge)
Dink drag race (Click to enlarge).
Woody and I get to repeat this at another scout camp in Florence this coming Saturday. Since it's a bit farther away from Huntsville, I will have to get up even earlier...

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