Saturday, January 30, 2016

Finally flying after a hiatus of a couple of months...

It would seem that no matter how much I try to practice moderation in my hobby, I end up burning out. I pretty much stopped doing rocketry-related things around Thanksgiving, and am just now reviving my enthusiasm for flying and building. Flying is easier, so that's what happened today. The building will recommence soon - I still have one rocket in primer and two on the bench, all three of which are clamoring to be finished.

Today was sunny and comfortable, with temps in the mid-60's. It would have been perfect, except for the wind out of the south, which was a blustery 10 to 15 mph. However, that did not discourage me from flying a few - after all, windy days are why we have the lower impulse motors. Also, the two Pope John Paul II teams - Jurassic TARC and Falcon Rocketeers - were going to be out practicing and I wanted to take a gander at their progress.

Marc's rocket streaks upward on a B6 motor (Click to
Vince's rocket leaves the pad (Click to enlarge).
Duane picked me up and we moseyed over to Pegasus field; the TARC teams were getting set up, and Marc, Vince, and Woody would soon join us under the sunny blue sky. Vince put up a couple of Estes kits, and Marc - who was accompanied by his kids - also launched a few. Woody's rockets were loaded with C motors, and he wisely decided not to fly them, as they stood a significant chance of ending up in Oz. Today's flights were notable not for height, but for the fact that the wind caused them to drift a distance greater than their altitudes. It was sufficiently strong that the TARC teams packed up after Jurassic TARC's yellow rocket did a severe turn into the wind right after leaving the rail. Not much point in practicing under conditions like that. A very short TARC practice!

Jurassic TARC's rocket acts into the wind (Click to
My Sizzler blasts off as Jurassic TARC looks on
(Click to enlarge).
I launched three birds - my Centuri RX-16 clone on a D12-5, the Estes Sizzler clone on an A8-3 (maiden flight), and the Aerospace Specialty Products NEO Standard on an A8-3. The Sizzler and the NEO were incidental flights; my focus was on the RX-16, which was flying to test the Jolly Logic Chute Release I received this past week. This rocket was instrumented to the max - not only was the Chute Release attached to the parachute, but I had loaded my MicroPeak recording altimeter into the payload section and strapped a keychain video camera up near the nose in the hopes of getting some good footage. I had considered using the Jolly Logic Altimeter 3 to send altitude data to my phone, but decided in favor of the much lighter MicroPeak to keep a thrust to weight ratio of 5 to 1 - very important on windy days.

The NEO Standard leaps for blue sky on an A8-3 (Click
to enlarge).
The instrumented RX-16 starts its test flight (Click to
All three flights went very well, though I did pause a bit when it looked like the NEO was going to drift into the middle of the road. Fortunately, the wind let up just enough to permit a landing on the grass at the near edge. Here's the video from the RX-16 flight; you can see that it was truly a nice day to be outdoors.

I will give more details on the RX-16 flight and the performance of the Chute Release in my next post. But I would like to end with a shout out to Perfectflite, who repaired my damaged PNUT altimeter free of charge. They are truly a class act, and it is no wonder their electronics are widely used within the rocket community. My sincere thanks to them!

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