Saturday, March 5, 2016

Of Rockets and Werewolves...

Another nice day, which means more TARC practice and flying at Pegasus field. Today was also the first HARA launch of the year up at the Manchester sod farm, but Duane and I opted to stay in town so we could support the teams at Pegasus. March is crunch month for TARC, and our teams need all the practice and help they can get as we come down to the early April deadline. We can catch next month's launch up at Manchester.

Morgan gets the ICW ready for its first flight (Click to enlarge).
Hooking up the launch controller (Click to enlarge).ICW arcs into the wind (Click to enlarge).
Four TARC teams were on the field today - three from Liberty Middle, and a first year team from Hope Christian.  Liberty had their first bird in the air by 10 AM; four more flights would follow. Unfortunately, they were plagued by the same problems they faced last Saturday - kicked motors and peak altitudes 50-100 feet shy of the goal. They also had some parachute issues, and a couple of hard landings put an end to their practice just before noon. Hope Christian brought one rocket to the field - a silver nosed model called "ICW" (In Case of Werewolves). ICW's first flight followed the day's trend - the shock cord pulled free of the bulkhead and the payload section landed hard, resulting in an eggs-emplary mess. But the Hope team exhibited the attitude of their name, and had the rocket ready to fly again in an hour, thanks to good field repair work. ICW put in two other mishap-free flights, though both were short of the altitude mark. However, it was a pretty good performance for the first practice of a first year team; believe me, I have seen far worse.

Marc hooks up his Alien Invader (Click to enlarge).Marc's Orbital Transport lifts off on a B6-4 (Click to
Marc was also at Pegasus, accompanied by the family. His Apogee Diamondback led off with an excellent flight on a C motor, recovered by a huge purple streamer. This was followed by an Estes Alien Invader on a B6-4, and the Semroc Orbital Transport that was damaged last week before it could fly. The Orbital Transport flight went without a hitch, with the sustainer descending on a nice bright orange parachute and the glider fluttering to the ground. Marc's final launch was that of the Diamondback on a B6-2, which pushed it up a couple of hundred feet; a C motor is definitely the best choice for this model.

The Thunderbird's motor ignites (Click to enlarge).Big Bertha clears the rod (Click to enlarge).
My Alpha waits patiently on the pad (Click to enlarge).The 60's style Alpha heads up the rod (Click to
I flew six models, the first being my Centuri Thunderbird clone. Powered by a C6-5, it got some serious air, but the parachute shroud lines tangled on the fins, resulting in a hard landing. Fortunately, no damage. Flight #2 was that of my Estes K-42 Stinger clone, which went surprisingly high on an A8-3. Its orange plastic streamer brought it down to a soft landing fairly close to the pad. Big Bertha was up next on a B6-4, making her usual slow and graceful ascent into the blue sky. An Estes Alpha with the modern blue and red decor followed Bertha, burning yet another of my plethora of A8-3's. Flight #5 was also that of an Alpha on an A8-3, this one with a 1960's paint scheme. Unfortunately, its shock cord burned through and the body landed hard on the grass, breaking a fin into pieces. The damage is repairable, though the fin will need a new coat of paint after I glue it back together and fill the cracks.

Marc's Diamondback leaves the pad (Click to enlarge).The first stage motor of the Helios ignites (Click to
The Estes Ready-To-Fly Helios was my last rocket to take to the air, augmented by an Estes BT-60 booster stage and a keychain camera taped to the sustainer. The C11-0/C6-5 lofted it to the highest altitude of the day, but I grew concerned when I saw the model descending straight for the road. Visions of the rocket and camera being crushed under the wheel of a car danced before my eyes; thankfully some early luck of the Irish guided the bird to a landing on the grassy median between the north and south bound lanes. I had hoped to get some nice video of stage separation, but there was only a couple of frames, none showing the booster falling away. However, I did get some good shots of the chute wadding being ejected and a segment showing cars passing close to the rocket as it awaited recovery.

The parachute wadding falls away from the rocket (Click to enlarge).
Heading for the road (Click to enlarge).

A car passes by (Click to enlarge)

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