Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Saturday morning with the Cub Scouts...

Saturday morning, 8:30 AM found Chuck and myself setting up a few launch pads at the Space and Rocket Center launch field; Cub Scout Pack 351 was having its annual "Rocket Blast" and we were running the range. The weather was nice - passing clouds reduced the Sun, keeping the temperature reasonable, and the wind was blowing from the east, pushing the rockets away from the tree line (for once). The USSRC/Space Camp field is very much like the "Sargasso Sea" of rocketry; rockets in varying states of decay hang from the trees like Christmas ornaments; spent igniters, motor casings, engine hooks, and other rocket debris litter the ground. No matter how many times I go there I stand in awe of the carnage around me.

The trees surrounding the field are filled with dangling rockets  - all are like this one. Great source for plastic nose
cones (Click to enlarge)!
Every scout brought a rocket - there was much variety, in style and complexity, ranging from ARTFs like the Chrome Dome to Alpha IIIs to builder's kits like the Estes Lynx. Chuck gave a quick flyers briefing just after 9 AM, and we were off to the races. I would estimate that about 60 rockets took to the sky in the next 90 minutes, with only one landing in a tree, which had to be some kind of record for that small field.  I could almost hear the rocket gods' stomachs growl as this feast mostly passed them by. The only hitch in the launch was the large number of igniter misfires - the new Estes Starters ain't anywhere near as good as the old Solar Igniters; the lack of pyrogen on the Starters really makes a difference, especially when dealing with inexperienced flyers. Care must be taken to insure the tip of the igniter is touching the black powder.

Chuck gives a safety briefing to the Cubs (Click to enlarge).
We packed up about 10:30, just before a group of Space Campers were scheduled to take the field with their birds. I can only hope they were as lucky as Pack 351, but given that the Space Camp pads had rods angled almost straight into the trees to the North, I kinda doubt it. I have a note on my door reminding me to visit the field and pick up some nose cones, engine hooks, etc. from the ground beneath the trees - free parts for scratch builds!

Cub rockets await launch (Click to enlarge).
Cub scout rocket going up (Click to enlarge)...And coming down (Click to enlarge)...
A Space Camp counselor readies the Estes-built pads, which are due to be replaced later this year after decades of
use (Click to enlarge).

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