Saturday, January 14, 2017

1st launch of 2017...

A coupe of days ago, Duane informed me that the Pope John Paul II TARC teams (Falcon Rocketeers and Jurassic TARC) would be making their first practice flights on Saturday. This made today not only a time to observe these two teams, but also a golden opportunity to fly a few of my birds and perhaps try something new. And so 11:45 saw a small pile of stuff just outside my apartment door - the usual range gear, a few rockets, and my small motor test stand, ready to make its first measurements of rocket motors.

The "Black Pearl" heads up the rod in a spectacular fashion. Image
taken by one of the Falcon Rocketeers (Click to enlarge).
The Falcons and Jurassic TARC had a good turnout today, with practically all team members showing up in the unseasonably gorgeous weather (temps in the high 60's, light to moderate wind out of the southwest). Each team made two flights - Jurassic TARC put up their "Stars" rocket once, followed by its mate, "Stripes". Falcon brought only one model - the "Black Pearl" - which flew twice. Based on what I heard, all flights were at least 100 feet over the altitude mark, resulting in way long durations. However, this is a good thing - it is easier to lower altitude than to try to gain more, as the latter usually involves hacking off parts of the rocket. It was a good way to start the practice season, and I was encouraged by the teams' performances and attitudes. I have no doubt their next flights will be closer to the goals.

Some Falcons unpacking gear as Jurassic TARC preps "Stars" in the background (Click to enlarge).
The Falcon Rocketeers ready the Black Pearl for flight (Click to enlarge).
The nice thing about low power is that it is quick to set up and take down - Duane and I already had a few flights in before the first TARC rocket took to the sky. I was first, flying my Estes Generic on an A8-3. It is a bit dressier when compared to its appearance in my last post, as I have added barcode and net weight decals to the rocket, based on comments. So it is now even truer to the generic style, and proved it by putting in a generic flight. A classic followed my Generic - Duane's favored Cherokee-D, which was powered by an Estes C6-5. Can't really blame him for sticking to 18mm motors, as a D12 would easily put this baby way up there and drifting far beyond the confines of Pegasus Field.

My Generic is ready for launch (Click to enlarge).Duane's Cherokee-D lifts off
(Click to enlarge).
Santa took advantage of the weather to fly in the "Polar-1", but the old boy must have eaten too many cookies in his Christmas travels, as the rocket struggled to make altitude on an A8-3. I'll up the sleigh's power to a B motor next time he flies. Duane's BMS School Rocket was next, looking very patriotic as it slowly lifted off the pad on an Estes E9 motor

The Polar-1 clears the rod (Click to enlarge).Duane's School Rocket on an E9 (Click to enlarge).
It was then time to launch my newly-built Mars Snooper, which was finished on New Year's Eve, barely in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the kit's release. It flew straight as an arrow on a B6-4, descending to a soft landing on the grass north of the pads. Unlike the Titanic, the Mars Snooper survived its maiden voyage. My final flight of the day was an Estes ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) Helios, outfitted with the optional booster and my new HD keychain camera. It shot off the pad on a C11; staging was nominal, with the sustainer continuing upward on a C6-5. The Helios landed to the south of the pads, and I was crossing my fingers in hopes of getting good video of the staging. I got lucky this flight, as you can see from the video below.

My Mars Snooper clears the rod on its first flight (Click to enlarge).
The Helios gets moving on a C11 (Click to enlarge).
Helios staging sequence in slow motion

Duane still had a couple more rockets to launch. He loaded up his old champion TARC bird, "The Beast" with an ancient F Black Jack composite. The bird left the pad trailing more smoke than a 60's smokestack. The final flight involved his Estes Leviathan, which rocketed off the rail on an F52; it snapped a fin on landing, the only casualty in the non-TARC flights. I accidentally obtained an interesting shot of the blast deflector glowing blue while being hit by the F52's exhaust. very unexpected and very cool!

The Beast rides a plume of black smoke into the sky (Click to enlarge).
The blast deflector glows blue as the F52 begins to push the Leviathan upward (Click to enlarge).
In the pic of the Falcons prepping the Black Pearl (why is it half red?), you might have noticed a strange contraption on the table. That's my small motor test stand, which will be the subject of the next post.

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