Saturday, March 4, 2017

Pads galore at Pegasus...

Liberty watches their rocket soar upward into a sunny blue sky (Click to enlarge).
Today was another perfect day for flying, and four TARC teams - Liberty Middle School's Team Bazinga, Hope Christian Academy's Hope Rising, and Pope John Paul II's Falcon Rocketeers and Jurassic TARC - gathered at Pegasus field just after noon for practice, taking advantage of the mild temperature and very light winds. For Liberty, it was a good day; one of their flights achieved a maximum altitude of 768 feet, just 7 feet off the mark. Jurassic TARC had a so-so day - their rocket ("Rudolph") continues to be a bit squirrely when it leaves the rod, prompting Duane, their benevolent dictator, to once again suggest increasing the area of their fins. Even so, they achieved altitudes just over 800 feet; they just need to work on straightening their rocket's trajectory so it doesn't angle off so badly exiting the rod.

Liberty inspects their rocket before launch (Click to enlarge).
The Falcons prep their rocket as the benevolent dictator looks for some goodies in his parts bin (Click to enlarge).
Hope Rising's very nice rocket prep area (Click to enlarge).
You know it's crunch time when the weather gear
appears on the field! This is Hope Rising's weather
station (Click to enlarge).
Jurassic TARC's Rudolph starts another flight
(Click to enlarge).
The other two teams - the Falcon Rocketeers and Hope Rising - had some issues. Whereas Hope Rising's rocket ("Z-95 Headhunter", after a ship in Star Wars), was 150 feet or so low, Falcon's rocket had difficulty even leaving the pad. Improper assembly of reloads lead to motor huffing and puffing and rocket disassembly on the rod. After their last two flights went nowhere, Falcon left the field considering switching to single use motors. Probably a good idea, though it's a bit late in the season for a motor change. Hopefully they can put in enough practice to get good qualification scores.

The Hope Rising team gets the award for the most spectacular flight of the day. On Headhunter's final flight, the Estes black powder motor CATO'd, sending balls of flame everywhere and the rocket's egg capsule on a ballistic trajectory. Miraculously, the damage to Headhunter was minor - the engine block had been blown out of the rocket. I fully expect it to be back to flight worthy status in a day or so. However, this only adds to the notoriety of the Estes E motors - it seems like you have a 50/50 chance of a pad explosion every time you use one.

Smoke and fire erupts from Z-95 Headhunter as the Estes E motor CATO's just past ignition (Click to enlarge).

As usual, there were more than TARC rockets flown today - Doug brought several low power birds, including an old Estes Star Wars X-Wing. He had to perform a little surgery on his 40 year old Estes Big Foot pad to get it operational, after which several more flights were added to this vintage pad's huge launch count. The X-Wing flew just fine, but the parachute got caught on one of the wings (a common mishap for this rocket), causing it to fall horizontally to the ground. Thankfully, the damage was minor.

Doug's X-Wing leaves the Big Foot's rod
(Click to enlarge).
A Swift decides to eat some dirt (Click to enlarge).
Marc flew his Aspire on an Aerotech F motor, followed by two flights of his shiny Executioner, also on F's. Both rockets were equipped with the Jolly Logic Chute Release to ensure recovery within the field, but the Executioner had an additional twist - a programmable "chute reefer" developed by Marc to give himself an edge in Geezer TARC. The thing actually worked, as we could see the parachute pull in a bit towards the end of the flight, a fact borne out by the increased descent rate logged by the altimeter. Nice going Marc!

Marc's Aspire streaks upward (Click to enlarge).Marc's Executioner about to clear the rod of his
Aerotech Mantis pad (Click to enlarge).
I have a rule - no visits to Pegasus without at least one rocket to fly. Today, I brought two - my Estes Trajector and Estes Majestic, both loaded with Estes black powder E16 motors. These rockets are the super easy "just add epoxy" members of the Estes Pro Series II line, found in Hobby Lobby and other such stores.The flights went off without a hitch, with altitudes in the 600-700 foot range and nice soft landings under the nylon parachutes.

My Majestic rides an E16 into the blue
(Click to enlarge).
The Trajector leaves the rod (Click to enlarge).
The flying went on for some three hours - Duane and I left the field just before 4 PM, leaving Hope Rising, who were still flying low power models. Got to admire their enthusiasm!

My Trajector descending under a red nylon parachute (Click to enlarge).


  1. Wow, you flew a Sprint AND FOUND IT!?

  2. You mean the Swift? One of the people accompanying Hope Rising flew that; he also flew a Mosquito, which was recovered. You could not loose a rocket today - one of the Hope Rising kids shoved a C6 into the back of an Estes Viking and it plopped down not more than 50 feet from the pad!

  3. OOF! That is one spectacular CATO!

  4. Yeah, not sure where Sprint came from.