Saturday, November 25, 2017

A short Saturday launch...

It's been over a month since I last launched a rocket - Work and travel have kept me busy and away from Pegasus field on the weekends. However, Duane and I decided that enough was enough and that we HAD to use today to get a few birds in the air. So high noon saw us pulling into Pegasus field for a couple of hours of rocket fun. The weather was perfect - temps in the low 60's, slight overcast to dim the sun a bit, and a gentle breeze out of the west. Couldn't ask for a better day to fly!

Fat Chance takes to the air on a F32
(Click to enlarge).
My Quest Thunder just before launch
(Click to enlarge).
Duane readied the first rocket - his Geezer TARC "Fat Chance" - while I was busy futzing around with my motor test stand (more on that in a later post). Duane's rockets have a rep for flying arrow straight, and Fat Chance was no exception; it rose to an altitude of 792 feet (only 8 feet shy of this year's mark) on an Aerotech F32-6. However, the curse that afflicted Duane at the Geezer TARC launch remained, as the parachute came loose from the rocket at ejection, drifting away on the winds. Fat Chance tumbled to the ground, fortunately suffering very minor damage - a tribute to Duane's "Build them like tanks" construction.

I was up next with an out-of-production ready-to-fly model - the Quest Thunder. At least that's the claim; while prepping the rocket, I discovered that the engine hook was too short, forcing some manipulations with needle nose pliers to get a proper fit over the end of the motor. The molded launch lug on the fin unit was also too thin for the 1/8" rod, resulting in me getting a little practice with a small rounded file. After some work, the model slid back and forth on the rod. You would think that all this activity would have resulted in a nice flight, but that was not the case. Powered by a B6-4, the Thunder arced over soon after leaving the pad, leaving me holding my breath until the chute deployed a few tens of feet above the ground. A bit too close for comfort...

Duane's Cherokee-D upscale on 3 E9 motors
(Click to enlarge).
My Excelsior Polar-1 Goony (Click to enlarge).
Duane's upscale Cherokee-D is always a show-stopper; powered by 3 24 mm motors, this beauty turns in the best flights and is a joy to watch. Today, Duane decided to live dangerously and loaded the rocket with 3 cato-prone Estes E9-8 motors; I must confess I had visions of the bottom part of the rocket being blown to bits as he connected the controller to the igniters. I shouldn't have worried about the launch, for the 3 E9's lit in unison, lofting the Cherokee to a very respectable altitude of 972 feet. Then the curse struck again, and the nose of the Cherokee separated from the body. Fortunately the Jolly Logic Chute Release functioned as programmed, landing one piece safely, while the other tumbled to a landing nearby. There were only a few scratches on the rocket, and I could not help noticing Duane's luck - my models would have augered straight in, exploding into pieces of cardboard and balsa and leaving nice craters in the ground. His always seem to fall horizontally.

Then Santa got a short ride up into the blue on my Excelsior Polar-1. This out-of-production (2004) Goony turned in a very nice flight on an Estes A8-3, landing just a few yards from the pad. After stashing the Polar-1 in the car, I brought out the eBay rescue Estes Sky Hook for its maiden voyage. I put a fair amount of work into getting this model flightworthy, and it rewarded my effort by shooting straight off the pad to a very respectable height. I'm glad I used an A8-3, as a B6-4 would have put it way, way up there. To be consistent with the model's heritage, I had equipped it with a vintage Estes orange and white plastic parachute for recovery. For some reason, the chute turned inside out, but the deployment was good enough to land the rocket safely. It was a good reminder of why I switched to rip-stop nylon parachutes years ago.

The B6-4 in Duane's Make-It-Take-It leaves a cloud
of smoke (Click to enlarge).
The eBay rescue Estes Sky Hook clears the rod
(Click to enlarge).
Duane's red, white, and blue Estes Make-It-Take-It followed the Sky Hook. Powered by a B6-4, the flight went fine, including the parachute recovery. Apparently, Duane's curse only affects the models he has designed, not the kits he assembled. After the Make-It-Take-It touched down, I loaded my clone of the Centuri Groove Tube on the pad. I had checked the stability of this model, making sure the CG was in the right place, and was gratified to see it turn in a flawless straight flight on a B6-4. The Groove Tube's first flight would have been absolutely perfect if it had not smacked into a mowing tractor on landing, which knocked loose one of the tube fins. Very easy repair, and the rocket is ready for its next voyage.

Ignition of the Groove Tube's B6-4
(Click to enlarge)
Duane's Mega Mosquito heads up into the blue
(Click to enlarge).
The day's last flight was that of Duane's Mega Mosquito - it lumbered off the pad on an Estes E9-4 and landed safely under parachute a few yards downwind.  I did a few motor thrust measurements for several minutes and then we packed up and headed to our respective domiciles around 2 PM. Duane and I both agreed that it had been a very good day at Pegasus - 8 rockets launched, and 8 rockets came home. A pretty good tally for 2 hours.


  1. I've got the Quest Thunder as well, launched it as a part of an English class project at high school, everyone loved it and I even got in the local newspaper as well, the only thing that sucked is that it got caught in a tree and took a month or so before it got given back to me. Right before I graduated I got all my classmates to sign it, it sister proudly at home as a reminder of my glory days