Sunday, June 24, 2018

Stormy Saturday with the Cubs...

The day starts clear at the Space Camp field (Click to enlarge).
I normally hate getting up early on Saturday, but yesterday I started the morning with some level of enthusiasm; it was launch day with the cub scouts, and no rocketeer can resist being excited about the prospect of attending a morning AND an afternoon launch. Double headers are a good thing!

Some cubs in Pack 351 hold aloft their rockets (Click to enlarge).
First up was Pack 351, at the Space Camp launch field on the grounds of the Space and Rocket Center. It was clear when Chuck and I arrived - soon to be joined by John and Duane - but the clouds gradually increased, heralding approaching storms. Fortunately, the weather stayed away long enough for the cub scouts to launch their rockets (some multiple times) - about 40 took to the air, with only 2 lost to the rocket eating trees on the field's northern boundary. We had brought the HARA trailer, but did not have to use our equipment, as the scout leaders had arranged with Space Camp to use the camp pads and controllers. This reduced our job to just helping the scouts load the rack - enabling me to enjoy the flights and to take plenty of pictures.

One of the Space Camp launch controllers (Click to enlarge).
John makes the final ignitor hook up (Click to enlarge).A rack of Cub rockets (Click to enlarge).
A cub gets ready to launch his bird after donning the
required Space Camp regalia (Click to enlarge).
Spaceship 1 heads skyward (Click to enlarge).
You never know what is going to show up at a Pack 351 launch. There were plenty of Estes RTF Sizzlers (apparently some freebies acquired by the pack) along with the usual Code Reds, Skywriters, Dragonites, and Shuttle Express. Saturday's launch also saw an Estes Spaceship 1 (which actually put in a stable flight), a 1980's style Scrambler, and Estes SkyTrax with a Lego Stormtrooper as a passenger in the clear payload section. I was intrigued by the stormtrooper, as he looked as if he were bent over in pain or fear - probably the latter. The surprise of the launch was a scratch built Batroc, with a Batman head for a nose cone and fins shaped like bat wings. This superb creation was severely underpowered on an A8-3, and Batman almost ended up with a nose full of dirt. Fortunately, the parachute popped about 10 feet off the ground, much to the relief of the spectators.

Stormtrooper passenger (Click to enlarge).The stormtrooper starts his journey (Click to enlarge).
Scratch Batroc on the pad (Click to enlarge).The Batroc struggles to gain altitude (Click to enlarge).
The pack's motors were mostly gone by 10:30, and we all beat a hasty retreat to our homes, as the approaching storms were looking pretty ugly on weather radar. Things had settled out a bit by 2 PM, so Duane and I trekked down to Holy Spirit Church to help Pack 361 with their launch. Another member of our club, Fletcher Cannon, was running this launch and we arrived just in time to assist the scouts in building their rockets. Duane was especially welcome, as he brought some much needed super glue; fortunately there were no stuck-together fingers or other mishaps during the build session, which didn't take long at all. Fletcher had a wooden Tilt-A-Pad clone built by Duane, an Estes Porta Pad, and two Estes controllers, which proved more than adequate for the 8 or so rockets that were launched. The cubs even managed to get a respectable drag race between two of the rockets, which was pretty neat given the difficulties with the low voltage/low current Estes controllers. The church field, though a bit damp, proved to be more than adequate for the 13 mm powered rockets, with no rocket casualties recorded. We were not able to launch more than a few minutes, as storms were once again closing on Huntsville. Even so, the scouts had fun launching their rockets, which is the goal.

Pack 361 working on their rockets (Click to enlarge).
A newly-built rocket gets moving (Click to enlarge).
Drag race between 2 cub rockets (Click to enlarge).
Looking forward to doing this again next year!

1 comment:

  1. I've been to that field. I've never seen such hungry trees, decorated with hundreds of lost Space Camp rockets!