Saturday, August 3, 2019

The launch before the storms...

Rocketeers awaiting their chance to fly at Saturday's launch (Click to enlarge).
During the HARA club meeting Thursday night, Allen announced that he and a few others would gather at Pegasus Field East today for some rocket flying - at 8:30 AM! My initial reaction was "ain't no way I'm getting up early on a Saturday", but by dinner time on Friday I had changed my mind. The lure of flying a few rockets was just too strong, and besides, the day would be cooler in the morning. So I linked up with Duane just before 8:30 and we trundled off down the road. Only Martin was there when we arrived at the field, but the three of us were enough to get the canopy, table, chairs and pads set up. Allen showed up next, followed by Collin and his daughter and Josh and his dad, Dean. A few other folks who were going to fly some Estes birds of their own also arrived on the field, and we were able to assimilate them into our launch with ease. Rounding out the party was Julian and his family, along with Blake - a bit bigger crowd than normal, but that only added to the day's fun.

Collin and his daughter prep their rockets (Click to enlarge).
Flying got started around 8:45 with the launch of  my MPC Icarus clone. Powered by an A8-3, it had the questionable Micropeak altimeter tucked into its payload bay, as I was determined to see whether that device was truly wonky or if the exposure to direct sunlight on the previous two flights was the culprit behind the funky readings. The Icarus performed flawlessly, deploying the parachute near apogee and making a soft landing in the grass; I am also happy to report that the Micropeak worked exactly as it should, reporting a peak altitude of 221 feet. It seems to work fine if the device is fully enclosed.

My Icarus starts the launch (Click to enlarge).
Altimeter data from the Icarus Micropeak (Click to enlarge).
The rockets flew fast and furious for about 3 hours - so fast that I could not keep up, failing to record a few of the launches due to too many things going on at the same time. I only know the motors used in a few flights besides my own, so I'm going to hit the highlights of the day (in my opinion, of course) in this post.

The A8-3 in my Zeta ignites (Click to enlarge).The Photon Probe gets going (Click to enlarge).
In addition to the Icarus, I sent my newly built Zeta on a picture-perfect flight with an A8-3. It was followed by my Estes Double Ringer; the C6-3 got it up to a decent altitude, where it deployed the cylindrical gliders. Unlike Allen's - who flew his Double Ringer on a D16-4 - my gliders actually glided, with one making a shallow swoop to the very edge of the field. Unfortunately, I botched turning on the keychain camera strapped to the side, so no video - I was really hoping to get a few frames of glider separation. Switching next to something a bit simpler, I loaded my clone of the Centuri Stellar Photon Probe on the pad, and it also performed well on a B6-4. The rocket landed not far from the canopy, coming down slowly under an 18" plastic Estes parachute.

Ignition of the Double Ringer's C6-3 (Click to enlarge).The Double Ringer's gliders way up there
(Click to enlarge).
Inspired by Duane's multiple altimeter checkout by putting all of them in the same rocket, I did the same with my last flight of the day by placing a Perfectflite Firefly and one of my Micropeak altimeters in the payload section of my Probe-18 rocket. The B6-4 pushed the model to just over 380 feet, and I was very gratified to see the agreement between the two altimeters.

The Probe-18 adds more scorching to my blast deflector
(Click to enlarge).
Probe-18 under parachute (Click to enlarge).
Comparison of the Probe-18 altimeters (Click to enlarge).
So much for my stuff - now on to the highlights. Josh's Estes Airshow was the first of these, with both gliders putting on a nice show.  Duane's School Rocket flew well on an Aerotech E15 and Allen launched his finless ducted rocket on a partly stable flight that started out well but ended up in some serious corkscrewing around the sky. Inspection of the recovered model showed why - a sizable fraction of the lower tube had burned away! One of Josh's rockets, "Please don't melt" also suffered a heat mishap - being entirely 3D printed, some of the lower section melted badly, despite the name.

Josh's Airshow clears the rod (Click to enlarge).Airshow glider doing its thing (Click to enlarge).
Coming in for landing (Click to enlarge)!Duane's School Rocket leaves the pad
(Click to enlarge).
Liftoff of Allen's ducted rocket (Clicked to enlarge).Aftermath of the flight (Click to enlarge).
"Please don't melt" soars into the sky (Click to enlarge).Josh holds the melted pieces (Click to enlarge).
Duane had loaded three altimeters into one of his Geezer TARC rockets, and they all agreed that the F32 propelled the model up to around 645 feet, give or take a few. This was good news, as a couple of these altimeters were ones the John Paul II TARC teams had labelled as bad. This flight seemed to indicate that the bad readings were from user handling rather than equipment malfunction. Allen then launched the most impressive flight of the day - his BMS School Rocket was loaded with a G127 Redline, and it put that puppy up to 2226 feet in a flash! Top speed was 434 mph and the electronics took 28 g's during the flight. Something tells me Bill Saidon at BMS never designed the rocket for such a beastly motor, but we are very glad Allen got the model back in one piece. It was by far the coolest flight of the day.

Duane's rocket lifts off with its cargo of altimeters
(Click to enlarge).
Allen's School Rocket under G127 power
(Click to enlarge)!
There were many other flights, mainly by Estes kits. Amazons, Crossfires, Lynxes, Cobras, and Nike-X's all took to the air multiple times, and I think Josh must have flown pretty much his entire fleet. We departed the field at noon, and Duane and I hit the local Arby's for some needed sustenance. I had just arrived back at the apartment when a series of thunderstorms broke loose, and I felt pleased that we had chosen to launch in the morning. Sometimes things work out in good ways - today was one of those times.

A Nike-X under power (Click to enlarge).An Estes Amazon streaks towards the clouds
(Click to enlarge).

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