Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas rockets!

The Christmas rockets start appearing on the table! (Click to enlarge)
Back in October, I announced a contest for members of HARA - design and build a stable and safe Christmas-themed rocket in time for the December club meeting. Even though time did not allow me to build my design (which couldn't have won anyway, since I was providing the prize), there were a decent number of Christmas rockets that showed up at the meeting in the Space and Rocket Center's boardroom. There was a BT-60 based rocket wrapped in wrapping paper, a rocket with a hand painted holiday decor, a flying Christmas wreath, a Christmas candle, a flying Christmas present and two Christmas trees (one with LED lights), a "snowman on a stick", and a holiday-converted Estes Solo. Martin built the latter as part of an elaborate Christmas diorama, and even composed a poem for the occasion. This made it easy for the judges, who awarded the Apogee Katana to Martin without the need to deliberate. By the way, the other entries were great - it's just that they were overwhelmed by the complexity and craftsmanship of Martin's entry. There was also no need to prove the stability of his model, as the Solo has flown many times by many people. As for the stability of the others, well, let's just say that the launch at Pegasus field a couple of days later (Pearl Harbor Day) had its interesting moments...

The judges look over some of the entries
(Click to enlarge).
Martin's winning entry (Click to enlarge).
December 7 was beautiful day to fly - sunny, perfect temperature, and practically no wind. It was as if Mother Nature was granting us great flying weather as an early Christmas present, and we seized the opportunity. Lots of rockets took to the air, but I'm going to focus on the Christmas rockets in this post - after all, they are custom designed for the season!

My venerable Polar Express started the launch a bit after 10 AM. Even though he was not riding a custom bird, Santa has flown in December over the past several years and I was not going to let him off the hook this Christmas. The black powder Quest A6-4 provided him with a decent ride and his rocket sled descended safely to the ground under parachute, ready to be refitted for next year's journey. Duane followed with his "Snowman on a stick", which powered off the pad under a D12-3. A straight flight, but the shock cord broke and the sustainer tumbled to Earth, breaking a fin upon impact. Easily repairable.

My Polar Express lifts off (Click to enlarge).Duane sets up his "Snowman on a stick"
(Click to enlarge).
Josh launched his flying Christmas Wreath next. It proved to be less than stable with an Estes D12 - maybe the motor should have been mounted higher to move the CG farther forward?  However, its flight was straight when compared to that of Vince's E15-powered Christmas tree, which did loops around the sky before hitting the ground. That made two unstable Christmas rockets out of the three flown - not looking good for the master designers!

Josh's Christmas Wreath lifts off Duane's pad
(Click to enlarge).
Vince's Christmas Tree starts its dance in the sky
(Click to enlarge).
The last two Christmas rockets to take to the air were Josh's Christmas candle and Patrick's flying Christmas present. Josh redeemed himself with the flight of the candle, which was arrow-straight on an Estes C6 motor. Patrick's boxy rocket had us both excited and scared, as it was loaded with an H motor of the largest impulse we could fly without a waiver. Such critters are very rare at Pegasus, where G motors are uncommon, so you can imagine the anticipation around the pads as Patrick hooked up that beastie. We needn't have worried - the flying Christmas present put in a perfect flight, riding that H motor's beautiful pillar of fire up into the blue. It put a perfect coda on the December 7 flights of the Christmas rockets.

Josh's Christmas candle takes to the air
(Click to enlarge).
Patrick shows off his flying Christmas present
(Click to enlarge).
The Christmas present in flight (Click to enlarge).
This contest seemed to be enjoyed by all, and I was happy by the number and variety of the rockets. I think I will do it again next year. Maybe I will even find time to build a rocket for it - the Polar Express needs company!

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