June 13, 2004

Launch Report - 6/12/04

I keep my logbook here online since I've started Rocket Jones. If you'd like to read about my day spent launching rockets, it's in the extended entry. If not, that's ok too.

But first, a note about customer service and my recent encounters with two guys who get it more than right.

Last weekend I ordered a couple of rocket kits from a new local hobby dealer - Vertical Force Rocketry. Not only was he offering a club discount, but he met me at a local shopping center to deliver the kits to save me shipping costs. He also threw in a couple of sets of decals that he made so I could give them a try. We met yesterday at the launch, and then this morning Rich emailed this awesome liftoff photo (280k) of my flying saucer taking off. Great photography Rich, great customer service, and everyone should go check out his place and buy rockets for yourself and all your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandkids, etc.

The other good guy is Doug Pratt, who's the very definition of "customer service". Seriously. He made a special trip out to the launch just to deliver a package to me, and stayed all of about 10 minutes before having to head out again. Quite out of his way too. Thanks Doug! Remember, Pratt Hobbies is where you can get those nifty "As a matter of fact, I AM a Rocket Scientist" t-shirts, and he's added hoody sweatshirts too ("Freedom to dream. Freedom to fly"). Mookie says they're cool, and we all know what a fashion lizard she is.

Ok, launch report. Click the link below for the extended entry.

Where: Great Meadow Equestrian Center, The Plains, Virginia
When: 9am - 5pm
Weather: mid-70's, high scattered clouds, light breeze

I wasn't going to go to today's NOVAAR club launch, because Mookie had graduation parties (yes, multiple) to attend today. She's not a senior, but several of her friends are, so her social calendar is full until the end of the school year. I figured I'd just play chauffeur (sonuvabitch if I didn't spell that right the first try!) all day, toting her here and there since graduation parties only happen once, but there are rocket launches every month.

Except that I was informed that I *had* to go, and that Pratt Hobbies might be there with a package for me. And when I got said package, I was *not* to open it. It's my Father's Day present, and I don't officially get it until next week.

So despite last night's rain and party plans, I packed up a few rockets and headed out to the club launch. It's turned out to be a glorious spring day, and I've got the sunburn to prove it. Because of the light winds, rockets were returning on their chutes almost back to the launch pads no matter how high they flew, and as the day went on folks got braver, the rockets got larger and the altitudes achieved increased dramatically.

I only brought model rockets to fly, and flew everything I brought.

1. Barenaked Lady -- D12-5 -- I started the day with a fine flight from this scratchbuilt. Not too high, and our homemade x-form parachute deployed perfectly and looked great coming down. She landed gently about 30 feet from where I was standing.

2. Snitch -- D12-0 / C6-0 -- This plastic flying saucer from Estes is big fun (you saw the picture above, right?). For added amusement, I CHAD-stage this little beastie. CHAD stands for "CHeap And Dirty", and what it means is I jam a second motor onto the bottom of the first motor and just let it hang there. At ignition the first motor lights, and then it lights the main motor before falling away. Like I said - big fun. On this flight though, the upper motor didn't light. Not a problem for the Snitch, it lands upside down without a parachute anyways (tumble recovery), so there was no damage. The motor just didn't light, but the entire nozzle area was charred and it should've. Weird.

3. YJ-218 -- C6-5 (x2) -- Another scratchbuilt, this time an upscale of the Estes Yellow Jacket. She flies on twin "C" motors, and the flight and recovery were perfect. In fact, this would have been my longest walk of the day for recovery (less than 100 yards), except that she landed within 50 feet of my truck, and a friend picked it up and put it in the bed of my truck for me.

4. Fat Boy -- C6-5 -- Hey lookie, it's our rocket! Flew perfectly too.

5. Saturn 3 -- A3-4T (x4) -- The concept behind this originial rocket was to be an affordable cluster by using four mini-motors. All four motors lit, another great flight, and I'm on a roll!

6. Falcon -- B6-4 -- This is a basic rocket kit from Quest, and flies nicely, if not very high.

7. Honest John -- B6-4 -- This is a semi-scale model of the US tactical nuclear missile of the 60's. Mine is painted in the test round colors rather than olive drab, because I'm shallow and easily distracted by bright pretty colors. Perfect liftoff, straight boost, and nice recovery.

8. Snitch -- D12-0 / C6-0 -- I wanted to get it right this time, and I did. Perfect flight all around, including the staging. Very nice.

9. Dynamic Carrier -- B6-4 -- This is a kit from Custom Rockets, and it's interesting and unusual. I've got it painted up to look like some kind of alien spaceship, and it flies great. Nice flight.

So I flew everything I brought. I also spent some time helping other rocketeers make their flights, talked to friends, and just generally enjoyed being out on the beautiful day.

9 flights (13 motors burned)
2 staged
2 clustered
power range: B - 3, C - 2, D - 3, E - 1

Posted by Ted at June 13, 2004 08:21 AM
Category: Rocketry

Thanks for the kind words, it was indeed a great day for launching rockets! :)

Posted by: Rich at June 13, 2004 12:46 PM
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