February 13, 2005

Launch Report - 2/12/05

Saturday was our monthly NOVAAR club launch at Great Meadow Equestrian Center in The Plains, Virginia. The weather was mostly sunny with some high clouds and the temperature climbed to around 50. The winds were calm in the morning but built all day until towards the end they were a steady 10-15 mph with much stronger gusts at times.

(the rest is in the extended entry)

Because of the wind, I only took small rockets to fly and only put four of mine up.

1. Barenaked Lady - D12-5 - This scratchbuilt seemed like a natural for Luuka's flight. The liftoff was arrow-straight and the 18" x-form chute opened perfectly. I judged the wind just about right and only had to walk 30 yards to pick her up.

For those not familiar with Luuka, she's a stuffed bear bought by Helen of Everyday Stranger. Luuka has been sent all over the world to different folks so she could experience different things.

After taking a few pictures of Luuka and the rocket, I wanted to make a few more flights while the wind was still relatively calm. Plus, I was scheduled to take an hour shift doing Range Safety (I get to do the countdowns and press the button - whoohoo!) from noon until one, so I needed to hustle.

2. YJ-218 - C6-7 (x2) - For me, it's just not a launch without a Yellow Jacket flight, and this Estes upscale has over twenty flights on her. Both motors lit perfectly and she made a great, high flight. The chute opened right on time and once again I had a very short walk to recover.

3. Groove Tube - C6-5 - This is a clone of the old Centuri kit from the 70's. It uses tube fins, and flies like a dream. My original made 24 flights before being lost in a cotton field in Whitakers, North Carolina. This version is continuing the tradition, making perfect flights time after time. Because of the wind, I used a streamer instead of a chute for recovery for this flight. Another short walk.

4. Sparrow Upscale - C6-5 - When my kids and I got into rocketry, this was the very first Estes kit I built, and I still have the original. For sentimental reasons, I built this larger version and recreated the decals myself. I've never seen another upscale like it. This was my longest walk of the day, even on a streamer. She came down pretty fast, but luckily the field is soft grass so she landed undamaged.

I pulled my shift running the launch range and had a great time doing it. There were several great flights made, including a few by Mark, who never met a rocket he couldn't modify to take more motors. There were some families there with small kids, and we always make sure to announce their name and treat them exactly the same as every other rocket flight (except we let them push the button).

There were also quite a few TARC teams there, trying new design ideas or perfecting their techniques. The challenge for them this year is to launch and recover safely two raw eggs, and the rocket must touch the ground as close as possible to sixty seconds after first movement off the pad. There's also a small time penalty if they only use one stage, so the complexity level is high. After three years of these competitions, the experience gained by the different schools (and being passed along to subsequent teams) means that these kids are routinely designing and building reliable rockets that even experienced hobby rocketeers weren't even attempting just five years ago.

For some reason though, there was some weird juju going on with the names. One TARC team named their rocket the Scrambler, and when the top stage didn't ignite and it lawn-darted in, it lived up to it's name.

Another team's rocket was named the Crash & Burn. And it did so in spectacular fashion. After that flight I announced that I wouldn't launch any rockets unless they had names like "Uneventful Perfection" or some such.

I stuck around after my shift to help out and socialize, the wind was more than I wanted to deal with. I helped Jan fly a beautiful high-power kit modified to take a cluster of three G60 motors - awesome flight - and watched a cool little flying saucer on an H50 claw it's way up to about 300 feet, trailing thick black smoke the whole way. Mitch flew the biggest motor of the day, a J350 for a perfect flight including an altimeter deployment of the chute at 500 feet. He followed that up with a nifty flight of his rocket-powered monocopter.

At the end of the day I helped take down the equipment and get it put away in the club trailer, said my goodbyes and headed home. All in all, a very good day.

Posted by Ted at February 13, 2005 01:53 PM | TrackBack

Sorry I missed y'all yesterday,Ted.I had a few projects that I had wanted to complete before yesterday but I barely missed them.Just finished two coats of Future on my old Mean Machine.I have all new yellow decals for it.Plus,I have just finished Futuring a brand new 24mm Big Red Max.Some other stuff I'll be debuting at the next launch,too.I can do without the wind,also.This is no lie but just about every flying day we've had over the past year has been windy except for the last NOVAAR.Speaking of did you know that Mike has scheduled the next Battlepark for the 19th(EX)and the 20th(open).That is the same day as the Daytona 500 so it aint gonna happen unless I do just the early morning thing.There's always next month at the Plains.
Oh and one more thing,Ted.I don't know if you've heard but Danny Joe Brown(ex-Hatchet) has been in Miami hospital for over a week now with very bad pneumonia.They really thought he was gonna die on Monday night but he has been getting better.They had to pump fluid out of his lungs on friday and also did the dialasis thing on him.I don't think I have to tell you why that is.As of now it looks like he'll be o.k.
Well,anyways,if nothing else maybe I'll see ya next month.Later!-Russ

Posted by: Russ at February 13, 2005 03:03 PM

Hey Russ, sorry you couldn't make it. I won't be getting to Culpeper next weekend, stuff going on, so yeah, next month at Great Meadow. Also hadn't heard about Danny Joe Brown, thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: Ted at February 14, 2005 08:41 AM

The Plains? The Plains?

Last time I spent any time in that part of Virginia, I was a college student, visiting friends. Stayed at Toad Hall, right next to Forrest Mars's little spread. That was 34 years ago...

I'm just trying to imagine all of those rockets - and all of that nice open space. We used to launch ours in whatever open space we could find in our village on the South Shore of Long Island - which is to say, postage-stamp-size fields. I still have all of my old Estes Model Rocket News issues from the early 1960's...hah!

Posted by: Elisson at February 14, 2005 12:51 PM

A few of my best pictures from the launch:

Posted by: Maelstrom at February 14, 2005 07:06 PM
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