January 2011 Launch Report

Tripoli Indiana returned to the Ash Grove field for another great day of winter flying on Sunday, January 16th.

Ray Hansen started us off in the morning with a test flight of his repaired Wildman Jr. on an H242T. The Blue Thunder motor picked the rocket up with authority and sent it on a nice flight, with a Raven 2 controlling dual deploy. The flight was 100% successful, and Ray would return shortly with more power. (We like this.)

Tom McFee was our number-of-flights king for the launch, boosting six rockets over the course of the day: his pair of Berthas (Big and Baby), both on C6 power, his Fire Fly (twice) on C6s, and his well-painted Mean Machine, which made a graceful flight on a long burning E9. All of Tom’s flights returned successfully to earth – that’s a good day of flying!

David Reese christened the away pad with his Dark Energy on a Gorilla K980. The split-fin design whistled nicely after burnout, and the big smoke grain made tracking to apogee a snap; drogue and main deployment were on time, and the rocket touched down softly one field to the east.

While David was out recovering, Richard Cash attempted to taunt the rocket gods again with another disappearing act: his Blackhawk 29 on an F50 Blue Thunder motor. Unfortunately, the flight was not to be, as the motor energetically disassembled itself on the rail; the rocket, however, survived unscathed, and for once Richard returned home with the rocket he came to the launch with!

Tim Brant made the trip from Indianapolis to put two flights in the air; his Canadian Arrow had a nice, arcing flight on an Estes D12, and his awesome Astro Traveler rocket returned triumphantly on an E18. For this flight, Tim added a pair of A10 outboard motors, igniting everything on the pad with a clip whip; at ignition, the As provided smoke and the E provided fire and power to get the model off the rod. Though it took off dragging the clip whip, recovery was nominal, and no parts were lost. Great flight, Tim!

Lon Westfall made the drive from Champaign, IL to fly his Tall Boy rocket. This monster clocked in at 9 feet long and 1.6″ diameter. Lon had loaded it up with a cornucopia of motors: a D12 and two C6 in the first stage, a D12 in the second stage, and an E9 in the top. It looked absurd sitting on the rail! At ignition, the model accelerated smoothly into the air, staging twice cleanly, and ejecting at apogee. Though the recovery was slightly fouled, the model sustained no damage, and that’s a good thing; we’d love to see this one come back.

John Combs made his first trip to the pads for the afternoon with his Rocket R&D kit called “3.00 Wocket”, with an AT H148R for power. The 4″ diameter rocket made a quick trip to about 3000′, with a safe recovery. John also flew his Starburst later in the afternoon on a pair of D12-5s, with a camera on board to record the flight. Disaster nearly struck, as the 5 second delay proved to be far too long, however the parachute managed to fully deploy just tens of feet from terra firma, saving the rocket and the camera, and providing for some dramatic video!

Ray Hansen returned to the pads with his Wildman Jr, this time loaded for bear with a J381SK. The rocket crackled quickly into the sky on an arrow-straight flight, with the onboard Raven recording a maximum velocity just 1 ft/sec shy of Mach 1. Recovery was again nominal, and Ray returned triumphantly to the flight line with his rocket asking for more!

Vic Barlow closed out the day with a tremendous flight of his highly-optimized Mongoose 54 “Most Rikki-Tik” on a KBA L2300G, launching from the bucket tower at the away cell. The bird was projected to hit 18,000 feet at just over Mach 2, so a call-in waiver was issued for the flight. The rocket cranked out of the tower on a breathtaking green flame and disappeared against the cloud deck. A tracking signal confirmed the drogue recovery event, and the rocket was eventually recovered with a peak altitude reading of over 19,000 feet and a final maximum velocity just shy of Mach 2. Though it didn’t quite bust the M=2 barrier, Vic was still understandably elated with the flight!

At this point, our waiver had expired, with poor timing for Lon Westfall who was midway through prep on one of his birds. Ah well, it’ll just have to wait until next month. Until February, keep the pointy end up!