March 2011 Launch Report

With rain the day before the launch, our March 2011 event was a muddy mess. Nonetheless, a few die-hard Indiana Rocketry flyers were out to put a few birds in the air.

(jump to the photo gallery)

Tim Brant's Canadian ArrowTim Brant started the morning off with a nice boost of his Canadian Arrow on a D15. The up part was good, but the chute got stuck in the end of the airframe. Luckily, the soft ground proved to be a blessing, as the rocket returned with no damage following a bounce recovery. Tim also put up his world-famous Astro Traveler on an F39T. For those of us accustomed to seeing this bird fly on an E18W, this flight was surprising; the Lego pilot in the front seat must have hit the warp drive button a little too hard, sending the rocket screaming into the air. Recovery was successful, though we have yet to hear whether any of the legonauts will be purchasing another round-trip ticket on that motor.

Manny Ballestero with his "Dangler"Manny Ballestero's "Dangler" on a CTI I800Manny Ballestero made the trek with his father from Gurnee, IL to make a test flight of his rebuilt MWP8 Drag Racer. The blue and yellow “Dangler” (there’s a joke in there somewhere) was readied on a CTI I800 VMax motor with motor deploy and one of Gus Piepenburg’s RocketHunters on board. At ignition, the rocket bolted from the pad on a fierce shock diamond-studded flame. Tracking signal was acquired after burnout, but soon disappeared again; the rocket appears to have come in ballistic and been swallowed by the soft ground. Perhaps, in the future, we’ll see a rocket tree sprout from the Ash Grove field, with a bounty of Danglers, um, dangling from its branches.

Ray Hansen preps his Wildman Jr.Ray Hansen's Wildman Jr. on an Aerotech H170MWhile Gus and the Mannys were out searching for the last flight, Ray Hansen brought out his trusty Wildman Jr. with an Aerotech H170 Metalstorm motor. The motor ejection flight was carrying a Raven 2 for data recording, and made it to just under 2700 feet on a tail of white sparks. Ray returned an hour later after slogging to the end of the muddy field to recover his flight.

Brian and Megan Perry with Megan's GraduatorMegan Perry's DarkStar Lite on a CTI G83As the afternoon wore on, Megan Perry (daughter of member-at-large Brian Perry) showed up with two rockets to put in the air. First, she hit the pads with her modified LOC Graduator, powered by a pair of E9 motors. At liftoff, two clean spikes of orange flame indicated a successful cluster ignition, and the rocket roared into the air on a nice long burn. Ejection was a bit late, but all was recovered successfully downrange. Megan returned to the pads with her Wildman DarkStar Lite, powered by a CTI G83 Blue Streak. The rocket left the pad smartly on a blue tongue of flame, and made a nice recovery out in the field. Megan’s boots, however, did not fare so well; what started off as a pair of furry white knee-highs ended up as a muddy pile of… well, something, we still aren’t really sure.

PBR's "Blue Ribbon" on a CTI L1395BSPBR's "Blue Ribbon" recovering successfullyDuring all of this action, the Purdue USLI team “Purdue Ballistic Rocketeers” was on site, feverishly completing last-minute construction tasks and prep on their 6″ competition rocket. The PBR “Blue Ribbon” vehicle (yep) was to be powered by a CTI L1395 Blue Streak. After performing all items on their checklist (including “lock keys in team leader’s car”), the team posed for pictures with their vehicle. Loading was smooth onto one of the new Indiana Rocketry pads that we plan to debut at Thunderstruck, and after arming avionics and installing the igniter, LCO Brian Perry showed team leader David Fox how to push the button. After a range and sky check, the rocket thundered into the air atop four feet of blue fire. Boost was fantastically straight as the rocket sought one of the many holes in the clouds. The apogee event was visible and the rocket remained together under a SkyAngle drogue chute; at 1000 feet, the on-board avionics did their magic once again and deployed a SkyAngle XL chute, for a perfect flight to just under 5000 feet. We look forward to the next test flight of this bird at Thunderstruck!

All in all, it was a nice day of flying, giving us the chance to test some of our new equipment for Thunderstruck next month, and providing another opportunity for our motley crew of midwest rocketeers to gather and put flights into the air. If you weren’t there, you missed a great launch — see you next time!