I found the field full when I arrived at 11:15. (The Sonic drive-thru was slow.) There had been a build and fly scheduled that morning that I hadn't been aware of. (I'd have scaled back my flight plans and gotten up early to help if I'd known.) The kids had spent the morning building all sorts of rockets, Semroc My Boids were most plentiful, but I saw several big ones that I couldn't place. I became one of the on-field "experts", as one Mom called me. (I typed that without laughing. I'm getting good at this.) Mostly what I did was man the CA and accelerator, shoring up wobbly fins and attaching the odd forgotten launch lug. (Okay, so in some areas I was an expert.) The best part of the morning for me was hearing a girl behind me say to her friend "I think they just call it that. There's no way they use the real stuff." I didn't have to turn around to know they were talking about dog barf. Speaking of which, I barfed up a bunch of tubes over the course of the day, and debarfed one. The kid apparently felt that a cubic yard was needed in his rocket to withstand the ejection charge of the mighty B6-4. In the end, the parents were happy, the kids were happy, and a few rocketeers were grumpy, but by 1:00, the field was ours.
I hadn't really given much thought to what I wanted to fly first, but I jokingly pulled out the BMS Clone of the Month Astron Invader to show Mike Rohde, and thought "Why not?"
Well, I was soon reminded of why not. I remember experimenting with my first Invader clone back in 2002, and what I remember most was that the flights were generally over with almost before the smoke cleared and not very good photo subjects. Flying on an A8-3, this one was almost over with before the smoke cleared and the photos didn't turn out that well. Heavy sigh. To top it all off, the ejection charge sounded like a truck backfire and blew the nose cone into the next dimension. At least my other Invader flights did some gliding. This one could only muster a flutter. That said, I would love to see the Clone of the Month revived. Very cool idea.
Flight #2 would be another on the mighty A8-3. Lately I've gotten bored with the never changing product in the Hobby Lobby aisles. It's still my go-to for paint and balsa, but it's been a while since anything on the pegs tempted me into a purchase. That doesn't mean my build fever has subsided, so I've taken to coming up with kits to clone that have no clear plan other than a tiny catalog shot, then plotting and planning a parts order for eRockets. MRI was an early contributor, but most of them flew at the cornfield launch we had back in April. My new obsession was Bo-Mar, a short lived New York company from the 1969-70 time frame. All I had to go on was a catalog at Ninfinger. http://www.ninfinger.org/rockets/catalogs/bomar69/69bomarf.html
Very little to go on in the catalog, but that back cover photo gave me enough information that I felt I could fake a couple of the kits. I did the Spartan last month, guessed wrong on the fins, then guessed again and re-did it closer to scale. When that was done, I decided that the Alpha-B looked doable, so while I was painting the Spartan last week, I was building the Alpha-B at the same time. The on pad glamour shot was a fail, so this will have to do.
Semroc ST-7 and the nose cone came from eRockets. Build was fairly quick and came out looking as hoped. First flight would be an A8-3.
Boost was dead straight. The light breeze took over and the Alpha-B wound up flying behind us and to the left to about 300'. Ejection occurred just as it tipped and it returned to the field via a hot pink streamer.
Next step, primer! The worst part of building unknown rockets from black and white catalog shots is figuring out a paint scheme. Wish I could say I'm getting good at it.
My third flight would be the highlight of the day for me. I've been on something of a glider tear of late, striking fear into the hearts of gliders everywhere. Gliders and I have a history, and a lot of it is written in shattered balsa and disfigured nose cones. Several weeks back I was guided to the plan for the AMROCS Wombat after an inquiry on YORF. I cut one out and put it together, but it was only Thursday, with the weekend launch staring me in the face, that I got brave enough to attempt to work with the metal tape. It turned out looking a lot better than I expected.
This would be another 1/2A6-2 flight, as would all my gliders on the day. I just wanted an idea of how they'll perform, and didn't figure the rest of the flightline needed to be digging foxholes in the event that one of these was a headseeker. That and I'd seen my share of gliders sailing off into the sun at my B6-4 Field launches. Turns out the 1/2A6-2 would be a perfect choice for the Wombat.
As much as I'd like to say I got a launch sequence with the Wombat, this was as close as I'd get. The boost was perfectly stable, with a slight windcock to the left. It got surprisingly high and ejection happened just as forward motion stopped. At ejection the glider fluttered slightly, flipped over, and began tracking toward the cornfield. It fluttered again, flipped over, and turned back toward the field, then began a gently looping left-hand circle back toward the soccer goals. The glide was occasionally interrupted by a slight hitch when it passed over the access road, which I attributed to it catching a slight thermal. Just before the flight ended it crossed the road, the nose came up, and the glider dropped gently to the grass of the empty soccer field. No matter what the rest of the day had in store for me, this made my day. The Wombat is truly idiot proof.
At this point the gremlins arrived. We started having problems with the launch equipment, very much like I've been experiencing at B6-4 Field since the new "starters" began showing up in motor packs. As a result, my Centuri Sky Devil clone sat on the pad through a couple of launch cycles. I wasn't the only one afflicted. The whole flightline had the yips.
After two or three cycles and an igniter change, it finally flew. The flight was an A8-3, but like the Alpha-B earlier it was plenty of motor for the field.
Another flight where I got the ignition, then a smoke trail. The new camera takes great photos and is perfect for barns, bridges and buildings, but I'm beginning to think it might be a good idea to invest in another small camera for rocket purposes. The new Canon is pretty slow and bulky. That said, the Sky Devil left the pad and rode the breeze slightly left, ejecting around 250' and recovering in the field just to the right side of the above photo.
From here on it was glider flights, although I would try to sneak in a 3fnc bird that the gremlins would thwart. Flight #5 was the Space Age Industries Mini-Bat. Several weeks back the Mini-Bat was one of a group of rockets that I tossed from the upper deck into the back yard. The Mini-Bat wasn't one of the better gliders, but it did glide. Since then I'd painted it for visibility.
Looks great. Less gliding. The paint may have been a little heavy.
This was another 1/2A6-2 flight, but likely could have been an A8-3. As you can see, I got another liftoff pic. The Mini-Bat didn't seem to have an issue with the light 2mph breeze, unlike every other flight on the day. The heavier bat topped out at the 100' mark, ejected the mighty 1/2A6, and began a fluttering descent. Once again, paint seems to have been a bad idea.
Although it wasn't planned that way, my latest incarnation of the NAR plans Jet Freak would be my last flight on the day. I'd run out of time and my leg had had enough.
Once again, a 1/2A6-2 flight that boosted to around the 100' level. Things looked promising at that point, but the glider was tipped down when the ejection charge fired. Way too much of a charge and it sent the Freak straight into the ground with no chance for a glide. I expected to pick up balsa dust, but aside from some minor scorching, the Freak was unharmed and will fly again. Might be time for an A8-3 again.