The verdict? The outfield started to get soggy midway out, and the warning track area was bad from right field to left center, but everything else was very good. Definitely flyable. I headed home to pack up some first flight birds.
There was a fairly steady breeze blowing from behind home plate, so I chose the pitcher's mound as my launch area. First off the pad as the wind-test dummy would be the MPC/Round 2 Red Giant, an almost RTF bird that I picked up at clearance price around Christmas. The launch lugs had just been glued on this morning, which tells a lot about how much faith I had in the field being flight worthy.
Loaded with a B6-4, the Red Giant did a credible job in the leadoff slot with an almost dead straight flight despite the breeze. I'd chosen a reefed 12" chute for the flight, which turned out to be a good idea based on the amount of drift the Red Giant had. Landing occurred in deep left-center, my first experience with the muck on the day. Infinitely survivable. I really hadn't given these MPC/Round 2 kits much thought when they came out. I flew the GTS 1 last year in the opener after finding a bargain kit on Ebay, so history repeated itself to some extent. If you can get them cheap, they aren't bad kits if you need a quick build. I've seen them as high as $24, which is a joke. Hold out for $6.
If nothing else, the wind flight told me to keep the power down for the day, so my second flight would be the Estes Comet Chaser. This rocket has things I love as well as things I hate. I love the overall design, the simple paint and decals and the performance. I HATE the exposed engine hook. It did turn out very nice with very little fuss, and overall I'd have to say the good outweighs the bad by a significant margin. This one is/was one of the stalwarts of the recent spate of Estes holiday close-outs. The most recent one was St. Patrick's Day, so you might want to check http://www.estesrockets.com/ around Easter for the next one.
The Comet Chaser flew on an A8-3 with a streamer, which helped a lot with the recovery drift, but didn't slow things down much. The flight itself was as straight as the Red Giant had been, but quite a bit quicker. I got an ignition pic, but nothing else, as the rest of the flight was over before my camera recycled the images.
Recovery happened in short right center, and didn't appear to be terribly harsh contact with Mother Earth, but when I picked the rocket up I found a fin hanging on by a thread. It was a very clean break and the Comet Chaser will fly again.
Flight #3 was the last of my MPC/Round 2 kits, the Lunar Shuttle.
The Lunar Shuttle is also sold by MPC/Round 2 as the Duck Dodgers Cadet Cruiser, a design lambasted by Chris Michielssen on his Model Rocket Building blog. http://modelrocketbuilding.blogspot.com/ His Cadet Cruiser had stability issues that eventually wound up putting an end to its flying days. I must live lucky. My Lunar Shuttle flew perfectly, albeit only on an A8-3. It really should have been a B6-4, and will be in the future.
Oddly enough, my Lunar Shuttle started off at a disadvantage. When I was packing up to leave I found one of the launch lugs at the bottom of the box that I transported the rockets to the field in. If you look closely at the liftoff picture above, you can see the rocket torquing left due to the missing lug. I must REALLY live lucky. The flight was much the same as the Red Giant, a straight up flight followed by a recovery in left-center field. The recovery pictures even look similar.
Next on the pad for flight #4 was the Estes Hornet, a former Hobby Lobby clearance bird that gathered dust in my cabinet for a few years before I unearthed it over the winter.
I cloned a 24mm Centuri Magnum Hornet back in the VOA days, but circumstances conspired to make that a one flight wonder. The 18mm Estes version is much more B6-4 Field friendly. First flight was on said B6-4, and the flight was as smell-field impressive as I thought.
I'd taken my big camera along for the launch, not exactly a mistake, but it was set up for the large field launch that I attended back in February when I never got it out of the car. The mild telephoto is great for in-air shots, but it's a bit slow in burst mode to catch the action. As a result, I have a lot of pics of my birds farting on the pad and very few actually leaving it. This was as close as I'd get to a liftoff shot.
The flight was as hoped, fairly high considering the ring of death that surrounds the field, and a perfect ejection just as it tipped. Ejection happened just over my head, so I had no excuse to not burst away. I got a pretty cool shot of the moment after the event with the wadding still dispersing and the chute filling. The giant spill hole kept the Hornet out of the trees, and recovery was in the soup and poop in deep right. Darn geese.