Saturday, April 25, 2015

An hour to kill

I woke up early this afternoon, and with sunny skies and light breezes over B6-4 Field I saw no reason to waste the hour or so before school let out.  I still had a box full of rockets from my last launch that got cut short and a couple of new Ebay rescues that arrived since then, so packing up wasn't a problem.  Field conditions were as perfect as I could have asked for.  April must be my month.

My wind test rocket for the day was an Estes Challenger 1 that I picked up via Ebay many moons ago.  It came as part of the original starter set, which was complete, but the rocket had been treated cruelly over the years.  The body tube was brown and looked to have been twisted at some point.  The good news was that it had been glued together with model glue, so everything just pulled apart, allowing me to replace the tube and update the recovery system.  I've been bringing the finished product along with me to the field for quite a while now, but today was the day for flight #2, just slightly more than ten years since the last flight.  

Yeah, that's just sad.  Ten years off meant nothing to this bird.  The A8-3 flight topped was dead straight in the light breeze, topping out around the 200' mark.  

Recovery, however, still needs to be worked on.  The shock cord tangled on the fins, but the chute brought the whole assembly down safely.  It just wasn't pretty.

Second flight was the Quest Courier on a B6-4.  This one had been around the shop for quite a while after painting because I hadn't seen the decals in years.  I found them last week and even though I hate sticker decals with a passion, I've got to admit they look great.

I've flown the Courier here before, and it's definitely a B6-4 bird.  Flight was high and straight, ejecting just as it tipped over, then heading for the trees.  It wound up short of them, but they'd get their fill later.

Interesting bird.  It's the second of three Ebay refugees that I flew on the day, and one of the two that is unidentifiable.  With no idea what to call it, I went to my list of potential rocket names and picked Fury.  So this is the Ebay Fury.  At least for now.  This one is probably a tweener here, capable of flying on an A8-3 or B6-4 without overflying the field, but I decided to go with the A8-3 on the first flight.

The flight left the pad heading south, which was back over my head.  After getting the launch shot I turned around to try to get a recovery shot, only to see the rocket bounce in the grass about 20' away from me.  No chute.  No shock cord.  They were all tangled around the fin can, and tangled like I'd never seen before.  The flight itself topped out around 200', but since it was pretty much over by the time I turned around, I'm not sure I can say much about it.  Probably a B6-4 for the next flight.  Maybe I'll see some of it that way.

Next off was the LOC/Precision Iris Mini, an obvious A8-3 flight.  Still waiting for paint, but I like how it's turned out so far.  These were part of a somewhat halfhearted attempt by LOC/Precision to find footing in the low power segment of the hobby.  The rockets were very basic, but also very sturdy.

The A8-3 flight was perfect for the field and for conditions.  It windcocked slightly back over my head, then recovered behind pitcher's mound on the infield.  I had the parachute wrapped and ready to pack before I realized that the nose cone was missing.  I found it out in center field about 20' from where the pad was set up.  The rocket had a payload section and the cone fit tightly thanks to a wrap of masking tape, but that was obviously not enough.  It will be glued permanently in place before it gets painted.  

I flew the Quest Apollo the last time I was out, but made the mistake of flying it on an A8-3 for a woefully underpowered flight.  I decided to try it again on a B6-4, which turned out to be a much better motor for it.

This was likely the best flight of the day, high and straight with a perfect recovery just short of the treeline.  It's also one of my favorite angles for a launch shot.  

I picked up the Estes AIM-120 AMRAAM at NARAM 43 as a gift for my son Sam.  He worked on it long enough to get the motor mount in and the lower fins in place, then decided that he had no other interest in rocketry other than eating chili or burritos after the launch.  Along the way one of the upper fins was misplaced and it was fourteen years later when I finally got around to finishing the project.

This would be its first flight, on a B6-4 much like the Quest Apollo.  At least that's what I was hoping for.  The reality of the situation was slightly different.  The flight paths were almost mirror images of each other, decent altitude and a gentle windcocking back toward the school behind me.  Unlike the Apollo, the AMRAAM drifted a little closer to the trees.  I was concentrating on getting the recovery pics, so through the viewfinder it all looked normal to me.  When I was done shooting I lowered the camera, expecting to see the AMRAAM on the ground in short left field.

Uh, that's not short left.  Houston, we have a problem.  
I returned to the field twice over the course of the day with my fishing line rescue rig, but both times I found cars parked just under the tree where I'd be throwing.  I've got a lot of confidence in my arm.  Others don't share in my confidence.  The last trip was just before dark, and when I woke up today it was raining.  Things don't look good for the AMRAAM. 

Next up was the Ebay Cutlass.  As with the Fury, all this one needed when it arrived was a new shock cord and a name.  I dragged out my elastic and my list and took care of both in short order.  The Cutlass is a minimum diameter bird with little more than an engine block, fins and a nose cone.  The matte black and neon orange paint scheme reminded me of a lot of my own scratch builds, missing only a swath of white.  Oddly enough, it has two lead weights attached under the nose cone, which seems like overkill on a long rocket with fins as large as this one.  This was the only shot I got of the flight as the camera became tempermental at liftoff.  It was an A8-3 flight, straight up to 200', then a rapid return via streamer for a near core sample.  With the heavily leaded nose this one might fly with a chute from now on.

Final flight of the day was the obligatory Semroc flight, the Cherokee C on an A8-3.  I thought this was a first timer, but when I went to enter the flight at I found that I'd previously flown it here in bare balsa back in 2013.  This time it was painted.  Maybe next time it will be in full livery.

The flight was exactly the same as the LOC Precision Iris Mini.  Those small birds on an A8-3 were made for fields like this one.  Fairly high flight for conditions, but recovered nicely on the infield, well away from any danger.  After recovering the Cherokee C I decided to make my break for it as the after school crowds were gathering and my parking spot was much sought after.  Next weekend is the TORC regional in Dayton, Ohio.  This will hopefully be my first trip to the new field on Rip Rap Road.  It's G capable, so I'll have quite the lineup of birds that I can't fly at B6-4 Field including the Mega Red Max and Leviathan.  Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.


  1. Nice pics! Sorry about the AMRAAM though - they are hard to come by these days.

  2. Today I'm planning on hitting Wally World to see if I can find some stouter fishing line or possibly even thin wire. I think I can get it down if I hook the branch just above it and strip the leaves away. I've still got the arm, but I'll need a clear parking area.