A textbook flight that gave hope to all three of us (at the time,) for a successful launch. (Flag football game going on in the background. Talk about nostalgia.)
Second flight honors went to Mike Rohde, the only other guy to show up to help with the setup. (I left the house in time, but encountered traffic. I literally showed up for the 12:00pm launch at 12:00pm on the nose.) Mike chose his Estes Big Daddy/Excelsior Der Grosser Vati for flight #2. Also equipped with a motor, it turned in a similar performance to Lee's rocket.
That left me. I chose the Estes Leviathan that I'd again brought along to fly. This is launch #3 for the Leviathan. The first time I ran out of time/energy late in the afternoon. The second time I forgot my bug motor tub. This time I remembered the motors, had plenty of energy, and two Copperheads I'd scavenged from a rocket guy who quit the hobby in disgust after a rough NARAM a few years back. It's LEVIATHAN time!
Everything looked good for the first flight. F50-6T loaded, Copperhead seemingly nestled right up against the propellant grain. Lee was pressing the button so I could get the launch shot. Never happened. The igniter burned, melted the tape, and fell out onto the grass. I spoke some magic rocketry words, then headed out with a second Copperhead to try again. This time it didn't even fart. Several years back I burned off four of the Estes igniters trying to get my Mega Red Max off the pad, and I wasn't about to go through that again. I pulled the Leviathan and found a new victim for my first flight of the day. Leviathan time would have to wait.
I was writing a review on the FRW Rascal XL, and kinda brought it along as an afterthought. It seemed like the perfect pinch-hitter for the disgraced Leviathan.
This one had flown here previously on an E16-6 and didn't come close to overflying the field, so I figured I was safe trying the F15-6. The fact that I used the word "safe" should have been a tell. Pretty sure this flight wasn't safe by any means.
Things looked normal at ignition, but based on the events that followed, I have to think that this is where everything started to go wrong.
In case you're wondering, this is what "wrong" looks like.
And this is what "VERY WRONG" looks like. I quit shooting at this point, and the first thing I remember thinking was "That breeze isn't THAT strong!?" Up range ugly things were happening. The Rascal was in serious damage mode and the long burn F was burning long and loud, which would have been fine had the flight path not been horizontal. The long, arcing flight path took the rocket to somewhere around 250 feet, and it was heading down when the ejection charge fired. The parachute never stood a chance. It stripped out of the shroud lines and fluttered to the ground. The rocket traveled another 100 feet and eventually dropped in a heap. I was expecting bad, but it really wasn't all that terrible. Some black paint was missing, as was the launch lug. One of the fins was cracked in several places. All in all it's flyable with a little work. I posted the pic on Facebook and it wasn't until someone asked if the launch lug was missing that I realized what happened. The initial thrust had ripped off the launch lug, which propelled the rocket sideways. Could have been ugly. As it was it was just entertaining.
The taste of failure was strong in my mouth, and I immediately dug into my Tupperware Tub Of Doom for another pre-prepped rocket to replace the taste with one of success. The Estes Astron Sprite that I won in an Ebay auction got the nod. Who wants to guess the outcome here?
Yep. A whizzer off the rod on an A8-3. I did managed to get an ignition shot, but the next frame was just smoke. Would have been a great show at night. Very fireworks-like, including the explosion. Luckily one of the spectators saw it land on the access road behind the pad. I managed to get to it just before a car did.
It wasn't all about me killing rockets on Saturday. We had several kids show up to fly as well. Xan was the most prolific, flying his Shuttle Express several times on the day.
No glider, which is smart as I've yet to see one of the gliders fly like anything other than a fall leaf.
Lee's Estes Space Eagle was next on a C6-5. This was one of the rockets that Estes had on the clearance list forever, which is hard to believe because this is a seriously sharp looking rocket.
Flight was dead straight, arcing back over the flightline before ejection. Recovery was similarly perfect.
My Stickershock Orange Max was next on a pair of C6-5s. I had been on something of a Max building spree a few years back and bought a couple of the Stickershock sets, but I got tired of the plain old 18mm and 24mm flights. I had a set of 2x18 rings in my parts stash for a BT-60, so I went that way.
Got both C6-5s as can kind of be seen in the middle photo above. The flight was perfect, high and straight with ejection coming just as the rocket tipped over. The recovery walk was long, but well worth it.
This flight was something of a shock because the C11-5 obviously didn't have the power to lift what appeared to be a pretty standard load. It labored off the rod and tipped over quite early, winding up as a post-hole flight. The ejection charge fired just before impact, saving the rocket from anything other than a dirty nose cone, but it was still an eye-opener because the C11-5 is one of the suggested engines. Seems like a candidate for a C11-3, or better yet a D12-5.
Jacob flew his Estes Ascender several times on the day, this time on an F15-6.
Despite standing by, the tree service was unnecessary as the flight and recovery were perfect.
My Estes Tornado was next on an A8-3, a motor that I'd loaded in it several weeks earlier when before I realized I'd forgotten a launch lug.
Even on the A8 the flight was too quick to follow, but it worked as advertised.
The flight was high and dead straight. At ejection the two pieces took different paths, the bottom half winding up across the access road while the top came down like a suicidal seed pod, hitting hard and burying itself in the ground behind the pads. This is a heads-up flight from now on.
There were a couple of Estes Crayons flown on the day, but the owner of this one took the time to match her blouse to the color of her rocket.
Cutest flyer and a perfect flight to boot. Her only flight on the day, but she made it count.
My Shrox Skonk Wulf was only in primer, but I was tired of waiting to get it painted.
First flight would be on an Estes E9-4. It's a BT-80 bird, so I figured the field was plenty big enough to contain the flight and recovery, even with the winds.
Crazy Daisy had joined us by this time and did me the honor of chasing the Skonk Wulf off the pad. Liftoff was fine, but it shook a lot of butt to apogee. I'll add more nose weight before the next flight.
Recovery was perfect and afforded me my first look at the creek that I didn't know existed. Things had been hot and dry for a while, but the creek was still running wide enough to make crossing it a nightmare in gym shoes. Lucky for me I was on the good side.
Randy Boadway was next with a Semroc Hawk boost glider. I was particularly interested in this one because I still have one half built.
Flight was as expected with a perfect boost and separation. The glide was a bit steep and obviously in need of trim, but the boost was the area of concern for this shake-down flight.
Mike Rohde flew the seldom seen Semroc Gee Hod next. Can't swear to it, but I think I remember thinking that it was showing some flight damage at the top of the body tube.
My next flight was one I'd had ready to fly for several years, the Estes Starchaser Thunderstar, one of the series of X-Prize kits from 2004. It had made several trips to the pads at B6-4 Field, but the lack of a reliable cluster ignition system had kept me from trying it.
Big field, so I went with the obvious twin C6-5 choice. Plenty of punch off the pad, but I forgot to reset the burst function on the camera and missed the launch shot. Too bad. The twin flames were obvious even through the viewfinder.
The flight was high and straight. I wrote down 450 feet in my notes, but I think that's way off.
Another drift deep in the field on recovery, but it didn't cross the creek. The cool part was that the nose cone stuck the landing.
My next flight was my fully painted and decaled Estes Black Brant III clone with Excelsior decals. (Seen here with Mike Rohde's Baby Bertha with the Excelsior vintage Bertha paint and decal scheme. Very cool, and a nice redemption flight after the Gee Hod flight.)
The Black Brant was loaded with a C6-7 that I'd been saving just for an opportunity like this. (Note to self, buy more C6-7s next week.) Black Brants are notorious for big air, and this field seemed like the perfect chance to stretch the legs of the little one.
Yep, got the big air. Not quite out of sight, but the closest I'd come on the day. Found out about the creek, too. I didn't think I cleared it, but boy did I. No way across other than walking to the road and crossing that bridge. Then I had to figure out where it landed. Lee Berry waved me in from the other side of the creek a couple hundred feet away. Somehow he was able to guide me right to it. That's the stuff presidents are made of.
The TLP Dragonfly would be making a third trip to the field, but this would be the first time it would fly. The first trip saw me run out of gas before I had the chance to fly it. (An iced tea and a burger sounded better than one more flight.) The second time came a couple of weeks back. It was loaded with an E9-4, but when I got to the pad the the launch lug was missing. You could see the glue line where it had been attached, but the lug was gone. I found it later at home on the launch pad I used as a photo stand. This time I had my tea in the car, I wasn't hungry, and the rocket was ready to fly. So it would.
The flight itself wasn't perfect, it wobbled noticeably on the way up, but that might be a simple matter of nose weight as the clay was dried out and I may not have added enough BBs. It didn't make a huge difference in altitude or in the flight path as high and straight were the two words that came to mind while watching it.
By this time I had flown almost everything I'd brought with me, and the launch window was coming to an end. I still had one rocket left that I wanted to fly, the Estes Dark Energy kit that I had recently finished painting and decaling.
It's a little different than the kit art. I didn't care for the fin configuration, so I flipped them. Other than that it was a lot like the package art. This wouldn't be the first flight, but it would be the first flight with the correct nose cone and paint. This would be a C6-5 flight, or so I thought.
I'm not sure that these pictures are in the correct order, but they're close. Not much altitude, but it did land closest to the pad. Turns out that the engine hook had gotten caught under the clothespin that I'd used as a standoff. Not my first rodeo, but I've never ridden this pony before.
No way I was going to end the day on that "flight", so I loaded another C6-5 and tried again, this time being sure to keep the engine hook clear of the standoff. This time it left the pad, but the C6-5 seemed underpowered and the flight was definitely low.
It had tipped over and was heading down, looking like a core sample to-be, but the ejection charge fired about 50 feet from disaster. It hit hard, but suffered no damage. Not exactly the flight I wanted to end the day on, but it was in one piece. I called it a draw.