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March 05 launch report

March 14, 2005

Saturday was a great day for a rocket launch. It certainly didn't look like it at the beginning of the day though. Winds were higher than we like and it was pretty cold outside.

In-spite of that there was already several cars on site, along with the trailer at 0900 when I arrived. All on site were talking about the wind and the cold until about 0915, setup began! More cars had arrived and the scouts were there, so setup was very quick and uneventful.

At 1003 the first fliers meeting (Mark Howe the VP did a GREAT job) of the season was underway, and I think it was the most attended fliers meeting we have ever had at the beginning of a launch. There were lots of familiar faces, and lots of new ones too. There was quite a crowd. It set the tone for the rest of the launch.

Following the fliers meeting, Ray called in the waiver and launches began. Models were the first up, as usual, and it was a good indicator of the wind conditions we were to see for the next couple of hours. It was amazing the number of people on site, the words "Range is open" drew a hoard of rocketeers to open pads.

I was inundated with curious Rocketeers that had tons of questions for me, as a result I didn't get to fly too much. It was very cool that there were so many interested in what was happening and the rockets.

I flew "Charm" on a smaller motor than I had intended due to wind, but by the time I got to the pad to load it, the winds were almost calm. I coulda put a bigger motor in it. The winds stayed that way and the high power along with the mid and model pads got good use as a result.

Flights were brisk and continuous through out the day, lots of model flights, a good number of mid power and the high power racks seemed to be full all day. I think that Puget Sound Propulsion being on-site contributed significantly to the number of high power flights. It was VERY nice to have a vendor on site again. Let's hope they return with a fresh stock of motors! Last I heard they hit their target dollar figure to break even for the launch.

Flights continued until around 4:15 and I think there could have been more, but all at the site were worn out. So tear down began.

Again, there was a good number of people that helped, so tear down went quickly. On behalf of the club I want to thank every one that helped out on the setup, tear down, LCO duty, RSO duty, getting waivers signed, and a very big thank you to Puget Sound Propulsion.

Some limited stats for the day. Marty will post more complete stats in the near future.

Total of 105 flights
16 High power flights
Neil Anderson topped the charts with 6 high power flights.
Most of the high power flights were "I" motors.
One level 1 certification on an H242 (congratulations to Lou Bragg)
One level 2 certification on a J350 (congratulations to Neil Anderson)

Don't forget the club meeting on the 26th at 10:30 am at Hobby Town, there will be a presentation on how to file for a waiver on the agenda.

Now here are some comments made by Mark Howe and Bob Yanecek, I'll just copy them in...I was just to distracted by all the questions to get more than a fuzzy memory of the launch.

Mark said;

The first SPARC rocket launch of the 2005 season took place today. Hereis a brief recap from my perspective...

I arrived at the site about 10AM (had a rough night, but I'll leave it at that). I was pleasantly surprised to see at least dozen cars already on the flight line, and everything set up and ready to go. We held the fliers meeting, and noticed lots (and I mean LOTS) of new faces mixed in with the regular crowd. Conditions were partly cloudy, temp hovering around 50 degrees, but it was a little windy. The motor vendor from the Seattle area was on-site...how nice it was to finally have an on-site vendor again! I hope they made enough dough to make it worth their while, and hope to see them at future launches. A troop of Boy Scouts was on-site with a ton of models. I heard they gave a lot of assistance in setting up the GSE for the day. Many hands make light work! Ray called in the waiver, and I think the first bird took to the air around 10:30. I performed a majority of the LCO duties (and some RSO duties) for the day. We did have a couple of first-time LCO's: Bob Yanecek, Jim Kurlich, and Jeff Halstead. It's nice to see more people getting involved in the operational aspects of launch day, and their performance was very noteworthy.

Personally, I have both good news and bad news to report. The bad news is that I only launched 5 out of the 15 rockets I had prepped for the event. The good news is that means I have 10 rockets all ready to go for the April launch! I had two "first-timer" flights, both were less than optimal. My Estes "Outlander" (with shock absorbing landing gear) was pretty pathetic on a C6-3, and hit the ground nose first before popping the chute. Unfortunately, the shock absorbing landing gear only works if the thing comes down "feet first"! Amazingly, there was no damage. As I was building the kit I really thought it should have a 24mm mount instead of a 18mm one. Next month I'll launch it on an AT 18mm RMS D13-4 motor, and I expect the results will be much better.
Next up was my new Quest "M2Q2 Lifting Body" on a B6-4. There was a
loud "bang" during the ejection charge, and the rocket spit the engine and came in nose first. Post flight examination showed that I had packed the recovery system too tightly, as the parachute (still rolled up) was only sticking half-way out of the body tube. When the engine spit it took the engine hook along with it, so some repairs are in order. At this point I was a little dejected....two flights with two "failures"...nowhere to go but "up" from there!

The wind died down a bit, so I yanked out my Edmonds "Gemini Thunder" (2gliders) which went up on a D12-3. Finally I hit it right! Great
flight and simple recovery...although I did have to walk out to the same area twice because I didn't realize both gliders landed in the same approximate area...(I was only tracking one of them). Next I popped off an Estes Turbo-Copter on a 1/2A. The nose tumbled more than helicoptered back to the ground, so some tweaking of this rocket is in order. Saving the biggest for last, I put my LOC Expediter up on a AT 38mm RMS I154-J. Sims showed that the apogee would occur about 8 seconds after burnout. Unfortunately, this put ejection right in the middle between a "short" and a "medium" delay. I opted to use the medium, and held my breath (along with most of the crowd) as the parachute ejected well after apogee. No zipper, no damage...good thing I use loooooong shock cords!

I believe I used the smallest engine of the day (with the 1/2A), and
also one of the larger motors (with the I-154). I think there were only 2 or 3 "J" powered flights, but won't know for sure until the flightcards are reviewed and the data posted.

We had at least one L1 and one L2 certification flights, (both
successful), but I may have missed one or two. Congratulations on your accomplishment...get ready to spend some big bucks on those BIG
motors!!! I also think we had at least a dozen (probably more) high
power flights.

The model pads were kept busy throughout most of the day by the scout
troop, and a few other families. I can't recall the name, but towards the end of the day somebody had at least 5 rockets on the model pads, all for one round...how he kept track of where everything went I'll never know. Very few mid-power flights were attempted, but there were a couple F & G flights.

The majority of the flights were successful, but there were a few separations, faulty chute deployments, and ballistic entries as well.

Tear down started about 4:15...thanks to everyone who helped to pitch in with both set-up and tear down. As I noted earlier, many hands make for an easier work load.

It was great to see all of the new faces, the "regulars" (Harold K,
Keith S, John H, etc...), and even a few people who were "missed" last year (the Jopson's).

Bob said:

I'm home now and the trailer is unhooked.
Slowly the blur of the day is developing into memories.

What a rush March, great field conditions, clear blue skies, unlimited visibility... it was like a dream.

I arrived a little before 9 to a lone truck in a howling breeze. 1 white hairy face shrugged and wondered if "we could launch in this?"

Then cars began showing up and the blur began

There were scouts with rakes smoothing out the areas around LCO table
and pads.

People everywhere saying; "What can I do?"

By 10:03 everything was set up and the first fliers meeting of the season was underway.

Launching began immediately with models getting a hang of winds aloft
and drift issues.

The words "Range is open" drew a hoard of rocketeers to open pads.

We had an on-site vendor for the first time in way too long.
Puget Sound Propulsion. They didn't just sell, they flew too. A poorly painted (OK not painted) Saturn that flew beautifully. 3 D's to 1 E fatboythingy that was spectacular, would have been awesome
if all 3 E's had lit. They were smiling as they left and threatening to return next month.

By late morning the wind gave a wonderful pause that lasted for hours.

This has to be a dream.

We were finding more rockets that were being launched. Marty's long time gone 38mm min diameter fin can that came in South was really Southwest. Found a 54mm plastic N/C west/southwest with just a tad of color on the tip. Both had been 'tractored' . Found that my 18mm fin can which had been hanging in a tree for 2 years was down. Still waiting for the N/C - parachute. Found a nicely finished Alpha that looked fresh. I'm guessing a scout didn't search hard enough.

There was TONS OF SUN.

Several calls for "last rack" were met with booooos and nonotyet

So, launching continued while the crowds slowly diminished.

The sun was just above the horizon as the last of the trailer got loaded and 5 vehicles made up the 'last train out'.

Special kudos to the Jopsons. Pretty sure they had the longest recovery which was in the middle of a bunch-o-cows way southwest.....aka downwind. Recovery was initiated with a knock on the door for permission to recover their rocket which was cheerfully granted. Nice public relations for the club.

Ray Stoner
SPARC President

Posted by ray at March 14, 2005 7:45 PM


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