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Mark Howe April Launch report

April 14, 2008

SPARC held its' first launch of the 2008 flying season on Sunday, 04/13. I arrived about 9:15...a little late due to the "fried chicken" not being ready at the local Albertsons's market when I got there, which caused a 15min delay in my travels. There were already half-a-dozen cars at the field and the club trailer when I arrived. After greeting old friends who had not been seen during the looong coooold winter months, we got the range set up and activated the waiver around 10AM.
I brought 14 rockets to fly, but only managed to get 10 up in the air. Most of the flights were first time flights of kits I built over the winter. Here's a quick recap: * Estes "Der Red Max". First time flight. Motor = C6-7. I would definitely consider downsizing the parachute from 18" to a 14" or even 12" chute. * Estes "Guardian". First time flight. Motor = B6-4. Nothing spectacular to report...just a good standard flight profile. * Estes "Pop Fly". First time flight. Motor = B4-2. This unique rocket looks like a miniature baseball bat, with a ball attached to the top. The bat portion recovers using a chute, and the ball tumbles down. You're supposed to try and catch the ball...hence the name. I decided that attempting to catch the ball was not really conducive in a multi-pad range set-up...too many obstacles and wires in the way. I'm thinking of purchasing a full size wiffle-ball bat and "upscale" this kit for 24mm power. * Estes "Screaming Eagle". First time flight. Motor = C6-5. A replica of an F15 fighter jet which recovers on a chute. It turned in a nice flight. * Edmonds "Stage-2 Thunder". 2nd Flight. Motors = D12-0 & D12-3. I really enjoy gliders and helicopter recovery rockets. Edmonds makes the best gliders in my opinion, and I have practically all of his models in my fleet. The Stage-2 Thunder uses 12" gap-staging...very unique! The top stage didn't eject the motor fully which messed up the weight/trim a bit. It still flew great and I had the added bonus of a shorter recovery jaunt than if the motor has ejected properly. I still had to walk about 150 yards to recover the top stage, which took off due west in a straight line. Thanks to Terry for recovering the bottom stage glider for me. * Scratch built "Marvin (the Grateful Dead) Martian". First time flight. Motor = D12-3. My homage to "Marvin the Martian" of Looney Tunes fame. I painted the rocket to look like Marvins' uniform, and added a number of decals picturing him (along with some Grateful Dead decals...they produced an album called "From the Mars Hotel" so I thought it would be appropriate). It turned in a good flight, but the 2.6" diameter and long length airframe really needs a bit more power ("E" or "F"). * Estes "Rock-It". First time flight. Motor = D12-3. The "Flintstones" rocket. Looks like it's made from stone with a "chiseled" nose cone and painted with stone textured paint. Two of these models were at the range today, and both exhibited a fair amount of spin on the upward trajectory. * Estes "Rubicon". First time flight. Motor = D12-3. Based on one of the "X-Prize" contestants, it's a multi-tube / multi-colored contraption that was a pain to paint. The chute fouled on deployment, and the resulting landing was a bit harsh...I need to re-attach 4 of the six fins a one fake engine nozzle. * Estes "36 D-Squared". First time flight. Motors = D12-5 (Qty=2). A 2-engine cluster, I stretched my version another 8" to make it 44". It turned in a great flight. * Rogue AeroSpace "Space Needle" 5th flight. Motor = 24mm RMS E18-7W. Should have called it quits before this one...the faulty copperhead igniter during its' first launch attempt should have been an omen to me of things to come! This rocket is skinnier than a mean machine, and 50% taller (9-feet). The wind picked up and rocket was leaning...but I pressed the launch button anyway. Instead of weathercocking into the wind it went horizontal, managed to do a flip (really not sure how that happened) and crashed to the earth. One broken fin and a couple of spiral separations on two of the body tubes...a major rebuild will be required. I assumed LCO duties for most of the day...it's something I really enjoy and was still able to get a fair number of birds into the air. Unfortunately, I was LCO when Jeff Halstead's shakedown flight went roaring into the air. I can't believe I made such a rookie mistake and had the wrong pad group selected. My apologies, Jeff! The turnout of fliers was much higher than I anticipated. Thanks to Dave Luders for bringing a bunch of teens, I think they were part of a scout or explorers group. At one point we had three rows of cars behind the flight line, I was impressed. One of our newest members, Peter Hoff, showed up with some nice detailed kits in the model thru high power range. Lou Bragg had a few nice high power flights, as did Bryan Schopp, who also dabbled in mid and low power. Thanks to Katie for managing the waiver & wristband functions. Dave Glass had his "usual assortment of unusual birds", From Mad Maxine to Normal Norman. Normal Norman put on a great show by air-starting two D12 motors via FUSE! Joe Cooney had a nice selection of rockets, and I believe progressed the farthest in the "Alphabet Ladder" race. Joe and I always give our rockets nicknames based on Grateful Dead tunes...Deadheads unite, we're everywhere! Marty Weiser and his skeeter collection gave everyone eyes a workout as we tried to follow their trajectories...and later on by searching for them on the ground... Last but not least, Terry Moore-Reed and Ray Stoner showed up, but only as spectators... :-( Lots of new faces...great weather...PLENTY of rockets launched (who has the completed flight cards????)...hope we have more of the same at the next SPARC launch, which is a 2-day event scheduled for May 10th & 11th!!! Thanks! Best regards, Mark W. Howe

Posted by bobble at April 14, 2008 7:58 PM

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