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Whitworth launch report

May 9, 2008

Whitworth College has a physics program that includes a course in rockets. The course is only offered once every two years and last time they picked fall which resulted in a November launch date. Conditions on that November day were slightly above miserable with breeze, clouds, and snow making up the weather. So, this time around, they picked spring with a May launch date. All I can say is it did not snow.
I woke up to clear skies and calm conditions which slowly morphed into sporadic (but energetic) squalls. I arrived at the launch site a little after 2:30 and found dust devils dancing through the freshly planted field. By 3 the class had arrived and it was raining, windy, and cold. As with the November event there was at least one student in shorts. I guess college physics students are only just so smart. With the multiple weather systems moving through the area, there was no such thing as wind direction. It came from the South, then East, then North, followed by South again, before a quick burst from the West ensured that each flight recovered in a different direction. Anyway, they had a LOC Weasel and an Aerotech Mirage along with a box of motors and a single record only altimeter. Each bird was scheduled to fly 4 times (G40T, G40W, G80T, & G80W). With low clouds and blowing rain, they opted to fly the Mirage first and, other than a pair of tangled chutes (a common theme for the Mirage flights) they got the bird up and down. These guys (and 1 gal) were pretty efficient as the Weasel was prepped and ready as soon as the flight data had been downloaded and the altimeter switched over. No complicated avionics bay but instead a friction fit sled that just slid down in under the N/C allowing a very quick switch option. The first flight of the Weasel required looking for a hole in the clouds (which we found (and hit)) but by its 3’rd flight the skies were clear and almost cloudless. By a little after 5, all flights were complete and another squall was heading in as we headed out. The Weasel had some cosmetic damage (paint only) and the Mirage finally cracked a fin due to a hard landing but I would say they succeeded in collecting enough data to keep them busy for a day or three. Joe Cooney heard that we were launching and came out to ensure there were no lulls in the launch activity. Of course that means double digits on the number of flights he got in. Big, little, short, fat, long, skinny, clusters …… you know, typical Joe. Dave Glass had promised to show up but I got a last minute call saying that mowing the lawn prevented his attendance. If you see him this weekend, make sure and ask for an explanation of priorities ;-) I know his reasoning but I want as many folks as possible to put him on the spot. I flew my ETV on an E9-8 for a ‘typical’ squirrelly boost. Only one more day until our M&MinM4M launch where my goal is to get in at least one straight boost. I’m off my ladder until FITS so I’ll be focusing on the lower rungs that I’ve slipped on so far. Battery charging sequence is complete. The field that was fallow lastime around the sun is now planted. Conditions are dusty and soft (not happy walking). Current fallow field will need a bit of work before it’s anywhere close to the manicured lawn we launched at in April. Portions of the field that were planted last fall are nice and green but only a few inches tall so no problem regarding recovery visibility. Presibobdent

Posted by bobble at May 9, 2008 7:52 AM

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