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wheatchex report Joe Cooney

June 11, 2008

Well the weekend has come and gone, three days filled with varying weather, but all things considered I think it was a total success. All in all 100 different fliers put up at least one rocket. That is nothing short of outstanding. Friday was set up for Midway Elementary School, Bob Y the Rocket Guy was the man in charge. Winds from the south west didn’t damper the spirit of the kids one bit. Rain was held off for the entire time they were flying rockets. I am not sure exactly how many times I was asked if I had seen this rocket or that rocket. The winds were carrying rockets with streamers a long distance, the ones with parachutes went even further. Over seventy students participated in the rocket program, built painted and then flew there creations. Using Estes Alpha’s as the basic rocket kit, some were built stock, others had 18” body tubes added to the front, while some were set up for minimum diameter flights. Some interesting names were giving to these rockets, at times I thought I was in an Ice Cream Parlor or down at the Candy Shop. Abbie R named hers The Banana Split, while Jaydee flew the Strawberry Banana Swirl. Isabella A was flying the Cotton Candy Carrier and Taylor C had Cotton Candy in Space. Some of the comments on the flight cards were also creative. Danielle F flying Jerry, ensured nobody could mess it up by adding, “This Rocket Name is Jerry, Nothing but Jerry”. Many comments of Awesome or family dedications were made. Some SPARC members put up some demo flights for the kids. Marty was leading the way in terms of impulse, as he was able to put up both I & J flights towards his Alphabet project. He followed that up with a Meaner Machine flight on an E18, that wasn’t recovered till the next day. Mark Howe was constantly asked when he was going to put his Porta-Potty up in the air. He declined due to the high winds, but he managed four flights. Mark Lyons stepped up to the pads and launched some unique rockets including a square rocket aptly named, “Hip to be Square”. Mark and I drag raced our 29mm Fat Boys (His Looked Way Better than Mine), photos showed simultaneous ignition and that I had him by a Nose Cone leaving the rod. Great race on F20-7W’s, it was amazing to see both airframes leaving at the same time, they took similar paths to altitude, recovery was different. Mark recovered his wedged under some rocks, minor damage to his nose cone will buff right out. I put up a few other flights, but scaled back after landing my LOC Starburst (4, E9-6 Cluster) named Shakedown Street in a tree. A little rake recovery and I was happy to get my bird back. Friday night was great, we sat around a fire and ate some delicious Shrimp and pasta created by Mark Howe. Several other fliers brought some Cajun themed tidbits to the table and dinner was nothing less than amazing. Rain picked up shortly after dinner and people found there way to either tents or trailers. Saturday morning at 0400 hrs brought me outside to find clear skies and calm winds. After walking the dogs I set about stoking the fire back to life temps in the mid 40’s. I took the dogs home and came back with donuts around 0630 hrs and found the clear skies replaced with clouds. Flying was sporadic and only a few brave souls stayed the entire day. Much of that time was spent either around the fire or under Mark’s tent depending on the current rate of precipitation. Rain cleared out by the afternoon leaving only the clouds and rockets returned to the air. All in all 60 flights were recorded on Saturday, with the launch atmosphere relaxed do to low turn out. Most flights were simply announced by yelling the information to the onlookers, no need for a PA system. One midway student heartbroken at the loss of his rocket returned with his Father and brother to search the wheat fields for his prized rocket. I walked with them thinking it would be a good time to also search for Marty’s Meaner Machine. The boys father quickly spotted the Mean Machine in the 8” wheat. We picked that up and continued walking. We walked to where there where two rockets hung in the wires and found one of them fell sometime the night before. He recognized the nose cone and we searched the ground for a rocket. The neighbor across the street came out and promptly reunited the boy and his rocket. I replaced his nose cone with an extra I had laying around and he went home most happy. Joel Phillips managed 13 flights with a few drag races thrown in the mix; he flew mostly “D” flights with a few impressive “F” flights to round it off. Joel and I raced Mean Machines, while he chose D12-0 to D12-5, I opted for D12-0 to E9-6. He beat me off the pad while mine struggled with altitude under the D12. Hard to tell which flew higher as they chose different flight paths. I think Joel waxed me though, as mine rolled over towards the end of the flight. There recovery was illuminated by the setting sun close to the horizon. Both chutes highly illuminated, made an impressive sight. I got him back on the Deuce’s Wild race as he only got one motor lit. Mark Lyons put up some impressive flights on Saturday, he nailed two Dual Deployments on his Excel Jr +, on an H128 (1672’) and then again on an H220 (2128’). The later recovered just short of our camping location. The winds were almost non existent for most of the afternoon, which made recovery much easier. Mark Howe managed 8 flights of his own before departing, leaving his tent to dry out and providing the perfect excuse for a Sunday return visit. Mark was able to nail a Three CHAD (Cheap and Dirty) stage flight on his Mean Machine, named Slipknot, D12-0, to D12-0, to D12-5. The booster sections were not recovered but Mark didn’t seem to mind since it was a CHAD Stage anyway. Bob managed one flight and I did not witness it, not sure if I was hunting for my rockets or what I was doing at the time. I managed 26 flights in all, that day. I had several BT-5 downscale rockets I sent up on 1/2A3’s very nice flights with nose blow recovery. I made my first Spool Rocket (13mm), aptly named “The Un-Cool Spool”. Bob would say another waste of a motor, but Mark’s commented, “I thought that would tumble more?” I said, “On the way down?” He replied, “No on the way UP!” But I got some respectable altitude, 50 feet maybe. I had a couple of nice flights on my Mustang, a drag race with Bryon on an F20-7 and again on an F50-9. Bryon had a nice dual deployment flight on DeeDee3 on I218. To sum up Saturday I would say it was a nice relaxed pace with a few people and a few flights. Sunday was the best of the three days, I again woke up early, took the dogs home and proceeded to launch rockets at 0600 hrs. I managed over 20 flights and most of them were well before noon. I managed three “G” Impulse flights, my Fat Boy, named Heaven Help the Fool, flew nicely on G79-10W that I traded for. Notched a small hole in the blue sky, I also flew Peggy-O (LOC Onyx) on a G64-7 and Orange Tango Jam (AeroTech Sumo) on a G64-4. Other than that it was small rockets flying on E9’s, from A to E Flat Jam (Baby Bertha) to Good Lovin’ (Goblin Clone). As the sun shone and temperatures rose so did attendance. About 25 people in all (counting Ben Kenobe and Darth Sidius). Flying was heavy for most of the day 115 flights total. That is nothing short of GREAT!!! I took a small nap in the early afternoon at the LCO table and missed several racks of flights but from what I saw people were having fun flying rockets and that is what it is all about. Some highlights of Sunday included Dave Glass’ Goddard Hoopskirt Flight. He also stepped outside his comfort zone and built a kit, highly modifying it though. A terrier sand hawk kit was made into a two stage bird with gap staging. The flight was exciting mostly due to the near miss on the sustainer coming down over the flightline. Dave also flew, “Get the Lead Out”, a real scaled pencil rocket on an H180. Mark L continued his assault on the sky logging some impressive “I” flights, a scratch built Little John on an I161 and his Canadian Sprint on an I117. Joel Phillips gets credit for the most clustered motors (7 C6-5’s) in his Semroc Hydra. He also flew his Small endeavor on an H128 and his LOC Starburst on two F24-7’s (only one lit). Lou showed up in the morning ready to go and impressively got several flights in rather quickly. Lou managed to nail his “D” & “E” Alphabet Flights on his Stock built Patriot. His “F” & “G” flights were recorded on his “Some Spare Parts” rocket. The “H” flight was in his “Hob Goblin” on an H699. That is one half second of thrust and several seconds of glide to altitude. Dual deployment set for Drogueless at Apogee and Main at 700’ he just barely cleared that with recorded altitude of just over 900’. Lou won the prang award on his “I” flight with “Katie’s Purple People Eater”, no ejection at apogee lead to shovel recovery seconds after impact. Well at least you scored 8 feet of 5.5” tubing this weekend to replace it with. Can’t wait to see what you turn into. Mark H returned Sunday morning as well as President Bob. Mark and Bob combined for a Bakers Dozen flights. Bob flew his Sport 2.5 on an I211 and Mark managed to get twelve flights in finally flying the Porta Potty although the Midway Kids were long gone by then. Several others showed up for Sunday including Ted Warne, who managed seven flights with two rockets, an AGM-12 and a Polaris. While Steve and Nick Ramberg managed 20 flights to include an Q-Modeling Mars Snooper upscale. They also managed to recover the Richter Recker they lost last month in the trees west of the field. While the upper section is in need of major repairs the lower section looked pretty good despite being hung like a Christmas ornament for almost a month. Jarod T, Logan F, Kelby M, Jarret B, Ethan H, Ben and Jake were also on hand and combined to launch about twenty flights between them. Logan had a very nice Twister Rocket that spits the motor at apogee and helicopters down. It was a great flight and really cool recovery. Jed Duty also showed up with four rockets and managed to fly them all. Brian L and Daniel V rounded out the Sunday fliers, sending up some interesting rockets with passengers included. Although Woody (Toy Story) was scheduled for a flight, he got off at ignition and landed on the ground under the rod. I think he had last minute doubts about the safety of flight and just opted out. Buzz Lightyear would have stuck it out, no doubt about it. I would have to say, that 100 fliers, 270 Flights with 300 motors, 9500ns total impulse, would make this years Wheatchex a complete and total success, thanks for the opportunity to serve as your Co-Launch Director and thanks for the help Bob. I am looking forward to our next scheduled launch on November 1st. Since it is a Halloween Theme or more Technically All-Saints day themed lets see some unusual rockets and hope to see you all there. Motor Breakdown: 1/2A(10); A(36); B(38); C(97); D(34); E(48); F(18); G(8); H(6); I(7); J(1) Joe

Posted by bobble at 2:48 PM | Comments (0)

Wheatchex report Bob Yanecek

June 9, 2008

Windy, rainy, nice. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That was WHEATCHEX. Watching the forecast during the previous week was a nightmare. Midway Elementary needed Friday in order to launch the 80+ rockets they had built over the previous few weeks. Without knowing what else to do, I had everyone gorging on donuts and practicing sun dances. All the mental focus must have made a difference as we only suffered brief drizzle during Midways time at the launch. Unfortunately, instead of rain we got wind. While it wasn’t enough to prevent launching models, many of the larger demo flights were grounded and recovery was a real challenge resulting in many sad faces at departure time. Our fantastic landowner dropped by with his wife for an hour or so enjoying the excitement that the kids generated. Over the course of the weekend several missing Midway rockets were recovered and will be returned this week. Thankfully, I waited until the kids left before attempting an E9-8 push in a 24mm airframe. While the rocket has flown successfully several times before, this time it somersaulted a few times before hitting the ground several seconds before the eject charge went off. I’m not sure what went wrong but the rocket is old and tired so I have no plans to fly it again. Clouds + drizzle at sunset provided multiple fantastic rainbows. Thanks to the fire barrel, we were able to keep from being miserable. Add the Cajun themed pot luck and we certainly weren’t hungry. Saturday morning started pretty good. Clear skies, calm winds, and a beautiful setting crescent moon had me feeling optimistic at 0230 during my overnight bladder maintenance event. Things even looked good when the sun showed up but it was short lived as the forecasted crummy conditions moved in after a couple very early racks of models got in the air. While we thought we had lots of wood, it very soon became evident how wrong we were. Thankfully Joe Cooney had a stash at home and after a quick run (he predicted 45 minutes but it was really 48) we were back in business with the fire. Sometime after the drizzle began in earnest we heard what sounded like cat to the South. A quick search revealed the smallest fawn I’ve ever seen (he (she?) just barely poked up over the 12” high wheat). After a half hour or so the bleating stopped and the fawn disappeared. I resisted the urge to go check on the little critter but continued looking for signs of mom with no luck. By early afternoon I got pulled away due to circumstances beyond my control and didn’t get back on site until 0600 Sunday. The late afternoon weather was decent, mom came back and fed junior before the two wandered off into the woods, multiple rockets took to the air and the fire complimented a great evening. Even though I wasn’t there, it felt like I was due to all the “Man you should have been here” and “let me tell you what you missed” stories that I got all morning Sunday. Saturday night lows dipped just below the freezing mark evidenced by a very light layer of frost which vaporized as soon as a ray of sun touched it. By 0930 there was a steady stream of incoming traffic and regular racks of rocket taking to the air. I flew my Sport 2.5 (2.5” airframe w/ 38mm motor mount) for my first non minimum diameter flight since my L3 cert. The rocket was intended to be a demo flight for Midway but the conditions on Friday eliminated that option. The rocket boosted nicely on an I211 to 3752’ and deployed nominally with touchdown a couple hundred yards north of the pads. Activity finally began slowing down and the last rack call went out. The trailer was loaded up and just a couple cars remained by 5 P.M. when I headed home. All in all, it was an interesting and entertaining weekend. Bob Yanecek

Posted by bobble at 9:39 AM | Comments (0)

Wheatchex report Mark Howe

he SPARC Wheat-Chex launch was expanded to 3-days this year to accommodate assisting the Midway Elementary School 5th graders in launching their classroom built models. It's a good thing we made it a 3-day affair because the weather on Friday (although very windy), sure did beat the rain we had for most of Saturday! I arrived in plenty of time to assist with range-setup , which was completed before the arrival of two busloads of anxious/excited kids. Helping the school kids on Friday was a blast, and since Bob Y has been working with the school for the past 5 years, the teachers were quite seasoned and practically ran the whole show! A bunch (70+) of Alpha based rockets, with all kinds of modifications, took to the skies. The SPARC members who attended put up demo flights of higher powered motors and different types of airframes and recovery systems. Sadly, the much requested "Porta-Pot-Shot" and my gliders were grounded due to the windy conditions. I was able to launch my A.C.M.E. Spitfire (crooked "Far Side Cartoon") rocket, and two helicopter recovery rockets...the 2nd one managing to bounce off my car during its' landing. My total # of flights for Friday numbered 11, all of them within the 1/2A thru C range (except for one "D", the Spitfire) due to the wind. I think I took second place for most launches...losing only to Joe Cooney...again! Joe served as Launch Director for the weekend and did a fine job...especially keeping the fire going during the damp weather. (Hope you enjoy the grateful Dead CD's I made for ya...) Friday's pot-luck meal was a Cajun themed event, and if anyone went away hungry it was their own fault...everything was excellent! The rain/drizzle started coming down consistently after dinner, so I hunkered down in my one man tent around 8:45 for the night. Rumor has it that the skies were "crystal clear and blue" at 4AM on Sat, but since I am a late riser I missed it. Got my sorry butt out of bed around 8AM to heavy overcast skies. Three rockets has already been launched before I poked my head out of the tent. I decided to pack most of the sleeping gear into the car, which was a good thing because the drizzle started shortly thereafter. I only managed one flight on Sat. It was an Estes Mean Machine with dual CHAD stages (D12-0, D12-0, D12-5). Had a bit too much angle on the pad and it arced heavily during the 2nd & 3rd stages into the wind. Thanks to the extra long shock cord no zippering occurred, and it landed on the ground ~15' into the tree line to the south. WHEW! Decided to pack it in for the day as the weather didn't look like it was going to cooperate. I hadn't planned on returning Sunday, but with a shortened Saturday, and the fact the my tent was sopping wet, I decided to leave it at the site and return the next day (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). Sunday dawned with slightly cloudy skies...but lots of blue as well! Arrived at the launch site around 9:30...I'm sure I had already missed a number of rocket flights/racks. Turnout was respectable throughout the day, with some new faces appearing in the early afternoon (midway school families???). I managed to put up 12 flights. No helicopters this time, but I did get a few gliders up in the air. My Edmonds Twinsee on a B4-2 took the gliders for a nice looong glide. Thanks to Bob, Jim, and Mark for assisting in recovery of the bird that went eastward...I had concentrated my efforts on the one that went to the north. (The only thing I really hate about dual gliders is not being able to track them both...) I flew a couple of "odd-rocks"... a Porta-Pot Shot (the winds were not as strong as on Friday), and my 'Mariners" themed "Pop-Fly" (A foam baseball bat with a ball on top). Got the second flight of my Semroc/Estes "Golden Scout" into the air, and for the first time in as long as I can remember I actually launched the same rocket twice in one day. It was the Semroc/Centuri "Point" which uses a "Rigid Chute" (i.e. hollow cone) recovery system. The cone/shroud acted like a megaphone and amplified the small model engine ("B4" for the 1st flight and "C6" for the 2nd) sound. This kit was originally produced for a three year run in 1969 thru 1971...I'm glad Semroc decided to reproduce it! I thought I was going to win the prang award when my Estes space shuttle did a quick exit "stage left" and landed at the base of the spectator group before ejecting the motor mount towards the LCO table. Luckily I was "upstaged" by Lou Bragg and his "Purple People Eater" on an "I" something which came in ballistic just behind the spectator line...I think the only salvageable part was the motor casing. Joel Phillips was also in the running when he lawn darted his nice model (I forget the engine used), which buried itself well into the ground before ejecting the fuselage 5' into the air...no damage to Joel's rocket, however. Lou and Joel had many successful flights during the weekend...unfortunately it's only the failures that tend to get stuck in my mind... There were way too many flights to recount here, I never seen the flight card holder so stacked before. Hopefully the various fliers will send in their own flight/launch reports. Dave Glass have a beautiful flight on his ¼ scale Goddard Hoop Skirt, as well as his "Get the Lead out" (pencil rocket) and I believe his first ever "kit" based rocket, a Terrier Sandhawk which he modified for true 2-stage operation. (Gotta make sure the booster in not stable during re-entry, Dave!) It was nice to see Dave Luders with his crew, and to meet Mark Lyons for the first time...he had some great rockets and flights. I especially liked his "Hip to be square" rocket, which was made out of a rain gutter downspout and obviously rectangular in shape. The Rambergs also joined up for Sunday and had a nice array of rockets. I took particular interest in their "Red Baron" glider from Squirrel Works, and may just have to go out and buy one! Someone showed up with an Estes Gyroc clone, which flew great with helicopter recovery...mine is almost finished...I just need to attached the elastic for the fin tabs. So that about wraps it up for Wheat-Chex from my point of view. I assisted with range tear-down and was on my way home by 5:45PM. I put up 24 flights over a 3-day span (2-days, actually, with Sat being a wash-out). Need to work on repairing a couple of damaged rockets, and get to work on a few new builds ( a six foot "foam cup" rocket, and a 2-stage saucer shaped rocket...) I Can't believe the next SPARC launch isn't until November...not sure I can wait that long... Best regards, Mark W. Howe

Posted by bobble at 9:36 AM | Comments (0)

Wheatchex report Marty Weiser

We had a great turnout today with less than ideal conditions - rather breezy and some passing rain showers. The Midway Elementary 5th graders along with their teachers, parents, and other interested adults were present in force. I estimate that the 73 students got in close to 100 flights on their Alphas, stretch Alphas, and other rockets. After this well behaved crew cleaned up we held a raffle for about 10 kits that were donated by various SPARC and other rocketeers. Bob Yanecek did a series of lectures at Midway this year along with some unknown amount of construction work. He also trained the teachers in previous years so they ran the launch once the SPARC crew set up. Launch director Joe Conney probably had the most flighst, but Mark Howe was not far behind. Dave Glass, Mark Lyons, Bryon Schoop, and I also put up a variety of demonstration flights. I put up my new Mosquito V (9X upscale) on an I195 and a J315 - the later was much anticipated by the kids after Bob showed them the pictures of Skeeter Eater Beater on top the car for my trip to Brothers a few years back. The I195 flight was very good to about 2000 ft. except for finding out I had the barbed wire and the electric fence connected when I latched the gate into Emerson's cow pasture. I almost missed the second flight on the J315 when the teacher at the LCO table started the countdown while I was still in the Port-a-potty. I had pointed the rail about 10 degrees into the wind to try to keep this flight on Emerson's land which resulted in a peak altitude of about 3000 ft. instead of 3600 ft. and a moderate zipper from the fairly high speed deployment. Easily fixed and reinforced so I can tag the K rung on the alphabet ladder with a K185. The weather forecast is a bit mixed, but it is supposed to have some good stretches. We hope you can come out and join the crew that is already on site and what we hope are several new flyers from the Midway crew. Marty

Posted by bobble at 9:33 AM | Comments (0)

Wheatchex report Lou Bragg

Wheatchex 08 was a three day deal with Friday being primarily for Midway Elementary stundent launching. I wasn't able to make it but I heard that the kids had a great time and got to see some really neat demo flights. Saturday started out nice but rapidly deteriorated. Undaunted, I loaded up the truck and headed out. Arrived on site around 9 am to a fully set up range but no flying. Most of the attendees were huddled around the fire barrel. Eventually Mark Lyons decided we were at a rocket launch and put something up. He was followed by Joe Cooney and Mark Howe. After more BSing I took off with Bob to retrieve some motors for tomorrow and then headed home. Sunday morning was quite nice but a little breezy. Not enough to keep me away though. I had some flying to do! Arrived on site about 8:50 am in time to see Bob load up his Sport 2.5 in his tower. I got my Patriot ready for the D rung of the Alphabet Ladder, setting it up with a D12-5. I LCOed this round and both of our flights went off without a hitch. Bob got somewhere around 3K with a very nice boost and great dual deploy recovery. My Patriot ripped off the pad as usual and returned under streamer. D rung complete! I got it back and reloaded for the E rung...with an E-28T! I asked the crowd for help tracking and after a failed ignition it lit and pretty much disappeared. No real flame and not much tracking smoke made it hard to track. With no deployment heard I wrote it off as lost. A little while later I was scanning the field with binocs and I spied Joel Phillips holding something red and white. Could it be? Yes! According to them they were out looking for another rocket and they heard the streamer fluttering and saw it come down within a few feet. Woohoo! E rung complete! Had second thoughts about using the F21 in it now. So I loaded up Some Spare Parts with an F52-8T. Nominal flight with an easy recovery. F Rung complete! Loaded up a G64-9W in SSP for G rung. Ripping boost with recovery a little further out but not bad. G rung complete! Got it back and started prepping for H rung. I was using Hobgoblin and was going to fly it on an H669 Warp 9 motor(Thanks Joe!). Got it prepped in about an hour and put out on the pad. Had a hard time arming the electronics since the arming switch is about 8 feet above the ground which coincidentally is about the limit of my reach when standing. Got it armed though and retreated to the flight line to watch the flight. After pressurizing we all heard what sounded like a gunshot and then watched my rocket coast all the way up to 914'. Dual deploy worked well with the main deploying about 2 seconds after apogee with the 700 foot charge. H rung complete with my lowest dual deploy flight! If I had more time I would have put it up again on an I211 for I rung but it was not to be today. Katie showed up a few minutes later and I decided I should put up Katie's Purple People Eater on an I357T. Easy prep with a few people looking on and out to the pad. Great ignition and boost but that is where the good part ends. We watched it arc over and pick up speed. No deploy with a screaming lawn dart just behind the flight line. Almost hit Katie's car. That would not have been good! It hit and crumpled rapidly until the fin can hit the nose cone base and it popped apart in a shower of purple cardboard. Not much left except the rail buttons, fins, and motor case. Decided to call it a day after that and helped with range tear down. Got home around 6:00pm. All in all a good weekend even with the cruddy weather. Looking forward to the next one, Lou Bragg

Posted by bobble at 9:29 AM | Comments (0)