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Wheatchex report Mark Howe

June 9, 2008

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 ΒΌ 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 June 9, 2008 9:36 AM

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