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Presidents June launch report

June 14, 2011

Forecast called for 50% chance of heavy rain. Web site was down so I could not post a last minute status report. I woke to bright sunshine on the hill behind the house so headed out. The launch site remained partially set-up from yesterday’s Midway event and, based on the dark clouds heading towards us, we weren’t in any rush to complete setting up the range. Before 1000, a cold drizzle started and everyone became best friends with anyone who had a tarp up. The cold drizzle lasted for less than an hour then the nasty looking cloud moved north and our weather improved dramatically resulting in a very warm afternoon of rockets.
It was nice to see several fresh faces especially since the ‘old’ core group of SPARC seem to be drifting towards other priorities. Once flying got started, we continued at a steady pace until after 1700 when finally folks seemed to have enough and began packing up to head home. Rob Emanuele returned for a second day of dual deploy practice and he made it look easy with at least two very nice flights. His main deployment charge doubles as an audible locating beacon with a pronounced BOOM. While I contemplated advising a smaller charge, other than being loud, his deployment was very nice with no damage to the rocket or chute and no sign that the recovery harness hit the end of its leash before fully deploying so I kept my mouth shut. Rob also flew a Skidmark shortly after the drizzle stopped. With no worries about fire we pressed forward and it wasn’t until Dave Glass headed out to load up his rocket on the following rack that we heard the call …..”FIRE”. Dave was busy dancing around the pad and by the time help arrived, all was good except for some slight blistering on the leads to the pad. Even Dave was clueless that the low stubble was burning until the slight crackling sound caught his attention. No smoke, no visible flame, just a small blaze that found enough dry stubble to support itself. I managed to finish prepping my 29mm rocket that I had started on Friday with a 23” chute and a G40-7. I knew the 7 second delay would be short so took extra time Z-folding my Kevlar harness with multiple wraps of tape to help ease the shock when the chute deployed. Boost was good, the eject charge sounded like a SALUTE then, even with multiple binoculars searching, nothing. I immediately knew what the rest of my day would be like………….walking a dreaded GPS grid search. Limiting my search to south of Wild Rose, I zigged, zagged, and looped making sure I never retraced any of my steps. My wife Ann, our 3 dogs, and Alan Roberts searched off and on all day with only other folks lost rockets to show for our efforts. Alan got in several flights but my favorite was his perfect Comanche 3 flight. Straight up, all 3 stages recovered. We did manage to locate 5 missing Midway rockets from Friday. Kudos to Mark Vanderlip and his son for recovering 4 of them. Lou Bragg was on hand and got in a couple flights. Lou is always a big help pulling LCO duty, helping clean-up, recovery line locater, and general mentor to those around him. David Wichmann and his girlfriend drove up from Pullman to check out our site. He put up a few nice model flights and left promising to return and aim for L1. Peter Van Doren and family put up multiple flights. As they were departing, Ann was walking in from searching for my rocket with an unidentified lost rocket in her hand. The Van Doren car stopped as multiple arms extended from the windows with voices of glee that their rocket was in Ann’s hands. Ken Brown put up a nice Dual Deploy flight that also flew successfully at FITS a couple weeks ago. He draped his main chute over the fence making for trivial recovery…..cheater ;-) Dave Glass stayed busy both flying and taking on co-launch director duties. Given I was the other half of LD, and distracted searching for my missing rocket, Dave got the brunt of the work load……thanks DAVE!! His “Dude where’s my nosecone” rocket was, as always, a big hit. Very odd looking on the pad, yet boosted straight as an arrow for a blunt tipped rocket. Deborah Schopp was once again clicking pix like she had unlimited memory (I think that’s pretty close to being the truth). I look forward to reviewing what can only be a huge set of pictures. Bryon Schopp flew regularly throughout the day and more than one person was envious of his on-board screamer that announced where the rocket was no matter where it happened to be. While everyone else was diligently searching, Bryon could have walked his rocket down with his eyes closed (not recommended). Mark Vanderlip returned after his successful L1 cert on Friday and put the same rocket up 3 more times. Flights 1 and 2 were textbook with none of the ‘kick’ off the rail that we observed on Friday. Flight #3 boosted well then arced over and the “oh-no” period of dread began and continued through ballistic impact. Two different folks agreed on the line so Mark headed out only to return empty handed a while later saying “I think I need a GPS”. We got a line and began heading out. Before long we crossed the fence into waist deep thick grass. Another couple hundred feet and we were in a thick young stand of trees with multiple leg breaking downed logs buried in the underbrush. We crissed and crossed our way through the tangled thicket knowing that we were searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Other than a fresh Coyote den and a nice deer skull, I once again felt the frustration of a failed search effort. Sometime after 1700 my legs began complaining along with the back of my sun drenched neck so I headed back towards camp. Marks wife, Cindy handed me a perfectly chilled bottle of Gatoraide that did wonders to my parched system. As we packed up the range, Mark headed back out for more searching. As of this morning, he had not succeeded but was planning to once again, head out for more searching. Maybe he’ll find my rocket  That’s it for us until late October when Joe Cooney will be doing Launch Director duties for a Halloween themed launch. President Bob

Posted by bobble at June 14, 2011 5:36 AM

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