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Tim McCall launch report

April 5, 2015

So, never done one of these before and I feel compelled to do my first one because at the end of the launch yesterday I had very mixed feelings. I'm hoping to compile the results here to be ready to test my skills one more time before FITS at a (hoping for) late April/Early May Launch. First thing to note, I think we had quite a few people at the launch on Saturday from families there with their children to hunt a rocket, to people curious about rocketry who wanted to see a launch, and a bunch of regulars in between.
Alright, the good stuff, flights: First flight was the Crossfire ISX on a B6-4. Nominal flight, everything looked good, got it back to my table and noticed one of the finlets had been knocked off. Also, noticed a big red smudge from the nose cone paint on the body tube, I'll have to make sure to complete my finishing with that clear gloss coat. Rocket is ready to fly again. After that I prepped the Rip-Roar as the winds were still pretty low. Once again, even on a D12, this rocket lifts off really lazy, but stable. Booster separates, no sustainer ignition. Rocket comes in ballistic and on impact separates, as if to express its sense of ironic comedy. Hoping that the rocket would still be okay to fly again I go to recover it and found out why it separated on impact. My best guess is that, with a zig zag zipper all the way down to the fins, the body tube ended up going all the way over the nose cone and then between all the stuff inside and the tension from the body tube it all sprang back up. Unfortunately, it seems my luck staging BP motors without a pressure vent finally ran out. The silver lining(s)? Joe Cooney was swift to offer replacement body tube stock, advice on salvaging all the parts except the body tube, and I still have a D12-7 to fly another day. Okay, need a morale booster. How about the newly built Der Red Max? Great boost, separation at apogee, chute's out, why won't it open? I guess I should have put down streamer recovery because that 'chute was unfurled and almost completely unfolded, but just wouldn't inflate. Thankfully I received confirmation of my opinion that the included parachute on the Der Red Max is waaayyy too big. The rocket landed within the pad area and was completely unscathed. After this I go to my table and pull out all the chutes I packed in the morning at the launch, maybe it was a bit too cold to have anything packed just before its launch. Rather than tell myself, let's keep dabbling in low power until I get things figured out, I finish loading up my Callisto with a G64-7. Basically, the only thing I could have asked to be better on this flight was distance from the pads as evidence that the wind was picking up. Everything else went great, solid boost, well timed deployment, good chute, and it landed about 20 feet off the dirt road on the unplanted side. Okay, let's try mid power some more. I repack the Super Mark's parachute and take it out to fly. Not really picking up on the tone of curiosity from the LCO reading off "E28-7(T)" this rocket disappeared off the pad, but thankfully it didn't last long and was easy to pick up in the sky. (from a safety stand point I'm really glad it didn't shred). Super fast boost, well timed deployment, good chute... crud, how high did that thing go? While it's still coming down I start hiking, before I get eyes the rocket I see Marty and his crew packing up the sustainer of his two stage HPR. I do manage to get eyes on that wonderfully orange parachute and think, "alright, I kinda want to do that again. Despite the long walk I'd like to actually watch the ignition this time." I get to the rocket in the unplowed area storing some old farm equipment in the northeast field, untangle the lines from a bush, and check the motor mount. What do I find? A void. Big frowny face. I'm not happy. First flight on a new case and it's gone with no sign of mechanical failure on the part of the retainer. Thankfully, as I start contemplating all the things I could do next time to keep the motor there, I get offered a ride back from the person helping Marty recover his rocket. Also, the rocket is in good shape and will fly again. Mostly I realize I'm upset because that was a really fun motor and to be able to fly it again I'm going to have to wait for a new case (probably two, it was that fun). I get back, last rack is called. Wait wait, I've got my Black Brandt II ready and rearing to go! Paying no heed to the significant gusts I don't think twice about leaving the D12-7 in there. And I get to take a hike for it, once again landing out in the unplanted northeast field. Thankfully, the BBII continues to prove itself as my most reliable flier from when I was flying back in 2007. To summarize, half a dozen flights in total, 2 very good ones, 2 mediocre, 1 bad (rocket fine, 24/40 casing lost), 1 destroyed sustainer body tube, and a lot of walking time to mull over flying in fairly high winds. What to do? Remind Joe Cooney just a bit before the next launch to pack some BT-70 (##?), consider a second line up of parachutes with spill holes for windy conditions, check my budget (thankfully April is one of two months of the year with an extra paycheck) and plan out replacement case(s), NAR membership, materials for a Level 1 certification, and funds for going to FITS. Thanks for reading, I'm looking forward to warmer days, calmer winds, and many more rocket flights to come. I welcome comments and critique and hope that maybe you've learned something from this report.

Posted by bobble at April 5, 2015 1:15 PM

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