Birthday Launch, July 1, 2007
Birthday Launch
July 1, 2007

In honor of the impending birthday of the son of my wife's best friend, we held a launch July 1st. Jeffrey (the birthday boy), his sister Megan, my protege Justin, his sister Jaclyn, my daughter Taylor, and I all launched rockets. Jeffrey and Megan had never been involved in rocketry before, but both had shown an interest when I discussed it with them. We got them both E2X rockets (the Bandito for Jeffrey, the Firehawk for Megan), helped them build their rockets, and provided engines for the launch. My daughter Taylor built an Estes Shuttle Xpress at the same time.

The air temperature was around 85°F, with winds nominally 5-10 MPH. We planned to make 18 launches (3 each) but wound up only making 15.

Here's a rundown of the flights:

Jeffrey's Estes Bandito, on a 1/2A3-2T. Perfect flight, but it landed on a rooftop. One fin was loose when it was recovered, so we set it aside.

Megan's Estes Firehawk, on a 1/2A3-2T. The retaining ring blew off and the engine ejected, but the parachute came out anyway. Heck of an ejection charge, evidently. This rocket also landed on a rooftop, and lost its launch lug, but we superglued it and flew the rocket again.

Jaclyn's Estes Hi-Flier, still wearing primer, on an A8-3. Despite replacement of the stock streamer with a longer, wider crepe paper streamer, it still fell fairly fast. It landed on a gravel driveway, suffering some very minor fin damage.

Taylor's Cosmic Cobra, on a B6-4. Perfect flight. The helicopter recovery of the nose cone is a real crowd pleaser, especially if you are talking about a crowd of kids.

Justin's Estes Patriot, finally wearing white paint, on a C6-5. Excellent flight, as usual, but some chute scorching. I thought I had used plenty of wadding, but I begin to wonder if I should cup the chute itself in a couple of sheets for added protection.

My Centuri Vector V, recently refurbished, on a B6-4. The engine ejected but the chute came out anyway, pretty much at the last moment it could, and the rocket came down 30 feet from the stand. The engine casing actually hit my thumb on the way down. The engine hook seems undamaged, which is really strange.

Megan's Estes Firehawk again, on an A3-4T. I taped the engine for a friction fit this time, and it came back with the casing and retainer still in place. I just don't like those small twist-on retainers.

Jaclyn's Estes Hi-Flier again, on another A8-3. Perfect flight, good recovery, in the grass this time.

Taylor's Estes Skywriter, on a B6-4. Again, some chute scorching, but the rocket recovered fine.

Justin's Estes Hi-Flier, on a B6-4. Nice, high flight.

My Fliskits Triskelion, on a B6-4. Good flight, good recovery.

My Centuri Sky Devil, wearing a patriotic paint job, on an A3-4. What? Yes, an A3-4. I couldn't lay my hands on any engines recommended for it except for C6-7, and I didn't want to launch such a high-flying rocket on our little field with that engine. I ran simulations with Rocksim and confirmed what I suspected... shorter delay engines would result in deployment at 75 fps or more, likely ruining the vintage chute and resulting in the rocket landing hard. So I took an A3-4T and glued it into a cleaned-out expended 18mm casing. Worked great... but I forgot to actually install that vintage chute. The rocket did the core sample thing but was only slightly damaged.

Taylor's Estes Shuttle Xpress, on a B6-4. One glider was damaged on recovery but should be repairable.

Justin's Estes Metalizer, on a C6-5. Nice flight, but now it's stuck HIGH in the neighbor's tree. Justin had just that day boasted to me that he had never lost a rocket... karma?

My Estes Guardian, on a B6-4. Nice flight, but the chute shroud lines burned off and it came down hard. Surprisingly, no damage was apparent, other than the damaged chute. I guess I need to buy those things in bulk...

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