A Perfect Day
A Perfect Day
September 7, 2008

The weather this morning was beautiful, and the weather forecast was for more of the same all day long. Partly cloudy, temperature in the 70's and 5-10MPH breezes all day. I knew better than to believe that last... I've learned that, in Missouri, you prep your rockets when there is a breeze, and often there will be none when you start to actually launch; but start prepping when there is no breeze, and a stiff one will blow up on you. But this is a good thing, I thought, as I wandered out into the light breeze. Click the pictures for a larger view.

I had to wait for my usual accomplices Justin and Jaclyn and their parents to be available (as I launch in their back yard). When I called Tammy told me that her husband Roger and the kids were in Quincy, but that they would be back late in the afternoon. I got everything ready, and then fretted and fussed around until I saw their car was finally home!

To make a long story short, it was a perfect evening to launch, with those light breezes and mild temperatures. Tracy (my wife) brought her tripod for her camera this time out, and reports it made shooting the pictures much easier. So without further ado, here's the first rack:

The first rack consisted of Justin's Estes Guardian, Taylor's Star Dart, and my Lil' Ivan and Baby Bertha, the latter showing its new paint job in public for the first time.

I didn't think things were going so well as we tried to get the first few rockets launched. I planned to put the Lil' Ivan up first as a wind test, but it wouldn't ignite. So I tried the Baby Bertha, but it wouldn't light either. I switched out the controller battery, and that didn't help either; in desperation, I wasted an igniter just to prove to myself that the controller was putting out the juice. Finally, I cleaned the clips, and that seemed to help (though the Lil' Ivan never did light in the first rack, and had to have a new igniter installed to be launched in the second rack).

The Baby Bertha did fly first, on a C6-5. It was a beautiful flight, arcing slightly to the west and then drifting back to the east on its chute. It was recovered undamaged but a little dirty.

Next up was Justin's Guardian, on a B6-4. I should probably not admit this, but this rocket, which went to the State Fair (as a 4-H project), had not been flown yet. Really, you are supposed to fly them before showing them, but we hadn't gotten it done. It was a nice flight, almost straight up, with a good deployment. It had a little damage from the shock cord recoil (even though Justin had installed a much longer cord) but nothing I'd call significant.

Last on the first rack was Taylor's Star Dart, on an A8-3. This little rocket really gets up there on a small engine! Thanks to the streamer, it recovered within fifty yards of the pad, undamaged.

As I said, the Lil' Ivan just wouldn't light in the first rack, so I loaded a new igniter and put it up on the stand again, along with my Double Barrel Baby Bertha, my 25 year old Centuri Flying Saucer, and my Sunward Star Watcher.

Things continued to be against me, as the Star Watcher would not ignite this time. I skipped it and moved on.

The Flying Saucer went first, on a C6-3. Yes, you are supposed to have C6-0 engines for this rocket; but I don't have any, and I have a lot of C6-3's. You just get an extra flash about a second before it hits the ground. It was a nice flight... this rocket was always a crowd-pleaser.

Next up was my Double Barrel Baby Bertha, on a pair of C6-7 engines. The last time out, this rocket arced badly and I thought it was leaving the launch area. This time, it just went UP. And UP. Seven seconds is a long delay when you can just barely see the rocket! The shiny mylar chute deployed somewhere near apogee (like I could tell you exactly where at that altitude!) and it began to drift northeast. It drifted quite a distance (we joked that the kids would have to run to a neighboring town to recover it) but it came down so slowly that they were able to get practically under it before it landed. It came back in perfect condition (well, at least with no new battle scars).

Last for this rack was my Lil' Ivan, on an A8-3. After the DBBB, it seemed a very low flight. The chute ejected right at apogee, but did not open... until it was about 15' above the ground! It came back without a scratch.

I reloaded the igniter in the Star Watcher, and put it on the rack along with Taylor's Screamin' Demon, my New Centurion, and my Cyclone. Finally, the whole rack worked!

First up this time was my New Centurion, on a C6-5. It came off the pad slowly but seemed to surge upward; the flight was high and pretty, and the deployment was picture-perfect. It came back with a slight scratch to the paint on the nose section, nothing major; I considered reloading it and flying it again, but in the end we didn't have time.

Next was Taylor's Screamin' Demon, on a B6-4. Just like last time, it spun quite a bit on the ascent. It deployed its huge streamer and managed to come down on the pavement to the north, damaging the point of one fin a little.

My Cyclone went up next, on a 1/2A3-4T. This was a low flight, which is fine with me because tracking both pieces can be tricky if it goes very high. The front section didn't autorotate continuously, but it was still a pretty flight and the rocket was returned to me undamaged.

Last up in this rack, finally, was my Star Watcher, on a C6-5. I built this one in the X-Wing layout, which requires noseweight, and as a result it flies poorly on B6-4 engines. But it does nicely on C6-5 engines, and this flight was no exception. It returned undamaged within fifty yards of the launch stand.

The next rack included my 3/4 scale X-24 Bug, my new Starliner DST, Justin's Hi Flier, and Taylor's Cosmic Cobra.

The kids wanted a "race" launch, and I decided to let them launch the Hi Flier and Starliner together. Both went up on B6-4 engines, and the launch was nearly simultaneous:

I pretty much ignored the Hi Flier, leaving it to Justin to track and recover his rocket; I kept my eyes on the Starliner. This was its first flight, and it was a beauty, high and straight. Both rockets returned without damage.

The Cosmic Cobra went up next, on a C6-5. This was a nice, high, straight flight, with the nose cone spinning most of the time on the recovery and beating the sustainer to the ground by about two seconds. All components were recovered without damage.

Last for this rack was the mini X-24 Bug, flying on an A10-3T. I mentioned before that it didn't glide, but rather it just nosedived; this time I put the rest of the "pat" of clay into it, in an attempt to fix that problem. No luck. It arced off the pad and looked like it might power prang, doing the "St. Louis Arch" maneuver, but it popped the engine while still 20' or so up before nosediving. I'm taking the clay out entirely... this rocket qualifies for featherweight recovery, and that's what I'm doing with it from now on. However, there was no damage visible.

For the final rack, we loaded up my Semroc Astro Jr., my Phoenix, Taylor's Gauchito, and my Double Barrel Baby Bertha. This last flew again at the behest of Tammy, Justin and Jaclyn's mother. She really likes it.

The DBBB (as I've been calling it) flew again on a pair of C6-7 engines, and it was a copy of the first flight, high and straight; but I cut a 3" spill hole in the large mylar chute to speed recovery. It still drifted quite a long way, but again was recovered just fine... except for the chute, which tore out from the spill hole. The rocket was undamaged otherwise, leading me to think that my recovery crew might have bunged it up; but parachutes are cheap, and recovery crew options are limited, so I kept my fool mouth shut.

Next was my Phoenix, flying on an A3-4T. The flight was very pretty and the recovery was perfect. Only Tammy was unsatisfied; evidently she likes when they go really high.

We launched my Astro Jr. next, on an A10-3T, and this flight was also very nice, but it landed on the porch roof of a neighboring house. The resident thereof was, in fact, our very own mayor. He didn't notice the rocket landing there, but cheerfully agreed to let Justin go up and retrieve the rocket (with my supervision). It was undamaged.

Last for the day was Taylor's Gauchito, on another A10-3T. This is an excellent small-field rocket, and the low flight and nice, close-to-the-pad recovery is proof of that.

I put the kids to work packing up the rockets and paraphernelia, and when everything else was picked up and packed away, I let them fly the Flying Saucer several more times; it was too gloomy by then to risk launching anything else.

This may have been the best day of launching I've done since returning to the hobby.

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Last Updated 07/16/2017