Back Yard Launch, July 19, 2009
Back Yard Launch
July 19, 2009

The wind quieted somewhat suddenly Sunday evening, and my thoughts turned naturally to rockets. Four kids (my daughter and three neighbor boys) were in the yard, so I got four low fliers together along with my handmade controller and my modified Estes stand, and headed out to the back yard.

Click the pictures for a larger view.

First to go up was my Lil' Ivan on an A8-3 engine. Unfortunately, the batteries in the controller had gotten weak (first time used in almost a year) and I couldn't get ignition... so I ran back to the house for four fresh AA's.

It ignited right away with fresh batteries, and got up fairly high, and then proceeded to drift across the street and land on the neighbor's porch roof. I left it to recover later.

Next up was my second Custom Galileo, on an A8-3. Back on August 12, 2007, my original Galileo went up from the back yard on its first and last flight, landing nose-down in tall weeds and disappearing for good. Well, that was the fate of my second Galileo, except in this case we didn't even see it hit the weeds... it just went up and disappeared. Another one bites the dust.

I got an Astron Mark kit from Semroc last year. I knew it would be good flier, and hard to prep (due to the short body tube), so I fitted it with a mini-engine mount. After doing a right fine job (if I do say so myself) in priming and sanding and putting on a nice white basecoat, I Easter egg painted it (spray paint on water, then dunk the rocket). Well, not only did it not come out as pretty as the web images that gave me the idea, but also the water soaked into the body tubes really fast. I barely got the swelled engine casing out in time, and in fact, the engine tube is more than a bit mangled at the lower end.

So I let it dry out, nose cone removed, cursing myself for a fool. When it was entirely dry, I discovered that, despite the damage to the engine tube, I could still mount an engine in it. So I stuck in an A3-4T and added a decent streamer, and off it went.

It really got up there for such a small engine, and the streamer popped perfectly and it descended within the yard. First good recovery of the evening. Of course you know, with all the damage it has suffered, and ugly as it came out, I probably will never lose it. No matter how bad I'd like to.

I rigged Taylor's Gauchito with a 1/2A3-4T engine and we launched it next. It flew very nicely, if very low.

I said I had four kids in the yard... but by this point, I had seven. So I went back to the house and got another engine for the Gauchito, an A3-4T this time, and grabbed a pack of C6-3 engines and my old Centuri Flying Saucer.

One of the added kids declined the opportunity to launch, but the others jumped at the chance. The Gauchito went up again, higher this time with a bigger engine, and Tracy (my wife, who took all these photographs) actually caught it in the air... as it almost fell right on her.

We launched the Saucer three times; to make things fair, I pushed the button myself the extra times. The kids loved all the Saucer flights, which all landed within the yard. Each arched in a different direction, influenced no doubt by me positioning the rocket differently on the stand each time.

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