4-H Launch, July 3, 2010
4-H Launch
July 3, 2010

The weather forecast said that the next week would be unsuitable for launching; so, despite 12-20 mph breezes and a cloudy sky, I decided it was time for our 4-H club launch. This year, Sam wasn't able to participate, so the group consisted of Jaclyn and Justin. My daughter Taylor and I also launched some rockets.

Owing to his part-time job (working for the landowner who hosts our launches), Justin would be late, so the rest of us did our launches first. Click the pictures for a larger view.


The launch field.


Prep table, with some of our rockets.


Launch system, with Celestial Navigator, Saki, and Screamin' Demon ready.


Celestial Navigator launch

First up was my Celestial Navigator on a C6-5 engine. Simulation says that's the right engine. Bull. The rocket went up pretty nicely, but arched over and was on a crash course for the ground; I was holding my breath, remembering the last time the Navigator flew.

It deployed about ten feet from the ground, and landed unharmed (though one of the two chutes I installed tore out two shroud lines). Whew. From now on, C6-3's only in the Navigator.


Screamin' Demon launch

Next up was Taylor's Screamin' Demon, on a C6-5. It was a nice flight with a picture-perfect recovery.

Jaclyn flew her Semroc Saki next, on a B6-4. It was a good flight with a slightly late deployment, but one of the stabilizers broke off on impact. It will be repaired this week and should be finished in time for the Fair. (update: click here to see how it did).


Crossbow SST launch

Next was Jaclyn's Crossbow SST, on an A8-3. It went up faster than I was expecting, flying high and straight. Recovery was perfect. Jaclyn plans to show both the Crossbow and the Saki this year. (update: click here to see how it did).


Second rack: Big Daddy 4x18, Sizzler, Star Dart, SAM-X


Big Daddy 4x18 launch

The next rack included the first flight of my Big Daddy 4x18, flying on four C6-5 engines. There was a very slight ignition delay, followed by a moment of fire and an authoritative liftoff; it weathercocked a bit, which surprised me since I expected it wouldn't be overstable. Then the 24" mylar chute came out, and it began to drift. And drift... straight toward the pond, which I had tried to avoid by placing the launch stand much further east than last year. I held my breath again as Taylor pursued the rocket.


Big Daddy 4x18 recovery

It landed on the far side of the pond. Whew, again. No significant damage, just a bit of dirt and a couple of tiny dings in the paint.


SAM-X launch

The Big Daddy was my first 4x cluster launch, and the next, my Custom SAM-X flying on a B6-0 staged to an A8-5, was to be my first staged launch. Two new things in one day. Apparently I did it right, as the rocket went up quickly on the B6-0 which then ignited the A8-5 perfectly. The rocket arched a bit into the wind at the point that it staged. Two shroud lines broke, possibly burned through (you'd have to see it to understand why I'm uncertain) but both sustainer and booster were recovered fine.

Jaclyn's Sizzler, built last year but never shown, was next. We launched it on an A8-3 engine, and it turned in a nice flight. However, one fin was cracked on landing. It has been fixed and will fly again.


Star Dart launch

Taylor's Star Dart was next, on a C6-7. This rocket was wrecked at the SPARC launch September 27, 2008, though it was not recorded in that launch report. It lawn-darted, driving the nose cone up into the body tube. I cut off the upper tube and attached a new, longer section, and otherwise rebuilt the rocket; Taylor painted it with a red, white, and blue paint job. I warned her that a C6-7 would take it out of sight, and it did... we all lost sight of it a couple of seconds before we heard the ejection charge, and it was not seen again.


Cosmic Cobra launch

Taylor followed up this flight with her Cosmic Cobra, flying on a C6-5. That's one of the recommended engines, but I think a C6-3 (also recommended) is a better choice... the ejection was very late. The chute deployed nicely and the sustainer was recovered, but the helicopter-recovery nosecone landed somewhere on the neighbor's property and was lost.


Betsy launch and recovery

Next was the maiden launch of my Betsy, on a B6-4. The flight was perfect in every way.


Screamin' Demon launch and recovery

We re-prepped Taylor's Screamin' Demon and launched it again, on a C6-5. It was a high, straight flight with just a bit of spin; when the streamer deployed, it began to drift a lot more than you'd expect, and it landed about a foot from the shore of the pond. I was not able to remove the swelled engine casing without damaging the rocket. It won't fly again, though we may cannibalize it to build a replacement.


Baby Bertha launch and recovery

Last in the third rack was Jaclyn's Baby Bertha, one of her Fair rockets from last year, flying on a B6-4. It flew much faster and higher than we expected, and landed not very far from the stand (an exception to the rule of the day).


Flash launch

The fourth rack was all Justin's rockets, as he arrived during the third rack. First to launch was his Flash, his first-year Fair rocket. It has been wrecked, sat upon, launched repeatedly on C6-7 engines, and generally misused. After our repairs, it looked pretty decent... so Justin put another C6-7 on it and shot it at Heaven. We were able to track it all the way, but it drifted further north than any other rocket launched so far, landing somewhere on the edge of town (to the north, as we were launching on a farm just outside of town). Justin was sure he knew where it landed, but as of right now I don't know if he recovered it or not.


Metalizer launch and drifting cone

Undaunted, Justin launched his recently-repaired Metallizer on a C6-5. The original nose cone was lost after the rocket spent a night in a tree, but Justin received another as a gift from another rocketeer at the September 2008 SPARC launch. He FINALLY got around to putting it all together... and the shock cord broke, causing the sustainer to fall without a chute inside the field while the nose cone drifted out of the field to the north. The sustainer was undamaged, but Justin is now down a nose cone and parachute. Again.


Renegade 3x18 launch

Justin, still unworried by his results so far, launched his Renegade 3x18 (an Estes Renegade converted into a single-stage three cluster) on 3x C6-5 engines. The rocket suffered some minor damage, mostly in the form of an "Estes dent" to the upper sustainer.


Renegade 3x18 recovery

It drifted to the northwest, missing the pond and landing in the grass.


Bomb launch

The last flight of the day was Justin's scratch-built Bomb, on a C6-5. This is Justin's Fair rocket for this year (update: click here to see how it did). It suffered an "Estes dent," followed by a tangled chute, but was recovered otherwise undamaged. Justin will be able to completely repair it in time for the Fair.

It was an excellent launch overall. I personally am very happy with the performance of my rockets as well as the performance of the project rockets Jaclyn and Justin have built.

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