It's been a long while since I could do a launch, and I've missed it. So today, when I realized the wind was going to drop to almost nothing, I ran out to the office and quickly prepped five rockets to fly. My wife Tracy joined me, and all pictures below are hers.
It's been two years and one day since our last launch; I had kids doing rocketry projects in 2018, but we were unable to schedule a launch. Two weeks ago we tried to have a launch, but were rained out; we could only find one other day, i.e. today, when everyone thought they could make it.
Of course, today three of the kids were unable to attend. We went ahead, as one of the kids who did make it had never flown before. Boy, was he in for an experience.
This year I have four boys doing the rocketry project; as only one of them is actually doing it as a 4-H project, I'm not calling this a 4-H launch this time around. Scheduling conflicts prevented us from getting in any earlier launches, but that's fine... the weather was beautiful today, mid 80's and very little wind.
Dry, windy weather made it appear that we might have trouble setting up a launch for the 4-H project kids this year, but then suddenly after a brief spate of rain I saw that the forecast for Saturday the 9th was nearly windless. A quick flurry of Facebook messages later, and four of the five project kids (and their mothers and some of their siblings) were lined up to launch.
A couple of the boys from this year's project group asked me to help them finish painting their rockets, and I arranged to visit them on a farm near Kahoka, Missouri to do just that. But as I looked at the weather forecast and saw mid 70's and almost no wind, I knew we had to do more than prime and sand rockets.
We had to launch.
I've been hoping for a good chance for a launch all year. Last week I watched the forecasts for Sunday the 20th with anticipation; by Friday it seemed obvious we would have just the right sort of day for a launch, and the field I usually launch in was freshly mowed and baled, so I notified the parents of the 4-H kids I led this year; of the seven kids I had in the project, three were able to make it. Add to that Joe Coehlo, a member of the Canton Camera Club (as are my wife and I) and another friend, Tim McAfee, who had never been to a launch before. I'd call the turnout excellent.
All the rain we've been having has made planning a launch for the 4-H kids a bit hard, but looking at the forecast last Friday it became clear that we might be able to launch on Sunday. A flurry of Facebook messages later, we had planned to meet at a field near one family's residence. The field had wet spots and a few inconvenient trees, and it was hot, but all in all the launch went pretty well. Note: Though this was officially a 4-H launch, not all of the kids who flew were 4-H members. Just in case anyone wonders.
Wow, almost a year since my last launch. My wife and daughter are working tonight at the county fair, and I was going to be there too, watching the motocross races; but the almost incessant rains (including an installment yesterday) made the dirt in the arena too soggy to build a track on it.
Okay, so in response to a post I made a while back about rocket kits for beginners, I was pointed toward the BMS School Rocket. I ordered enough for all the kids, plus one for me, and I'm building it today. I'll probably just get the engine mount together and dry fit everything, so I can pull it apart tomorrow and show the kids how it goes together.
In preparation for the Clark County 4-H kids who will be doing Aerospace 1 with me in 2014, I've thrown together a "cheat sheet" for the project. In it I cover how I run a first year rocketry project... meetings, materials, costs, and some general notes. You can get it here:
I was getting desperate to launch some rockets... if you look back through my launch reports, you'll see why. It's been a while. So when I got home from work today and the conditions were perfect, I just had to head out to the back yard and launch a few.
Today I finished the primary assembly of my FSI Sprint clone. I started by cutting a piece of a paper clip, mainly the large bend with a bit of leg on each side, then bending the lower part of the legs outward at 90° angles and twisting them slightly. I cut matching notches in the upper #8-#11 ring, then laid the paper-clip loop in them so that the bent legs would hook under the ring. The point of all of this was to create a metal shock cord mount for a reusable shock cord. I intended to take a picture of this part, but just plain forgot.
Got a little more done tonight. Attached Kevlar to the engine mount with CA, per my usual procedure. I know replaceable Kevlar is the "in" thing now, but I couldn't work out a good way to do it with this rocket, and as it's going to be an infrequent flier I decided to stick to the tried-and-true method.
Tonight was the science club "event" at my daughter Taylor's high school. It's not a science fair... there's no competition or judging. Instead, it's a show for the younger (elementary school) kids, to try to give them an interest in science.
I got the fins on my Gooniebird Zero and modified Ruskie today. I had to make my own fin alignment wraps for both. The GB0 was pretty easy since it's just three evenly spaced fins, but the Ruskie's fins are laid out unusually.
The wind has blown and blown this year. Finding opportunities to launch rockets hasn't been easy. So when I found the weather darn near optimal for rocketry, I had to fly some. I laid out and prepped nine rockets and was all ready to head over to the local farm where I launch.
After a week of really sweltering weather, things cooled off somewhat today. I walked out into the late afternoon sunshine, noted the wind had laid, and realized that I could launch a few. My daughter Taylor had a couple of friends over, and they helped with the launch and recovery.
This was a big year for us in 4-H Aerospace: Besides Justin and Jaclyn, we had two additional kids in the project. Their parents have not authorized me to use their names or pictures, so I'll call them T and J. T and J both had two rockets; each had a Semroc Astron and an Estes Baby Bertha. However, they were not able to finish all their rockets in time (each boy had seven Art Hall exhibits as it was), so they showed only their Baby Berthas.
My brother Greg is back for the 4th of July holiday, and he brought my other brother Adam's kids with him. I knew that my nephew Jesse had shown an interest in rocketry before, so we planned a launch for today, Sunday the 3rd. I prepared sixteen rockets, thirteen of mine plus three of Taylor's; however, the wind, which had been pretty calm, picked up somewhat, and between that and the fact that I couldn't use the first position on my stand (owing to the rod nut coming loose), we flew only nine.
The weather hasn't been very conducive to rocket launching lately, but we needed to get the 4-H launch done before the Fair. So, when we saw that Father's Day was predicted to be nice, we decided to have the launch at 5:00pm. The wind was light, perhaps 5-10 MPH and coming from the east; we did have some drifting problems as a result of that.
I wrote up a document for my 4-H Aerospace kids, describing my technique for getting a show-ready finish; for convenience, I'm posting it here.
It just hasn't been a good year for rocket launching in Northeast Missouri. Today was my first real opportunity... it was fortunate that I was able to get off work early. The wind was moderate but variable, probably topping out at 10 MPH. Though Justin and Jaclyn, my 4-H rocketeers for the last several years, were unavailable, my wife Tracy and daughter Taylor accompanied me.