Unscheduled Launch, September 18, 2010
Unscheduled Launch
September 18, 2010

Two weeks ago, the landowner who owns my current favorite launch field told me he had it mowed and baled, and that I should feel free to come over and launch anytime. Of course, the wind refused to cooperate... from then until today, we only had one day when the wind was calm enough to launch, and it was a weekday when I had to work late.

Until today, I said. This morning I looked out and saw that there was no wind. None. It's almost axiomatic that you don't prepare rockets to launch around here when the wind is calm, because by the time you're ready, it's windy. Undaunted, or perhaps just stupid, I soldiered on, and by 11:00am we were ready... and the wind was light and variable, mostly from the southeast. Ideal.

Click the pictures for a larger view.

The crew: Jaclyn, Taylor, and myself.

Jaclyn joined us today, but Justin was unavailable, and we had no audience this time. Not that I really cared about the audience... I just wanted to burn some black powder. It was excellent.

Taylor's Custom Elite lighting up.

First up was Taylor's Custom Elite on a Quest B6-2. It fit pretty tight, so I didn't friction fit or tape it. Ejection came just past apogee, and the rocket and the egg both returned without damage. The engine ejected, but that didn't prevent the chute from deploying. Curiously, the casing landed within ten feet of the launch stand.

Jaclyn's Baby Bertha igniting.

Next we launched Jaclyn's Baby Bertha on an A8-3. It was a low but pretty flight with a good deployment and recovery.

Celestial Navigator ignition and recovery.

My first rocket to fly was my Celestial Navigator on a C6-3. This is the perfect engine for this rocket; ejection was right at apogee and the recovery was good, though one shroud line broke causing a harder-than-intended landing. The forward-swept fins weather that pretty well.

Rocket Propelled Goony takes flight.

The last rocket on the first rack was my Rocket Propelled Goony on a C6-7. After three fairly low flights, this one was a high one. OpenRocket says it should be around 1,280', and I'd say that's pretty close.

Rocket Propelled Goony returns.

I couldn't really see the deployment, but I caught sight of it pretty quickly afterward. The wind was variable, as I noted, and the rocket proceeded to drift in a slow, lazy curve from southeast to north to west. As you can see from the picture above, it was almost back to the machine shed when it landed.

Elite takes off again, but has a little problem...

The first rocket on the second rack Taylor's Custom Elite on a C6-3. This time I wrapped some tape around the engine to retain it, which worked. However, the shock cord broke, and the body came in ballistic. And it's green. I figured it was lost, even though I saw where it fell, but Jaclyn was able to recover it from some yellowed grass. It will fly again after some repair.

Groovy, Man launch and recovery.

Next I launched my Groovy, Man on a Quest A6-4. This was the first launch of this rocket. The A6-4 is a poor choice for it; deployment was probably close to a second after apogee. However, it recovered well and still looks groovy.

Saki ignition.

Jaclyn's Semroc Saki went up next on an A8-3. This is a bad choice; the Saki really needs a B or higher engine (I'm thinking B6-4, or even a B6-2 though it's not recommended). It ejected well after apogee, and the body tube got a bad nosecone rebound dent. It's repairable, and will surely fly again.

Starliner on the pad and in the air.

I flew my Starliner DST on a B6-4, and it turned in a nice flight.

Mo' Skeeter launch.

I tried my Mo' Skeeter on a B4-4 for the first time, and WOW do I like that. It took off with more authority than I expected, and recovered beautifully:

Mo' Skeeter recovery.

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite fliers.

Starwatcher launch and return.

I launched my Star Watcher on a C6-5, and it put in its best flight yet.

Patriot X launch and return.

Next was my Patriot X on a B4-4, and it also put in a good flight and an excellent recovery.

Bandito launch and return.

The last flight of the day was my Bandito on a B6-6 engine. It went high fast, but I never lost sight of it and it returned without incident.

All told, this was one of the best launches we've had. All rockets recovered, all will fly again, and a good time was had by all. Even got some really nice pictures.


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