All of a sudden there were a few clear February days in which a launch window had opened, and it had opened wide. Little wind, clear skies and five rocketeers from the Hornchurch Airfield Rocket Team (H.A.R.T.) all congregated around the old British WW2 airfield site.
One by one we all primed our aeronautical machines. Laurie started the proceedings by launching a heavily payloaded Bail out which flew about 100 meters and then landed 10 meters from the launch site. This was noticed by Peter who made a hasty exit - he has obviously had similar experiences before.
Dave decided to impress us all with his Mercury Altas. Its slow gut-renching lift off looked great. It survived a landing with only a partially opened chute too.
Keith launched a Thunderhawk which proceeded to jettison its engine mount. With such little weight it took ages to come down. If we'd have known, we could have made a cup of tea whilst waiting!
Peter Flew a Alpha 3 - O.K., and then a Skywinder which fired its ejection charge about 3 feet from the ground and it survived. I'm not sure if Peter's nerves had survived though.
Laurie's Shuttle took off and curved away into a earthbound trajectory. It punched a hole in the soft grass and then the ejection charge fired spewing the engine backwards. Somehow it remained in one piece though.
We needed some successful flights.....
Keith fired his Manta and the glider did a fantastic glide. Unfortunately, Keith was the only person not to see it as it flew into the sun.
Dave launched his ARV Condor. As the two gliders separated from the body, a seagull flew past and the cameraman zoomed in on it saying how similar the glider looked to birds! Silly me. No wonder I thought they flew well!
Peter's Phoenix is like a iron fist in a velvet glove, punching skywards. It did yet another perfect flight.
Laurie decided today was the day to launch his Merlin (a Zinger) on its biggest engine. This is a rocket with attitude. Aeronautical pornography. It can snap knicker elastic at 50 paces. Whoooosh and off it went....and went.....and went.....and then we saw it a minute later and Laurie had a smile bigger than the Grand Canyon.
O.K. said Dave. He loaded his Commanche 3 onto the launch pad. If the Merlin could fly today, then the Commanche was going to as well. 5..4..3..2..1. Lift off.... and it did a stonking first stage....second stage O.K. albeit at a angle of 45 degrees.. then something went wrong and 3 wings broke off. The result propelled the striken craft into a flight parallel with the ground as the last stage took over... still trying to fly it coasted until the ejection charge fired then then it was all over in a mish mash of decending bits and pieces which cascaded around the launch site. We all searched for the remains and got some bits - but not many. Perhaps the wadding was too tight. Dave looked disappointed but in the true spirit of a H.A.R.T. Rocketeer vowed to build another Commanche. he'll be back.
So will the rest of us. Watch the skies.......