Ninfinger Productions: Launch Report

Launch Report

Date 17 Jan 1998
Time 1:30-3:30 pm CST
Location Three Guys with Rockets launch area
Sky high clouds
Temperature around 70
Humidity low
Wind light

Rockets Motors:
Estes Space Racer A8-3
Estes CorkscrewB8-5
Custom Galileo Probe1/2A6-2
Estes PhoenixE30-4
Estes Nike AjaxB6-4
Astrocam/Delta IIC6-7
Rastrocam/Delta IIB6-4
Estes HeliocopterC6-5
Estes Black Brant IID12-7
Juno IIB6-4
Quest HL-20B6-2
Boyce Mercury RedstoneA10-3T
Estes CorkscrewC6-5
Boyce Saturn VA10-3T
Estes ManiacE25-7
Estes Silver CometD12-3

The Shameful Details...

Space Racer launch I had planned to spend the afternoon cleaning house and cooking dinner for a dinner/movie gathering that evening... and then Jim called: "It's a beautiful day. We must go fly rockets." ... or words to that effect. OK, I thought, I'll get the posole started in the crock pot and just do a quick vacuuming of the carpet and call the house clean... the enchiladas could wait until after we had some fun.

Jim and I met Bob out at the site. We decided to use my pad and Corkscrew launch controller and got busy prepping rockets. I decided to send up my Space Racer on an A8-3. It lifted off, flew a nice straight boost, and landed about twelve feet from the pad. The wind gods smiled... we would have smooth flying. Galileo launch Bob sent up his Corkscrew on a B8-5. It spiraled straight up and ejected exactly at apogee... and then the wind gods decided to have some fun. It drifted over towards the fenced area behind us and landed on the roof over the swimming pool. The crack recovery crew (Jim) sprang into action while Bob and I prepped more rockets. The Galileo Probe gave a weird flight on a 1/2 A6-2. It seemed to go unstable at burnout, then the motor fired out... Sir Isaac Newton predicted the result: the rocket got propelled a long way in the opposite direction. Bob and I searched for several minutes before Bob finally found it. In the meantime, Jim had managed to recover the Corkscrew from the roof by snagging it with a stick. Phoenix launch We were now ready to tweak the gods...

Bob set up his reborn (see its previous launch) Phoenix with an Aerotech composite motor (E30-4): a first for our crew... Bob set the launch angle to compensate for a light wind. The rocket roared off towards the south with Jim in hot pursuit. It came down over 100 yards from the pad, so he had quite a run... A little kid beat him to it, picked it up and started to run towards his pals, only to fall on it. This gave Jim the chance to catch up and recover the long-suffering model. The motor mount had broken loose in the rocket due to the higher thrust of the E motor, so we were kinduv lucky that it flew successfully...

Nike Ajax launch The Nike Ajax lifted off beautifully on a B6-4. I caught it just before it hit the ground no more than 30 feet from the pad: a nice maiden flight. By this time we had accumulated an audience: "guests" of the school for "troubled" kids, or something like that. They were inside the fenced area and were quite intrigued by our activities. They asked us why we were doing this. Our answer: FUN! I think they could relate to that.

By now the high clouds that were towards the south began to cover the sun. I hadn't flown my Astrocams in a while, so in spite of the conditions I shot up the Astrocam on a Delta II with a C6-7. It yielded a pretty much undecipherable shot. Then I shot the Rastrocam on the Delta II with a B6-4 that yielded another nodescript result. Each time I caught the camera and Jim snagged the booster. We showed the camera to the kids and tried to describe it to them. I'm not sure if they grasped the concept, but they liked the parachute.

Heliocopter launch Next, Bob fired up his Heliocopter with a C6-5 motor. It boosted nicely and came down on the other side of the marshy area. Bob and Jim ran after the copter and booster while I and prepped the Rastrocam for another flight. As they were returning, a fellow from the school came up (the kids recess time was over by now and they were inside) and asked if we saw any of the boys run by. Apparently one of the "guests" decided to check out without telling anyone... we saw nothing, but were amused by it. I wonder if he used the parachute I gave him to help his escape?

Black Brant launch The shadows were becoming indistinct, but I shot up the Rastrocam on the Maniac with a D12-5. It shot straight up, clicked off the third disappointing shot of the day, and landed not too far from the pad. Jim and I again snagged the rocket and camera just before they hit the ground. Bob sent his Black Brant II up on a D12-7 motor. It got some major altitude and took forever to come down: Bob had put the kit's eighteen inch parachute on it... we waited while the skies grew cold... then Jim made a fantastic catch even though the wind gods tried to snatch it away from him at the last minute.

Juno II launch I had tried to fly my Juno II (made from the plans in Peter Alway's most excellent The Art of Scale Model Rocketry, available from Saturn Press) the last time, but I had forgotten to install a shock cord in it... So it got its maiden flight on a B6-4 motor. Jim made the catch about fifty feet from the pad. Nice design, Peter!

HL-20 launch I now think the HL-20 got its last flight on a B6-2 motor... It squirreled up and kind of fluttered to the ground. I've only gotten one decent 'glide' out of that model so I think I'll retire it and fly something else next time... I hadn't finished my saucers from AstronMike in time to fly, but they're ready for the next time.

Corkscrew redux I had finished my Boyce Aerospace Mercury Redstone in time, though and sent it aloft on an A10-3T motor. (Since I launched it, there is no photo of its flight... sorry) The parachute stayed in the body tube and the rocket thumped down but survived with minor damage to the escape tower. But then I expected that part of the model to take a beating...

BAH Saturn V launch Bob shot up his Corkscrew again on a C6-5. Jim was disappointed in the rocket's spiral: he thought it was too tight. I was gonna send up my Boyce Aerospace Saturn 1B, but the launch lug broke off... the epoxy didn't stick to the slick plastic of the clear lug. Oh well... I've since replaced it with a standard paper lug so it, too, will fly Next Time. So we skipped the 1B and went straight to the Boyce Aerospace Saturn V. It flew nicely on an A10-3T motor, but the chute stuck in the tube as the rocket plummeted to the earth. Fortunately, it landed in next to the marshy area in some long grass and survived with no damage. I think I'll use a streamer in it and the Mercury Redstone if I fly them again...

Silver Comet launch Now it was my turn to try a composite motor. I put an E25-7 motor in a Maniac and broke my pad changing to a 3/16" rod... I guess that's the reason Estes discontinued the Power Plex pad: its weak point is the metal insert for the thumbscrew. So I borrowed Bob's pad and fired the Maniac skyward. It screamed out of sight and must have irritated the wind gods... I finally saw it coming down on its chute: it was headed towards the street. Once again Jim gave chase as I hoped it wouldn't land in the street. It looked to Bob and me that it landed on the median between the northbound and southbound lanes, but Jim had a much better view: It landed about thirty feet in front of a car in the northbound lane... the car managed to straddle it without hitting it. So the wind gods got their little chuckle without being too malicious.

Silver Comet catch The honor of the last flight of the day was given to my Silver Comet on a D12-3 motor. It rose beautifully, slowly rolling on ascent. It ejected safely and Jim made a spiffy catch to conclude a wonderful day of flying. And to top it off, I got home in plenty of time to make a boatload of enchiladas for dinner. They wuz mighty tasty, too (as was the posole).

Sven Knudson, NAR#63297