Ninfinger Productions: Launch Report

Launch Report

Date 26 May 1997
Time 9:15-11:00 am CDT
Location Three Guys with Rockets launch area
Sky overcast
Temperature mid 70's
Humidity dripping
Wind 5 - 10 mph

Rockets Motors:
Estes Patriotski A8-3
Quest HL-20 B6-2
Quest Nike-Smoke B6-4
Estes Phoenix D12-3
Estes Gemini DC B6-4
Estes Hawkeye A3-4T
Estes Honest John D12-3
Boyce Aerospace Gemini-Titan (1/160 scale) A10-3T
Estes Comanche C6-0/C6-7
Estes Big Bertha C6-3
SDI Spinnaker A8-3
Estes Helicat C6-something
Estes Gemini-Titan C6-5
Quest DC-Y C5-3
Estes Honest John D12-3
Estes Phoenix E15-4

Bob showing off his Phoenix

The Gritty Details...

Finally! It had been over a year since I last got to fly some rockets. And the last time wasn't terribly satisfying... So the regular Three Guys with Rockets (Jim, Bob, and I) met with a couple of Guest Guys (Doug and Warren) on hand to inaugurate the new season of flying... Patriotski on the padand possibly the last season at our launch site. Bob manned his launch controller, Jim handled mine, I handled the photography (but did launch a rocket or two), and Doug and Warren each got the thrill of pushing the launch button and punching a hole in the very humid air. Of course, all of us chased rockets.

HL-20 at ignitionIt had been raining a lot lately... very unusual for this (or any) time of year, so we didn't have to worry about fire hazards. We did, however, have to worry about possible spashdowns in a marshy area off to the east. We set up our pads and commenced to fly. Bob was going to have first honors, until his Helicat had ignition problems: the continuation of Bob's regular launch Nike Smoke ignites theme... nice to know that some things are constant. So I set up my Patriotski with an A8-3 for its first ever flight. This is actually the old Estes 1/10 sport scale Patriot, but it really doesn't look much like the real thing, so I painted and decaled it as a Russian missile of some sort. At any rate, it flew very well. After that, the always fun Quest HL-20 was sent up on a B6-2. It squirreled around and eventually plopped back to the wet ground. That thing glides about as well as a set of keys... While Bob was still working on his launch controller and/or ignitor installation, I fired off my Quest Nike-Smoke on its maiden flight with a B6-4 WG. It flew nicely, but the nose cone got tangled up in the chute and plummeted back to earth. Fortunately, the ground was still soft from all the rains... so the rocket just got a bit muddy.Phoenix launch

Gemini DC takes offBob gave up on his launch system, so he borrowed mine and sent his Estes Phoenix aloft on a D12-3 motor after some initial ignitor problems (Hmmm... I detect a theme here...). The model weathercocked into the wind as usual; unfortunately, that was in the direction of the marsh. Fortunately, it landed on the other side of the 'creek' running thru the marsh and didn't get too wet. Warren made the long trek to pick it up. We were rolling now! My Estes Gemini DC has its first flight on a B6-4 motor. I was worried that the dual chutes would get tangled up, but it came down fine. The next rocket sent aloft was my Estes Thunderhawk on an A3-4T. It had a very nice first-ever flight and landed within fifty feet from the pad. Jim made the long, arduous trek to retrieve it.

Bob set up and fired his Estes Honest John off my pad with a D12-3 motor. Honest John fires up Jim almost caught it after the rocket made a flawless flight. But he didn't and was booed lustily (and deservedly, I might add). I next sent my Boyce Aerospace micro scale Gemini-Titan (or Teeny Titan, as it was dubbed) aloft on an A10-3T WG. Comanche screams off the pad Bob went for altitude when he launched his Comanche with a "couple of C motors in it." The upper stage got pretty high and took some time to return on its streamer... It appeared that it would land inside of the fence surrounding a cluster of buildings behind us, but it bounced off the roof of one of those buildings, giving it enough of a horizontal boost to clear the fence. (Excuse me while I rest after writing that run-on sentence... thanx.)

My Big Bertha made its first flight with a C6-3 motor Big Bertha lights up(I think... somehow in all the excitement, I failed to record that fact... oh well, it's only a hobby...)Drag race Bob claimed he fixed his launch system so we tried a drag race between his Helicat and my SDI Spinnaker. Of course, his failed to ignite while mine took off like a rocket... imagine that. Jim made a nice catch... one of the few catches of the day. Bob finally got his Helicat underway, but there's no photographic proof of this, as I really didn't want to waste any more shots of his Helicat sitting on the pad. But, low and behold, it actually ignited and flew very well until ejection... The helicopter ejected OK, but the parachute didn't clear the body tube at first. We were looking forward to a core-sample, but the chute finally fell out and the rocket recovered safely... in spite of my clumsy attempt to catch it.

GT-3 flies againMy Estes Gemini-Titan made its first flight after being painted... it had previously flown unpainted. DC-Y fliesThe C6-5 motor sent it pretty high: the rocket drifted all the way to Lamar Blvd. towards some power lines... fortunately it didn't get caught in the lines (even though it hit them) and landed on the grassy median between the lanes. The crack recovery crew chased it down before the mowers could eat it... That is one lucky rocket! My Quest DC-Y made another nifty flight on a C5-3 motor, but the main body ended up in a tree... so high up that I wrote recovery off. But Doug would not be denied: he worked on it until the tree released its grip. Chalk one up for the good guys!

Honest John ignites Honest John lifts
off OK, now my notes are strange: there is mention of another drag race attempt between Bob and me... and I even remember the act of pressing the button. But I can't recall at all which rockets were launched... although I'm pretty sure I won... after all, my ignition system is 14 volts; Bob's is probably only about six. Anyway, Bob then sent his Honest John aloft on another D12-3 for another good flight. Jim fumbled the recovery... it wasn't a good day for the 'catch team.'

Phoenix ignites... ...and CATOs We decided to end the day with some fun... Bob had saved up an Estes E15-4 motor just for the occasion. So he loaded it up in his Phoenix and we all waited in anticipation. The motor ignited and then with a FOOSH! decided, "I'M OUTTA HERE!" A rather largish orange fireball erupted out of the top of the rocket as the motor CATOed. I'm really glad the ground was still wet, though... there were burning bits of stuff all over the place. The CATO toasted the interior of the model pretty well. Like its namesake, though, the Phoenix will rise from the ashes to fly again as Bob repaired it the next day. And that, we decided, was a wrap.

epilog: Warren was so taken with it all that he rushed out and bought his first starter set... the hook has been set.

Sven Knudson, NAR#63297