Jim with Delta II

Launch Report

Three Guys with Rockets

August 27, 1995

Austin, TX

Temp: upper 80s to low 90s
Humidity: really high
Wind: light and variable, becoming 5 mph from the SE
Ozone Action Day (smog)

             Flights in order
Rocket:                                WG:
Estes Bullpup 12D      		      A8-3
Quest HL-20            		      C6-3
Estes Rastrocam/Delta II              B6-2
Estes Rastrocam/Maniac               D12-3
Estes Voyager II                      B6-4
Estes Little Joe II                  A10-3T
Estes Rastrocam/Delta II              C6-3
Estes Astrocam/Delta II               C6-5
Estes Astrocam/Maniac                D12-5
Estes Astrocam/Maniac                D12-7
Estes Skywinder                       C5-3
Quest HL-20                           B6-2
Estes Rastrocam/Delta II              A8-3
Estes Rastrocam/Delta II              C5-3
Estes Maniac                         D12-7
Estes Astrocam/Maniac                D12-7
Estes Astrocam/Delta II               C6-7
Quest X-30                            C6-3
Quest Space Clipper (DC-Y)            C5-3
Estes Rastrocam/Maniac               D12-5
Estes Bullpup 12D                     C6-3
Quest HL-20                           B6-2
Duration of session: 2:45

The gritty details:

Okay, man... I admit it. I had a bad jones for flyin'. Maybe it was just the stress at work... or the stress of buying a house... or the stress of having my car in the body shop for over a month... whatever it was, I needed a fix. I needed to smell that spent gunpowder and stare at the sun, searching for a parachute.

12D launchBob was off climbing Mt. Rainier, so Jim and I headed out for some fun. The day was smoggy, muggy and very warm, but the lack of wind meant that we wouldn't have to run after the rockets too much. We set up at our usual launch place and dropped our stuff in the shade of a handy tree. Since I had just finished the Bullpup the night before, it was our inaugural flight of the day. I was a little worried about the wg (whoosh generator) tube and fin alignment, since I kinda got sloppy during a rather critical phase of construction, but it flew straight enough and landed within 50 feet of the launch pad.

The HL-20 flight was interesting... It flew up about 100 feet, nosed over into a power dive and went unstable upon ejection before it smacked into the ground. Yah gotta admit, it is a fun thing to fly!

Rastrocam/Maniac launchI modified an Estes Astrocam into a rear looking arrangement and call it my Rastrocam. I figured that since I consistently got sky shots on my regular Astrocam, the Rastrocam should at least have some ground in them... The first Rastrocam flight was flown on the Delta II Astrocam carrier with a B6-2 and yielded a really cool shot of our shade tree and me. Jim was too far over to the right. But we caught the components (I recover the camera on a separate parachute) and prepared the Rastrocam for its next flight. This flight used the Maniac and a D12-3 WG. The photo, however is somewhat uninteresting, showing a corner of a building and a tree. The Maniac landed in a different tree, but Jim (as his counterpart on the old "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" always did) bravely climbed up to retrieve it. ("While Jim is wrestling the giant anaconda, I'll be in the tent making commercials. Just as a tigress eats her cubs, so Mutual of Omaha strikes out to save its skin," says Marlon Perkins... but I digress...)

Joe II launchThe Voyager II flew its second ever flight; this one on a B6-4 WG. Nice flight, but the two point suspension I had rigged got snarled up with the parachute. Jim almost caught it and then deftly avoided stepping on it after it hit the ground undamaged. The Little Joe II also made its second ever flight, which was really nice. Jim made a nice running catch about 50 yards from the launch pad.

Rastrocam photoThen we went into a string of camera flights. The Rastrocam/Delta II using a C6-3 yielded another shot of the launch area. I'm pretty sure that I'm the white spot next to the shade, since I launched the rocket from that location. ...pack the tuna fish in mayonnaise... Jim caught the camera which came down much closer to the launch pad than the rocket, which I caught after it drifted about fifty yards away. Next up was the regular Astrocam on Delta II with a C6-5 WG. This yielded a wonderful close-up shot of a cloud... Then we stuck the Astrocam on the Maniac and flew it with a D12-5. The photofinisher didn't even bother to print the negative... It looked like another sky shot. I was pretty sure that would happen, since it didn't appear to us that it had arced over upon ejection. So I stuck a D12-7 in the Maniac and flew it again. ...microwave clothing... I thought this would have yielded a ground shot, but no... nothing but sky. The wind had started to swirl a bit, so Jim got faked out and missed the rocket, but I managed to catch the camera.

To provide a break, we flew the Skywinder with a C5-3 CATOMEISTER. It shot up and spun down to hit about ten yards away from the launch pad. Seeing if we could repeat the weird flight of the HL-20, I stuck a B6-2 into it. It did about one and a half barrel rolls on the way up, ejected and fell horizontally. Just above the ground it rotated onto its tail for landing. I wouldn't have exactly called it a glider... but at least it wasn't damaged.

Back to camera flying, but stupidly... Predicting disaster, I stuck an A8-3 into the Delta II and mounted the Rastrocam onto it. Kids!!! Don't do this at home!!! (Adults can do whatever they want, but be prepared for unstoppable laughter). It lurched up about twenty feet, wallowed sideways, ejected and recovered safely while Jim and I were running for cover. We had started to run underneath the rocket as before, simultaneously realized what an idiotic thing that was to do and pealed off in opposite directions, laughing our butts off. It did give an interesting photo. It makes more sense if you rotate your head 90 degrees to the left (or rotate your monitor 90 degrees clockwise). If that proves too difficult, I've rotated it for you. It looks really foggy because it was pretty much hovering at the time of the ejection, so you're seeing the tracking smoke and ejection gasses around the camera. Continuing the experiments, I stuck a C5-3 in the Delta II, stuck the Rastrocam onto it and fired. This combo isn't recommended either, since the photo shows the rocket was traveling way too fast at ejection. It also looks like the ejection charge of a C5-3 is a lot more powerful than that of the other WGs. The rocket's parachute got tangled up with the fins and came plummeting back to earth, but survived the landing. Jim thought about catching it, but leapt aside at the last minute, fearing grave injury... The camera landed without incident.

shotI then flew my Red Maniac (so-called because I put red stickers on its fins) with an D12-7. After recovery, I stuck the Astrocam on it and flew it with a D12-7. I had hoped for a horizon shot, since I wasn't sure if it had completely arced over upon ejection. Instead, I got this "God" shot. While kinda neat, I could have taken that photo from the ground... Probably just as well: As you can see the sun was behind the clounds, so any ground shot would probably have been too dark to see anything. For one final attempt at a ground shot with the Astrocam, I mounted it on the Delta II and flew it with a C6-7. Unfortunately, the photofinisher didn't print the negative. The negative is seriously underexposed, so the sun may have still have been behind the clouds... I don't really remember. I finished the roll by shooting Jim.

The wind started to pick up a little bit, which was quite welcome... I stuck a C6-3 into the X-30 and flew it next. It flew really well and Jim made a nice running catch. Jim makes a 
running catch Next up was the Space Clipper on a C5-3. I really like to watch this rocket fly...

The final Rastrocam/Maniac (Red) flight with a D12-5 yielded a shot of Lamar Boulevard at the top, with the launch site obscured by the rocket body. I must have been getting punchy from the heat, because I next stuck a C6-3 into the Bullpup and fired it off. I should have known that a three second delay wouldn't be long enough. It was still travelling pretty fast upon ejection and shredded the chute. But I use over-the-canopy rigging which held and the rocket recovered safely, if a bit dirtier than when it started: the nose cone buried itself into the ground upon landing. But all it needs is a good cleaning, and it'll be ready to fly again... but not with a C6-3 again... The last flight of the day was the HL-20, since I didn't have any wadding left, and we had pretty much dehydrated ourselves. I removed a bit of clay off of the tail that I used for trim to see if that would improve its [snicker] "gliding" characteristics. I'm still not convinced that it's a glider, but it is fun to fly.

My flying lust had been sated... for awhile. Rastrocam 
shot of Jim

Sven Knudson, NAR#63297 sven@ninfinger.org