The weekend of April 18-20 was our much anticipated Red Glare IV weekend. It was the last launch using the skies above the vast fields of Higgs Farm on Maryland's eastern shore. Soon the crops will be planted and we will relocate to the summer launch fields of the Central Sod farm. Red Glare is one of the largest rocket launches east of the Mississippi, with an FAA waiver of 17,000 feet. Ben and I grabbed our rockets and smoked tires out of the driveway toward our 3-day rocket odyssey.
Friday was blue skies with no wind. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) were onsite learning about how hobby rockets are not a threat to National Security. Since all my paper work was in order, we prepped our rockets and started to fly.
New for this launch was a high definition Cannon HG10 video camera to record our successes and document our failures. Ben's young eyes and quick reflexes made him the perfect candidate to track these high speed rockets. Ben's new responsibilities now became videographer as well as photographer.
The first rocket was Ben's Canadian Arrow. Canadian Arrow was a stretched V2 that the Canadians were going to build to win the X-prize. They never built it. Ben chose an Aerotech F24 motor and let if fly until the parachute was barely a dot in the sky. We recovered it successfully. See Canadian Arrow
The next rocket was my German V2. Everyone loves the V2 rockets but you do not see many being launched due to the center of gravity and lack of space to pack chutes. However, I love the V2 and the challenge of flying them. I flew my V2 on a Loki I405 motor that sent it into the sky in a hurry with a perfect recovery. Listen to the cool whistle after engine burnout at V2
Next was my R2. Again the R2 is a V2 that the Soviet Union stole from the Germans after WWII and stretched. This was my original level 1 rocket and I made it disappear into the skies using a Loki H144 motor. We safely recovered it about a half mile from the launch pad. See the launch at R2
Ben had prepared his Warp Drive painted in a Star Trek motif. Ben and Joseph have very similar rockets and they always try to compete with each other. Ben chose an Aerotech G64 motor and sent it on its way. Ben never has to trek far to recover his rockets see Warp_Drive
The next rocket was Ben's Legend of Zelda, a 9-foot rocket named after a popular video game. The rocket has a barometric altimeter where we eject the drogue at apogee and the mains at 700 feet. We have flown this rocket before and were familiar with its performance. We entered it in the 2000 foot contest using a Loki I405 motor. The closest to 2000 feet is the winner. See the flight and how he placed at Legend_of_Zelda
The sun had started its descent so I grabbed my mini R2. I rebuilt this rocket from a crash during Red Glare III and painted it in a scheme like my big rocket, Sweet Vengeance. I chose an Aerotech E28 motor and let her rip. See Mini_Sweet
We spent rest of the day cleaning our motor casings. Six flights was a lot and we headed to the hotel and crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
Saturday saw blue skies with slight winds. We headed to the field early to prep our big rocket, Sweet Vengeance. Again, this is a stretched V2 and this was its maiden flight. We waited until Saturday for Joseph, June, JP, Marc, and our secret brother, Bruce to show up. This rocket has an accelerometer base flight computer and a barometric flight computer as backup. Ben and I developed a 4-page checklist for this rocket. We flew it on a Loki K960 motor that sent the rocket out of site. However, our recovery was less than perfect. Sweet Vengeance arced over and started its descent using the unintended ballistic recovery method. The rocket was whistling and people were scurrying. At 1000 feet the main ejection occurred, shredding the drogue chute and zippering the main rocket. Ben and I performed a post mortem and discovered that our checklist was wrong. I had color coded our wiring scheme to make it idiot proof but our checklist had the colors transposed. We released the mains that were using the Defy Gravity Tether system at apogee, which had no effect and popped the drogue at 1000 feet. We were lucky however, in that we recovered our rocket in a shape that can be repaired. Please excuse my colorful metaphors and witness our embarrassment at NotSoSweet_Vengeance
Ben prepared Klingon Warrior . This rocket was a gift from my Mom many moons ago. Despite its size, everyone likes it. Hey, it is Star Trek and this rocket has NOT been available for over 20 years. The rocket was designed for C engines however Ben chose to send it into battle using an Aerotech D13 motor. Kaplah!
My next rocket was Shaken,Not Stirred. This is fast becoming my favorite rocket and is a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves 007 and naked lady silhouettes. This rocket also has a barometric altimeter ejecting the drogue at apogee and the mains at 700 feet. Here is its perfect flight at MI6
JP had built a rocket to honor Sean Taylor, the Redskin safety that was murdered last year. The rocket was beautiful and also drew much attention. It was simply called 21. Obviously, ballistic Joe (Joseph) must not have helped JP with the pre-launch preparations as JP successfully received his level 1 with a perfect flight. Congratulate him at Cert1
Sunday brought the winds, which is usually not a problem, however, in this instance, the winds were blowing directly to an island of trees. We chose not to fly. When we left, the trees were decorated with many colorful parachutes, none were ours. On our journey home, Ben and I discussed that we need to go higher, altitude wise. For Red Glare V in October, we hope to have a radio tracking system and of course, Sweet Vengeance repaired. Visit the club at MDRA and join us for the thrill of hobby rocketry.