Finally, Red Glare VI weekend was upon us. This would be the 5th Red Glare we attended. We only missed Red Glare I. The mobile rocket shack was loaded and hitched so we thrusted our way out of the driveway early Friday morning to stake our claim to a primo spot along the flight line. The vast fields of Higgs Farm were lush and green with cover crop. The rocket gods gave us blue skies, light winds, and 60 degree temperatures this first of three days flying. We quickly set up the awning and started our preparations.
New for this launch was Joseph’s handheld GPS. Joseph would take GPS coordinates of our rockets’ launch and landing points so we can more accurately compute drift of a rocket’s trajectory during flight and descent. Sometimes the upper and lower winds blow in opposite directions and we thought that this information might be fun to know.
Ben wanted to take advantage of the nice weather and stuffed an Aerotech F24 into Canadian Arrow. When the button was pushed, Canadian Arrow quickly shot up to about 1600 feet where the colorful parachute successfully deployed. The rocket was clearly visible against the blue backdrop of clear skies. Canadian Arrow slowly descended and gently touched down 740 feet from its launch point. Witness our first flight of Red Glare VI here.
My only goal for the first day was to accomplish a successful Level 3 Certification. The last six months were spent documenting, building, and preparing the 12-foot, 82-pound, You Only Live Twice for this level 3 attempt. By this point, the butterflies were beginning to get the best of me. See the special You Only Live Twice Level 3 Flight Report here and reminisce over the entire level 3 quest here.
Next up was JP’s Sean Taylor Memorial rocket. This rocket has seen better days and was just repaired this morning from the damage incurred from Red Glare V. The previous problems with early ejections were traced to a defective Delay Adjustment Tool (DAT). With a new DAT, JP installed a Loki H144 and took the rocket to the pad. The button was pushed and Sean Taylor Memorial rocket scooted to an altitude of about 1800 feet. The apogee ejection occurred on time but the air was still hush because no parachute made an appearance. After what seem like an eternity, the main parachute finally inflated and Sean Taylor Memorial rocket gently touched down in the tall grass. The angle must have been perfect because the gentle impact caused a fin to snap off. The rocket landed close to its launch point. See the return of Sean Taylor Memorial rocket to flight status here.
The day was winding down and Ben was getting impatient with the lack of flights from the Damm Abresch Boys. Ben stuffed a G64 into the aft end of Warp Drive. Warp Drive disappeared from the pad in a hurry but was soon spotted high in the sky with it 10-inch parachute. For some reason, the small 10-inch parachute caught an air current and sent the rocket to the next field. Warp Drive was finally found 2,112 feet from its launch point and was recovered just before the John Deere Combine included it in a bale of hay. Witness Warp Drive’s successful flight and recovery here.
Warp Drive was our last flight for the day. We cleaned our rocket engine casings and sat back to watch others fly in the setting sun. We left the field after the last flight and went to Hollys Restaurant to enjoy dinner and some well deserved beers. We checked into the hotel and crashed after dinner, except for JP, who still had a rocket with a broken fin to repair.
We were back on the field early Saturday morning. Saturday morning again saw blue skies, low winds, and even warmer temperatures. We had five flights planned for the day so preparations were quickly started. Toni, Monica, and Marie, our exchange student from Germany, soon arrived at the field to see some rockets fly.
Sweet Vengeance was prepped first. An additional three feet of shockcord was added to the drogue chute to stabilize its descent. A Loki K960 was assembled for propulsion and Sweet Vengeance was taken out to the pad for its third flight. The button was pushed and the K960 engine sent Sweet Vengeance 3389 feet into the air. The drogue deployed on queue and Sweet Vengeance enjoyed a majestic and stable decent until 700 feet where the tether released the main. The rocket safely landed on the field across the street. It was Sweet Vengeance’s best flight yet but unfortunately the auto focus on the video camera could not lock on and the descent was nothing but a blur. At least Sweet Vengeance’s ascent can be enjoyed here.
Joseph prepped Suburban Propane for his first rocket flight of 2009. Joseph chose an Aerotech F52 for this flight which sent Suburban Propane to about 1367 feet where the parachute opened successfully. Suburban Propane descended and touched down just off the field, 1,056 feet from its launch point, and more importunately, just past the trees. See Suburban Propane rare appearance at a rocket launch here.
Shaken, Not Stirred was prepped next. A Loki J396 Spitfire was chosen to take Shaken, Not Stirred close to a mile for the closest to the mile high contest. A radio tracking transmitter was installed inside to guarantee that Shaken, Not Stirred would land close by. The Optimal Trajectory Alignment Process was also used to ensure that Shaken, Not Stirred squeezed every inch of altitude it could. The button was pushed and Shaken, Not Stirred spatted off the pad on a tower of black smoke and sparks and did not stop until it arced over at 5,148 feet, just 132 feet shy of a mile. The entire flight was clearly visible against the blue sky backdrop. Shaken, Not Stirred landed 634 feet from the pad and would go on to win the closest to the mile contest. Sit back and enjoy the long drogue descent here.
Next up was Ben and the Legend of Zelda. Ben had previously won the closest to the 2000 foot contest the last two Red Glares by only being four feet off. This year Ben was gunning for it again with the same combination of rocket and trusted Loki I405 motor. Ben spent a couple of minutes lining up the launch rail and exclaimed all was good. However, by the time the launch button was pushed, a very slight breeze started to blow. This robbed some altitude from Legend of Zelda on what was a perfect ascent and descent. In the end, Legend of Zelda reached 1940 feet and landed 246 feet from the pad. The 1940 feet in altitude ended up to be the closest for Red Glare VI and once again Ben won the closest to the 2000 foot contest for the third time in a row. Witness Legend of Zelda 2000 foot flight here.
The last flight of the day for us was JP’s second flight of Sean Taylor Memorial rocket. The broken fin was repaired in the hotel room the night before. JP stuffed a showoff Loki H100 Spitfire into the aft end and took it to the pad. However, JP was having bad luck with igniters. Sean Taylor Memorial rocket sat on the pad through five racks of launches before a working igniter finally sent the rocket on its best flight for over a year. Sean Taylor Memorial gently touched down 634 feet from the pad with no damage. See JP’s happy flight here.
Once again we cleaned the dirty engine casings, packed up our gear in the trailer and laid back to bask in the sun and the remaining flights of the day. At 06:15 PM we headed back to the hotel to clean up for the MDRA Banquet. At the banquet we enjoyed fine food, cheap beer, and the camaraderie of fellow rocketeers. Maybe we enjoyed the cheap beer too much!
Sunday morning arrived suspiciously quick and we were dragging to get to the field. We arrived at the field by 10:30 AM and assessed the weather. The weather had changed to high clouds and strong chilly breezes. The breezes were blowing into the parking area so we unanimously decided to relax and watch others fly, visit the vendors, and provide assistance where we could. We talked with Steve Eves about his pending Saturn V flight next week and assisted as pad managers with a birthday party of young aspiring rocketeers. Before we knew it, Red Glare VI concluded and we were packing up the field. Next month we will relocate to the Central Sod Farm.
On our journey home we reflected back on Red Glare VI. I had successfully achieved my Level 3 Certification. I had also won the closest to the mile high contest. Ben had once again won the closest to the 2000 foot contest. JP worked out his problems with ejection delays. Joseph flew a rocket. We all had great flights and were heading home with no repairs. It was a great rocket launching event for us. We decided for next Red Glare, we will design and construct a rocket that is capable of exceeding mach speeds so that we can participate in the Mach Madness contests. It remains to be seen if we can pull this off in time. Until the sod farm . . .