hard to believe that Red Glare 14 was already here. It seemed like
yesterday that we attended our first Red Glare which was Red Glare 2. I
returned from business at Philadelphia in time to pack another bag and
throw Shaken, Not Stirred
and Sally Ride
into the Highlander. Toni and I
left O’Dark thirty in the morning for Maryland’s Eastern Shore with no
stops. We drove through one torrential downpour after another before
arriving at the mud pits formerly known as Higgs Farm. It quickly became
apparent that Red Glare Friday would become a bust after every rain
cell east of the Mississippi made sure to pay us a visit and dump its
precipitation upon our heads. Despite this, we set up the field and
managed to get seven rockets into the air. Toni abandoned me for
shopping at the outlet malls while I was left at the field absorbing
rain, mud, and cold chills before wising up and leaving the field at
five. A quick hot shower at the hotel revived me and a nice prime rib at
Annie’s salvaged the evening. Red Glare Friday was disappointing.
We awoke early Saturday morning to sunny skies and mild temperatures.
After a quick sausage and egg biscuit, we arrived at the very muddy
field. The Highlander’s all-wheel drive strained in the mud amongst
sounding alarms and flashing dash lights as we weaved around other
buried vehicles before sliding into our spot along the flight line. We
hoped the sun would dry the fields when it was time to leave as we did
not relish spending the night.
Red Glare Saturday is the busiest day of Red Glare and Toni and I knew
we would not get a chance to fly. Toni assisted at the registration desk
while I assisted other flyers, managed the pads, and filmed some flights.
The day was a contrast from the previous and despite the very muddy
conditions, the racks were always full of rockets and the skies were
always speckled with colorful parachutes. I stayed late at the field to
close down while Toni headed to the hotel to get ready for the Red Glare
I met up with Toni and we headed to the VFW behind the hotel for some
cheap drinks, nice food, and the camaraderie of other rocketeers. We
drank away the muddy memories of yesterday, focused on the great day
today, and looked forward to an even better day tomorrow. It was a short
stumble back to the hotel and we had no problems finding sleep.
Sunday morning brought the promised sunny skies. Toni and I left early
to prepare our rockets and try to get a flight in before the crowds
returned. We arrived at the field only to find that we were not the only
ones with such a great idea. I prepared Shaken, Not Stirred
with a CTI
H225 White Thunder motor while Toni prepared Sally Ride
with a CTI J425
Blue motor. Soon we had both our rockets on the first rack of the day.
Shaken, Not Stirred
would be the first off the pad. I returned to my old
method of preparing the apogee ejection as the new method was simply
not working and was burning my drogue chutes. I hoped this would be a
nice flight as the spectators began to arrive and were anxious to see a
rocket take to the skies. Shaken, Not Stirred
rumbled off the pad,
arcing through the sun to an altitude of 1,499 feet and majestically
deployed her drogue chute. Shaken, Not Stirred
descended and deployed
her main parachute in the sun. Shaken, Not Stirred
floated nicely under
her mains before coming to a rest just on the other side of the muddy
drainage ditch. See Shaken, Not Stirred's beautiful flight here.
Toni’s Sally Ride
was next to launch. Sally Ride
is a larger, heavier
rocket than Shaken, Not Stirred
, but Sally Ride
had a J425 for
propulsion which would push her higher. At the end of the countdown,
screamed off the pad on her blue plume to an altitude of
1,619 feet where she arced over and deployed her drogue. She waltzed
during her decent before deploying her red, white, and blue patriotic
parachute at 700 feet. Sally Ride
came to a safe rest close to where she
launched. See Sally Ride take to the skies here.
Toni and I clean our motors and then went about assisting where we could
or filming other flights. Red Glare Sunday during spring is a bitter
Red Glare as that marks the end of the flying season at Higgs Farm. We
soon packed the equipment away and organized for the summer flying
season at the Centreville Sod Farm. We enjoyed a beer in the setting sun
while reflecting over the weekend’s events. We met everyone at Ledo’s
on the way home to wish Nick a farewell as he is being re-deployed to
Japan. Toni and I arrived safely home where we had no problems falling
asleep. The next launch will be at the Centreville Sod Farm in May.
Until the next launch . . .