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April 2016 Red Glare 18 Launch Report
April 8-10, 2016 at Higgs Farm

Red Glare 18 was upon us. It is hard to believe that this was the 18th Red Glare rocketry event. Toni and I headed to Higgs Farm a day early to help setup the field. There were many volunteers and field setup was quick and easy. We completed field setup just as the rains came so we headed to the hotel in Easton to dry off and prepared for a nice dinner. We enjoyed dinner and drinks with fellow MDRA BoD members at a restaurant called the Barn in Easton. We hit the sack early as Red Glare Friday would be busy.

True to form, many flyers arrived early to register and get the rocketry projects into the air. The weather was cold, windy, with the threat of rain all day. Shaken, Not Stirred stood at the ready until the afternoon where the winds calmed down slightly.

Shaken, Not Stirred was taken to the pad with its customary H motor that fans have come to expect. Shaken, Not Stirred launch straight as if on a wire in the gusty winds before arcing over at 1,326 feet where the drogue was successfully deployed. The force of the apogee ejection caused the nose cone to dislodge but the main parachute was tightly packed so no risk of premature main deployment was possible. As if on que, the mains successfully deployed at 300 feet. Shaken, Not Stirred came to rest in the tall winter wheat. The continued breeze refused to let go of the main parachute which made locating Shaken, Not Stirred easy in the high grasses.

Red Glare Friday soon came to an end with increasing clouds and threats of rain. Toni and I made our way to the hotel to clean up before our dinner at Hunterís Tavern in historic Easton. The dinner was most excellent and the wine complex. Historic Easton is a beautiful town and we walked the streets until 11:00 PM before returning to the hotel.

We awoke to pouring rains Saturday morning so we leisurely took our time at breakfast before arriving at the field, where it was windy and raining. We managed to launch 6 rockets in between the rain drops before the weather deteriorated. It rain, poured, snow showered, blizzard, sleeted, hailed, and then the process repeated itself. We returned to the hotel and cleaned up in time to enjoy the Red Glare 18 banquet at the hotel where the food was good and the drinks plentiful.

Sunday brought contrasting weather as the skies were blue, the temps warm, and the winds not as strong. We arrived at the field early so Toni could get Sally Ride into the air as Sunday was expected to be a busy day. Sally Ride was on the pad for the second round of the morning. Sally Ride took to the skies on her J425 motor to about 1,600 feet before arcing over and deploying the drogue. Sally Ride quickly descended on the small drogue but the mains never deployed. Sally Ride hit the ground hard and barely missed a parked vehicle by mere inches. Post mortem inspection revealed that the altimeter never detected liftoff. The drogue was ejected at apogee due to motor ejection backup charge. We soon realized the Sally Rideís last flight was at Red Glare 17 where she splashed down in the creek and was completely submerged in water. The water must have corroded something in the altimeter. We were lucky. There were no property damage, Sally Ride was not damaged, and more importantly, no one was hurt. Sally Ride will get a new altimeter and fly again.

We filmed other flights and assisted where we could until the setting sun forced us to close the last launch at Higgs Farm this flying season. We packed all the equipment for the season and enjoyed a toast to a good day. See more Red Glare 18 flights here. Next month MDRA moves to their summer flying season at the Centreville Sod farm. Toni and I arrived home exhausted but satisfied. Until the next launch . . .

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.

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Sally Ride's close call with a vehicle
Everyone looks up at a rocket launch
The flight line was busy with preparations
Toni rtrieving Sally Ride
Click above to see Shaken, Not Stirred's flight video
The flight line was busy with preparations
It was a long
        walk back
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Sally Ride's close call with a vehice