Roars of thunder and flashes of lightning stirred me out of bed early Saturday morning. I rushed downstairs to quickly analyze the Maryland’s Easter shore weather radar. I looked at the cold fronts coming in from the north and the swirling mass called Hurricane Bill that was sneaking up the Atlantic Coast from the south. YES!, there would be a launch window opportunity. I rushed upstairs and gingerly woke Toni with a very long stick. An hour later we had some rockets in the back of the Highlander and were headed to the Central Sod Farm to put some chutes into the air.
There was slight flaw in this wonderful analysis. The plowed, dusty field that we flew from just last month was now a bottomless mud pit. The owner of the sod farm graciously suggested an alternate location and we quickly started work setting up the new field. The hot rays of the sun that snuck through the intermittent clouds caused the moisture to rise off the spongy sod making the field hot and humid. There was not a dry shirt on the field and everyone took a long break after the field was readied. This was to become a typical August day in Maryland.
Shaken, Not Stirred
was prepared with a Loki H144 for propulsion. The chutes were carefully packed into the rocket. Toni assisted in installing Shaken, Not Stirred
on the pad. The first two rockets suffered igniter problems making Shaken, Not Stirred
the first launch of the day. Shaken, Not Stirred
scurried to 1,300 feet and was lost in the changing patterns of the quickly moving clouds at apogee. It was soon sighted again during its descent and under drogue. The main parachute popped at 400 feet bringing my favorite rocket to a soft landing in the soggy sod, just feet from the launch pad. There is only one way to enjoy a martini and you can see it here.
Next rocket was Maxi Alpha
. This rocket was prepared in July but did not fly due to the high winds. Unfortunately there was not much as a cooling breeze this hot, humid, sticky, August day. So with no excuses, Maxi Alpha
was taken to the pad with an Aerotech E28 motor. The original copperhead igniter failed and was replaced with a first fire igniter. Maxi Alpha
zipped to about 1100 feet on the quick ignition and its oversize chute dutifully deployed at apogee. Maxi Alpha
majestically descended onto the soft squishy sod with no damage. Enjoy its noble descent here.
Rumbles of thunder could now be heard in the distance but there was still another rocket to fly. As with Maxi Alpha
was prepared to fly in July but did not due to the winds. R2/V2’s
parachute was packed and the rocket taken to the pad with a Loki G80 that would send it to about 800 feet. The rocket motor was slow to come up to pressure but it eventually achieved liftoff and arched during its ascent. Once over the top, it performed its characteristic imitation ballistic recovery before ejecting and deploying the main parachute. R2/V2
slowly floated down and landed in the spongy sod with all fins intact. See R2/V2’s tame flight here.
The clouds grew darker and the thunder closer. Toni and I grabbed a quick sandwich and started to pack up. By the time the thunder was overhead, we had the motors cleaned and the rockets loaded into the Highlander. As we left the field at 04:30 PM, the clouds opened up and dumped a torrential downpour of rain which did not ceased until arriving home two hours later. It was still a nice day as we did managed to fly three rockets in the small weather window, and returned home without any repairs.
The Mach Factor 2 project continued, barely. The electronic sled was completed and some electronic parts were ordered. Toni is making progress with her rocketry project and is well on her way to completing it in time for Red Glare VII. Catch the latest Rocketry Project status
here. Until next launch . . .