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February 2009 Launch Report
February 15, 2009 at Higgs Farm

We originally thought our rocket flying ability would be hampered by Valentine’s Day weekend, but the rocket gods took pity and sent Toni out of town. With a reprieve of our Valentine’s Day responsibilities, Ben and I packed up the Highlander and returned to the Higgs Dairy Farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to launch some rockets. The field saw sunny skies with moderate temperatures. There was a strong chilly breeze that was predicted to dissipate later during the day.

We arrived early and parked along the flight line. The wind was blowing so Ben prepared Warp Drive with an Aerotech G64. Warp Drive’s small 15-inch chute would not be highly influenced by the winds. Warp Drive skipped off the pad with fury and soon ascended into the deep blue yonder. The small parachute was just about invisible at 2500 feet. It was not until Warp Drive descended to a lower altitude that the naked eye could see that all was well. Warp Drive safely landed in the field next to the road. Experience warp speeds here.

The winds had increased so Shaken, Not Stirred was prepared with a Loki H144. The duel deployment and the Optimal Trajectory Alignment Process would keep it in the field. The H144 motor came up to pressure at the conclusion of the countdown and Shaken, Not Stirred struggled against the high winds to slowly ascend to 1320 feet. The apogee chute deployed and Shaken, Not Stirred danced wildly during its descent. The main parachute deployed successfully at 400 feet and Shaken, Not Stirred landed safely close by. The strong winds still would not relinquish its grasp and continued to try and blow Shaken, Not Stirred aloft again. Witness Shaken, Not Stirred one year birthday here.

The winds finally started to decrease a little. The 240ns motor was removed from Shaken, Not Stirred and cleaned. A Loki H90 Red was loaded into the case and installed into Ben’s Queen Anne’s Revenge. Queen Anne’s Revenge has a spill hole in its parachute which would drop it back in the field. Queen Anne’s Revenge launched into the wind with a long arc before the 8-second delay finally ejected the parachute. Queen Anne’s Revenge descended while flying Blackbeard’s flag and touched down close by. See the red propellant’s plume propel the pirouetting pirate rocket here.

The wind had finally subsided to a breeze by mid afternoon. The 5.5 inch diameter V2 was taken to the launch pad with a Loki I405 installed. V2 rockets with their short length and four large fins tend to arc into the slightest of breezes. Great care was taken to align the launch rail to perfection. V2 bolted off the launch pad under the power of the I405 and arced into the breeze as predicted. Eight seconds later the delay ignited the 2 grams of black powder and pushed the parachute clear of the body tube. It soon became evident that something was wrong. The parachute was not inflating. V2 was pulled quickly from the sky by the heavy nosecone. The nosecone stuck the hard landing in the field while slamming the rest of the rocket into the ground. With much trepidation, Ben and I made the walk of shame to retrieve it. Much to our delight, V2 was not seriously damaged. The parachute had become quite tangled. It took 10 minutes to untangle the chute before returning the rocket to the flight line. Witness the curse of flying V2 rockets here.

Maxi Alpha was still recovering from a repair made a couple hours earlier due to damage incurred in the car during transit to the field. The 5-minute epoxy took over an hour to set in the cold weather but was dry enough come launch time. The breeze had subsided some more so Maxi Alpha was prepared with an Aerotech E28. Maxi Alpha fizzed off the pad to about 1100 feet where the main parachute deployed at apogee. The 28-inch chute brought Maxi Alpha to a nice and slow touch down within the launch field. Enjoy Maxi Alpha’s 24mm propelled flight here.

Ben prepared his tried and trusted Canadian Arrow with a black powder D12 for our last flight of the day. Canadian Arrow sizzled to about 500 feet on the black powder motor and landed under full chute at our feet. Experience the up close and personal flight here.

We packed up our rockets and gear and sat back to enjoy the remaining flights in the quickly diminishing sunlight. After the last flight, we assisted in packing up the field and started our 2-hour journey home. It was a good February day and we live to fly another month. The construction of my level 3 project is completed and pending final ground testing before painting. I have moved the level 3 certification attempt forward to Red Glare VI. Red Glare VI is April 17-19, 2009 and if you like rockets, plan to attend one of these days. Get the latest news at My Quest for Level 3 page.
Steve Eve’s launch of the 36 foot Saturn V is scheduled for April 25, 2009 between 12:00 noon and 02:00 PM. Backup date is April 26, 2009 between the same hours. Even if you do not like rockets, plan to attend this historic launch that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the rocket that allowed men to walk on the moon. Follow the final countdown here. Ben and I will soon be returning to Higgs Dairy Farm to assist in the construction of the launch pad for this very large rocket. Until next launch . . .

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Ben with Warp Drive
Last Updated: June 6, 2010 11:05 AM
By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Ben with Queen Anne's Revenge
Shaken, Not Stirred in the wind
Queen Anne's Revenge under flag
Ben with Queen Anne's Revenge
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Ben with Warp Drive
Shaken, Not Stirred waiting in the wind
Queen Anne's Revenge under flagV2 waiting for liftoff
V2 waiting for liftoff
V2 with tangled parachute
V2 with tangled parachute
Maxi Alpha waiting for liftoff
Ben with Canadian Arrow
Maxi Alpha waiting for liftoffBen with Canadian ArrowV2 on its way
V2 ascending towards its ill fated recovery