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January 2009 Launch Report
January 10, 2009 at Higgs Farm

When it comes to flying rockets, there is a fine line between dedication and stupidity when the weather becomes brutally cold and the forecast predicts rain and sleet for the day. Luckily Ben and I do not know where this line lies as we were back on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for the first rocket launch of 2009. The cold winds were humming across the field. We braved the weather because this was the day of the first annual Christmas Tree Drag Race. Members hauled their discarded Christmas trees to the field, decorated them, strapped on a rocket motor, and pushed the button. Poor Ben and I were mere spectators during this race as Toni would not let us use her new artificial twinkled Bavarian Christmas tree.

To bide time, a Loki H144 engine was loaded into Shaken, Not Stirred. The wind was still humming so the Optimal Trajectory Alignment Process was used on the pad. Shaken, Not Stirred bolted off the pad to an apogee of 1369 feet where the drogue routinely deployed. The two halves danced during its decent until main deployment at 400 feet, where Shaken, Not Stirred gently came to rest close by. See the routine flight here.

Next was Ben’s Queen Anne’s Revenge. This was the second flight of the rocket and a nice Loki H100 Spitfire engine was chosen. Queen Anne’s Revenge huffed and puffed, and chuffed, and chuffed some more before lazily leaving the pad. The rocket slowly ascended and built up speed where at apogee it quickly succumbed to gravity and started its descent. After an eternity, Queen Anne’s Revenge finally popped its chute. It was another eternity before the chute decided to inflate. In the end, Queen Anne’s Revenge proudly flew Blackbeard’s flag and gently settled down close to its launch point. Shiver me timbers here.

Our final flight was Der Big Red Max on a mighty D12. Der Big Red Max skipped off the pad in a hurry with the black powder motor struggling to keep the rocket into the wind. The chute deployed on queue and the 6 oz rocket gently floated to the far back side of the field where a fellow member retrieved it. See the epic struggle here.

There were three participants in the Christmas tree drag race. On the surface, this might initially seem like a bunch of adolescence rocketeers simply looking for an excuse to strap a rocket motor on to something. However, this could not be further from the truth. This was strict science. The difference in the aerodynamics properties of Douglas Fir and Blue Spruce needles was being studied in relation to their drag coefficient of variable bark structure of the limbs as the center of gravity influences the center of pressure when the tree approaches subsonic flight. This valuable information was being recorded and provided to NASA for their Christmas in space program, free of charge. All three trees took flight and were streamer recovery. Witness ole Tannenbaum here.

Enjoy all the weekend flights at MDRA’s Photo section. The rain and sleet finally did arrive as we were packing up for the day. There were no repairs for us and we enjoyed a nice dinner on the journey home. Construction on the Level 3 project has slowed due to a shipping delay of some parts. Keep up with the Quest for Level 3 here. In the meantime some digital paint schemes were created and cool graphics were designed. The level 3 attempt might be moved forward to April if all goes well. The next launch is Valentines weekend and this is going to be costly. Should I celebrate Valentines Day with my lovely wife Toni or fly rockets? Hmmmmm. . . I am open to suggestions. Until next launch. . .

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Shaken, Not Stirred ready for launch
Last Updated: June 6, 2010 11:05 AM
By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Queen Anne's Revenge flying the flag
Queen Anne's Revenge Takeoff
Queen Anne's Revenge under chute
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Queen Anne's Revenge Takeoff
Queen Annes Revenge ascending on Loki H100 Spitfire
Der Big Red Max takeoff
Der Big Red Max ascending on D12