October 2009 rocket launch was canceled due to rain. The 3-day Red Glare VII launch in November 2009 had one good day for flying due to rain. December 2009 rocket launch was canceled due to snow. When January 2010 arrived, there were many rocketeers east of the Mississippi itching to fly and Toni and I were among them. The weather forecast called for high clouds, mild temperatures, and low winds for Saturday and high winds and steady cold rains for Sunday. We took about a nanosecond to agree that Saturday would be the day to fly.
Toni and I loaded a couple of our rockets into the Highlander early in the frosty morning. Ben wanted his 18 hours of sleep so we left him behind and scurried to the Maryland Eastern Shore. We just made it across the Bay Bridge before an accident closed both spans. We arrived at Higgs Farm and assisted in the field setup. As predicted, the temperatures were mild and the winds very low. The field was expected to be crowded due to the nice weather and the 3rd Annual Christmas Tree Drag Race. People were quickly arriving from as far as New York.
Shaken, Not Stirred was prepared with a Loki I210 Red for propulsion. Shaken, Not Stirred was to take advantage of these low winds and soar to over 3600 feet. This was to be the first time Shaken, Not Stirred would fly on an “I” impulse class engine. A new rocket camera was taped to the rocket to document this cool occasion. Shaken, Not Stirred jumped from the pad on its red plume and quickly camouflaged itself into the high broken clouds. It had disappeared and no one had it in sight. I did not expect that the rocket would travel out of sight on an “I” so no radio tracking was installed. In a small panic, I started to twirl in place like a ballerina, while scouring the horizon for the main parachute that should deploy at 400 feet. Just as hope faded, I spotted an orange parachute far in the distance, too far to be Shaken, Not Stirred, or . . .?
A previous rocket that was expected to hit 9000 feet had landed down the same sight line. I anxiously hopped into that rocket’s owner truck and we drove to the distant horizon. We left the truck and started our quest to retrieve our rockets. He went east and I headed west. After about 15 minutes of hiking around muddy spinach patches, I came upon Shaken, Not Stirred with the new camera jammed deep into the mud. I quickly turned the camera off and in my haste, I did not flush the buffers that allowed the camera to write an EOF. The nice onboard video was lost to the winds, never to be seen my human eyes. ERRRRR!
Shaken, Not Stirred was muddy but otherwise undamaged. I packed it up and started my long trek back to the launch site. I was picked up along the road and enjoyed a cushy ride for the last mile. Shaken, Not Stirred had arced over at a respectable 3,712 feet. While the winds on the ground were low, the upper winds were gusting quite hard and carried the rocket about ¾ mile as the crow flies from its launch point. With the lost onboard video, all I have is the pretty red plume that can be seen here.
I cleaned the camera and taped it to Toni’s Sally Ride. Toni had prepped Sally Ride with a Loki J528 and she soon had the rocket standing proudly on the C-rack. Sally Ride is a very stable rocket with very little spin which we believe would provide some excellent video. Sally Ride scooted off the pad and rose to 1,508 feet where once again, it was camouflaged into the high broken clouds. It was quickly picked up again when the drogue deployed. Sally Ride was also buffeted by the high upper winds and drifted quite a distance before the main parachute deployed at 700 feet. Sally Ride came to a soft touchdown over the hill. This time the camera buffers were flushed which forced the EOF. See the cool flight and onboard video here.
I also brought my 5.5 inch V2 but with the high upper winds blowing, I deemed it not wise popping an apogee deployed parachute at 2300 feet. No worries though because this was the day of the 3rd Annual Christmas Tree Drag Race. Rocketeers from all over the eastern seaboard schlepped their discarded Christmas Trees to Higgs Farm just to strap a rocket motor to it and proudly drag race them. Some rocketeers even dumpster dived for trees because their uncooperative spouses would not let them near their artificial trees. There were three heats and none disappointed. See the proper way to disposed of a Christmas Tree and some of the other fun action here.
The winter’s sun was quickly setting and the mild temperatures were bidding a farewell. We cleaned our motors and socialized with other rocketeers until it was time to pack up the field. We stopped at Old Stein Inn on the way home and enjoyed a nice German dinner. We reflected back on this nice January day while Toni enjoyed her Dunklebier und me, my Rauchbier. Until next launch . . .