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January 2011 Launch Report
January 15, 2011 at Higgs Farm

The January rocket launch is not only the first rocket launch of the year, but more importantly, it is the rocket launch where everyone flies their discarded Christmas Trees. Toni was sick so Ben and I packed the Highlander and headed to Higgs Field for the 4th Annual Christmas Tree launch. On the way we stopped at Batters Up for some breakfast. We both stuffed a gut for a total of 15 bucks and walked out with most of our uneaten breakfast in containers. We soon arrived at the farm and quickly had the field ready to put up some rockets,,, and Christmas Trees.

High temperatures were forecasted in the low 40s with low winds and clear skies. Clouds were forecasted for later in the day. The fields were covered with snow from the recent nor’easterly with a light crust of ice protecting our boots from the obvious mud hiding below. The bright sunshine gave the illusion of warmth as the field started to fill up with flyers.

I waited for others to fly ahead of me so I could judge the upper winds. A small Estes rocket soon proved that the winds were not a concern so I took Shaken, Not Stirred to the pads with its customary Loki H144 for propulsion and the Q-Cam taped to the side. Shaken, Not Stirred took to the skies on a straight ascent before arcing over at 1,182 feet and deploying its drogue. Shaken, Not Stirred danced during its descent until the mains were deployed at 400 feet. Shaken, Not Stirred came to rest in the snow with no damage. See the flight and onboard video here, and listen to the sizzle of the hot engine as it comes to rest in the snow.

Ben meanwhile was taking his Level-2 written examination. Ben puffed out his chest upon learning of his perfect score and got busy preparing Legend of Zelda for his Level-2 flight. Ben chose a Loki J396 Spitfire for his Level-2 engine and soon had Legend of Zelda prepped and on the pad. We strapped on the Link-Cam to document the flight. Ben claim he was not nervous however, during the countdown, everyone could see the customary angst in his face. At the conclusion of the countdown, there was a small pop, a puff of smoke, and then nothing. The igniter failed to light the engine and Ben would have to wait until the next rack before retrying.

When the pads were declared safe, Ben replaced his igniter with a Quickburst that would guarantee ignition but he had to wait until everyone else got their rockets prepped for this new rack. Meanwhile, the video camera was still taking video of the launch pad and Ben’s altimeter batteries were beeping away in the cold air. Finally, Ben was given priority and Legend of Zelda took to the skies, pushed by black smoke and titanium sparks. Legend of Zelda arced over at 2,230 feet and successfully deployed its drogue. Everyone watched in anticipation until finally the main parachute was deployed at 700 feet and Ben was declared a Level-2 Rocketeer. Ben smiled as fellow members shook his hand in congratulations. See Legend of Zelda’s successful Level-2 flight here.

My Mini Sweet Vengeance and Ben’s Canadian Arrow were in the back of the Highlander. These are the same rocket kits from Estes so we decided to drag race them on Estes D12 engines. The trash talk continued as the rockets were prepped and taken to the pads. In the end, when the button was pushed, it was Mini Sweet Vengeance that left Canadian Arrow coughing in its smoke. In fact, Canadian Arrow FAILED TO LAUNCH, thus giving Mini Sweet Vengeance an easy victory. I explained to Ben that it all comes down to skill and experience but he would have none of that. See Mini Sweet Vengeance easily whip up on poor Canadian Arrow.

Canadian Arrow eventually took to the skies after Ben replaced his igniter. However the flight was anticlimactic all by itself. Canadian Arrow landed without any damage. See Canadian Arrow take flight here.

Ahhhh, but January is about the Christmas Trees. This was the fourth year and participation had been steadily increasing. The entire C-Rack was dedicated to the Christmas Tree Launch and when the button was pushed, there were Christmas trees and wreaths, flying all over the place. Some over pressurized and others performed physical acts of aerobatics not seen anywhere else. Pine needles and Christmas ornaments were strewn everywhere. Those in attendance were not disappointed. See how MDRA recycles Christmas Trees here.

Soon the clouds arrived and pushed the illusion of warmth away. The small barrier of ice had melted and no longer provided protection against the mud as everyone started to sink deeper and deeper. The launch ended as the sun set and the shivering became uncontrollable. On the way home we discussed my new rocketry project which will be documented here. Ben was happy with his successful Level-2 and I was happy that I had no repairs.  See all the days fun here. Soon we were home eating the rest of our breakfast for dinner. It was a good breakfast, a good dinner, and a good day. Until next launch . . .

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Peter with Shaken, Not Stirred and Ben with Legend of Zelda before the flights
Legend of Zelda high over the Eastern Shore Skies
By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Peter is the easy winner
V2s on the pad ready for the
        drag race
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Return to December 2010
          Launch Report

        back at Road Kill Cafe
Looking back at Road Kill Cafe
Peter with
        Shaken, Not Stirred
Legend of Zelda
        high over the Eastern Shore Skies Ben with Legend
        of Zelda
Sweet Vengeance was the easy winner of the drag race

Mini Sweet Vengeance and Canadian Arrow ready to duel it out in a drag race