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January 2015 Launch Report
January 17, 2015 at Higgs Farm

The first rocket launch of 2015 and as a bonus, January is also the Christmas Tree launch which is the only way to properly disposed of a used Christmas Tree. I eagerly packed up my rocket gear and dragged a very reluctant Toni out of bed and over to Higgs farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this oh so cold January morning. We arrived at the field to blue skies, no wind, and a very frigid 28 degrees. The field was a frozen tundra but everyone knew that it was a mud pit just six inches below the frosty soil. The club made quick work setting up the field.

There were many rocketeers itching to fly. My own last flight was October 2014. November and December weather was a bust with pouring rains and high winds. This day was the perfect rocket flying day despite the frigid temperatures. The field was extra crowded. Of course the annual Christmas Tree launch drew some of the crowds.

As usual, I let other flyers test the upper winds before I was satisfied. I prepared Shaken, Not Stirred with the usual H120 Red for propulsion. Shaken, Not Stirred’s last recovery in October was less than perfect due to the altimeter never detecting liftoff. I gave the altimeter the once over but could not find anything wrong with it. I was nervous at the conclusion of the countdown when Shaken, Not Stirred leapt to the skies on its red plume. Shaken, Not Stirred arced over at 1,360 feet and it appeared that the altimeter fired it charge and successfully deployed the drogue. Shaken, Not Stirred danced over the spectator’s heads until, with much relief, successfully deployed its main. Shaken, Not Stirred landed in the middle of spectator line and straddled a camera man but caused no damaged to life and limb or to the rocket. See Shaken, Not Stirred’s flight to the right.

Toni wanted to fly a rocket but had nothing prepared. Toni teamed up with Bob, the president of MDRA, to fly Kathy’s rocket Hot Flash. They worked hard together assembling the Aerotech J415 motor. Bob and Toni installed Hot Flash on the pad. At the conclusion of the countdown, with high anticipation, the button was pushed and nothing, just a fizzle. Bob and Toni replaced the igniter and once again Hot Flash fizzled and failed to launch. Once again the igniter was replaced and once again the motor fizzled. Hot Flash was removed from the pad and the motor disassembled. The propellant was roughed up to remove the oxidation, the motor reassembled, and Hot Flash was returned to the pad. The fourth attempt appeared to fail but after what seem an eternity, there was a chuff of smoke and the J415 motor soon came up to pressure and slowly lifted Hot Flash off the pad and into the air. See Hot Flash finally take to the skies on the right.

I filmed the various Christmas Tree launches and assisted other flyers throughout the day. The weather forecast called for heaving rains starting in the evening and going into Sunday so we packed up the field in anticipation which was smart as Sunday morning bore witness to the predicted heavy rains. We look forward to February’s launch. See all the day's flights here. Until the next launch . . .

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.

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Contrails indicating the variable winds of this straight and true flight

Toni rtrieving Sally Ride
Click above to see Shaken, Not Stirred's flight video
Contrails indicating the variable winds of this straight
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