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November 2009 Red Glare VII Launch Report
November 13-15, 2009 at Higgs Farm

Finally Red Glare 7 arrived. Red Glare 7 was delayed into November due to the never ending rains the Mid Atlantic region was experiencing since August. The October launch was previously cancelled due to the constant rains. The rains prevented crops from being harvested and thus not freeing the fields for flying rockets. The rocket gods were still not going to cooperate as we loaded rockets into the trailer in the rain and proceeded to test the trailer lights. There were none so we had to wait. At first hint of sunlight we started our trek to Higgs Farm on Maryland’s Eastern shore in the pouring rain and high winds.

Hurricane Ida had rolled through the Gulf at incredible speeds but then stopped and parked itself over the Mid Atlantic region to provide us with a hell of a nor’easterly that brought very high winds and flooding rains. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge had wind restrictions for trailers but we went through anyway as we are dedicated rocketeers. The high winds buffeted us and the trailer but we persevered. We arrived at the field and met one other dedicated rocketeer. We quickly staked our claim in the mud along the flight line. The compressor in the Highlander then chose to give up with a screeching and rattling noise that must have upset the rocket gods as the clouds opened up even more.

We did not want the compressor to lock up and take out the water pump so we limped over to Easton to have the compressor disconnected and bypassed. Four hours later we were back in the mud at the field standing in the rain with many fellow rocketeers shaking our fists at the angry clouds overhead. After all, we are dedicated rocketeers. The fist shaking did not help so at 2:30 PM we left the field to drive two hours to College Park to pick Ben up from University of Maryland. Ben is also a dedicated rocketeer and did not want to miss the high winds, heavy rains, and all the mud. We arrived back on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and checked into the hotel, ate some dinner, and went to bed. We had no flights for the day.

We woke early and ate breakfast with some fellow rocketeers. We were all giddy with glee as the rain had subsided to a very strong mist. Eager to get muddy, we left for the field. After all, we are dedicated rocketeers. We utilized 4-wheel drive to plow through the mud to our spot along the flight line and quickly set up the awning to keep dry, although with the wind, it really did not help. We had to pick and choose which possible rockets to send into the air. Toni wanted to achieve her level 1 certification so she started to prep her rocket.

Toni’s level 1 certification would also be the maiden flight of her rocket, the Sally Ride. Sally Ride was named after Sally Ride, the first American women in space. Toni prepped Sally Ride in single deployment mode and chose a Loki I405 for propulsion to try to keep it under the clouds. Toni was nervous because of all her hard work that went into the rocket, but she built it to fly and fly it must. The mist subsided and Toni ran out to the field to install Sally Ride onto the pad. The LCO announced that this was a level 1 certification and pushed the button at the end of a short countdown.

Sally Ride roared off the pad in a straight and true ascent until being momentarily lost in the low level fog. The pop of the engine ejection charge could be heard but there was no visual confirmation until the ghostly image of Toni’s custom 72-inch parachute appeared. The parachute was sized for duel deployment and was a bit oversized for single deployment. Nevertheless, Sally Ride slowly descended quite a distance before splashing down in the mud. Success, one flight down and certification level 1 completed. Journey through Toni’s rocketry project and see her Level 1 flight

This encouraged me to prep Shaken, Not Stirred with a Loki H144. I taped a spy camera onto Shaken, Not Stirred for the first time. By the time Shaken, Not Stirred was ready to fly, the rain had reappeared. Two hours later I had Shaken, Not Stirred on the pad and ready for some spying. Shaken, Not Stirred quickly disappeared into the low hanging fog on its way to 1300 feet. The apogee ejection could be heard from the ground and Shaken, Not Stirred soon appeared out of the mist under drogue. The main parachute deployed on queue at 400 feet and the rocket proceeded under mains until smacking the windshield of the landowner’s truck and bouncing into the mud. Luckily the windshield did not break. Shaken, Not Stirred survived the impact as well with only some chipped paint. See the flight from the ground and the rocket here.

The rain started again. Toni took her level 2 written exam and aced it. We then packed up to get ready for the banquet. At the banquet we enjoyed some fine food and vast quantities of alcohol to wash the mud and our lack of flights away. I was also seated as a member of the Board of Directors for MDRA. This is quite an honor which basically means less flying and more working. I accepted the challenge. We stumbled to bed with a prayer for better weather. We had two successful flights to show for Saturday. Yes, we are dedicated rocketeers.

Sunday’s weather was an improvement with predictions of clearing skies and diminishing winds. We skipped breakfast to quickly arrive to our spot of mud along the flight line. Toni wanted to complete her level 2 flight and quickly started her preparations. I assisted in setting up the field; remember that less flying and more working challenge I accepted from the previous night? It must have been the alcohol.

Toni prepped Sally Ride in duel deployment mode. This means she added a payload section and an electronics bay to the same rocket. A level 2 certification requires electronics usage and J-L impulse class engine. The addition of the payload section made the rocket taller. Toni chose a Loki J528 for propulsion and successfully had the rocket inspected. Sally Ride was installed on the pad and was gleaming in the rare sunshine. Fellow rocketeers wished Toni luck as the countdown started. Sally Ride bolted off the pad on the Loki J528 to 1516 feet where it slowly arced over. The Perfectflite HA45K barometric altimeter fired the apogee charge which ejected the 24-inch drogue parachute. Sally Ride descended under drogue until 700 feet where the altimeter fired the main ejection charge and the beautiful red, white, and blue parachute majestically inflated. Sally Ride softly landed in between the cars to the applause of all. Toni successfully achieved her level 2 certification. See Toni’s level 2 flight here.

The field was filling fast and we had to start choosing which rockets to fly and which rockets not to fly. Our Mach Factor 2 project was completed so we all agreed it was now or never. We quickly prepped the Damn Abresch Boys and installed it on the pads with an insane Loki L1400 for propulsion. We licked the carbon fiber for good luck and let the LCO push the button. The Damn Abresch Boys screamed off the pad and soon disappeared into the abyss of blue sky. See the special flight report and find out how the Damn Abresch Boys did here.

By the time we recovered the Damn Abresch Boys and cleaned the engines, Red Glare 7 was drawing to a close. The quickly setting sun was casting long shadows until the shadows combined into darkness. We assisted in closing the field in the dark and started our trek home. Yes, we are dedicated rocketeers.


By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Very muddy field conditions
By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Licking the carbon fiber for good luck
Shaken, Not Stirred in the mud
Sally Ride Single Deployment
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We reflected back on our experiences during our journey home and back up to College Park to drop Ben off. We did not get all of our planned rocket flights in for Red Glare 7 due to the weather, but the flights we did were successful. The Damn Abresch Boys was an extreme flight, even by MDRA standards and its success validated our understanding of rocketry. Toni’s level 1 and level 2 certifications made her gleam with pride and she is now contemplating her next rocketry project. We are all looking forward to December’s launch and better weather. Yes, we are dedicated rocketeers. Until next launch . . .

Sally Ride in single deployment mode ready for level 1 certification
Sally Ride in duel deployment mode
Shaken, Not Stirred in the mud
Licking the carbon Fiber
Sally Ride in duel deployment mode ready for level 2 certification
Muddy Field Conditions
Sally Ride under chute
Sally Ride descending to a successful level 2 certification