Toni and I left early
Friday morning to perform our assigned Red Glare duties. Toni was doing
pre-registration, sales, and assisting between registration and RSOing.
responsible for the Range Safety Officers (RSO) desk, running the MDRA
contests, and assisting in the filming of rocket flights for Rockets
Magazine. The weather
blustery with gusts exceeding 20 MPH, a far cry from the gentle 8 MPH
forecasted. Early arrivals kept the registration desk busy. The
launches started slowly before picking up later in the day due to “Go
While there was time to sneak a flight in, the gusty winds kept our
packed safely in the trailer. Day 1 ended with no flights and wind-burn
but it was not a total loss. We dined for the night at Annies along
while sipping vodka martinis, shaken, not stirred of course.
On day 2, Toni and I awoke
early to try to sneak onto the field and prep a rocket but
everyone else had the same idea. The warm sun was shinning in the
and the winds had laid down which made for a perfect rocket flying day.
The field was
and there were rockets overhead at any given time. There were over 200
the parking lot with more flyers and spectators arriving. We believe we
MDRA record for the most flights in a given day. Toni was busy at the
registration desk and I was filming, signing up contestants for the
contests, and ensuring all was ok at the RSO desk.
Day 2 also saw MDRA member Curt
Newport onsite signing his book, Lost Spacecraft – The Search For
Bell 7, where he chronicled his experiences during his search,
recovery, and restoration
Grissom’s sunken Mercury Space Capsule over 3-miles deep in the
purchased a copy, and some artwork titled “Moment of
Discovery” and was extremely lucky enough to get an actual
Bell 7 Mercury Capsule. I will add this artifact to my other Liberty
memorabilia. Day 2
was far too busy to even think about sneaking a rocket into the air.
ended with no flights. Check out what a busy MDRA field looks like
here. That night
the MDRA banquet where the Damm Abresch Boys were awarded flight
being the “Badest in the Land” for 2009 due to our Mach Madness win a
year ago. Toni and I then returned to the hotel and crashed for the
“Go Fever” had set
in and Toni and I awoke even earlier, skipped breakfast, checked out of
hotel, and headed to the field for day 3. Yes, blue skies, low winds,
flyers still recovering from over indulging in cheap banquet drinks.
our time. I broke out Sweet Vengeance
that was prepped since Red Glare
year ago and assembled my Loki K960 motor. Toni extracted her Sally Ride
trailer and started assembling her Loki J528. We were ready to fly when
taken to the C-Cell and carefully installed on the launch pad. The
accelerometer based flight computer was armed first with the backup
HA45K barometric altimeter next. Sweet Vengeance
is a difficult rocket
recover due to limited space inside the rocket. It uses a tethered
holds the main recovery parachute in place until the altimeters
releases it at
a programmed altitude. Sweet Vengeance
has complex channels for preventing the wiring from tangling and
ejection chimneys to direct the ejection blast forward
main parachute bag. Everything must work in unison for the rocket to
At the end of the
Vengeance roared off the launch pad doing 310 MPH on
powerful Loki K960 and arched over at 3024 feet. The apogee ejection
pushed the drogue parachute out as designed while the main parachute
held inside the rocket’s body by the teather until it was time. Sweet
Vengeance descended at 36
fps under drogue until the tether system fired at 700 feet,
main parachute and allowing the drogue parachute to pull it free before
separating into two pieces. Sweet Vengeance’s
nose cone now descended
own chute while the main rocket descended at 24 fps under the main
Due to a wind shear between 1000 – 2000 feet, Sweet Vengeance
some distance before landing inside a fenced area of a welding shop.
I hopped into the car
and drove the 3 miles by road to the welding shop where I found Sweet Vengeance
recovered and sitting on the front sidewalk. As luck would have it, the
owner was inside the fenced area feeding his ducks and saw the flight
put the rocket out front for me. I thanked the owner and loaded Sweet Vengeance
into the vehicle for its ride back to the field. Close inspection
damage and Sweet
Vengeance lives to fly another day. Witness the
and the coveted successful tethered recovery here.
Toni was next with her Sally Ride. Toni entered Sally Ride into the Predict Your Own Altitude contest with a prediction of 1500 feet. Toni installed Sally Ride on the pad and was interviewed by Rockets Magazine for an upcoming DVD video. After the interview, the button was pressed and Sally Ride took to the skies on her Loki J528 motor until arching over at 1448 feet where she deployed her drogue. Sally Ride quickly descended through the wind shear layer before popping her mains at 700 feet. Sally Ride came to rest without any damaged in the green field. Toni’s 52 foot difference in her prediction held during the remainder of Red Glare and Toni won a 1/24 scaled Mercury Redstone from Sheri’s Hot Rocket. This is a great kit from a hot gal. See Sally Ride's flight here.
By this time it was back to work and we worked through the rest of Red Glare IX with our assigned duties. And then, as fast as it was started, Red Glare IX was over. Toni and I had enjoyed watching other rockets red glaring overhead as much as our own. The weather was great, the crowds large, Road Kill Cafe's food was delicious, and the company outstanding. After assisting in breaking down the field, we sat down and enjoyed a beer with other MDRA BOD members and reflected back over a very busy launch weekend. Toni and I were happy even though we only snuck in one flight apiece. We packed the trailer and headed home in the dark, discussing future rocketry projects. Enjoy all of the Red Glare IX fun here. Until the next launch . . .