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April 2014 Red Glare 16 Launch Report
April 11-13, 2014 at Higgs Farm

Red Glare 16 finally arrived. Toni and I packed the Highlander full of rockets and enough cloths to last us three days. We left for Maryland’s Eastern Shore Thursday night and stopped at the Narrow’s restaurant for some fine dining. We relaxed with a bottle of wine and enjoyed the setting sun knowing that this was going to be a busy Red Glare weekend. We arrived at the hotel late in the evening and hit the hay for an early start.

We knew Red Glare 16 would be crowded. This was the first good weather predicted for Higgs farm of the winter flying season. We woke early and managed to get in front of the other Red Glare flyers that were staying at the hotel. The weather was breezy with clear skies and balmy temperatures that would reach the 70s, which would make this day the warmest day of the year so far. I prepared Shaken, Not Stirred for an early flight as Red Glare veterans know that Friday is the day to fly without waiting in line. I took Shaken, Not Stirred to the pads once I was satisfied with the upper winds. I had trouble focusing the camera but the LCO indulged me until I was ready.

Shaken, Not Stirred bolted to the skies on its red plume to 1,262 feet before arcing over and deploying the drogue chute over the flight line. The breeze tried to carry Shaken, Not Stirred back to the field before the main parachute deployed. However, Shaken, Not Stirred did not quite make it and came to rest along the flight line over some tables. Luckily there was no damage to any equipment along the flight line or the rocket. Click the Shaken, Not Stirred video to the right and enjoy Shaken, Not Stirred's 65th flight.

Ben arrived around noon with Joseph. Joseph dusted off his rocket called Suburban Propane that has not flown since April 2009, almost five years prior to this date. Joseph ditched the Aerotech motor for a new CTI 29mm case and chose a CTI F52 for propulsion. Suburban Propane scooted off the pad on the short burn and flew straight and true overhead until deploying her mains at apogee and dislodging the nose cone. Suburban Propane came to a safe landing close by much to the delight of Joseph. Joseph recovered Suburban Propane and the separated nose cone without any damage. Click the Suburban Propane video to the right to see the rocket once again take flight.

Not to be outdone, Ben prepared his Queen Anne’s Revenge with a CTI H143 Smokey Sam and took the rocket to the pad. Queen Anne’s Revenge rode its dirty black plume to about 1,500 feet before deploying her main at apogee and unfurling her colors while over the crowd. Queen Anne’s Revenge drifted a short distance before coming to safe landing. Click the Queen Anne’s Revenge video to the right and see Black Beard reign the skies once again, or was that the seas.

JP finally arrived and we spent the rest of Friday preparing the Damn Abresch Boys for its second flight. We were hoping to exceed Mach 2. We removed the delay charge and cut down the end of the motor to allow an eye bolt to be attached for the recovery harness. The electronics were prepared as well and the Damm Abresch Boys was stowed away for an early Saturday Flight. Red Glare Friday came to an end. We left the field to eat some sushi at Ichibons before returning to the hotel to wash away the day’s dust and spent propellant residue before once again hitting the hay.

Saturday morning brought clear skies, warm temperatures, and barely a breeze. We arrived back at the field very early to get the Damn Abresch Boys up into the air. The Damn Abresch Boys was to fly on a CTI K2045 VMAX motor and the expectation was about a Mach 2 flight. We installed a radio tracker to be deployed with the main and took Damn Abresch Boys to the pads. After a brief introduction from the LCO and a 5-second countdown, the Damn Abresch Boys blinked out of existence and was lost to the skies. Anticipation built as we waited for the “beep beep” of the radio tracker being deployed. Just when we thought the rocket was lost the “beep beep” signal could be heard loud and clear signifying a main deployment. A quick acquisition revealed the Damn Abresch Boys majestically descending under full mains a short distance away.

We quickly recovered the Damn Abresch Boys and started to download the flight data. The flight data revealed better speeds than expected and showed Mach 3.06. This was suspicious but we reported the data anyway until we could get confirmation and analyzed the data more closely. Closer analysis led to the realization that the initial data of 3363 f/s was inaccurate. There were many mistakes made along the way starting with inaccurate flight simulation data, pulling incorrect data from the Raven Altimeter, and an incorrect calibration of the accelerometer. The following is a more accurate synopsis of the second flight of the Damn Abresch Boys.

Max Speed was 1,443 f/s (Mach 1.31) far slower than 2,050 f/s when the Damn Abresch Boys first flew on the Loki L1400 in November of 2009. Max altitude was 9,768 feet barometric. Damn Abresch Boys pulled a maximum 74.84 Gees just 6 feet above the launch rail traveling 194 f/s. Motor burnout occurred .6675 seconds after ignition at altitude of 431 feet. Max velocity of 1443 f/s occurred at .7425 seconds after ignition at an altitude of 541 feet. Damn Abresch Boys coasted to 9,768 barometric AGL altitude in 21.65 seconds before arcing over, separating, and starting her drogueless descent. The mains were ejected at 300 feet and fully inflated at 263 feet. Damn Abresch Boys touched down undamaged after 2 minutes and 41 seconds from ignition. It was a fun flight with extreme in your face speeds. Click the Damn Abresch Boys video to the right to see what fast is. We will go back to the drawing board to see if we can break Mach 2 and stay under 17,000 feet.

The Damn Abresch Boys was our last and only flight of the day. The field became crowded with anxious flyers. We filmed other flights and assisted with the launch until it was time for the Red Glare banquet. The banquet offered fried chicken, crab cakes, and inexpensive drinks to wash the days dust from our mouths. Fortunately the banquet is a short walk to the hotel which allowed us to stumble back for much needed rest.

Red Glare Sunday arrived and we woke early to get some more rockets in the air. Toni prepared Sally Ride with a CTI 425 Blue propellant and took the rocket to the pads. The temperatures were cooler with overcast skies and an increasing wind. Sally Ride was launched with the second rack of the day and ascended to 1,604 feet where she dutifully deployed her drogue over the gathering crowd. Sally Ride deployed her patriotic mains at 700 feet and was carried by the winds over to the narrow stream where she splashed down into the water. Sally Ride was recovered wet but otherwise undamaged. Click the Sally Ride video to the right to see Sally Ride take to the skies.

The winds steadily increased before JP finally arrived at the field with a mission to get his Sean Taylor memorial rocket up into the air. JP chose a new CTI H110 for propulsion and finally had Sean Taylor on the pad late in the day, with the ever increasing winds. This was also Sean Taylor first flight in five years. Sean Taylor had a beautiful ascent and successfully deployed the drogue parachute right at apogee. Sean Taylor then drifted quite some distance and landed on the other side of the stream. It took JP and his recovery team quite a long time to find the rocket. It is believed that the wind dragged the rocket along the ground as far a half of a mile.

Sean Taylor was the last flight for us. We reluctantly packed the field up for the season at Higgs Farm. It was a short season at Higgs due to field unavailability and bad weather but Red Glare 16 ended the season on a good note. In May, we will return to the Central Sod Farm in Centreville for the start of the summer flying season. See all the Red Glare 16 videos here. Until the next launch . . .

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Damn Abresch Boys was autographed by a Space Shuttle Commander

By Peter E. Abresch Jr.

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Damn Abresch Boys safely touched down a short distance from its launch point
Sally Ride landed in the stream
This stream is surprisingly easy to land in
Toni rtrieving Sally Ride
Click above to see Shaken, Not Stirred's flight video
        Kill Cafe and Animal Motor Works
Damn Abresch
        Boys safely touched down a short distance from its launch point
This stream is
        surprisingly easy to land in
Sally Ride landed
        in the stream

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