The Mid-Atlantic region experienced unusual warm temperatures and a deluge of rain just prior to this December Launch. The rains and warm weather departed, leaving blue skies, low winds, and low temperatures in its wake. The high was forecasted as 35 but the arctic breezes gave it a real feel of about 25. The freezing temperatures did provide thin permafrost across the field that protected us from the oozing mud that was lurking just below the surface. The winds had long won the battle with the leaves in the trees, leaving a typical barren Maryland winter landscape. However, being the hobby rocket enthusiasts we are, Ben and I were excited to be at the Higg’s Farm on Maryland’s frigid Eastern Shore to fly some rockets.
The field was prepped and launching commenced around noon. It soon became apparent that the cold breezes found no problems whizzing through the unobstructed field, making brief moments without gloves and hoods unbearable. This caused longer than usual prep times as the delicate prep work could not be completed while wearing gloves.
Ben and I chose to drag race our identical Out Of Production (OOP) stretched V2 rocket kits using Estes D12 black powder engines. These rockets are evenly matched. Canadian Arrow was built using CA glue and Mini Sweet Vengeance was built more robustly using epoxy, making it a half ounce heavier. This half ounce really became apparent as the button was pushed and Canadian Arrow bolted off the pad with Mini Sweet Vengeance struggling to catch up. Both rockets immediately arced into the wind. Canadian Arrow reached a slightly higher altitude and deployed its main parachute while Mini Sweet Vengeance’s lower ballistic trajectory popped its chute just before impact. Both rockets survived intact. It was cool! See the V2 race for space here.
Shaken, Not Stirred was on the pad next with a Loki H144 for power. There was concern that the cold weather would rob some precious voltage from the meager 9-volt battery powering the electronics, thus possibly preventing the ejection charges from firing. However, I felt confident in the Perfectflite HA45K and continued with the prep. I used my secret Optimal Trajectory Alignment Process and adjusted the launch pad angle to reduce the retrieval walking distance. Shaken, Not Stirred left the pad on its optimized trajectory to an even 1400 feet and soon was lost in the vastness of blue sky. Its descent was only evident by an erratic flicker of the sun’s glint until the main parachute finally opened at 400 feet above our heads. The HA45K altimeter did not fail and Shaken, Not Stirred landed almost an arm’s length from where I was standing. Enjoy, just a drink, a martini, shaken, not stirred here. By the way, avoid the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, as I found it quite disappointing.
The winds started to lie down and the temperature rose to a balmy 37 degrees. We grabbed a quick burger at the Road Kill Café and enjoyed the sunshine. The ice began to melt and the field began to get muddy. Legend of Zelda was prepped with a Loki I405. It quickly ascended to 2044 feet where the drogue chute successfully deployed. Legend of Zelda quickly fell until reaching 700 feet where the main parachute opened directly overhead. It slowly drifted down until the vengeful rocket gods took control. The rocket gods carefully guided Legend of Zelda to a 15-foot wide drainage ditch that was still holding water from the recent rains. Legend of Zelda splashed down into the center of this water. We quickly retrieved Legend of Zelda, dripping wet, and proceeded to dry it off with shop towels. Even though the electronics section was full of water, the HA45K altimeter was still beeping its altitude. This was a good sign. We laid Legend of Zelda in the sun to dry out. The main concern was swelling of the phenolic tubing from the inside that can destroy the rocket. Only time will tell. See the great flight and wet landing here.
We had other rockets to fly but chose to keep them grounded due to the cold weather and the quickly setting sun. We visited with club members and filmed some level 3 certification flights. I sought advice and queried varying construction techniques from the MDRA’s TAP members concerning my level 3 project. My level 3 project is a 12-foot, 8-inch diameter, all fiberglass rocket projected to weigh in at about 70 pounds. My Quest for Level 3 can be monitored here. We wish everyone to have a blast during this holiday season. Until 2009 . . .