January is usually very cold but Saturday, January 12, 2008 was not the normal January day. The day was just simply not that cold. At the last minute we grab some rockets and made our 2-hour trek to Maryland's Eastern Shore to go flying.
The winds were up and coming from the west which allowed plenty of room to recover the rockets. However, being the pessimists we are, we decided to sit back and watch everyone else fly, thinking that the winds will lay down later in the day. That was not to be the case and by three in the afternoon we had come down with a severe case of launch fever.
Joseph prepped his Suburban Propane Rocket with an Aerotech G64. This was to be the third flight of this rocket. The first utilized the ballistic recovery method, the second faired much better on a F52, and today was to utilize the largest engine to date against these winter winds.
At the same time, I noticed the winter sun quickly setting and hurried to prep my own rocket. I chose to fly my level 1 rocket, a V2/R2 Variant. This was modeled after the German V2 that the Russians stole after WWII and stretched, hence becoming the R2. I assembled my trusted Loki H144 and scurried to the pad.
Somehow Joseph and I ended up on the same rack which we always try to avoid because we need each other's eyes to track our rockets. But the sun was sinking like a lead weight and the temps were going with it. Suburban Propane was first to take to the skies. It shot off the pad like an arrow and halfway through the burn, it took on an ass wobble, however the nose pointed up and the rocket kept ascending until it disappeared. Joseph had to utter those dreadful words that no rocketeer ever wants to utter, "where did it go?". Luckily, the eagle eyed LCO saw it and pointed it out.
The small 15-inch yellow chute camouflaged itself quite well in the dreary winter sky. We watched it touched down about a half mile away and lined up two land marks so we can later retrieve it. Of course I laughed and told Joseph to enjoy the exercise.
My R2/V2 was next. This was my first High Power Rocket that I constructed and was my level 1 rocket as well. It holds a fond place in my heart, however, I used a ¼ launch lug rather then rail buttons when I built it. I was regretting that decision as I saw it on the pad swaying back and forth like a Florida palm tree in a hurricane. Luckily the motor came up to pressure and the rocket had a fairly vertical ascent where the parachute deployed about a second after apogee. It then followed the same descent trajectory as Suburban Propane , landing about 400 feet beyond. I guess I needed some exercise as well.
We retrieved our rockets in the setting sun and dropping temperatures. In all, it was not a bad January day.