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July 2012 Launch Report
July 28-29, 2012 at Central Sod Farm

It was a late July launch but it coincided with a week “at home” vacation so the timing was perfect. Toni and I packed some rockets and a change of clothes and headed to the Eastern Shore early in the morning to beat the Ocean City traffic across the Bay Bridge. Everyone met at Holly’s for breakfast before separating to whittle some time away until it was time to set up the field.

The sod farm is open in the morning for business on Saturday so we must wait until it closes. We arrived at the field and made our way down the long driveway. On the left was the large diesel engine that tirelessly clattered away pumping huge amounts of water along the underground irrigation system before releasing it in a spray over the soft green sod. The weather was hot and humid with a wisp of a breeze every now and then. We took our time setting up the field in the heat and took many water breaks.

Once the field was set up we took a break in the shade. At the sod farm one must bring their own shade and the awnings and umbrellas were prevalent along the flight line. There was a very high, thick, hungry soy bean field separating the sod and the woods edge. Every time a rocket landed in the bean field you could hear the field belch in delight. Many rockets went in but only a few came out. We studied the flights and the upper winds of those that flew before us. Once satisfied, Toni started her preparations of Sally Ride.

Sally Ride had just passed away and Toni wanted to dedicate this flight in her memory. Toni received help from a fellow woman rocketeer. They packed the main parachute and installed the shear pins. Toni chose the CTI J425 Blue for propulsion. After a lengthy RSO inspection, Sally Ride was installed on the pad and the electronics were armed. After a brief dedication, Sally Ride quickly ascended to 1,572 feet where she slowly arced over and ejected the drogue parachute. Sally Ride quickly descended under the tangled drogue until the mains ejected at 700 feet. Sally Ride continued to majestically descend while drifting further and further away. Sally Ride finally just missed the irrigation plumbing and came to rest in the soft sod close to the road. The unusual landing pattern of rocket, shroud, and parachute formed an awareness ribbon pattern. See Sally Ride’s memorial flight here.

With Sally Ride’s success, Shaken, Not Stirred was prepped next. A CTI H143 Smoky Sam was chosen for propulsion. After a very close RSO inspection boarding on anal, Shaken, Not Stirred was finally cleared for the pads. The launch pad angle was tweaked to ensure that Shaken, Not Stirred cleared the hungry bean field. Shaken, Not Stirred quickly ascended on its dark thick black contrail until arcing over at 1,307 feet. Shaken, Not Stirred successfully deployed the main parachute at 400 feet and swayed under the main parachute while it descended until it smacked the raised hatchback of a minivan before bouncing into the soft sod. Luckily there was no damage, and the minivan survived as well. See Shaken, Not Stirred’s 45th flight here.

That was the last flight of the day for us. We relaxed and filmed some other flights until closing the field for the evening. Toni and I checked into the hotel for a quick shower as we had reservations at The Narrows. Eight of us made the short trek to The Narrows restaurant. Toni and I enjoyed the great company while eating the best soft shell crabs east of the Chesapeake Bay. We were one of the last to leave the restaurant but there was another day of flying rockets ahead of us and we needed some sleep.

We woke early to enjoy a hearty breakfast at Holly’s before heading back to the field. We had other rockets with us but decided to kick our feet up and enjoy the breezes that were absent the day before. We filmed some flights and helped where we could until it was time to close the field down. We made quick work of packing and storing the equipment and reluctantly started our journey back to the Western Shore. We stopped at the Crackle Barrel for dinner and enjoyed a nice blackberry cobbler before the final leg home. It was great weekend flying rockets that was made better knowing that we could relax the week at home. Until the next launch . . .


By Peter E. Abresch Jr.

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Not a breeze stirring
Toni rtrieving Sally Ride
Sally Ride, first American woman in space (1951 - 2012)
Shaken, Not Stirred waiting for the button to be pushed
Sally Ride's ribbon landing pattern
Dragon Fly hitcher
Not a breeze stirring
Return to the Launch Pad
        Ride's ribbon landing patternShaken, Not Stirred
        waiting for the button to be pushedDragon Fly hitcher
Sally Ride, first
        American woman in space