Toni, Ben, and I packed the Highlander with our favorite rockets and started our trek to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We stopped at Burger King in Chester to collect our “must have” set of Star Trek glasses before continuing to the Central Sod Farm. Our return to the Central Sod Farm for the first summer launch of 2009 brought cloudy skies, moderate breezes, and cool temperatures. The forecast predicted clearing skies with diminishing winds as the day progressed. A cool day at the sod farm beats a scorching day at the sod farm anytime. We assisted in setting up the field in the lush soft green sod and then started preparing our rockets.
Ben just turned 18 and was now eligible to become certified. Level 1 entails that the person must be 18 years or older, build the rocket, successfully fly the rocket on H or I class motors, and then successfully recover the rocket without damage. Previously for Ben to fly H and above motors, someone over 18 and certified (that would be me), had to assemble the engine, pack the ejection charges, and share the name on the flight card. Ben chose his Legend of Zelda
rocket for his level 1 certification and because this was his level 1 certification, Ben performed all the preparations himself. Ben wasted no time and chose the familiar and reliable Loki I405 for propulsion. Ben assembled and installed the engine, packed his ejection charges, folded and installed his parachutes, and completed his electronics checklist. Other then assembling the engine and ejection charges, this was old hat for Ben. Legend of Zelda
successfully passed the Range Safety Officer (RSO) inspection and was taken to the pad where the igniter was installed and the electronics armed.
The LCO completed the countdown and Legend of Zelda
leapt off the pad and quickly vanished into a low level cloud on its way to 1,948 feet. It reappeared about 15 seconds later during its descent. The rocket had already separated at apogee and the drogue chute was opened, so far, so good. At 700 feet the main parachute successfully opened and the rocket slowly drifted to a successful level 1 certification landing, much to the applause of fellow MDRA members. Congratulate Ben here.
Next rocket on the pad was Shaken, Not Stirred
. A faulty igniter was replaced and Shaken, Not Stirred
was shaking on its rail for its Loki H144 boost. The drogue chute leader was extended by 13 inches to reduce the spinning while under drogue and I was anxious to see its effect. Shaken, Not Stirred
bolted from the pad in the strong breeze and arced over at exactly 1,300 feet where the drogue deployed. Shaken, Not Stirred
majestically descended under drogue without spinning until the main parachute deployed at 400 feet, or was it 300 feet? Shaken, Not Stirred
bounced in the soft sod upon landing. See the flight here.
Our final rocket of the day was my old, rusty, trusty, crusty R2/V2
. This was my level 1 rocket and it was loaded on the pad with a Loki G80. The Optimal Trajectory Alignment Process was used to angle the launch rail. At liftoff, R2/V2
slightly struggled against the diminishing breeze to about 800 feet and slowly arced over, and arced over some more, and then some more, and a little bit more until finally ejecting its parachute. I think R2/V2
needs to be re-weighed and its optimal delay recomputed since it might be a tad heavier from some recent repairs. Witness the almost “Da Bomb” flight here.
We went about cleaning our motor casings and relaxed with other MDRA members. The field buzz was still about the record breaking flight of Steve Eve’s Saturn V
just three weeks prior. I filmed some other flights which can be seen here
. Ben and I extracted various knowledge from fellow rocketeers concerning our joint venture with Joseph and JP for the new Mach Factor 2 project
. Parts for the project are still being ordered. It was a nice day for flying and we headed home with no repairs. On the way home we stopped at Old Stein Inn to celebrate our 24th Wedding Anniversary and Ben’s successful level 1 certification. The authentic German Dinner was the exclamation point at the end of a nice day of flying. Until the next launch . . .