August 20, 2006
The weather was beautiful for our regular monthly club launch out at Great Meadow. The wind was occasionally gusty, but it was almost 180 degrees from the normal direction, meaning that it was blowing down the long direction of the field.
Today I was accompanied by my future son-in-law (it's official as of this week), since we men-folk were kicked out of the house whilst the ladies did wedding-dress things.
We slept in and got to the field a bit after 10am - nice crowd already - and almost immediately I was asked to pull a shift as launch control (countdown and button pusher guy). That's always fun and I love helping out, but doing a two-hour shift of this when we were only going to be there about 3 or 4 hours kinda bit rocks.
Next month the Internats (World Rocket Championships) are being held at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Russia, which is their version of Cape Canaveral. Getting in some last minute practice were several members of the team, launching helicopter, streamer and parachute duration models, and making lots of RC rocket glider flights.
After my shift as LCO (not the full two hours - thanks Bart!), I went and prepped my original Level 1 certification rocket, an upscale of the Centuri Groove Tube. Because of the wind, I really stepped down on the size of the chute. After safety check we headed out to the high-power pads.
1. Groove Tube Upscale - H128W-M - Great boost, slightly weathercocking into the wind. Chute just after apogee and then a long walk to recover.
The guys who launched just before me wound up going in the same direction, as both our rockets were over the treeline at the edge of the field. Henry wound up jumping a barb-wire fence and recovered the Groove Tube, and the other guy found his rocket hanging over some high-voltage wires. Bad news, that. Hopefully the power company was able to send someone out right away and get it down. They try to get to them quickly so they don't cause line damage.
At some point in the flight, my Groove Tube kicked the motor casing. Normally, when the ejection charge fires the pressure ejects the chute, but occasionally the motor will be spit out the back instead because it wasn't secure enough. In this case, the chute came out just fine, but it looks like the motor was kicked backwards enough to bend and twist the brass retention clip, and at some point
during descent the motor dropped free without our seeing it.
The rocket is fine, but I'm mildly annoyed because I have one last motor reload kit that will only fit that casing, and I'm not going to buy a new casing for one more flight. Either I'll borrow one or give the reload to someone to use.
After Henry and I spent a while searching for the lost motor casing (hoping for a lucky break because finding it falls within the realm of 'needle in a haystack'), it was time to go. So I made a grand total of one flight all day.
On the plus side, I got to visit with several good friends and helped a couple of kids make their first-ever rocket flights. I also did a blog-meet of sorts with Dick Stafford of Rocket Dungeon fame (check out his launch report here, he was way more successful than I). He always has something wacky and interesting to fly and I had a great time shooting the breeze with him.
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