MTMA Launch: March 11, 2006, Summit County Fairgrounds
I woke up the morning of the launch to calm and foggy conditions, but the fog moved out before I got to the field. The weather's been unseasonably warm for the past few days and today was no exception. It started off in the low 50s and was due to rise to the upper 50s by mid-afternoon, although scattered showers were also in the forecast for mid-afternoon. It was mostly cloudy, but the cloud deck was pretty high.
Our FAA waiver had not yet been approved, so we were flying under LMR rules, with notifications made the previous day to the FAA and nearby KSU airport
Present for this launch were Bruce and Ben Levison, Ray Behanna, and myself. My brother-in-law came out to watch with his wife and son, and my wife stopped out for a bit too (with lunch for me).
Ben Levison (Bruce's son), a Boy Scout, has been working on a new rack launcher for the club for his Eagle Scout project. Today was the date of the official presentation to the club. The launch rack is constructed of PVC tubing in a saw-horse fashion with two sections of 4 pads each. It can be connected for 8 pads together, or separated (limited only by the length of the attaching cable) for 4 "near" pads and 4 "far" pads. We set it up in the separated configuration so that F's and G's could be launched from the "far" rack. The beauty of this system is its ability to be broken down into small sections for transport in a car trunk. In keeping with the "small sections" theme, the system uses two 12-volt gel cells, one to power each rack of 4 pads, and a compact controller connected to the "near" rack. The racks and controller worked flawlessly and I was proud to be able to sign-off on the project for Ben and offer my congratulations for a job well done.
Throughout the day, the four flyers present put the launcher through its paces, and subjected it to a bit of abuse--rocket exhaust abuse, that is! The PVC rack now sports a bit of character in the way of scorch marks. Pictures of a couple of my own abusive rockets will be posted to our web site in the coming days. In all, the four of us launched 26 flights ranging in impulse from A to G. Ray and I flew 9 times, with the Levison father and son team flying 8 while manning the controls most of the day.
The Levisons put up a host of Custom and Estes rockets with their FlisKits Deuce's Wild logging the most impressive flight. The showpiece of their fleet, however, was their clone of the Centuri Jayhawk.
Ray showed off his wide assortment of scratch-built rockets including his D-to-D 2-stage rocket that arced over toward the woods and wound up stuck in a tree. Ray was able to throw a line over the branch and coax it to release his bird. Maybe as a little payback, Ray offered his "So Long" Rocket to the Rocket Gods. This tiny bird was propelled out of sight on a C6-7--on purpose! Hopefully that buys us some good grace for future launches.
I flew an assortment of stock and modified Estes rockets, including my Shadow "5", as well as my CR4 on an Aerotech G64. My best and worst launch happened on the same flight--my stretch HelioCopter on an Aerotech D13-4 18mm RMS motor--what an awesome boost and great altitude followed by...nothing...no ejection, ballistic recovery through a tree. Snap! Crackle! Pop! The carnage was audible from the range. The tube looked like a team of Far Side rocket scientists threw it together and all 3 fins were forcibly removed, but the RMS-18/20 was safely recovered.
To close the day, Ben and I did a drag race with his Estes Mach 12 on a C6-3 against my son's scratch-built Fireball on a C6-7. The two rockets executed an amazing pirouette after launch as they took to the sky. We knew we were in for a long walk and took advantage of the opportunity to look for some lost items from last season. At our late October launch, Bruce lost a black nosecone from one of his scratch projects, and I lost an Aerotech RMS-24/40 casing when it kicked out of my Shadow "5". The long grass in the down-range area made the chances of finding these items nil last fall, but through the course of the winter, the grass has been knocked down and withered. Bruce didn't find his nosecone, but he found my casing! Thanks again, Bruce! Eagle-eye Bruce also found an Estes Bandit in the grass. Mother Nature and the field mice have ravished the body tube, but I'm sure that a yellow nose cone and black plastic fins will be showing up at a future launch on a scratch-built project by the Levisons.
What a great way to start off the 2006 launching season. We all look forward to nice weather and good company. Our next launch is on Saturday, April 8, 2006, at the Summit County Fairgrounds.
-- Mark Recktenwald Stow, Ohio NAR #77432 L1, MTMA (#606) President MTMA web page: