Shadow Clone

At the recent NEFAR launch, my clone of the Estes Shadow made it's first flight. I'm excited about this rocket for a number of reasons.

The Shadow is one of my favorite Estes kits - really good looking and big.

My original Shadow survived dozens of flights on D12 and E15 motors. It was also repaired quite often. I replaced body tubes, fins, the launch lug, etc. Because it didn't go very high, I had to fix it after just about every D flight and most E flight. The last time I launched it was at an SRA launch a couple of years ago. It managed to seek out the rare paved area to land. With a major crunch in the lower body tube, I decided it was time for it to retire.

About a year ago I bought the parts to build a heavier, more sturdy 1:1 clone of the Shadow designed to fly on F and G motors. But I didn't have time to work on it until a couple of weekends ago. I used an Aerotech body tube with pre-cut fin slots and a motor mount with their "fin-lock" system. I cut the fins from thin plywood. Even though they didn't "lock" in the fin-lock system, the fin-lock stuff made it easy to keep the fins straight.

I painted the rocket in the rain the night before the NEFAR launch. So it needs to be sanded down and re-painted, but it still looks good.

It was hot on Saturday at the sod farm where NEFAR launches. It was really, really hot. But the clouds were high and there was little rain. I launched the Shadow clone on an F20-4 for it's initial flight. It flew almost perfectly straight, nearly met another rocket on it's way down. The parachute pop out at just the right time and it floated gently to earth.

The parachute's a little too small and it came down fast. But I rigged it so the nose touched down first and there was no damage to the rocket. The altitude it reached on an F was more than I expected and the flight was so stable that I think it'll fly well on an E motor as well. I may put a little bigger 'chute in it for E and F flights, but still use the smaller one when I try a G motor.

Photos are at:

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You'll also see photos of "Akavish" - the "spider" rocket my wife and I made. It's based on some styrofoam balls, wooden dowels, and lots of black yarn. We flew it first on a D12-3. It flew well, but only reached about

100 feet in altitude. The parachute ejected just before it hit the ground. There was no damage, so we tried an E15-4 motor next. That flight went well, too, but the ejection charge burned the motor tube. So we stuck the top of the guy's head back on as well as we could and tried an F21-4 motor. That flight was really nice, but the ejection charge wasn't able to pop off the guy's head so he came in ballistic. Fortunately, ballistic for him was nice and slow and he only bounced once before settling in the grass. There was no damage, so we'll replace the motor tube with a heavier one for the next launch.

-- Roger

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Roger Smith
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