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Last updated: Mar 27, 2003
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March 2003 launch report (3/22/2003)

STS-107 Memorial Launch
In honor of David Brown, Mission Specialist (Capt., USN) of Columbia.

Hey, it's pretty nice outside!

On Saturday, March 22nd, MASA members gathered at Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake.  For only the 2nd time in club history, MASA was having a March launch!  With sunshine, blue skies, temperatures approaching 50 and only a light breeze, 119 flights took to the skies in only 3 hours from a "misfire alley" range.  A sizeable MASA crew was joined by a group of Civil Air Patrol Cadets who eagerly uncovered the various failure modes of Estes Banshees..

Big thanks and applause to:

  • Mike Erpelding - for filling the back of his truck with gear and hauling it an hour-and-a-half each way
  • LCO volunteers:  Glen Overby, Stuart Lenz, Mike Erpelding, Russ Durkee

A few of the flights:

MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the launch! 

Stuart Lenz writes:

At 6 AM, the sky was overcast and hazy, with no wind. By 9 am, the sun was peaking through and the haze was gone. Launches started at about 9:15 with Glen acting as RSO/LCO. Ellison flew the first test rocket, an expendable design that was mostly engine and fins and used a wine cork as the nose cone. I launched the Estes foam Space Shuttle (of Doom) on a C6-3, worked better than it usually does except that the core ejection occurred within the launch pad area.

We had a visiting group of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadets who had all built Estes Banshees which they repeatedly launched on different engines and different launch rod angles.  They accounted for 39 of the rockets launched. At 10:00, I relieved Glen as RSO/LCO and for the next 45 minutes had a large handful of flight cards and was continually busy. We were running the launch as a Misfire Alley with 7 low power pads and 4 communal mid power pads plus the 5 ROTC pads. There seemed to be an unending supply of rocket ready to launch

By 10:45, I was glad to turn RSO/LCO duty over to Mike as I had a new collection of MicroMaxx rockets to test out, many of which turned out to require additional nose weight to improve their stability. Ellison launched several of my gliders including the Centuri Mach 10 Clone, my rebuilt ARV Condor and a Flat Cat. My new MicroMaxx glider worked very well with a 20-30 second glide on an 1/8 A engine, not bad for a less than 4" wingspan.

Notable flights were Marks "Quad Bertha" on 4 B6-4 engines, all of which lit, but unfortunately the chute failed to fully deploy, Glen's RFR as a two stage that failed to stage but still had the sustainer go to 300+ feet, Alan had many good flights launching them two at a time. Ted arrived sometime after 10:00 and had his usual good flights of his Mars Lander, Orbital Transport and two with a Silver Comet.

Around 12:30, as we were just finishing clean up, a police patrol car came by as a result of a neighbor complaint, something to do with the military launching rockets in the school yard (the CAP Cadets were in their fatigues). She left when we convinced her that we had permission, were just finishing up, and were already cleaning up our litter.

Ted Cochran writes:

Seth and I arrived to a field already set up and rocking and rolling.

I had intended to fly my Estes Space Shuttle, but realized halfway through prepping that I'd left the fins at home. Sigh. I made it into a static display instead.  So I flew the Orbital Transport, which made an absolutely marvelous flight with both parts landing in the grass.  My Kosrox Mars Lander made a nice flight, too, and stuck the landing.  The first launch of the Silver Comet (its 30th flight) on a C11-3 led to one of those rare, absolutely picture perfect flights. Minimal arcing, dead stop at apogee, ejection just as it starts to tail slide, and a great recovery. I tried to repeat that moment later in the day, and got the more typical arcing, but nice flight.

Seth flew his Fat Boy, I flew the Skywinder. The ARV Condor was next and turned in it's usual rain of pieces, with two of them floating down slower than the others--one of them much slower.  The Sling Wing made a flight on a 1.2A motor. I think it got higher than we could have launched it with the rubber band catapult, but I'm not sure. The glider stayed up well over 30 seconds, though.  Makes me want to build a more optimized carrier rocket for it.

I had lots of fun watching, too. The launch rate was very good; I think we're getting a lot of benefit from our hybrid misfire alley set up. A lot of MASA old(?) timers did a bunch of flying. Russ, Mark, and Lee all put up a lot of rockets. Alan had several nice flights, including a couple of two stage rockets, and I'm pretty sure he kept them all off the roof.  The Carpenters had a wonderful SR-71 launch, and a fantastic Death Star flight, and got their whimsically painted Skywinder off the roof without too much trouble.

Glen's Aerobee 300 was very pretty; the two stage was prettier before he flew than after. Mark Thell's BeBeBeBertha flew way better on B6-4s than it would have on A8-3s, but you'd think that at least one of the chutes could have elected to deploy! Russ tried to take our picture--again--and got the other side of the field instead--again!

The Lenz's don't get a prang nomination this month. Stuart spread 1/2A worth of impulse over a half dozen micromaxx flights, but I can't nominate unstable micromaxx rockets for a prang award and keep a straight face <giggle>. Ellison flew a bunch, too, including the spool. Someone ought to stop him before he flies a bobbin -). But given their past, um, success in this award category, we're all jaded. They'll have to come up with something pretty spectacular to get our attention this year, huh?

Instead, I nominate David Gensler's Heat Seeker. It's amazing how long a B4 motor seems to burn in an unstable rocket -)

Honorable mention is a multi-way tie to the CAP cadets, who (Alan said it best) "eagerly uncovered the various failure modes of Estes Banshees."

They did get us over the 100 flight mark for the day, though.

Not a bad launch day, especially for March!

Alan Estenson writes:

After a bout of feeling poorly, Saturday's fine weather encouraged me to fly my first rockets since last October. After one look at that muddy softball infield, I set up a pair of Estes pads with my KISS 2-pad controller on the grass at the far end of pad row. I thought that the misfire alley setup worked well and had pretty constant throughput. I particularly enjoy prepping, flying, and recovering my rockets in pairs; it lets me make better use of the time available. Having pretty much lost my voice, I did duck out on LCO duties.

I first flew a Stomp rocket (B4-4) and followed it with an old Mini Patriot (A3-4t) (seemed appropriate, given current events.) Next up came an assemblage of spare parts, MQ-2 (A8-3); its chute refused to un, err, crumple. Lofting the Xactron Projectile on a B6-4 preceded a shock cord separation and one broken fin.

For round 3, my Dynamic Carrier suffered from bonus delay on a B4-4; the late ejection left it with a slight zipper. However, Chain Lightning (sustainer only) then made a perfect showing on a D12-5. Round 4 started with my Der Big Red Max clone. It's starting to look worse-for-wear, but made a very nice C6-5 flight. I followed it with a 2-stage flight of my Zenith 2 (B6-0 to B6-6). It arced quite a bit but staged well for a successful flight.

My last round of flights included a nice C11-5 flight of my Rocketvision Six Pack. It's one tough little rocket. My final flight of the day was another 2 stager; Longshot on C11-0 to B6-4. It performed very nicely and had a near vertical flight.

The continual barrage of Banshees was only one of the day's spectacles. I enjoyed Ted's flight of his KosRox Mars Lander. Perhaps I'll get around to building mine someday... Stuart was persistent in his attempt to lower the average N-s per flight statistic. Ken had a number of fun-to-watch flights; he flew quite a few larger rockets on C11 motors.

The Details:

Full launch tally (in Adobe Acrobat PDF form, requires version 4 or newer of the Acrobat reader)

The totals were:  119 flights, 127 motors.  The cumulative total impulse was 827 Ns with an average total impulse of 6.5 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 7





















(Alan Estenson)

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