April 2005 launch report (4/26/2005)
On Saturday, April 23rd, MASA held its third launch of the
year. This was the first MASA launch at the new site near
Nowthen. It turned out to be
very un-April weather with cold temperatures and a stiff wind.
The sun was shining, though, and a bunch of rocketeers turned out
for the event. A shiny new FAA waiver was also in place for
Prez. Mike Erpelding put in stellar duty with launch equipment,
range setup, and running a MASA sectional contest. Mike
deserves a big round of applause! Let's all be sure to help
out at launches this year; Mike can't do everything (and he
shouldn't have to!)
MASA Sectional Contest was: 1/2 A Boost Glider Duration, C
Streamer Duration- Multi round, Open Spot landing, Drag Race
A few of the flights:
MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the
Ted Cochran writes:
Seth and I got there at a leisurely 11:15 or so, to find
about ten cars worth of folks flying. The field is very
nice--perhaps even nicer than the old Fricke's, because the
woods are farther away and there are no power
If you look at the map on the web site, we flew off of
field 2, near the road. I took a look at Keyhole and measured
the distance south to the road, past the tree--it is 4000 feet
away! If the wind is blowing from any
Northern quadrant, we should be just fine.
We are going to have to figure out a way to park that
doesn't have rockets flying over cars, though. Today, with the
winds from the north, parking on the road was convenient, but
not very safe. We'll have to start getting conscientious about
not parking upwind (or downwind) of launch pads.
As for flying, I made a grand total of 3 flights, all on
1/2A motors, before we had to bug out of there. The first flight
was a stomp rocket spot landing entry, and came down within 30'.
The second two were 1/2A BG flights using two slingwings on
1/2A3-2T motors. The little slingwing ejected at an altitude of
perhaps 100'. It caught a thermal--a very rapidly moving
thermal--and flew over 50 seconds, landing 2000' away. The big
slingwing ejected at perhaps 50', and caught no air at all, for
a flight of 10 seconds or so.
HUGE thanks to Mike for setting us up with this
field--if we're careful, we'll have years of fun there!
Tom, Travis and Miranda Lawell write:
Seeing the forecast for today's launch, I seriously
considered my sanity driving 60 miles one way to fly rockets.
But drive we did. the kids and I arrived around noon and found
an impressive number of flyers on site. This included a
number of folks who had their young kids along, which is always
encouraging to see.
The new field is terrific. Lots of sod and no
close-by trees- it's wonderful. We are back to dealing
with irrigation ditches, similar to the Fricke's old field in
Blaine. As far as I know, nobody got wet today, but
it is bound to happen sometime this summer. The parking
was close to the flight line, although Ted is right. it probably
is too close. Late in the day a Fat Boy left the pad,
weather cocked severely, turned north and headed straight for
the cars. Luckily the chute deployed snapping the rocket
back to reality, and it harmlessly drifted back to the proper
We managed three flight attempts today. As you may
have noticed, I said attempts, not flights. I wasn't the
best day for us as we ended up 1 for 3. The first attempt
was to fly a very curious looking junk yard rocket that was put
together late last year but never flown. We entered it
into the spot landing contest, thinking a low heavy flight had a
chance to nail the nearby cone. We tried it on a B6-2 and
discovered it needed much more than that. The rocket was
lucky to hit 15 feet altitude and lawn darted still under power.
The ejection charge caused a separation powerful enough to
detach the shock cord from the body tube, but that was the
extent of the damage. An easy fix.
The next attempt was to launch a somewhat scaled down
Sumo-like creation on a single use F-25. Mike had set up
three away pads, and we loaded her up. We were all set for
an impressive liftoff when the nose cone popped off and we were
treated to a spectacular Roman Candle effect with flames
shooting out a foot or so. The motor had catoed and did a
thorough job destroying the top half of the body tube. The
nose cone and parachute were spared, along with the fin can.
The rocket will fly again once I add a new body
tube section, but it was still disappointing. I suppose we
now have the distinction of having the first cato at the new
field? Gotta break her in right, I guess.
Not wanting to quit 0 for 2, I decided to prep our LOC
Graduator for a flight on a G35. After confirming that the
G35 predated last year's Aerotech recall, it too was loaded on
the away pads. This one went perfect. The flight was long
and straight with a great deployment. The wind and
altitude meant a long hike for recovery. We walked south
off the main field, onto the next field to the south, and past
that into crop land which last year was in corn. I suppose
in late summer that field will be a potential problem, but it is
way out there.
We packed up the range around 2:30 or so, and everyone
was glad to finally get out of the wind. We had lunch with
Mike at the nearby Panera's, and then were on our way home.
Despite our less than successful flights, it was sure fun to be
back on the range.
I want to especially commend Mike for getting things
organized for today's launch, for being there very early and
staying till the bitter end. In addition to having to load
and haul all the equipment, he also was very
organized with the competitive events today. Too bad the
weather limited the number of participating flyers in the
various categories. We are very fortunate to have a club
member who is willing to put in the effort he does on our
behalf. Thanks Mike!
Jo Baecker writes:
We got up at about 7 and
got the kids---Nick (16), Zack (11) and Maribeth (7) out of bed.
After a quick breakfast, we scooted into the car and quickly
loaded up our rocket gear. Good thing I had stocked up on some
engines a few weeks before.
Except for shooting off
smaller rockets at the local park this past fall, my last
experience with rockets, as I recall, was the day of Super Bowl
X – Vikings vs. Raiders. (I’m dating myself there.) I used to
shoot them from the middle of Twin
Crystal—probably no more than a Size “B.”
A lot has changed since
As we pulled out of our
driveway in SW Minneapolis, the
sun was bright, the sky was incredibly clear, and the air was
perfectly calm. Of course, we live in a very wooded
neighborhood, where the air is usually pretty calm… As we passed
the first Perkins on the way, we noticed the flag was flapping
quite a bit. I knew the wind would be a bit of a factor at the
The directions to the site
were excellent. (Good job to the organizers.) I was a bit
apprehensive at first --- I’ve never been to an organized
launch, and this is really the first time in….30 years? That
I’ve been serious about rocketry. I also wanted my kids to have
a great experience.
I got Zack started with
his Black Diamond. This little guy really flies when you load it
with a C! First flight jitters out of the way!
I let Maribeth launch our
next rocket, the Baby Bertha. This has got about 20 flights on
it so far – at our local park---without any scratches. Again,
the rocket flew without a hitch.
I’ve had the “FireFlash”
finished since the first of the year, but no flights yet. This
is a really cool design; thin and tall…about 40”. I let one of
the kids push the launch button. What a great flight! It
actually got some “oohs” and “aaahs” on launch. This was a fun
kit to put together, and it was fun to watch soar into the sky
on a C motor.
The problems started at
the ejection charge…apparently, the shock cord came loose from
the lower fuselage section. The payload and nosecone section
were floating nicely on their parachute; the lower section was
coming straight down near the parked cars. Mike sounded the
alert over the PA system and a few moments later, we had our
first lawn dart of the day. Because of the soft soil, the lower
section actually buried itself 4” into the dirt. The impact
shoved wet soil well into the tube, and the sudden stop caused
the engine and clip to move forward about ¼”, causing the engine
to appear impacted from the other end. An interesting flight!
Later, I was actually surprised I was able to make repairs to
the rocket and I plan to fly her again at the next launch!
We had about 4 unbuilt
kits with us in the car. We thought maybe the family could
assemble some kits while we were flying. With the wind, that was
impossible. Maribeth and I sat in the car and quickly assembled
a Quest “Mirage.” We put that down to let the glue set and I
went to prepare my “G-Force.” As I
mentioned, this was my first real rocket experience in 30-some
years. But I got a G-force from Santa and had it together in
January. I was eager to launch her! I was a little embarrassed
at first – anything above a “D” motor is relatively new to me,
so the G was quite a thrill. I had no idea how the copperhead
igniter worked, so I asked around and the entire group was very
supportive. Mike was doing a fantastic job.
Watching the G-Force
liftoff was incredible! A nice trajectory, 2 feet of fire and
smoke behind it as it lifted off…impressive. It weathercocked
into the wind slightly but had no rotation on it. I was using a
G-40-7 and I wasn’t used to the long ejection delay. I was a bit
nervous, but the chute finally came out. Unfortunately, the
chute didn’t open properly and the rocket was coming down fast.
The lower unit hit the sod flat, with a glancing blow, except
that the large fin sliced easily into the dirt and snapped clean
off. The rest of the rocket was unscratched. At home, some epoxy
surgery easily fixed the fin.
We went back to shoot off
the Mirage. It was a great flight, and the two sections and
their parachutes separated to perfection. Unfortunately….the
payload and nosecone section kept on floating…and floating…which
ultimately resulted in a walk of 1 mile to retrieve the section.
Zack, ever the daredevil, jumped the irrigation channel to
retrieve the nosecone section.
A great day with the
family…we ended up with about 8 launches, some cool memories,
and we got to meet some new friends. We’re looking forward to
coming out to the next launch, although it looks like I’ll be
out of town for the May launch.
Full launch tally (in Adobe Acrobat PDF form, requires version
6 or newer of the Acrobat reader)
The totals were: 51 flights, 57 motors. The cumulative
total impulse was 989 Ns with an average total impulse of 17.4 Ns.
The motor breakdown follows: