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Last updated: May 30, 2005
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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 this launch.

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 launch! 

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 field.

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 Lake in Crystal—probably no more than a Size “B.”

A lot has changed since then!

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 launch site.


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.

The Details:

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:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 0





















(Alan Estenson)

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