MASA MASA   Join the National Association of Rocketry Minnesota Rocketry Network

About MASA


  Join MASA

Events Schedule



  Meeting Reports


  Launch Reports

Planet Newsletter

  Planet Online




  Email List


  Outreach Reports

Photo Gallery


Files -n- Forms

MASSY Awards

Open Contest



Last updated: Sept 30, 2006
Site hosted courtesy of the
Minnesota Rocketry Network
Alan Estenson, Webmaster

September 2006 launch report (9/30/2006)

On Saturday, September 30th, MASA held its tenth launch of the year. The launch was held at the sod farm near Nowthen.  This was a rescheduled launch due to rain and poor weather on the 23rd.

The weather was bright and sunny with temperatures at least in the mid to upper 60's.  There was no breeze at all for most of the morning, but afternoon it became fairly stiff out of the NW.

Thanks to everyone who served helped out!.  Thanks to everyone who helped set up the range and stayed to help pack it away at the end of the day.  A HUGE thanks to Mike Erpelding for bringing out the launch equipment!

Caleb Boe successfully earned his Junior Level 1 High Power Certification when he flew his PML Tethys on an H180 motor.  Congratulations!  Caleb's flight was "supervised" by Alan Estenson and witnessed by Mike Erpelding.

"Clusters" was the theme for the day, and at least 14 cluster-motor flights took to the skies.

There were also a number of high-power flights with 7 H's, 2 I's and 1 J motor used.

A few of the flights:

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

Alan Estenson writes:

I had planned 3 or 4 flights today, but in the end stopped after 2.  First up was my LOC Cyclotron on an I161-M.  It was a very pretty flight, and the cornfield paranoia device proved unnecessary as it landed out on the field.

The second flight was a milestone of sorts.  I happen to have had the first-ever "H" powered flight at a MASA launch and the first-ever "I" powered flight at a MASA launch.  To keep the tradition going, I decided to fly my LOC I-roc on a J350 for the first-ever "J" powered flight at a MASA launch.  It was a gorgeous liftoff and flight.  It landed (buzzer screaming) in plain sight just on the edge of a cornfield - just on the OTHER side of a drainage ditch.  Thanks to Carol & Ben for walking all the way out there and keeping me company.  Only after we walked all the way out there did I realize that I'd have to go back around and walk all the way through the cornfield from the north side to get to the rocket.

I hate corn.

After a long trek through the corn, I got to the rocket.  Fortunately, Ted had driven out to check up on me, so I was able to toss the rocket to him across the ditch.  Deciding not to take Ted's suggestion to jump back across the ditch (Nope!)  I walked all the way back through the cornfield again.

Did I mention that I hate corn?  I grew up on a farm, but I hadn't spent this much time in a cornfield since I was a teenager.

After that, the breeze had come up, and I didn't have the energy to fly anything else.

My other highlight of the day was assisting Caleb with his Junior L1 cert flight!  Congratulations!

Rick Vatsaas writes:

It's been a while since I could make a launch.

I only came out with two rockets. My 50's Sci Fi Styled Scorpion, and the 4" Space Ship One. I hoped that someone would have a black sky rail and a reload for me to launch the SS1.

I flew the Scorpion first on a F21-6. It had a curious corkscrew flight but nonetheless recovered intact.

After that, Mike Erpelding sold me an H180W. So Glen Overby and I loaded it in the SS1. I put it out on the pad and waited for Mark Thell to show up (I promised). The flight was fabulous and went much higher than on an H128W. Deployment was also flawless. Unfortunately, it hit hard, and both booms were broken. It will fly again, after I add some of the missing scale features

For a final flight, I put up the "Squirellorpion" , I shouldn't have, as it arced into the wind and recovered over the cornfield. Despite my lengthy search and a swim in the irrigation canals, the rocket stayed in the clutches of the Lusty Corn Maidens.

That's my story, and I am sticking to it.

Ken Jarosch writes:

I only got in 3 flights this launch. The first was a QCR swingwing that I have been trying to get to open on 3 attempts. All requiring major repair. Today with extra rubber bands it did open nicely. It started into a nice glide but started a spiral that deepen and crashed into the ground breaking a wing. All those repairs have unbalanced something.

I only brought 2 of my clusters today and both were part of the Estes Pro Series. The first to fly was the Impulse with 2x D12-5's for a nice flight due to a 6' steel rod in the Mantis pad. The second rocket was
the Patriot with 4x D12-5's. This weighed 28 oz. loaded so the 4 D's did not give it the fast lift off I expected but still a nice overall flight. Maybe a couple of 24 mm reloads 4x D15's, E28's or F39's ?

The Patriot was partially built in the mid 90's, finished, primed and painted over the last 4 years. It finally flew on Saturday.

I have a Mirage that has been built for several years. I prepped it around 1:00 with a G35 that I wanted to use up. We had trouble with coupler tube grabbing and could not free it up. By then the winds picked
up and I decided against the flight.

Glen Overby writes:

Today, I was an Altitude Junkie. I arrived with three rockets ready to punch holes in the sky:

"Poof!" a BT-20 minimum diameter rocket with a D21-7. I flew and recovered this rocket earlier this year, so of course I wanted to try again. I didn't get binoculars on it at ejection but later I think I had something that was the color of it's streamers... that wasn't descending.

"Poof! 24" a BT-50 minimum diameter rocket with an F21-7. Rocksim predicted 4300' but it's always a bit over-optimistic. This rocket disappeared from the pad and headed a bit north-west of the launch site. It completely disappeared, although I think I heard a "pop" of the ejection. I scanned the sky with binoculars but never found a trace of it. Darn, I had an F72 with me for it's second flight.

"Dart 10c" another BT-50 rocket on a D12-0+D12-7. I've flown and recovered rockets just like this on a single D12-7, and I've recovered my Comanche-III many times. I was expecting to see this rocket again, but it disappeared in the sky. Maybe it was the background of white puffy clouds, but I wasn't able to track it. I don't think I was going above the clouds, as the lowest ones looked like jet contrails. I think I really need to have _someone else_ launch rockets like this for me so I can watch the whole flight with binoculars.

"Payloader 60" a simple BT-60 rocket with a nice big payload tube to put electronic gizmos. I flew it twice (D15-4 and D12-3) with my homebrew altimeter (peak altitude recording only) in it. Both times the altimeter
acted like it hadn't been launched. After the second flight, I guessed that the battery may have taken a jolt on launch, apogee and/or landing and reset the gadget. I found credence to that theory when thumping it on my desk at home and it reset. I'm working on solutions to that problem which involve electronic components and adhesives (i.e. electrical tape). I'm persistent, if nothing else :-)

Buzz McDermott writes:

What a difference one week makes! The weather and field conditions for the October launch couldn't have been much nicer. The sky varied from almost clear to partly cloudy, the temperature was mild and there was little breeze for much of the day. Apparently the wind was almost calm until around 1 pm. The field was also in great shape. No standing water or mud. The grass was firm. The road was dry.

There were some most interesting flights as well for this launch. I especially liked the Spaceship One on an H (I think H180), the Tiny Pterodactyl on an H180 (my neck is still sore from trying to keep up with that liftoff!) and the J350 flight. For something a little different, how about four Big Bertha's glued together lifting a styrofoam Space Shuttle. I bet NASA wishes its Space Shuttle would glide so well! After a really cool liftoff on a 4xB6 cluster the styrofoam glider proceeded to catch a strong thermal and actually *gain* altitude after separation. That glider made it all the way to or past the tree line to the far north of the flying field!

I got in a few smaller flights. First up was a test flight of my Semroc cc:SpacePlane on a 1/2A6-2. I obviously need to do a bit for trimming of that model. One quick loop on the way up and another on the way down. Not the best glider flight I've had.

My second flight was an Estes Delta Clipper. This is a two-stage, near-minimum diameter model Estes produced for a couple of years when they first introduced their ill-fated E15 motor. I decided not to not 'go for broke'. The model can hold a D12 booster and E9 sustainer, but I decided to fly it on a C11-0 to D12-5 combination. It still made an incredibly high flight. The sustainer landed somewhere in the drainage ditch along the west side of the field. I searched for about 20 minutes and couldn't find it. I gave up and decided to look again when I left for the day. As I was packing up to leave another club member walked up with the sustainer in hand! I had apparently walked right by it two or three times. I was walking on the wrong side of the ditch to see it.

Next up was my stretched Estes Fat Boy on an E9-6. It had a wonderfully straight flight and nice recovery using an old Centuri parachute. The paint scheme was read, white and blue (one third of the rocket each color) with a big white star on each fin. I also named the rocket to match the paint scheme. I forgot to put my name on the flight card but everyone still seemed to know whose rocket it was. For some reason, everyone looked at me when the name was read - "Little Tex". Why did everyone just assume it was *my* rocket?? :-)

I also flew my Estes CC. Since the last flight of that rocket resulted in, how should I put it, a "less than optimal" flight, it was sporting a brand new sustainer section. While I was loading it on the pad another member (who shall remain nameless to avoid his embarrassment at being beaten so badly :-) ) was loading an Estes Sidewinder [AMRAAM - ed.] bashed into a two stage rocket. We decided to drag race. I was flying on a C11-0 to C11-5 combination and I believe he had a D12-0 to D12-X upper stage. My CC Express won the 'first off the pad' part of the race with the C11 burning and igniting the upper stage as the rocket barely cleared the launch rod. You could hear the staging barely half a second or so after ignition. Some thought it was a booster CATO. At any rate the upper stage lit and made a nice flight, landing in the plowed field on the east side of the launch area. The Sidewinder made a great flight and went MUCH higher than my rocket. The Express landed in about half the time as the Sidewinder.

Finally I prepped and loaded a Rugged Rockets Six Pack (a minimum diameter, tube finned, phenolic rocket) with a very, very old Aerotech E15. The igniter fired and was chuffed out the motor. I took the rocket back to the car to look for a better igniter. I've never had any luck trying to use a second Copperhead igniter in an Aerotech motor was a first igniter has lit and failed to ignite the motor. I look for a better igniter that would fit the E15 but couldn't. So, that rocket never made it back to the pad.

At this point it was around 2:30 - 3:00 pm and the breeze was picking up a little. I decided to watch some of the other flights and did not prep any more rockets.

I hope we can have another launch next weekend. I'm ready to do a little high power flyin'!

Ted Cochran writes:

It was a gorgeous day, especially in the morning when the winds were light.

Due to other commitments, I got there around 11:30. The wind was light enough for me to try hand tossing my newly finished SweetV for the first time. It was in pretty good trim, and after a bunch of tosses to get a feel for the controls (not much can be done in 100' flights, but at least I figured out the controls were hooked up properly and that the glider was pretty responsive) I decided to try to fly it for the first time on a D11-P. I only have about a half-dozen RC flights under my belt, all on the single channel Arcie II, so my goal was controlled flight, and I did OK. I got a circle in, and a safe landing. Mission accomplished.

I flew three cluster flights: Ted's Testbed went up for the 22nd time, on 3 D12s. It flew straight as always and landed about 30' from the pad.

My modified Big Daddy flew on an E9-6 plus four A10s. All motors lit, although a couple of the A10s were a fraction of a second behind the others. It also flew straight.

I also flew my reproduction Ranger on 3 B6s, also for a good flight, despite the chunk missing from one fin from when a TARC team crashed into the roof at Apple Valley High School a few years back.

I enjoyed watching the other flights--there were a lot of them! I had an eye on Glen's minimum diameter flights for longer than he did, but they were all eventually lost in the high overcast (and distance).  Jeff Taylor had the nicely-painted fleet highlighted in the Planet article with him. Carol had her cool-looking Deuce's Wild. David's flights were neat, too.

Maybe next Spring we should plot out the drainage ditches--Google's satellite photos aren't good enough to spot the bridges, and having a map at the site might be really helpful--right, Rick? :-)

Caleb Boe writes:

I was very excited about this launch as I was planning to certify Level 1 Jr. High Power with my Tethys.

After setting up my pad and launch controller I began prepping the rocket with Mr. Erpelding supervising me.  Mr. Estenson assembled the motor for me and was the official "adult supervisor" of the flight.

I used an H180-M for the flight; the delay was shortened by two seconds.  After three tries the motor finally lit and the rocket lifted off. The igniter was bad on the first two tries. Ejection was a bit late, but the flight was still a success.

After post flight inspection Mr. Erpelding completed my forms. I was very thankful for a beautiful day for my flight. Thank you to Mr. Erpelding and to Mr. Estenson for helping me with my certification flight.

I also flew my Richter Recker on a G64-7 hoping for success this time. (Last time the upper parachute opened and the booster core sampled.)  Thank you to Mr. Whitaker for helping me assemble the G64.  I placed the upper parachute below the booster's chute, hoping that it would pull it out. I had a beeper in both sections in case it landed in the corn.

The liftoff was beautiful but the recovery was really poor. The parachute's got stuck inside the rocket and never came out. Both sections came down together and landed in the mud.  This was a good thing as the rocket suffered minimal damage. My mom and I are planning to make a different parachute design for the booster. (The one I'm using seems to be too bulky and has a tight fit in the rocket. Hopefully this will help prevent them from getting stuck again.

There were many other great flights that day, Especially Mr. Estenson's J350 and Mr. Vatsaas Space Ship One.

Thanks again to everyone who helped my with my Level 1 flight.

John Carlson writes:

Fantastic day to shoot rockets, I'm glad it worked out that we could use the field. I got to launch nine rockets. One I was most concerned about was my 28 year old Mega Bertha 2 stage, it has 2 d12-0's in the
booster staging to a single D12-3, it had one successful flight and one that wasn't, both of those were 28 years ago, So I was hoping it would work today, and it did just fine. One thing to note is the booster is so large that I added a parachute to lessen that damage in impact.

I also flew a Estes Scud. Star Probe, Tie fighter, all these were of the 20-25+ year old range. Also flew a sunward Maverick and Wave Rider and a X-prise vanguard and screaming eagle. I had one really old rocket I launched it was a Prodyne Swallow it's about a 40 year old kit, it had a great flight but the nose cone separated and the body lost a couple of fins when it hit the ground, nothing that can't be easily fixed. I was also very lucky to be there as it was our 17th anniversary and my wife said it was ok to go and have fun.

Jeff Taylor writes:

It was McKenna’s 11th Birthday on Saturday, so we weren’t at the launch for too long, but I did get in a few flights.

My Big Bertha with fluorescent flames had a decent flight, landing only maybe 50 yards from the pad.  Unfortunately by the time the range opened to recover it, the wind had dragged it across the ground another 100 yards and into the weeds bordering a drainage ditch to the east.

I flew my Northwest Airlines Renegade as a single stage since I forgot (again) to pick up some C6-0’s. 

I also flew my newly completed Porta-Pot Shot porta-potty rocket.  It flew well, but landed in the drainage just west of the pad.  After recovering it from the green muck using Mike’s Gopher Pole (thanks, Mike), it had that distinct odor that one would expect from any porta-potty – so I knew it was now properly broken-in.  

I missed Caleb’s cert flight but congratulations to him for getting his Level 1 Jr. Certification! 

I would also like to congratulate Carol again for her successful Level 1 Certification flight last month.  I had hoped to see her L1 Black Brant fly again at this launch, but since the winds were picking up and there seemed to be a lot of corn retrieval missions, I think she made a good choice to not fly it.

Alan’s “J” flight was awesome!

Neal Higgins writes:

What a beautiful day to use up all my H motors.

I started the day by flying my ONYX on a G75 for a perfect flight. Next came three flights of my X-Calibur.
The 1st flight used an H123 and was a beautiful flight except for the separation of the payload tube from the rest of the rocket. A few screws and CA and it was ready for its next flight on an H210R. Another perfect flight. The last flight of X-Calibur was on an H180. Again another beautiful flight.

I had one last H180 to use up and I decided to put it in my Tiny Pteradactyl. What a neck snapper. Sorry for the sore neck Buzz. Thanks Glen for spotting it on its return, I had almost given up hope of seeing it again.

The last flight of the day was my 2x Centuri Vulcan on an F50. I used a 9 sec delay but it should have been a 6. The Vulcan hit hard and will not fly again without major repair or a rebuild.

Congratulations Caleb for the successful Level 1 flight!

The Details:

Full launch tally (in Adobe Acrobat PDF form, requires version 6 or newer of the Acrobat reader)

The totals were:  102 flights, 133 motors.  The cumulative total impulse was 4798 Ns with an average total impulse of 36.1 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 0


















H 7
I 2



(Alan Estenson)

Back to Launch Reports