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Last updated: July 24, 2007
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July 18 2009 picnic launch report (7/20/2009)

On the afternoon of Saturday, July 18th, MASA held a launch at the VFW soccer fields near Elk River in concert with the annual MASA picnic.  The misfire alley range was quiet for the first hour, but got progressively busier after that.

The weather was cool (for July) with a high of perhaps 70 degrees.  The wind was out of the N - NNW.  The forecast was for around 10mph, but it didn't really feel that strong.  Nearly all recoveries were on the field.  Despite the forecast, it was cloudy all afternoon.

Thanks to the LCO/RSO volunteers:  Art Gibbens, Tim Barr, and Ted Cochran.

A few of the flights:

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

Art Gibbens writes:

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times" Anyone who was there when I launched my Saturn V will attest to this saying. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I volunteered to do the first LCO/RSO shift from 2:00 to 3:00 pm. We had exactly 3 flights in that first hour - thanx Ken! Tim took over in the second hour and things definitely picked up. I flew my BOINK rocket first on a C6-5 to check for weather cocking and it went almost straight up for a perfect flight. I then flew my trusty old Satellite Launcher on a C11-5 to check drift after deployment. It also flew nicely and feeling confident I went back to my van to prep the Saturn V. Everything went smoothly during the prep time (thanx for the bit of scotch tape Ken).  As I walked out towards the pads I sensed there were a lot of eyes on my rocket. This rocket had only flown twice before about ten years ago. It is a modified Estes kit that was given to me by a friend at church if I would finish building it, as it was his son that had started it about ten years before I got it. I decided to make it a two stage rocket using a D12-0 to D12-3 to really get it up in the air. That part went just fine and the parachutes both kicked out. However, neither of them blossomed and I got a nice core sample of the lawn across the street. I'm glad it wasn't the road.

Alan got pictures of it lifting off and Jeff got pictures of the landing site. Hopefully they will get posted and you all can look at them. My fourth flight was my older Toblerone candy wrapper rocket on a B6-4 that flew most excellently. My fifth and final flight was my modified Cosmic Cobra flown on a D12-7 which resulted in the longest walk for retrieval for the day. It landed over the first fence to the East and South of the property we fly on by about 50 yards. A new rocketeer named Scott and his son Lance walked all the way out to the landing site with me. Welcome aboard Scott!

The rest of the picnic time was a blast as usual and Renee and I had a great time catching up with you all again.

Ken Hoyme writes:

I put some of my shots up at

Alissa and I enjoyed finally getting back to sending some up in the  air. It has given us both incentive to get some of the in-process  rockets ready to fly, and we both hope to have 1 or 2 new ones ready for next weekend.

Ted Cochran writes:

Some pictures here:

Ken Jarosch writes:

Late Friday night I put away all the small AP rockets (Large Estes Style) I had intended to fly at Otsego field. With the winds I decided to make it easy on myself. I got out a few old BP rockets with 1/2 power motors and small chutes. Besides I have a lot of BP motors not being used.

Some old 18mm rockets converted to 24mm for D's and above were flown on C11-3's
1) Interceptor C11-3 w/ 12" nylon chute.
2) FireHawk C11-3 w/ 12" nylon chute.
3) D-Region Tomahawk C11-3 w/ 9" nylon chute.

These were saved for flying at small fields like White Bear in Winter. I always get them back even from good altitudes because of the under sized chute. The price is usually a broken off fin. One on the Interceptor. Mostly short walks.

4) Katy-Sha-Slim (Junk Yard Series Rocket) C11-3 w/ 18" Estes Chute.
5) Solar Warrior (Junk Yard Series Rocket) C11-3 w/ 18" Estes Chute.

These junk yard rockets with large chutes and horizontal attachment usually have a long drift. They also have a 12" streamer flag to add to the drift. On anything but a C11-3 they are out of the Otsego field. While the Kat-Sha-Slim with it's many tube fins does get a good altitude it usually stays in the field. The Solar Warrior which is a plane get extra lift in it's horizontal recovery mode. On the C11-3 it did make it over to the SE fence area. On a D it's gone.

6) Flying the F2 Tornado (upscale 2x Estes Tornado) on a D12-5 for the first time I lost the helicopter action in the dark clouds. I turned around and looked to the SE to watch the Motor section do it's tumbling recovery. Andy pointed to the goal post at the far end of the field for the helicopter top section which I missed. I've see it on clear days with a C11-3 but missed it Saturday. On fin broken off the tumbling section.

7) I wanted to fly the 3 Goony rockets from last year on B6-4's but only got time for the "Der Goony Max". Needs more than the A8-3 from last year But on a B6-4 the flight is more respectable.

I had a great time flying my rockets and watching the others as well.

Ps Thanks to everyone who made the Picnic so much fun. Were did the time go?

Alan Estenson writes:

If anyone was wondering why I kept alternating between fiddling with stuff at Ted's launch pad and lying down in the dirt on Saturday... <grin>

I was beta-testing a "pad cam" idea. I've wired up a system where I use a microswitch to trip the shutter on my digital slr camera. The bottom edge of the rocket (body tube or fin) keeps the switch depressed while the rocket is on the pad. As the rocket lifts off, it releases the switch and the camera takes a photo. The parts came from All Electronics and from Ax-Man.

For a beta test, I'm pleased with the results. The only camera-shy rockets were Ted's MicroMaxx stuff. Those speed demons were already out of frame when the shutter released. I do need to work on better contraptions for holding & positioning the switch. A sunnier day would make for better photos, too. I was also using a little mini tripod on Saturday; I plan to try my regular size tripod next time to get higher angles.

My pad cam pics from Saturday may be viewed at:

These pics have all been cropped slightly. I kept them fullsize so that you can zoom in or download them.

My inspiration looked back about 10 years to a former MASA member named Carl Peerson. He had a film pad cam - see:

That was a 35mm slr that he had mounted in a wooden box with a plexiglass front. He got some cool photos (none are on the MASA web site, unfortunately). His trigger mechanism was a gizmo that was staked to the ground and then clipped onto a fin. As the rocket lifted off, the fin pulled out from between the jaws of the clip. When the clip closed, contacts on the two jaws hit each other and tripped the shutter. The only problem with it was that the clip was too strong; it was literally holding the rockets down by a fin, and they had to fight their way free from it. This pulled them off vertical right at the pad and resulted in some heavily arcing flights.

I'll have to buy or build a protective box for my camera before I dare set it as close as he did!

The Details:

Full launch tally (Adobe Acrobat PDF form)

The totals were:  61  flights, 62 motors.  The cumulative total impulse was 669 Ns with an average total impulse of  10.8 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 2
















G 0


I 0



(Alan Estenson)

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