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Last updated: May 30, 2009
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August 22, 2009 launch report (8/23/2009)

"Weather Perfection"

On Saturday, August 22nd, MASA held its regular monthly club launch on the sod farm near Nowthen.  Flying started about 9:30am, and the launch ended around 4pm.  A total of 184 flights were recorded making this MASA's biggest launch day in a couple years!

It was a perfect day for flying rockets.  We had bountiful sunshine, blue skies, temperatures that rose into the 70's, and only a light and variable breeze.  For most of the day, the wind sock was simply hanging limp.  For perhaps half an hour's time, there was about a 5mph breeze out of the NW, and that's when a couple rockets drifted into the cornfield.  After a number of breezy launches this summer, the wonderful rocket-flying weather was welcomed by a large number of launch attendees (including some that we haven't seen in a while).  Many of them took advantage of the conditions to fly their mid and high-power rockets that had been gathering dust.

11th Annual Great UFO Drag Race

By MASA tradition, we hold a UFO / flying saucer drag race every year in August.  The participants this year were:

Lyle Merdan - Snitch on C6-0
Alissa Hoyme - Delta flying saucer on A10-Pt
David Whitaker - Pheord X150 on C6-3
Alan Estenson - MASA SPEV Saucer on C6-0
Scott Gleason - Stealth on F24
Tim Barr - Frick n Frack on B6-0 to C6-0
Alan Estenson - Pheord X150 on C6-0
Paul Jarosch - Super Strike Eagle on C6-3 (which was actually neither a saucer nor unidentified)

A few saucers had to be fished out of the drainage ditch afterwards.  David Whitaker's Pheord was, unfortunately, MIA.  [Perhaps it was eaten by the Monster that lurks in the murky depths of Overby Pond?]

At the last MASA meeting, attendees constructed some of the free Art Applewhite cardstock rockets (Qubit, Stealth, Delta, etc).  A number of these small UFO's were launched throughout the day.

8th Annual Comanche-3 Drag Race

Also by MASA tradition, we hold a 3-stage Comanche-3 drag race every year in August, Up from four participants last year, we had six this year.  They were:

Mark Thell (D12-0 to B6-0 to C6-7)
Lyle Merdan (D12-0 to B6-0 to A8-3)
Alan Estenson (D12-0 to C6-0 to C6-7)  "FULL UP"
Glen Overby (D12-0 to C6-0 to C6-7) "FULL UP"
Dave Schaffhausen (D12-0 to C6-0 to B6-6)
Ken Hoyme (D12-0 to B6-0 to B6-6)

The launch was extremely cool!  As best that observers could tell, all six rockets successfully fired all three of their stages.  Announcing "Comanche-3 scavenger hunt!" over the PA, everyone went looking around for all the sustainers and spent booster stages.

David Whitaker has placed video of the drag race on YouTube.


The theme for this launch was "multi-staging".  Including the entrants in the Comanche-3 drag race, there were 16 multi-stage rocket flights during the day.  As best we can determine, there were no staging failures!


Caleb Boe became the first person to fly a "sparky" motor at a MASA launch.  He launched his PML Tethys on an I180 Skidmark motor.  Ever cautious, we covered the ground around the pad with nomex blankets and tarps to protect the sod.  Water and a fire extinguisher were also on standby, but they were not needed.

David Whitaker flew the first J hybrid powered rocket at a MASA launch.  His Sky Ripper J144 powered "Hybrid Farty Pants of Death" was most impressive!

Thanks to the LCO/RSO volunteers:  Dwayne Shmel, Lyle Merdan, Jeff Taylor, Glen Overby, Neal Higgins, and Alan Estenson

Thanks to Neal for helping set up the launch range in the morning.  Thanks to the crew that stayed to help take down and pack up the range at the end of the day!

Thanks to Glen for stellar duty with his extendible pole, fishing many rockets and rocket parts out of the drainage ditches!

Ken Hoyme has shared some of his photos from the launch on a flickr page:

A few of the flights:

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

Ken Hoyme writes:

Wow - sorry to those who missed it, but today was about as perfect rocket weather as one could hope for. To have it line up on a Saturday, on a planned launch day - rare indeed.

Alissa said last fall that she wanted to get back and finish her old rockets from about 6 years ago. Not being one to discourage such leanings, she got some new things for Christmas. Having full time classes at the U for Spring and summer semesters, this was the summer launch we aimed to have the new stuff done for . Between the two of us, we did 17 launches, with 23 motors. In honor of today's staging theme, three of our launches were multi-stage.

We got there about 8:25 with the intent of helping to set up, but Alan and Neil (right?) pretty much had it done. My first flight was dicey with my new Big Daddy taking a hard right turn off the rod, and doing a lawn dart just before the ejection. Thankfully, the adjacent dirt field was remarkably soft with damp peat -- no damage.

I followed with my 30 year old Estes SPEV on a C6-5, and my picnic-won Texas Twister - both were perfect flights. Alissa flew her Mini Mars Lander and old Gemini DC - both were fine - the Gemini came down fine on only one chute opening fully.

We then did a drag race with a couple of our Applewhite paper rockets from the last club meeting on A10-PTs. A fun father-daughter competition.

Alissa put up her Executioner on an Aerotech E15-4. She flew it on a D12 in last month's wind, and we knew it needed more get-up and go. The E15 provided a nice high flight. The calm winds returned it close by.

Alissa then put up her Fliskit Corona 2-stage model. That was the Christmas present, and she spent a lot of time in finishing it. The nesting tube fins and the paint job she chose made for a great looking rocket. It flew well.

I put up my old repaired LOC Onyx on an F20-7W, which made for a nice high flight - it landed in the grass in the same area as our launch.

I then turned to my NARTREK Silver models. I flew an egg on a Semroc L'il Hustler on an E9-6. Nice smooth liftoff, high flight, and nearby landing - egg in perfect shape. I followed that with a 3-engine cluster flight with a Fliskit Tres. All motors lit, and again a perfect flight.

Alissa participated in the flying saucer drag race with one of her paper models, and I had my new Comanche 3 in the Comanche drag race -- insanity. Unfortunately, my booster landed in the water -- thanks to Glen Overby and his long pole, it was recovered.

Alissa then flew her Mustang on an F23-7FJ. Rather than the standard paint scheme, this one was hot pink with silver glitter accents. Though she does rockets, she is a girl... The flight was high and recovery was easy in the calm winds. She ended with a follow-up  flight of her Corona, as her mom and sister had come for a while. I then sent my Onyx up again, and when it landed in the drink (another use of Glen's pole), we decided it was a day.

It was amazing how many high powered rockets, sent up with beepers for location in the corn. landed in the same sod area as we were launching in. For all of the high stuff sent up, I don't recall seeing more than 2 flights land in the corn.

I just loaded 327 photos out of my camera -- got to cull through them (my camera is on fast shoot to catch action) and will forward a link when they are uploaded.

Great day! Both Alissa and I appreciated the camaraderie of all those out there flying.

Alan Estenson writes:

I arrived around 8am with Neal Higgins just ahead of me.  Between the two of us, we had the range pretty much set up by 8:30am.  Things were ready to begin launching at 9am, but everyone was still busy prepping rockets.

I claimed an early rack of four all to myself and did a motor progression:  Semroc Sky Hook on a A3-4t, Solar Goon on a B6-4, Fat Boy on a C6-3, and Cherokee D (clone) on a D12-7.  The Fat Boy was my first splashdown of the day.  Thanks to Glen for fishing it out of the ditch!

Next, I flew my prototype crayon rocket - "Back to Cool", made from the $1 plastic bank, for the very first time.  It ended up fairly heavy at 10oz, but flew nicely on a D12-3.  I flew it again later on an E30-7 for a lot more altitude (and another splashdown when the bottom of the rocket ended up in the ditch).  For a couple of G flights, I dug out two scratchbuilt rockets.  First was "WYIARS" on a G79-7 and then "Starstruck VI" on a G64-7.  Later, I put in one more G flight with my PML IO on a G76-7.

For the UFO drag race, I flew my MASA SPEV saucer and a FlisKits Pheord X150, both on C6-0's.  I'm happy to report that the Pheord flies just fine without the five legs that you're supposed to bend out of music wire.  After all these years, I finally participated in the Comanche-3 drag race.  Although I actually built it many years ago, this was the first flight for my Comanche-3.  I flew it "full up" and actually got all the pieces back!  For the multi-staging theme, I also flew my scratchbuilt Blue Bird Zero with custom booster on D12-0 to C6-5.  The sustainer took forever to come down, but landed on the sod.  The booster landed, of course, in the ditch.  Thanks again to Glen for fishing it out (again)!

My trusty Estes Pathfinder flew on a D12-5 and drifted waaaaay out into the corn.  I decided to leave it there.  :-(

My high power flight of the day was a Rocketman "Explorer 7" on a I366 Redline motor.  It was a great flight to 2,000+ feet, took forever to come down, but landed on the sod.

I finished off the day by flying little Art Applewhite creations on A10's with some visitors to the launch.  My total for the day was 18 flights, 21 motors, and just over 1,000 Ns of total impulse.

A great day of flying!

Larry Schwartz writes:


My first four flights of the day were perfect . . . then my Aerotech Chaparral floated into the corn. After 2 hours of searching I called it quits, since my allergies were going from bad to worse.

If anyone finds a yellow and black rocket w/ a yellow chute and a 29mm reload, it's mine . . . Kind of a shame too, since I've flown this rocket at every MASA launch I've attended since the founding of the club

UPDATE: I spend two more hours searching the corn today w/o success. I used a lineman's pole so my wife could keep me on the sight line, and we used our free weekend minutes to keep in touch, but still nothing . . .

Buzz McDermott writes:

First and foremost - a big 'thank you' goes out to Alan and the rest of the volunteers who set up, manned and took down the range today. I feel pretty guilty not having contributed to any of it this month. You all did a wonderful job.

I didn't get to the launch until right at 10 AM. There was already a good crowd flying by the time I arrived. I came prepared for a cool day and expected really wet, wet ground. I wore jeans instead of shorts or lighter pants and brought along an extra pair of shoes and socks. I was wrong on both counts. The ground was moist, but firm, and not the least bit muddy. I didn't get any mud on my shoes walking in any of the fields - sod or fallow. It was also warmer than expected. I had heard a prediction of 70-75 degrees. Instead, I think it was more like 80-85. Still, with all of the day having clear blue skies and much of it with dead calm wind conditions, you couldn't ask for better weather!

After I arrived, I let my half-Irish / half-Texan heritage take over. This translates to: I spent the first 90 minutes gabbing with all the others at the launch instead of prepping and flying. When I did get down to flying, I had a better than average day (for me). I didn't have any travel damage to rockets going out to the launch or coming home and I didn't once dump the contents of my range box. Finally, out of 8 flights I didn't lose a single rocket and I only broke 1 fin! That *has* to be some kind of record for me! :-)

In all, I flew the following:
Flis NSL 2003 rocket (Drake) on E9-6 great flight with close recovery
Edmonds Deltie Thunder on E9-4 good glide but the chute did separate from the pop-pod
Gooney Der Red Max on D11-7 so fast I only got a smoke trail for a launch picture
Semroc Lil Hercules on C6-5 modified for rear ejection, which worked great
2 Applewhite paper pyramids on A10T's drag race with two of Dwayne's
Estes Optima on 2 x E9-6 beautiful flight, but chute too small - broke a fin on landing
Estes Vindicator on C6-5 drag race with Mark - I won! :-)

I brought out 5 multi-staged rockets to fly, but I didn't get around to prepping any of them. Too bad, as the conditions couldn't have gotten any better. The club had its annual Commanche III drag race with six rockets participating. All six launched and successfully staged. It rained rockets for about the 60 - 90 seconds as more than 18 separate parts came floating down (I believe at least one of the rockets had a fin or parachute separation, yielding more than the expected 18 parts to recover). There was also a full rack for the annual UFO drag race.

I think one of the prettiest flights of the day was one of Carol's flights of (I think) a Black Brant on either a G or H RedLine. It was an afternoon flight and I had the sun to my back as I watched it launch. The red thrust really stood out against the blue of the clear skies!

Great weather, great people and great rockets - a perfect combination, making for a wonderful day of flying.

Ken Jarosch writes:

Since it was such a great day for rocket flying, I decided to finish up my test flights on the "Spirit of America" rocket. This rocket is the third in the series of Baffled/Zipper-less rockets. See the three articles posted in the MASA Planet under "Baffles and More".

The S.O.A. is a 5 part modular rocket that works up into three configurations. Parts are Blue Fin Can, White Recovery tube, White Payload section, Red Payload Extension and the Red Nose cone.

The rocket is a zipper-less design with a three camber concentric baffle inside the bulk head of the fin can.

1) The base configuration is the Blue fin can, the White recovery tube which holds the 25' shock cord, the chute and the red nose cone. Length is 48" and weight is 46.8 oz. The basic recovery mode uses the LOC 36" chute. While this is small, the upper sections land before the fin can. The chute is attached just 8' in front the fin can, leaving 17' with the upper sections hanging down below the fin can.  On our July 4, 2009 launch I flew the basic config. with a H128W-S with a PDK-03 for 6 seconds delay. The flight was great to an altitude of about 1045 ft. The small chute brought the rocket down safely with no damage.

2) Today I added the White 11" Payload Section for a length of 59" and a weight of 57 oz. I flew this second config. on a H165R-S with a 6 second PDK-02 delay and it was another great flight with that Red exhaust plume. Altitude of about 1100 ft. Still using the basic recovery system of 25 ft. of Rol-Ban 1" elastic and the 36" chute. With the added weight the descent was rather rapid probably around 25'/second. No damage but the body along side one fin shows a 1/2" of paint crack by the rear end of the tube.

3) Later I flew the S.O.A. full up using the added 11" Red Payload Extension for a total length of 70" by 4" diameter and a weight of of 63 oz with the basic recovery system.  I switch the recovery system to the HPR mode. This uses 25 ft. of 9/16" tubular nylon (1/3L to the chute swivel and 2/3L to upper sections) and the Red, White and Blue Hemisphere Chute from "Chutes by BOE". I don't remember the opening width but the fabric is 48" diameter flat.

In this full up 3rd. config. I used a H180W-S motor with a RDK-03 Delay for 6 seconds. Of course, this was the fastest liftoff to an altitude of about 1186 ft. with the weight of 68 oz. with the HPR recovery system.

Again a real nice flight. With the winds so lite and variable the descent stayed on the same field and floated back and forth. Even though the rocket just slowly drifted down I got another 1/2" paint crack on an adjacent fin. One other problem developed. The upper Quick Link on the shock cord is jambed tight. I'll have to take that section apart and use some tools on it. Failing that it will be cut off and replaced.

This completes the flights of the first 3 "Baffles and More" rockets in the MASA Planet Articles.

John Carlson writes:

I agree it was a great day for launching rockets, I launched 14 of them. 6 of those were 25 years or older.  Glen seems to think I only launch what I built as a teenager. That's only partially true. :-)  I did bring some new ones.  I forgot to bring engines for my only staged rocket the texas firefly, bummer it would have been a perfect time to launch it. Thanks again for the RSO's work.

Jeff Taylor writes:

I got to the launch site a little later than anticiptaed because I first had to deal with a broken leaf spring on my truck (MacGyver-style), so I didn't get there until about 11:30.

I didn't fly right away because I was signed up to RSO/LCO at noon. The highlight of that shift was launching the annual Great UFO Drag Race. I think we launched 9 all at the same time.

After that I flew my LOC IV on an H-180 White Lightning. It had a corn buzzer that activated at deployment, but it turned out that I didn't need it since the rocket touched down on the same field only 201 feet from the pad.

I flew a recently-finished Semroc Centurion that I had modified with a zipperless design and an "E" motor mount. I launched it on a D12-5, but it suffered a separation at ejection. The bottom half lawn-darted between a few pads and took a nice core sample, but the top half floated away on twin parachutes. Thanks to Carol and Mark who helped me find it later in the day. That will be an easy fix.

I also flew a Big Daddy on an RMS E28 Blue Thunder with a Chutes by Boe mushroom parachute. Some pictures show that a clip hung on for several feet which could have been a disaster. But it flew high and landed perfectly.

Jim Copple writes:

Hi... Paige, Kailee and I wanted to thank everyone at MASA for storybook day. We are already preparing for next months launch. I am most pleased with our success rate. We improved from last month. Thats all we can ask for. We are now going to start researching the certification process. I particularily LOVED the launch of my CC Express. That was the best launch of my life. Again Thank you to everyone who was there and to MASA for having us. Truly a fairytale day.

David Whitaker writes:

Here is some crappy video of the Comanche 3 Drag Race.  Use Hi-Def if possible!

I had a pretty good day except for the lost rocket (Pheord X150 into the pond/weeds) and damaged rockets.

The worst damage was my 4inch scratch built on a SkyRipper J144.  The parachute didn't make it out since it got stuck. I probably will use a deployment bag if I ever use the RocketMan R7 again!  Luckily the booster took little if any damage. The Av bay was smashed but I think the bulkheads and hardware might be reuseable. All I need is a new coupler and some body tube. I have some spare body tube from the original build.

The Details:

Full launch tally (PDF)

The totals were:  184 flights with 214 motors burned.  The cumulative total impulse was 8058 Ns with an average total impulse of  37.7 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 0
















G 19


I 3




(Alan Estenson)

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