August 22, 2009 launch report (8/23/2009)
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
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
A few of the flights:
MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the
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
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
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
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:
I HATE CORN!
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
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
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
2 Applewhite paper pyramids on A10T's drag race with two of
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
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
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
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.
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: