September 26, 2009 launch report
On Saturday, September 26th, MASA held its regular monthly club launch on the sod
farm near Nowthen. Flying started just before 10am, and the launch ended
at 4pm. A total of 184 flights were recorded. The
prolific flyer of the day was Stuart Lenz with 18 flights.
The morning started out very foggy with visibility as low as 100
yards. Several people were on hand to start setting up just
before 9am. By 9:30, the range was pretty much ready to go,
and the fog was lifting. By 10:30, we had clear, blue skies,
sunshine and nearly calm conditions. As the day went on, the
breeze did come up out of the south. All in all, it was a very
nice day! A ton of people came out for the launch.
Through strange coincidence, the number of flights was exactly the
same as last month's launch. The cluster theme did result in a
lot more motors being used. Fewer mid-power flights brought
down the total impulse for the day.
Daniel Hastings - your red rocket was found and turned in, you
can pick it up at a future launch.
Deuces Wild Drag Race
Seven rocketeers brought out their FlisKits "Deuces Wild"
rockets (and variants) for a cluster drag race. Flying
were Jeff Taylor, Alan Estenson, Ted Cochran, Dave Schaffhausen,
Lyle Merdan, Scott Gleason, and Daniel Boe.
Tres Drag Race
Four rocketeers brought out their FlisKits "Tres" rockets for
another cluster drag race. Flying were Ken Hoyme, Lyle
Merdan, Jeff Taylor, and Mark Thell.
The theme for this launch was "clusters".
Including the entrants in the drag races, there were
26 clustered-engine rocket flights during the day. The
success rate was quite good.
Thanks to the LCO/RSO volunteers: Mark Thell, Ted Cochran,
Neal Higgins, Rick Vatsaas, David Whitaker, and Alan Estenson.
Thanks to the early crew who helped set up the launch range and
to the gang that stayed to help tear down and pack up the gear at
the end of the day!
Congrats to Todd Carpenter on his successful L1 certification!
Todd flew a PML Tethys on an Aerotech H242.
Ken Hoyme has shared some of his photos from the launch on a
Alan Estenson has shared some of his photos from the launch at
A few of the flights:
MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the
Todd Carpenter writes:
As the aging supplicant rode his small steed on his early
morning pilgrimage to the northern plains, the bright southern
sky darkened, and dank fog roiled about, tendrils and oily
masses obscuring lethal drop offs, long dank troughs of
festering waters on one side, and tall sentinel stalks to the
other. The lone cry of an eagle pierced the air as it circled
above the thick fog, foiled in its search for sustenance. The
supplicant eventually thread his way through treacherous bends
and pits in the road, and arrived in the now, from then, as the
sun burnt away the mists, exposing the brightly festooned
> Congrats to Todd Carpenter on his successful L1 cert! Woo-hoo!
Thanks to everyone for the help! Woo Hoo is right!
I never really intended to go for L1, but after all the talk
this year of the "L1 contest" where the MASA team built an L1
rocket in under an hour, well, I thought I should make an
attempt. I didn't realize it was supposed to be that easy. (It
I relied on a Tethys, HMR, 38mm RMS system, H242T-M, rail
buttons, and a _lot_ of epoxy, all from Hub. Corn abatement
buzzers from Ax man. A *lot* more than an hour of labor, several
conversations with MASA experts, reading the NAR membership
handbook, and still having questions...
Ted checked things over when I arrived, and offered some
tips. My certification board, Jeff and Carol, showed up shortly
thereafter, and went over the rocket and the safety checklist in
detail. Next L1 cert attemptee: Bring along a list of approved
rockets. I should have done that... Also, despite my practicing
with RMS D,E, and F motors, my crack cert team caught an o-ring
issue, and showed me how to install it correctly. *whew* Along
the way, lots of people stopped by to offer positive
encouragement. Thanks, that meant a lot
Alan lent me his rail launcher, and Mark provided insightful
color commentary as we prepared for the launch. Mark sported a
very nice blue hard hat, leaving the rest of the MASA spectators
unprotected. Oddly enough, everyone clustered around to watch
anyways. What part of "first flight, first L1 attempt" didn't
they get? Whatever...
Launch went well, chute opened, and recovery was on the
grass. The corn abatement system installed in the nosecone
worked great. The one on the piston separated, and was recovered
by Stuart (thanks!). The piston zippered a bit, Rick gave me a
clever tip on preventing that in the future: Install an aft
bulkhead on the piston.
I next launched a Flis Fric-n-Frac. Fun as always, though one
panel lost a corner. My Screaming Mimi popped up on an E28,
chute didn't open, but it landed in some scrub brush along the
road, and took zero damage. Then I launched my Baby Booster
(Baby Bertha with a couple gliders on it), which suffered a
nasty weathercock and buried itself in one of the drainage
ditches. One glider shattered, boost hook cracked, but all is
Thoroughly enjoyed watching all the other rockets today.
Great mix of things, from the detail on the micro max to the Red
Line J, with hybrids, crayons, gliders, a lighthouse, amazing
flying steampunk cups, and a bunch of clusters in between!
Ken Hoyme writes:
It was a pleasant day for a launch. Alissa is deep in the
throws of her senior year at the U, but having finished two new
rockets just before going back, she wanted to be there. I had to
make a presentation to docs starting at 7:30AM in downtown
St. Paul, so we didn't get there until noon. The parking area
was jammed with folks.
Alissa had successful launches of both her new rockets. Her
Nantucket Sound flew well on a C11-3, and got many side
conversations going about it. Her Fliskit "Adfecta" also flew
true on a C11-3. On a calmer day, it would be worth putting a
larger engine in it, to be sure.
I puttered around between taking photos and prepping rockets.
I spent much time trying to get my new A.C.M.E. Spitfire to
behave. Some paint/filler got into the lower launch lug, and I
had a dickens of a time getting it cleared (had to do some field
repair of a crack I made). In the end, it was clear but still
more friction than I would have preferred, and a funky launch
was testament to it still needing lug work. I also put up an old
mini-Bertha that I think I built around 1973. It flew fine.
The fun launch was putting up my Tres in a 4-way drag race
with Mark, Lyle and Jeff. Kudos to Lyle for taking the challenge
and building his up in a week!
Of course, one always has to do one more launch. Alissa's
sister had built up a Aerotech Cheetah back in 2002-3, but it
was never finished (that was the time we lost the Blaine field,
and the VFW fields were too small for F-G engines). Being in
dental school for the next 4 years, she told me to go ahead and
finish it and fly it myself. So, I put in an F20-7W that we
bought back in 2002-3. Being short, I put it on the 1/4 rod that
I could reach easily. The motor sputtered several times on
ignition, and I think when it lit, it did not have enough
velocity off the rod. It took a turn for the corn, and off it
Thanks to many helpful eyes, and Glen's tracking GPS system,
Alissa and I went over to the main dirt road, and started a
search grid. Alissa found it 42 rows in off the road, pretty
close to the track set on the GPS. Thanks to all for the eagle
Enjoyed watching many other amazing flights, and some rather
dramatic ones as well. Sorry I missed Todd's L1 flight --
Alan Estenson writes:
It started out darn foggy! (I actually missed a turn in
the fog.) It started burning off pretty quickly, though.
With plenty of help (thanks guys!), we had the range set up very
quickly. It turned out to be a beautiful day with great
attendance and a ton of flights!
I had been itchin' to burn a J motor, so I drug out my trusty
LOC I-roc and loaded a J420 Redline in it. Very fast and
loud liftoff with a red flame about as long as the rocket.
The flight arced quite a bit to the south. With the
breeze, it drifted back and landed almost directly across the
drainage ditch from the pad.
For other flights, I loaded my Tube-ces Wild with two long
burn Quest C6-5's for the Deuce drag race. Ken's photos
show that I was first off the pads - perhaps due to the low
current Quest Q2G2 igniters. Upping the power on my crayon
rocket "Back to Cool", I loaded it with an F21-8 for a very nice
flight. It drifted off to the north, and I lost sight of
it behind the rise. Todd Schweim had seen it drop into the
corn and gave me a landmark to go by. However, on my way
to get it, I ran into Don Boe carrying it back. He had
also seen it drop into the corn and had gone in to get it.
My repaired "Super Duper V2" had its first flight in several
years on a D12-5. For the cluster theme, I also flew my
Semroc Goliath on three C6-7's.
Great launch, everyone! Thanks!!!
Ted Cochran writes:
Illustrations for Todd's story are here:
Great shots, Ken; the Deuce's drag race is particularly
I flew five rockets carrying 20 motors, lighting all but two
EnRaged, my kit-bashed Renegade, flew well on 4 A10-Ps and 2
out of 3 B6-4s.
I flew Ranger on 2 out of 3 B6-4s. The chute was shy and it core
sampled about two inches of peat, but no damage at all.
I flew my parallel-staged, booster dropping, five-motor-cluster
PSR 18-24 rocket on 4 x A8-3s and a D12-5 for another
fate-tempting, probabilistically-unlikely perfect flight.
My Deuce's Wild off the rail on two C6-5s was part of the
wonderfully-chaotic drag race.
And, for old time's sake, I flew my 11-year-old orange and
yellow Ted's Testbed for the 25th time on three D12s. That
rocket has burned 75 D12s and six E15s in its life....I could
almost have built a L3 rocket for the motor money it's used over
Great launch; great fun!
Full launch tally (PDF)
The totals were: 184 flights with 233 motors burned.
The cumulative total impulse was 6066 Ns with an average total impulse of 26 Ns.
The motor breakdown follows: