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Last updated: Mar 27, 2010
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July 2012 launch report

On Saturday, July 28, MASA held its regular monthly launch at the sod fields near Nowthen.

Congratulations to Allan Grover on his successful Level 1 high power certification.  Allan flew an "Exciter on an H242.

Congratulations to Aaron Sheriff on his successful Level 1 high power certification.  Aaron flew a LOC Athena 3 on an H163.

Theme:  Clustered-Engine Rockets

A LOT of clustered rockets took to the skies during the day.  They included a PSC Infinity, Viper IV, Ranger, Hydra 7, Power System, Laser X, Deuces Wild, "Eruption", Goliath, ASRAAM, and Astron Cobra.

Thanks to everyone who helped set up and tear down the launch range.

Thanks to the RSO/LCO volunteers!

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

Neal Higgins writes:

Thanks everyone who came today and it such a great launch even with the broken window incident.
Thanks to everyone who helped with range setup, tear down and all the LCO/RSO shifts
Thanks Jeff for bringing you grill.

A few items that were found that can be claimed by contacting me:
PNUT altimeter
Lower half of a Centuri X-16 , Buzz
Semroc PSC Infinity

Art Gibbens writes:

What a great day for flying - if only the winds had stayed a bit calmer. I got there just a little after 8:00 am to help set up. The range was ready to go about 10 minutes before the hour. So I set up my own pad in "misfire alley". Then I went to prep my rocket Genesis for it's first flight of the day. I put together an F52 Blue Thunder reload the night before but I still needed to put the ejection charge and ignitor in the motor. I also planned to put an altimeter in all my flights today, so I had to get that ready as well. At about 9:15 everything was ready and I put it on my pad. I used the "short" delay charge in this configuration, and if I do again I'll drill it, as the rocket only went up 347 feet. The parachute came out - but just barely in time.

So now to do some quick clean up and re-prep it for it's second flight of the day. This time I was flying a G64 White Lightening with a long delay drilled to make it a medium delay. I also added a corn abatement whistler/beacon. I punched a hole in the sky 706 feet high and the parachute came out just after tip over - picture perfect flight that landed on the sod field just across the road from where we were launching.

So with 2 good flights under my belt I stepped up to an H180 White Lightening with a medium delay. This is the biggest engine that fits my 29 mm casings. So I reconnected the corn abatement buzzer, reset the altimeter and repacked the parachute. Because it was an H motor I had to go out 100 feet and used the club's launch system with my pad. So the motor lights and it jumps off the pad - and I mean jumped! A split second later it is spinning wildly in the air and there are flames coming out everywhere. If anyone got a video of this flight it would be just awesome. The parachute finishes deploying and it floats back to earth landing just feet from where I was standing. First thoughts and comments are that the forward closure let loose. And right after that everyone is telling my I was very fortunate that it was not worse. I concur.

However, upon disassembly and closer inspection this is what I found. The forward closure was firmly in place Hmm, so the ejection happened right after ignition. Because this is a zipperless designed rocket as soon as ejection happened it became highly unstable causing the spinning. As I took apart the motor it was apparent to me that the insulator/liner for the ejection delay had been burnt through the side all the way to the aluminium casing right at a spiral winding. Could this have been the cause of the premature ejection? I showed it to Gary Stroick to get his input because it looked to me like I should fill out a MESS Report because of a defective engine. He took some pictures of the burned-through sleeve so I can send them on to Aerotech to see what they have to say about it. I realize that once the ejection charge had gone off that the burn through may have been because of propellent still burning afterwards. All three o-rings were present and accounted for and in their correct places. I'll just have to wait and see what the folks at Aerotech have to say.

The altimeter beeped out 129 feet, which has to be some kind of record for low flights on an H180 engine. The only damage to the rocket is from the flame through the front of the engine that crisped up the paper engine mount tube. The consolation in that is that this is the longest casing I can use in this rocket so it won't limit me after it is repaired because
the casing protected so much of the lower part of the tube.

Then I took the noon to one LCO shift and during that time I bet in that hour I saw 30 rockets launched if I saw one. Thanx Todd for being the RSO and checking out those big birds. And thanx to Jeff for grilling up a couple of dogs and bringing them out to me - very nice treat! After the end of my shift I finished packing up my gear and chatted for a few moments with the folks that had come out from Maranatha Christian Academy's TARC Team. Finally, a huge thanx to Neal and the rest of the gang that helped set up, run and tear down for today's launch. We couldn't hold great launches like the one today without everyone chipping in.

Chuck Ross writes:

Heh -  today was a day I can best sum up with "curious"...and I'm guessing Curious' surname is "Murphy's Law".

We had two launches today. Due to the wind/launch configuration we held back a bit, but - as expected - our first launch of Big Bertha flew flawlessly on a C6-5.

Our second launch was our first attempt at a mid-power rocket, and I'd like to thank Gary and Neal for their assistance in getting Ian's Laser X off the ground  - she flew beautifully!

Tragically, the wind had shifted between the time we put her on the pad and she finally launched. I spent 2-1/2 hours wandering through the cornfield looking, but all I found was Buzz's earlier attempt at a dual-separation on a 20 or 30 year old rocket. It was great to recover that for him, but losing our Laser X on her virgin flight was painful...we'll be using sonic transponders from now on at the sod fields.

And Chris - I'm hoping you have full glass coverage. If not, let me know and I'll kick in a few bucks. I wasn't there when it happened, but the descriptions I've heard of the incident definitely crosses in to the surreal.

Jeff Taylor writes:

MASA received 5 new club members who joined at the field today: Steve Higley from Maple Grove and the Beard family of Ross, Lynette, Jadon and Derek from Ramsey. Welcome all!

A few simple reminders to all club members: Please do not drive out onto the sod to make a U-turn to park. Just back in to your parking spot from the road. The land is not ours, and we cannot afford to damage the land-owner's livelihood. Also, if you are asked to move your car because you are parked in a landing zone, please don't wait until you are asked by a second person to move, simply move your car out of that area and park somewhere else.

I only made a few flights today... I flew my "Plaid Brad" kitbash rocket on a C6-3, my steampunked ACME Spitfire on an E18 and my Deuces Wild on a pair of C6-3's.

Anand Vyas writes:

It was quite an eventful day for me. I will start with pleasant memories first. Thanks to Neal's watchful eye and mentoring, it was fun to make my debut as an LCO. I had a few rookie gaffes, but thankfully nobody was annoyed. I look forward to eagerly volunteering for LCO position again.

Following were the launch results:

1) In support of the cluster theme launch, I started out with Semroc Goliath 3-engine cluster with C6-7 rockets. All three engines ignited simultaneously and after a successful flight, the parachutes (two) deployed properly. However, corn and soya fields were desperate to have this rocket as a fertilizer, so I never recovered these. But as part of three recovery missions for my Goliath, I found Ron Wirth's (forget the name,  but with shiny pink parachute) and Buzz McDermott's (Semroc PSC Infinity) rockets. So, I believe I atleast earned some good karma today...

2) One failure couldn't deter me, so I tried launching FlisKits Rose-A-Roc. It was my first time building a helicopter recovery rocket. In course of building the rocket, I encountered some minor mishaps, but could overcome those with crazy glue. With some helpful advice from Buzz McDermott, I prepped the rocket with A8-3 motor (I was glad Gary Stroick was there today). As I was attaching the clips to the igniter, I realized I had not used wadding ! Then I reminded myself, that this was a helicopter recovery and burn thread is all it would take to deploy the blades.
The flight was successful, with blades deploying as expected. However, I had become bit too ambitious in overstretching the rubber band to the top of the nose cone resulting in no spinning descent. However, the rocket was intact and Buzz recovered it for me. Thanks Buzz.

So, a semi-successful flight all in all.

3) Now, I got tempted to push my luck with the helicopter. So, I prepped the Rose-A-Roc again. But at the launch pad, my strings seemed to come loose. So, I went back and tied it tightly. This was to be the crossing the bounds of my luck regime. So, with high hopes and having twisted the wires more for negative incidence and lowered the rubber band pin position, I was expecting spinning helicopter descent. Again, I used A8-3 and next thing I know is that it is a lawn dart. The silver lining to this least it amused the kids as I could hear joyous giggles of watching it embed nose down in the soft soil.

Post failure inspection revealed that the thread was stuck in the brass wire clip on the wing a result the stress of the impact caused one of the blades to fall off, and other two had their spoke wires slide farther down into the blade.

Lesson 1: Be very careful how you tie the threads in Rose-A-Roc, and pay a great amount of attention to detail while making it. This kit can be very unforgiving for a minor lapse.

4) I thought I had exhausted all my rockets today when my eyes fell on my old Semroc Squire. It had met multiple mishaps due to my hastiness in making it. However, I had managed to salvage this rocket with my resourcefulness. Thus, its name the Salvaged Squire. I thought this ugly rocket of mine would be a good riddance if it fell into a canal, got lost into corn fields, or just blew up at the launch pad. So, I untangled the parachute that I had not used in ages (about a year) and prepped it with a B6-6.
With no problems at the launch pad, it flew well, had a successful parachute deployment and descended right at the edge of the range boundary fence. I could just pick it up without having to wait until the range was open.

Lesson 2: If you are having a bad day, fly your ugliest SOB rockets that you want to get rid of.

Chris Feld writes:

This was an interesting launch.
I arrived shortly after 8:00am. The weather reports I had read indicated a prevailing 9mph wind to the south. It went the opposite direction, making things very interesting. I made a flight with my PML Callisto, shortly after 9:00am. Due to the winds, it landed in the cornfield on the north side of the road. I made thee more flights with the Callisto throughout the day, all of which landed in more accessible areas. Gary Stroik, from Off We Go Rocketry was running a promotion for CTI reloads, offering the use of a case to anyone who bought a CTI reload. I took him up on it, and flew a G118 in the Callisto. I didn't see much of the flame, but the quick ignition impressed me.

My shift as LCO was quite memorable. one of the flights I launched was a shakedown flight in preparation for an L1 cert flight. Due to the winds, it recovered in the parking area, first bouncing off Neil's trailer, and then landed in my backseat. No hard feelings, I'm actually quite impressed that a LOC kit could survive that kind of treatment. While this was an unfortunate incident, it definitely speaks to the flier's competence as a builder. I would like to remind everyone to check the weather reports beforehand, especially the wind forecasts, and plan flights accordingly. Also keep in mind that winds aloft can be wildly different from winds on the ground. Lastly, remember to angle the launchers downrange. Yes, this can reduce your altitude, but that's much better recovering your rocket from someones vehicle.

Thanks to everyone that helped clean up the glass. Todd Carpenter noted that among the things the rocket had come to rest on, was a handout from a contractor orientation I had attended, dealing with workplace safety.

In spite of the troublesome winds, we had two successful L1 cert flights, By Alan Grover and Aaron Sheriff. Congratulations to both, and good luck in your endeavors.

Michael Farrell writes:

Thanks for another great day of flying. Special huge thanks to Alain Glover for rescuing my LOC Hi-Tech from the drainage ditch - his quick intervention got it out of the slime before anything could soak in. The rocket dried quickly without warping and will fly again. Some day it may even have a coat of paint.

I got 8 flights in, one of my most prolific launch days with MASA so far (I never get as many flights in as I plan), and only one casualty, my featherweight scratch built "Index" flew out of sight on an E9-6. I knew I was taking a chance, it RockSimmed to about 2,000' in that breeze on that engine, but sometimes the envelope must get pushed. For about $4.00 in parts, it can be rebuilt. It was called Index because when turned nose down it looks like the artifact that the Master Chief retrieves for 343 Guilty Spark in the first Halo.

My best flight of the day was the one that put the Hi-Tech in the drink on a red G77. The flight successfully ejected two toy paratroopers for my buddy's boys from about 1,000 ft. One even found it's way back (thanks Chris!).

I had the honor to LCO for Neal's Green Goblin and Todd's giant Tethys, both great fliers and flights. Congrats to Aaron for certifying with a recovery about 50' from his car (that rocket is bad-ass), and condolences to Chris for improvising Aaron's earlier landing pad; one in a million (probably literally).

Finally, farewell to Dwayne, nice to get to know you and fly with you, best of luck down south.

Brian Uhlenkamp writes:

Lukas and I had a good launch.

I put up my Interceptor E on it's maiden flight on an E18-5W for a perfect flight and recovery.  I had it ready to fly again for the drag race on an E18 again, but I had to leave before that occured.

In the spirit of clusters, I put up my Sunward Eruption, which has 4 canted 18mm engines, on C6-3s.  All 4 engines lit and ejected but the delay was too short as the screw eye from the NC smashed into one of the fins as the rocket was moving forward on ejection-I can fix the fin dent.  My Altimeter 2 recorded 623 ft.

I also put up my Semroc SLS AeroDart on it's maiden flight on an E18-6W.  The first igniter didn't work, but after that it flew great to 923 ft per my Altimeter 2.  The only bad thing, I lost the Aerotech 24/40 engine casing.  Not sure what happened, I had the std spring clip, plus I put tape around it for extra security, the ejection looked fine, so might have slipped out at decent?  Any input of similar happenings is welcome-plus if anyone finds the casing!

Lukas launched our Super Neon on a B6-4 on a perfect flight.  He then launched his Triton X on a B6-4 on another perfect flight.  It has dual parachute recovery, and each parachute broke one shroud line, but still fine.  He launched is Planet Probe on a B6-0 and his Sputnik, with perfect tumble/air brake recovery.  Our two stage Mongoose went "outasight" and then we lost it on decent, I think it went in the corn, but never to be found.  He launched his  Bandito on a 1/4A3-3T, it didn't go to high-maybe 50 feet and almost
landed on Dwayne/s launch pad next to us when the chute came out at about 25 ft.  Need more thrust next time.  i was proud of Lukas prepping all his rockets by himself with little assistance, plus picking and loading his motors, only needing help with the ignitors.  I did help with the two stage Mongoose, and he was quick to point out I had one engine upside down (before I noticed). 

The winds were a challenge and hard to judge.  We had a great time as usual.

Ron Wirth writes:

A quick launch report for July 28th. I arrived just after 8 AM for setup and departed just after 3 PM. In total I launched 15 rockets using A thru E engines. The first launch of the day was my InFlight Piranha on a D12-5. A nice flight but after about 30 minutes in the corn field I gave up looking for it. Lucky for me Anand found it later in the day while looking for one of his rockets. My second launch was of a clone SHROX Icarus that I just completed. It went up on a C6-5 which will be a C6-3 for future launches. The parachute did deploy in time but unfortunately it landed in the irrigation ditch. I still have not been able to get the motor out yet. I had one other rocket land in the water as well with minimum damage. It seems to me that there were many rockets that ended up in the water and a couple lost in the corn. Overall it was a good day to launch rockets.

Side Note: I appreciate that Gary Stroick of Off We Go Rocketry has been selling motors at the last couple MASA launches. It was nice to be able to buy a couple of engines on the field. Hopefully he is being supported enough that it makes it worth his time to come to the launches.


The Details:

Full launch tally (PDF)

The totals were:  153 flights, 188 motors.  The cumulative total impulse was 6708 Ns.  The motor breakdown follows:


# Burned

MicroMaxx 0
















G 8


I 3



(Alan Estenson)

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