August 2013 launch report
On Saturday, August 31st, MASA held its regular monthly launch
at the sod fields near Nowthen.
It was a beautiful day for flying rockets! Warm, sunny,
with only a slightly breeze. Flying began around 9:30am and
wrapped up around 3:30pm.
Thanks to everyone who helped set up and tear down the launch
Thanks to the RSO/LCO volunteers: Anand Vyas, Chris Feld,
Alan Estenson, Neal Higgins, Rick Vatsaas, Jeff Taylor, Michael
15th Annual Great UFO Drag Race
- Lyle Merdan, Quest SPEV Saucer, C6-3
- Neal Higgins, FlisKits Pheord X-150, C6-0
- Michael Farrell, Quest Planet Probe, C6-0
- Alan Estenson, Quest Planet Probe, B6-0
- Alan Estenson, FlisKits Pheord X-150, B6-0
- Alan Estenson, MASA SPEV Saucer, C6-0
The photos show that Alan's Pheord was first off the pad,
and Lyle's SPEV Saucer was last off the pad.
12th Annual Comanche-3
- Ron Wirth: D12-0; C6-0; B6-6
- Andy Nahr: D12-0; C6-5 [2-stage]
- Neal Higgins: D12-0; C6-0; C6-7
- Neal Higgins: A10-0t; A10-0t; A10-3t [mini]
The photos show that Neal's Mini Comanche-3 was first off
the pad followed by Andy's 2-stage Comanche.
Separately from the drag race, Nick Daigle flew his
Comanche-3 on D12-0; C6-0; C6-7. Neal Higgins flew his
Comanche Xtreme on E12-0; E12-0; E12-8. Jon Sullivan
flew his Comanche-3 on D12-0; C6-0; C6-7 and on C6-0; A8-3.
Golden Scout Memorial Launch
Lyle Merdan, Jeff Taylor, and Ron Wirth flew a memorial
flight of three Semroc Golden Scouts on A8 motors.
Alan Estenson, Jeff Jones and Chuck Ross also flew Golden
Special Memorial: The
rocket community recently lost Carl McLawhorn of Semroc.
In memory of Carl, everyone was encouraged to fly their Semroc
At least 20 Semroc rockets were flown today.
MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the
Anand Vyas writes:
The launch activities began with slow start, with yours
truly having nothing to do as LCO for first half hour. Slowly,
folks started mounting their rockets on launch pad. The wind was
noticeable during morning but thereafter (with exception of some
transient mini gusts) it died down, the clouds gave way to sun,
and it was as perfect a day as can ever be for a launch. After
relieving myself of the RSO duties, I was set to launch some of
my own rockets around 11 am. I started by flying Semroc Squire
on B6-4 motor, in honor of Carl McLawhorn. It was a good flight
with it landing about 100 feet to the left of the launch pad.
Next, I tried Rose-A-Roc with A8-3 motor, and was a
prang (almost a lawn dart). I had one broken blade. The problem
was that I forgot how to tie the string around the blades, and
for some reason I believed I had remembered it. I tried it the
second time (in hindsight, it was insanity), after field repairs
with Crazy Glue and balsa strip cemented onto the fracture line,
with A8-3 with supposedly better string wraparound. This one was
a perfect lawn dart. Now two unbroken blades from previous
attempt broke and the dowel shaft slid into the rocket due to
Never the one to accept the failure, I was determined
even more to make it work. After aforementioned type field
repairs, I held out the rocket horizontally in (with rubber
bands held in place by masking tapes (as my rocket cone was
riddled with too many pin inserts at the top), and it was
windmilling beautifully during windgusts. So, I set to tie it
again. Fortuitously, Lyle Merdan and his buddies offered their
help (sorry guys, forgot your names) in holding the rocket in
place for me to manipulate string around the hole and wrap
around, and providing good ideas to have the string pass thru
the hole easily. This time, I swallowed my pride and referred to
the manual and realized my error. So, with renewed confidence
and having run out of A8-3 motors, I used B6-4 this time. The
rocket went on somewhat helical trajectory upward and the blades
deployed nicely, just that there was some delay in blades being
in proper position while in descent, and the burnt motor casing
had somehow ejected itself out (although I had masking tape on
it). So, the blades acted more like streamer than windmilling on
the way down.
Now, I thought maybe I should launch it higher (also by
now I was out of B6-anything but zero, motors) so I tried what I
had left, a C6-7 motor with better string wrap around, more
sanding of blade tip surface to aid proper release. I felt that
I had done all that I could to fix it and if a balsa glider with
no aerodynamic wing profile could fly, my rocket should windmill
on its way down due to proper negative angle of attack I had on
it. So, the rocket ascended on an irregular helical trajectory
upward and with 7 seconds delay, it seemed like another lawn
dart, when the ejection charge went off and the blades deployed,
and what ensured thereafter was a spectacular windmilling of the
rocket just like it shows on the cover pad of the kit. I was
ecstatic, and then spent rest of my time just wandering chatting
with other folks, inspiring them to build Rose-A-Roc and having
good time. If I did a good job, Mike Farrell and Chuck Ross will
be inspired to fly their Rose-A-Rocs in September. I realized
that I had overstayed by an hour (due to previous failures), and
so thanked Neal and took off.
Overall, another memorable day of my life with MASA and
Larry Schwartz writes:
A perfect day for a launch! And I launched practically
every one of the rockets in my fleet at least once. All had
perfect flights. Even the 2-stage Stretch D Fatboy and the
Aerotech Arreaux were perfect flights -- up to the point when
I lost in the corn . . . Have I mentioned lately how much I
hate corn? Have I mentioned how silly I feel for leaving my
box-o-beepers at home today?
Rick Vatsaas writes:
It was a great day at Nowthen!
Today was the day that I was going to fly my 3-D Printed
MASA Mascot Rocket, based on the epic logo created by our Jeff
Taylor. I was pretty nervous for a couple reasons.
1. I have had my share of ejection failures on
2. With the radical geometry I couldn't be 100% sure that my
simulations and swing tests were adequate for assessing
stability. I needn't have worried. Ascended straight as an
arrow on the I E23-7T, and I got clean ejection and recovery. I
hope to hear soon from those managed to get pictures.
This I followed up with Das PickleHaube Raket, my spoof
of the Der Red Max on a D12-5. This also flew well but suffered
a separation. Only minor repairs are required.
After a stint as LCO (too fun to be considered duty) I
flew my Skowt on a D12-5. This fell into the cornfield to the
north. I used a gps tracking app on my found to track my search
and ended up finding it after a half hour.
I wrapped up the day flying my Ion Pulsar on a D12-5.
Which narrowly missed the cornfield. Thanks to everyone who made
the day so enjoyable.
Michael Farrell writes:
That was the day we've been waiting for all summer.
There were a lot of launches and lots of stories. Anand
getting his Rose-a-Roc to a good flight through sheer force of
will, drag events with lots of entrants (there were Comanches
everywhere all day long), the first flight of the 3D printed
MASA logo rocket, short-walk high power retrievals, FITI
flights, lots of Semroc flights, there was something for
everyone. People spent a lot less aggregate time in the corn
than I thought would be the case, and the mythical Comanche
Extreme got to fly (and fly, and fly).
I got ten flights in, some of them first flights, all
good, mostly in the morning with the calm conditions, and, in
keeping with my tradition, I put my Hawk into a ditch (but got
it back undamaged). I flew everything from a 200' UFO flight in
the annual drag race to a high power shot to over 3,000'. A
couple of mine were redemption flights, successful repeats of
previous flight profiles that should have worked but didn't for
A friend of mine came out with his boys for the
inaugural flight of his beautiful vintage Estes NCC-1701, but
the recommended first flight engine was severely underpowered
and the flight ended with disastrous damage. He's got a
considerable repair job ahead of him this winter.
Nonetheless, it's always a great time, MASA, thanks.
Neal Higgins writes:
First off, thanks everyone who helped with the range
setup & tear down and those that hung around after to make sure
Glen returned safely from the corn (he did but without the
rocket). Thanks to everyone who volunteered for LCO/RSO
Today turned out to be a Commanche day for me. I flew
all 3 of my Commanches. The mini & regular Commanche flew in the
drag race. I flew the Xtreme on it's own fully loaded with E12's
in all stages. It didn't go as straight as would have liked but
like Michael said it flew & flew & flew. The only parts
that came back were 3 fins from one of the stages.
I flew my PheordX150 in the Great UFO drag race, my L2
rocket Thor on a J315R and Zeus (an upscale version of the Estes
Solar Flare) on an I357T. I'm glad I added the buzzer to
Thor or it might still be in the corn.
Thanks to our newest member Andy Nahr for some great
photos from the launch. They are on the Yahoo group photos page
in the 2013 Aug 31 Launch folder. Feel to add more photos if you
A great day and launch. Thanks again everyone for all of
Full launch tally (PDF)
The totals were: 167 flights, 193 motors. The cumulative
total impulse was 9,612 Ns.
The motor breakdown follows: