Tips & Tricks for Winter Launching
Originated by Alan Estenson
Last revised January 29, 2000.
Winter launching can be a lot of fun, and, here in Minnesota, we
have a lot of winter! However, there are a few important
things to keep in mind when you go out in the snow to launch your
- Personally, I stick with rockets that use either streamers or
nylon parachutes. Plastic parachutes can get stiff in the
cold and refuse to open. This results in the "wad of
cold plastic" recovery system; it doesn't work too well.
- If you do fly a rocket with a plastic parachute, dust it with
talcum powder and don't pack the chute into the rocket until
just before you're ready to launch it.
- Remember that plastic fin units become brittle in low
temperatures; a hard landing may break a fin.
- Face it, your rocket will land in the snow. Get out
there and pick it up as soon as possible.
- The first, most important thing to do is to pull the
expended engine out of the rocket! The cardboard
casings used in common black powder motors will absorb
water. When they absorb water, they swell and
expand. I've seen wet motor casings permanently stuck in
rockets, and I've seen people yank the entire motor mount from a
rocket while trying to remove a stuck, wet motor casing.
- Take the rocket back to somewhere dry and use a soft rag or
towel to wipe all of the snow from it before the snow has a
chance to start melting. Make sure to remove any snow that
got inside the rocket and any that was compacted up around the
- Only fly painted rockets as unpainted rockets could absorb
- If a rocket becomes damp inside, don't reassemble it at the
field! Take it home and allow it to dry completely before
stuffing it back together.
How to Dress
Warm clothes, layers, a hat, good socks, boots, gloves.
(Use common sense!)
See you at the flying field!