Skye Dance XXX
Wow, what a GREAT launch! Skye Dance 30 roared into the clear, blue Kimbro skies the afternoon of Sunday, November 4th, 2001. Conditions were excellent - skies were clear, temperatures were in the mid-70s and winds were out of the northeast at 5 - 8 mph. Eight fliers put up 16 flights during the 2 hour waiver, including 5 homebuilt experimental motors. All rockets were recovered. Links to photos and videos are included in the report.
The highest and the fastest flight awards both went to Ed Jacoby, who flew 3 rockets, two of which were powered by Jacoby experimental motors.  Ed's first flight of the day was an Aerotech Arreaux powered by an F50. The rocket flew fast and straight and the motor ejection charge deployed the small chute right at apogee for a perfect flight. Next, Ed flew his scratch built Nike Smoke using an experimental blue propellant rated as a J650 with a 1.2 second burn time. The countdown was normal, the button was pushed, and the 6.5 pound rocket just vanished. There was time for one neuron to fire and say "blue" and the rocket was already 1,000 feet in the air. It was the fastest acceleration I have ever seen. The rocket recovered safely using dual barometric recovery and the altimeter indicated a max altitude of 2,916 feet. It must have gotten there in about 2 seconds. An amazing flight. Finally, under twilight skies and near calm winds, Ed brought out his Bad Attitude powered by another experimental motor, this one rated as a K850. The 3 inch motor used Ed's red propellant formulation and produced a total impulse of around 2500 ns (a full K). The motor burned for 3.5 seconds and produced a beautiful red flame as it lifted the 15 pound rocket skyward. Dual barometric recovery functioned perfectly and the rocket landed close to the pads, indicating a max altitude of 6,005 feet. The highest flight of the day! Click here for a video of the flight.
Marlin Philyaw drove down from Waco to put up 2 rockets, both powered by experimental ammonium nitrate motors. Marlin's first flight was a PML Amram powered by an AN motor rated as a J280. The motor used a 1706 newton-second case, but the lower impulse produced by AN over AP resulted in a total impulse of around 1280 ns (a full J). The 11 pound rocket lifted off beautifully on a bright orange flame and disappeared into the deep blue sky. The onboard altimeter deployed a drogue at apogee and a main chute at 500 feet for a successful end to a beautiful flight. The rocket landed about a half mile downrange with the altimeter indicating a peak altitude of 5,260 feet. Click here for a video of the flight.
Marlin's next flight, using a rocket named "Motor Backup" was much easier to track. The 3 pound scratch built rocket used a tubular fin design and another experimental AN motor. The rocket's name came from the "LCO instructions" on the flight card: "light Motor, then Backup"! At T-0 the button was pushed, the ignitor fired and the typical AN bright orange flame erupted from the nozzle. The rocket rose slowly to a height of ONE FOOT (still on the rod), held that altitude for a few seconds, then slowly settled back down, still thrusting furiously. After about 8 seconds of thrusting (and going nowhere), the motor finally quit and the rocket sat on the rod with all it's fins on fire. We took a quick vote on whether to let the disaster burn to the ground or put the fire out (I voted to let it burn). Marlin wanted to save his altimeter so we reluctantly allowed him to put the fire out. The altimeter was saved and the remains of the rocket were renamed "Kindling". The flight did set a Skye Dance record: the lowest altitude ever attained by a motor that fired and did what it was supposed to do (sort of). And no, it didn't get stuck on the rod, it just couldn't get out of it's own way!
Charles Barnett also drove down from Waco to fly another experimental AN motor, this one in a 38mm 360ns case. The rocket was a LOC EZI-65, modified for altimeter dual deployment. The motor functioned perfectly, though the 6 pound 4 inch diameter rocket was a little heavy for the approximately 300ns motor. The rocket lifted slowly and weathercocked slightly, but the altimeter functioned perfectly and deployed right at apogee. The rocket returned safely after a successful flight, landing less than 100 feet from the pads.
Tom Montemayor put up 3 flights in three old, reliable rockets, powered by H, I and J power. First, Tom flew his Mountainside Hobbies 4 inch diameter V2 using an Aerotech H128. The boost was perfect and the short motor delay was perfect as the chute deployed right at apogee. Next, Tom brought out Spectra III, powered by a Kosdon J280. The boost was fast and straight and the Adept altimeter deployed a streamer right at apogee. The rocket descended fast under the streamer and right at 200 feet the main chute deployed for a beautiful landing. The altimeter indicated a peak altitude of 2,016 feet. Finally, Tom put up his original Spectra I using a Kosdon I300. The boost was very fast, and the onboard timer was set to deploy a main chute at apogee. The programmed time was a little too short which resulted in the main deploying early, but the rocket was undamaged and landed safely about a half mile downrange.
Mark and Grant Carlson put up 5 rockets, and Mark may have identified a problem with the new Aerotech delays. Mark flew 2 rockets using "short" delays: his quarter scale Patriot on an H123 (a 38/240 motor) and his LOC Loc IV using an H128 (a 29/180 motor). Both flights resulted in the motor ejecting extremely early, less than 3 seconds after burnout as measured on videotape. The problem certainly wasn't Mark's fault, he has assembled dozens of Aerotech motors. The problem is with the delays. So beware, the new Aerotech delays may be much shorter than advertised. Both rockets suffered damage from the high speed ejections. Grant Carlson flew his LOC Onyx on an Aerotech G35 Econojet for a perfect flight.
After warming up on the H motors, Mark put up two spectacular flights. For the maiden flight of his new "Turn One" rocket, Mark used an Ellis Mountain J330. The scratch built rocket used Giant Leap flexible phenolic airframe tubing and G10 fins. The rocket carried a Black Sky Altacc as the primary deployment device and a backup timer. The flight was perfect; the Ellis J330 provided lots of power to boost the 8 pound rocket skyward. The electronics functioned as planned deploying a drogue at apogee and a main at 400 feet, and the rocket landed safely a few hundred yards downrange. Mark also flew another scratch built rocket on an Aerotech J135 long burn white lightning motor at sunset. The flight was stunning...beautiful sunset colors, a darkening violet sky, and the pencil straight exhaust of the 8 second burn full J motor climbing fast. A perfect ending to a GREAT day!
Two other fliers took advantage of the excellent conditions, Jeff Cook and Norm Rubio. Jeff flew his veteran Aerobee-Hi using an Aerotech I211 and an Adept recording altimeter for deployment. The boost was perfect and the rocket separated right at apogee. At 200 feet (it looked a lot lower) the main chute was ejected but it sure took it's time opening. It finally fully deployed with the rocket about 10 feet above the ground and the rocket landed safely and undamaged.
Norm Rubio drove in from College Station to fly his scratch built rocket he called "Good Luck". The 8 pound rocket was powered by an Aerotech I357 Blue Thunder. The motor was supplied with a long delay, which would have been way to long for a rocket of this weight. So, we drilled the delay to a "short" and confidently launched the rocket. Unfortunately, the long delay would have probably been a medium (those new Aerotech delays are shorter than advertised) so we ended up drilling it to a short "short". The rocket boosted great and after about 4 seconds it deployed. The rocket held together and landed undamaged after the high speed deployment. A nice flight.