Skye Dance XXXVI
Sometimes, conditions are just perfect. Sunday, September 7, 2003 was such a day; the temperature was around 90, humidity was low, and the winds were perfectly calm (except for the dust devils). So, a few quick phone calls, activate the waiver, file the notam, and the first launch of our Fall season was under way! We ended up burning over 17,000 ns during the 5 hour waiver.
Tom Montemayor had the most flights, putting up 5 rockets during the 5 hour waiver. Tom started with his Mountainside Hobbies 4 inch V2, powered by an Aerotech H238 Blue Thunder. The boost was fast and straight, and the motor delay was perfect, deploying the chute right at apogee for a perfect flight. Next, Tom flew his scratch built Psychedelic Persuasion using a 38mm Aerotech H73 Blackjack. The motor took a few seconds to come up to pressure, then the rocket lifted gracefully and slowly trailing a column of thick, black smoke. The motor delay was a couple of seconds too long with the rocket deploying just past apogee. Again, a safe landing after a perfect flight.
After the two warm up flights, it was time for some excitment! Tom brought out his ancient North Coast Rocketry (remember them?) Brighthawk, powered by a core H220 Blue Thunder airstarting 2 outboard G35 Econojets. The flight was perfect; the rocket roared off the pad at 10Gs under the Blue Thunder thrust, coasted for 3 seconds, then the two G35s kicked in. The rocket reached a max velocity of 380 feet/second under the H220, fell off to 190 feet/second during the coast, then accelerated back up to 393 feet/second when the G35s kicked in. The altimeter deployed a streamer at apogee, and the main deployed at 250 feet. Max altitude was 2907 feet.
Next, Tom loaded his fiberglass Hawk Mountain Bad Attitude with an Aerotech K550. Liftoff was spectacular with the rocket roaring into the clear sky. The motor had a medium delay, and the data indicates that the delay was well within tolerance, firing 9 seconds after motor burnout. Unfortunately, the rocket was still coasting upward at 170 feet/second when the motor charge (which backs up the altimeter) fired. The apogee charge only deploys a small streamer, so the low energy ejection caused no damage to the rocket. Main deployment occurred on schedule at 750 feet and the rocket landed safely. Max altitude was 4655 feet, max velocity was 586 feet/second and max acceleration was 8.5 Gs. The rocket would probably have coasted upward another 400 feet had it not ejected early. Next time I'll use a long delay!
Finally, with the sun low in the sky (typical), Tom brought out his trusty Spectra powered by a Kosdon K350. The rocket lifted gracefully into the dark blue sky, riding on top of 3 feet of fire. We all heard the apogee deployment, but there were some tense seconds when no one could find the rocket. Finally, Gary Denard found it, falling under it's streamer, heading straight for the crowd. Main deployment occurred at 750 feet and the rocket drifted lazily over the crowd, landing about 50 yards from the pads. Max altitude was 5143 feet, max velocity was 661 feet/second, and max loading was 6.2 Gs.
Psychedelic Persuasion boosting on an H73.
Tom with his NCR Brighthawk
Brighthawk boosting on an H220
Tom with his Bad Attitude
Bad Attitude boosting on a K550
Spectra boosting on a K350
Pretty sunset recovery
Mark Carlson also had a great day, putting up 4 rockets, including the first EX motor of the launch. Mark started the day by launching his old, reliable LOC IV using an H128. The boost was perfect and deployment occurred right at apogee. With the calm winds, the rocket landed very close to the pads. Next, Mark brought out his EX rocket, powered by an experimental, single use I220. After several successes with homemade H motors, Mark has moved up to I power. The flight and recovery was perfect; the 29mm motor resembled a white lightning motor with a bright flame and white smoke. Altimeter deployment occurred at apogee for another perfect flight.
Mark's next flight was with his Phoenix, powered by an Aerotech I211. The boost was perfect but the "medium" delay seemed to be more like a "super short" delay with deployment occurring just a couple of seconds after burnout. The rocket landed safely with a couple of shroud lines broken, but I bet there's a zipper in the side of the rocket! Finally, Mark brought out his 4 inch scratch built rocket, "Turn 1". Weighing in at 10 pounds, the rocket was powered by an Aerotech J-420 Redline. The boost was fantastic! I've seen lots of EX red motors, but I've yet to see as vivid a red as the Aerotech Redlines. The 720 ns motor boosted the rocket to 1786 feet, and the altacc altimeter functioned perfectly, deploying a drogue at apogee and a main at 500 feet. Max loading was 8.9 Gs. A great flight!
Mark with his EX rocket.
Homemade I-220 boost
Mark with his Phoenix
I-211 boost
Mark and his launch crew prep "Turn 1"
J-420 Redline Boost. Impressive!
Ed Jacoby had a great launch, flying his Hawk Mountain Bad Attitude twice, both flights using homemade EX motors. Ed's first flight was using a 2600 ns (baby L), low signature, fast burn propellant. As the photo shows, there is very little smoke and an almost transparent flame, but look at the mach diamonds in that flame. And, notice the dirt and leaves flying 10 feet in the air under the rocket....there's a lot of pressure being blasted out of that motor. The flight reached a max altitude of 5115 feet where the altimeter separated the rocket. Main deployment occurred at 300 feet for a perfect flight.
For his next flight, Ed used a Kosdon 2000 ns case with a custom, EX red propellant formulation. The motor was extremely difficult to ignite, going through 4 ignitors before finally firing on the 5th attempt. The flight was impressive...a red flame rapidly disappearing into the twilight sky. Like the first flight, the altimeter functioned perfectly, separating the rocket at apogee and deploying the main at 300 feet. Max altitude for this flight was 4515 feet.
The Denard gang made their first appearance at Skye Dance, braving the terrors of IH35 to put up a couple of nice flights. Cory Denard went first, putting up the first flight of the launch with his LOC Mini Magg on an Aerotech I284. I've never seen a Mini Magg move out that fast...I totally missed it with the camera. It just got up and moved....I got a great shot of a smoke trail. Anyway, a great boost, the rocket arced over at apogee and the motor ejection charge fired and deployed a small Gemini capsule under it's own chute and the Mini Magg's chute. The Mini Magg's chute did not fully inflate and the rocket hit a little harder than normal, suffering no damage. The Gemini capsule took forever to come down, and was carefully investigated by a hawk as it slowly descended. The hawk flew gracefully circles around the capsule, probably terrifying the astronauts, but the bird finally decided the capsule didn't look tastly enough. Everything was recovered undamaged for a great flight (with no photographs).
Ed Jacoby with his still unpainted "Bad Attitude"
Baby L (2600 ns) boost. Notice the mach diamonds and the dirt flying.
Middle K (2000 ns) boost. Pretty red flame.
Next, Steve Denard launched his beautifully built and painted "Talon 3". The scratch built kit weighed in at 8 pounds and boosted using a Charlie Barnett (CharlieTech) AN motor in an Aerotech J350 case. So, the motor was probably a full I, around 640 ns. Liftoff was impressive with a bright white flame and thick white smoke. The rocket used dual barometric recovery, deploying a drogue at apogee and a main at 600 feet. Max altitude was 1861 feet. A beautiful flight and another successful EX motor.
Steve Denard with his beautifully built and finished "Talon 3"
EX Liftoff! The CharlieTech AN motor provides lots of power, fire and smoke.
Next, a Stu Barrett story. Stu is carefully prepping his new rocket, the "80% solution" for flight, and I'm at the rangehead doing paperwork with the flight cards. I hear a dull pop, and I hear Stu comment that an ejection charge just went off prematurely. We've all had that happen; with Adept altimeters, if you insert the 5 pin connector one pin off in either direction, the charge will fire. No big deal, Stu is undamaged and still prepping and I go back to work on the flight cards. About 1 minute later, I hear the greatest one liner in the history of rocketry..."Hummm, I seem to be on fire". It seems as if a spark from the ejection charge set his sleeve on fire, and of course he was concentrating so hard of his prepping that he failed to notice that his sleeve was on fire. See photo below. A great moment, worthy of a free beer (after the launch, of course).
In spite of burning a hole in his shirt, Stu decided that the rocket gods were in a favorable mood and decided to launch his "80% solution" using an Animal Motor Works K670 Green Gorilla. The K670 uses the Animal 54/1750 case, so the motor would be a middle K. The flight was fantastic; the Green Gorilla puts out an intense green flame that photographs don't really capture. The boost was very powerful with the rocket rapidly reaching over 5000 feet. The dual barometric recovery system functioned perfectly with a drogue deploying at apogee and a main at 500 feet. The rocket landed very close in the no wind conditions for a perfect flight and recovery. A great flight!
"Hummm...I seem to be on fire"
Stu arms the "80% solution" before flight
K670 Green Gorilla liftoff!
Mike Strang returned to Skye Dance after a two year absence, bringing his Hawk Mountain Bad Attitude. This was the third Bad Attitude flying at this launch; it is really a fine high power rocket. Mike's rocket uses an Adept altimeter for dual barometric recovery, and for this flight Mike chose a K550 for power. The liftoff was very impressive, and following a long coast, the drogue deployed right at apogee. Main deployment occurred on schedule at around 300 feet and the all fiberglass rocket landed soft and safe about 100 yards from the pad. Another great flight!
Mike Strang (left) and Gary Denard with Mike's Bad Attitude.
K550 Liftoff
Finally, after hours of prepping, Marlin Philyaw's three stager, "3's a crowd", was ready for flight. First stage power was provided by an Aerotech J415, second stage was an I211, and the third stage ("a related incident") was powered by a D12. See the Asa 4 launch report if you don't understand "a related incident". Anyway, Marlin did all the easy stuff, built the rocket, installed the electronics, figured out the timing, built the staging ignitors, you know, the easy stuff. But come launch time, who had to do the most difficult part of the flight? Supply a working ignitor? Tom Montemayor, of course. Without Tom, Marlin's rocket would still be sitting on the pad, rotting. Once the ignitor problem was solved, the rocket roared off the pad about 15 minutes before sunset. The flight was magnificent; a powerful first stage boost, a couple of seconds of coast, the I211 fires, a couple more seconds of coast, then way, way up there, in a related incident, we see the mighty D fire. A totally successful 3 stage flight! Way to go, Marlin! There was no altimeter in the 3rd stage, but the altimeter in the second stage indicated a max altitude of 5195 for that stage. So, with the mighty D, the 3rd stage probably made....5196 feet. Marlin thought it probably made close to, uh, 30,000 feet. Whatever, it was a glorious flight and all stages were recovered safe and undamaged.
Marlin Philyaw. "Hurry up and launch the damn thing, the sun is setting!"
"3's a crowd" lifts off under J415 power.
Marlin also had a very impressive "flying auto parts" flight. Using the radiator cooling fan from a Chrysler Cirrus, Marlin attached 2 G35 Econojets and 2 D12s. All 4 motors fired simultaneously and the fan spun up to about a million RPM and zoomed skyward, straight as a arrow, tracing a ring of fire in the dark blue twilight. After burnout, the fan auto-rotated back to earth for a soft landing. Another beautiful flight. BUT, somewhere in Waco is an overheating Chrysler Cirrus that doesn't have a cooling fan.
Charlie Barnett brought a very impressive flying saucer, modeled after the saucer in "The Day the Earth Stood Still". I expected to see Gort come marching out of the thing. Charlie's saucer was also powered by 4 motors, two AN 180 ns motors and two D12s. Since Charlies's saucer didn't have fan blades for lift, like Marlin's, Charlie's motors were canted downward to provide lift in addition to spin. At ignition, the 2 AN motors did not fire so the saucer lifted off powered only by the D12s. Significantly underpowered, the saucer made about 20 feet of altitude then landed at an angle, suffering a very minor ding. I think it would have been a great flight had all the motors fired. I have no photos of either saucer flight since it was too dark.
Charlie with his saucer before flight. "Gort, klatu, mirada, nikto".
Marlin's "cooling fan saucer" is on the ground to the left of the blast shield.
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