HOT 99 blasted into the skies the weekend of June 26th, 1999. Sponsored by Hill Country Tripoli and Tripoli North Texas, the event was held at the Eden, Texas launch site. Summer in Texas is always HOT, and this weekend was no exception. As usual, there was some wind (though not as high as previous launches) resulting in a wind chill around 95 degrees. Suntan lotion was just as important as o-ring grease, and some rocketeers discovered the two are NOT interchangeable. Speaking of suntan lotion, I (Tom Montemayor) was not at this launch, but instead was laying on the beach in Maui, soaking up the rays, picking up a divemaster rating, and catching some nice waves. Tripoli Austin members were well represented at the launch and sent me the following reports of their activities.
Jim Long had a great weekend, putting up 4 flights and recovering them all successfully and undamaged. Jim certified to Level Three at Paradise 3, and plans to fly another M motor in the near future just to prove it wasn't luck. For HOT, morning clouds caused fliers to power down their rockets to avoid the cloud deck. Jim started off with a scratch built 3 inch rocket boosting on an H128 to just under 2000 feet, and later flew the same rocket on an H180 to almost 3000 feet. By noon, skies were clear under a blazing sun, and 54mm and larger motors became the norm. Jim flew a clone of a PML Quasar on a J460 to 4700 feet. The rocket utilized two step barometric deployment controlled by an Olsen altimeter and landed less than 500 yards downwind of the pads. Sunday, Jim pulled out a 12 foot tall, 4 inch diameter scratch built rocket. Powered by a K700 (a 54mm full K reload) the rocket roared off the pad and reached a max altitude of 7400 feet. Again, barometric recovery brought it down close to the pads, landing less than 250 yards away.
Steve Baughman burned the most AP for the weekend, putting up 5 flights which burned over 12,000 newton-seconds of propellant. Ammonium perchlorate futures soared as word of high demand and spot shortages in Central Texas reached the global markets. Steve arrived with his new XRV Mark V, which sports a 75mm motor mount and new custom software in the electronics compartment. The first flight of the new rocket was on a 54mm K1100, which resulted in a 16.7 G boost to 4930 feet and a successful recovery. Next, Steve loaded up a K560, a 75mm full K reload. Riding atop 4 feet of fire, the XRV reached a peak altitude of 7087 feet and a max loading of 8 Gs. For his third flight of the day, Steve joined the "L" club by flying his first L motor, the 75mm L850 (a 3840 newton-second L reload). With a thrust of 250 pounds for the first 2 seconds and a total burn time of over 4 seconds, the L850 boosted the XRV to 9655 feet with a max loading of 11.2 Gs. Using an onboard tracking transmitter, the rocket was easily located and recovered. Steve flew the XRV twice on Sunday, first on a K1100 and again on a K560. This time, the rocket reached a max altitude of 6881 feet and again recovered successfully.
Steve Rogers put up 3 flights, two of which were successful and one was SpecTacular! After successfully launching and recovering two V2s, Steve pulled out his trusty Falcon and loaded it with a J415FK. The FK stands for "Falcon Killer". Steve had expressed some concern about fin integrity when computer simulations showed the rocket would reach a max speed of mach .8. In fact, CBS News has discovered a secret internal memo from the Chief Engineer advising Dr. Rogers NOT to fly a J415 in the Falcon. Steve continues to deny the existance of such a memo. Determined to prove that El Cheapo plywood fins (unreinforced) could withstand mach .8, Steve cleared the rocket for flight and the button was pushed. The boost was spectacular - the rocket roared into the air, accelerating fast. At about 2.8 seconds into the 3 second burn, just as the rocket was approaching mach .8, a small, hopefully nonessential part left the rocket. The part turned out to be VERY essential as the rocket immediately turned sideways and entered an unplanned flight mode. In other words, it disentegrated. Most of the debris continued upward for some time, and the piece of debris holding the altimeter reached a max altitude of 4257 feet. This altitude was considerably less than anticipated. The number of pieces recovered was considerably more than anticipated. One of the pieces recovered far from the impact crater was the first piece that left the rocket. As expected, it was one of the fins made from El Cheapo plywood. After the launch, Steve was seen at a local hobby shop purchasing glass cloth, epoxy resin, and more El Cheapo plywood.
Mike Strang had a great weekend, flying his PML Sudden Rush twice, both on J motors. On Saturday, Mike flew the Sudden Rush on a J275, reaching a max altitude of 6386 feet. The plan for Sunday was to fly the Sudden Rush on a J415, but after witnessing Steve Rogers' disaster (see above), Mike was starting to have second thoughts. After a careful inspection by the highly trained experts of the Tripoli Austin Stress Analysis Team ("Yes sir, you are under stress"), a decision was reached. "Launch the rocket, but angle it away from us so WHEN it shreds, the debris won't hit anything". After having his confidence boosted by such a glowing report, Mike decided to launch it. Very few people saw the launch since most were hiding under their trucks or were in their trucks trying to get away. The flight was spectacular - the rocket boosted extremely fast and straight and disappeared high in the blue. After many seconds, the deployment charge was heard and the rocket was recovered visually, high in the sky descending gracefully under it's drogue chute. The main fired right on schedule, and the rocket landed undamaged. Upon recovery, the altimeter was beeping out 9353 feet. (Editorial comment: This seems a little high to me.)
Ed Jacoby was HOT Launch Director and spent most of the weekend with range duty and keeping the launch running smoothly (Nice Job, Ed). He did find time to prep and fly his Hawk Mountain Bad Attitude. Ed's Bad Attitude is modified to hold the 75/6400 M1315 motor (humm...I wonder why Ed did that?) but for this flight he used a 54mm K550. The flight and two step barometric recovery were totally successful, and the altimeter indicated a peak altitude of 4185 feet. I predict a level three M1315 flight in this rocket someday.