Tripoli Austin - Spring 1999 Launch News
Part 2
Paradise 2
Paradise 2 took the skies the weekend of February 27th and 28th, 1999. Sponsored by Hill Country Tripoli, the launch took place at their Eden launch site, about 30 miles east of San Angelo. Conditions were clear and breezy both days. The forecast called for calm winds on Sunday, but by 9:00 am the winds were blowing 10 mph and increased all day. In spite of the winds, over 10,000 newtons were burned the first day and over 15,000 the second day.

Billy Clark burned the most perchlorate and also had the worst luck. His first flight was a huge 11 inch diameter rocket powered by FIVE K motors. The rocket used a core K1100 and 4 outboard K550s, producing over 800 pounds of inital thrust. All the motors fired simultaneously and the 9 foot tall rocket thundered into the air. It gracefully arced over at apogee and ......... nothing. It began to accelerate downward and streamlined in, crashing about 1/2 mile downrange. The phenolic rocket was totally destroyed, shattering into thousands of tiny pieces.

Next, Billy brought out his huge NASA rocket, a 14 foot tall rocket powered by a single 54mm motor. Billy had flown the rocket many times with a K1100, and today chose to use the new K700. Though the K1100 and K700 both produce K impulse, the K700 is a full K, producing over 2500 newtons. The K1100 only produces 1500 newtons. The extra power proved significant for this flight as the huge rocket shredded about 500 feet in the air. It was raining rocket pieces for the next 5 minutes.

Tom Montemayor had a successful flight with his "Integral", a two stage rocket. Tom chose a J415 for the first stage and a J180 for the second stage. The 9 foot tall rocket roared into the air under first stage boost, reaching a max first stage velocity of 508 feet/second and a max loading of 7 Gs. Second stage ignition occurred at 1566 feet and the upper stage reached a max altitude of 7653 feet and a peak velocity of 710 feet/second. Both stages were recovered successfully and undamaged.

Marlin Philyaw from Waco, Texas attempted a level 3 certification with his scratch built rocket, eMpirical (not to be confused with theoretical). EMpirical is a scratch built, 4.5 inch diameter, 10 foot tall rocket powered by an Ellis Mountain M1000. The rocket carried a camera and had a lift off weight of 45 pounds. After replacing a bad ignitor, the big rocket rose majestically into the blue. The M1000 burns for over 7 seconds and accelerated the rocket to over 750 feet/second. The rocket reached a max altitude of 9300 feet, and blew it's drogue right at apogee. After about 10 seconds of falling under the drogue, the huge main chute deployed (Shear pins, Marlin!) and the rocket took off downwind. After over 4 hours of searching, the big rocket was found undamaged and Marlin's level 3 paperwork was signed off by TAP member Tom Montemayor. Congratulations Marlin!

Steve Baughman put on his usual show, flying his XRV on a J460, a J800, and a K1100 on Saturday, and a J415 on Sunday. As usual, all his flights were totally successful and the rocket was recovered undamaged. It's about time to start marketing that electronics package, Steve. Rumor has it that Steve is building a new booster section to accommodate 3 inch motors. We'll be seeing the XRV on L power soon.

A few other flights I remember include Marvin Smith flying his photo camera on a J180, producing some great photos (see photo gallery). Jeff Cook flew his Aerobee Hi on a I211 for a great flight, and Larry Lyssy flew his scratch built "Heracles" on an I435 for it's last flight. Larry had a bunch of outboards, and when NONE of them fired, the I435's ejection time proved too long. OUCH! Larry also had 2 great flights with "Fiber Route 1" on a J415 and another flight (I missed the rocket name) on a K185. Steve Hill, making the long drive from Dallas, had a great flight with a core K700 airstarting 6 H motors at staggered intervals.

There were at least two L flights planned that did not occur due to the winds. Ed Jacoby had an Ellis Mountain L ready to fly in his Bad Attitude, and Larry Whitworth had an Aerotech L952 ready to go in his scratch built Omega. Both flights were scrubbed due to high winds.
Skye Dance XVI
Skye Dance XVI took the skies on Sunday, April 11th 1999. Skies were mostly clear with northeasterly winds at 10 - 15 mph. The usual calming of the winds near sunset did not occur, and a number of rockets did not fly due to the winds. There were a total of 10 flights by 6 fliers, burning just over 6200 newtons.

Steve Baughman flew his XRV Mk IV twice, first on a J800 and then on a K550. The J800 flight reached a max altitude of 4141 feet, with two step barometric recovery bringing the rocket down about 1/2 mile downwind. The K550 flight came in just short of 6000 feet, and again the rocket recovered about 1/2 mile downwind. Barometric recovery sure results in shorter walks in windy conditions.

Tom Montemayor flew Spectra for flight number 47 on a Kosdon J450. The altimeter mounting failed during the boost, resulting in the altimeter bouncing around freely inside the avionics compartment. Ultimately, the battery was jolted out and the altimeter lost power. Fortunately, Tom flies a backup timer which functioned properly at apogee and deployed a large streamer. The 250 foot charge did not fire (since it is controlled by the altimeter) but the rocket landed softly enough under the streamer to suffer no damage. Glassing on the fins really helps! Tom also flew his Hawk Mountain "Bad Attitude" on a J800 to 3204 feet. This was considerably lower than predicted, but the rocket was launched at a pretty steep angle into the wind. Too steep in fact, as the heavy rocket landed considerably upwind of the launch site. Tom also flew his North Coast Archer on an H128 and 2 E30s for a perfect flight. Caroline Montemayor contributed 40 newtons to the launch by flying her Estes rocket (I don't know what it's looks like a Super Big Bertha) on an E15 for a great flight.

New member Mike Strang successfully certified to Tripoli level 1 with his PML Callisto. The rocket is beautifully built and finished (I wish I could do fillets that good) and Mike chose an H128 for his certification motor. Since the rocket does not use barometric recovery, the parachute deployed right at apogee and the rocket took off downwind. It disappeared WAY to the southwest with Mike trying to keep up on foot. The long walk proved fruitful as Mike finally returned with his rocket. Mike also got to meet some friendly farmers as he chased his rocket. Congratulations Mike! Mike is now ready for his level 2 flight, and has a PML Sudden Rush ready to go. Mike also violated the Tripoli Austin charter by scoring a perfect 100% on his level 2 written test. As punishment, Mike had to supply beer to all the fliers (after the launch).

Jeff Cook put up 2 rockets, both successful. First, Jeff flew Slacker II (don't ask what happened to Slacker I) on an F25, then Jeff flew his trusty Aerobee Hi on an I211. The Aerobee uses barometric recovery and the rocket landed less than 50 feet from the pads. Perfect flights!

Marlin Philyaw, still beaming after his successful level 3 flight, drove down from Waco with a truckload of rockets. Marlin thought the wind was a little high, and only flew his "Woops" rocket on an H180. The rocket drifted considerably downwind, but was recovered safely.
Skye Dance XVIa
Skye Dance XVIa was held on Skye Dance sixteen's rain date of April 18th. Since the wind held down the number of flights at Skye Dance XVI, we decided to call this launch XVIa. Weather conditions were good; skies were mostly clear with 12 mph winds which dropped off to calm near sunset. There were 16 flights by 7 fliers, putting up a total of 11,800 newtons. The average motor was 737 newtons, a small J.

Mark Carlson put up the traditional first flight with his trusty LOC Forte on an H128. The rocket deployed right at apogee and didn't drift as far as we expected. Next, Mark and Grant flew their LOC Onyx on a G35 Econojet for a perfect flight, then Mark flew his PML quarter scale patriot on an H123. By now, the winds were very light and Mark got serious, pulling out his PML Eclipse. Mark used an Ellis Mountain J330 motor for power, and a Transolve P2 altimeter for barometric recovery. The flight and recovery were perfect, and the altimeter indicated a peak altitude of 2700 feet. For his last flight, Mark flew his huge Rocket R&D Skyraider. The rocket is 7.5 inches in diameter and stands over 7 feet tall. Mark modified the rocket to use barometric apogee deployment backed up by the motor. An Aerotech K550 provided plenty of power as it lifted the monster to 1400 feet. Right at apogee, the Transolve altimeter deployed the 16 foot parachute. The chute struggled to open successfully, but finally deployed fully and gently lowered the rocket to the ground.

Tom Montemayor put up 4 rockets, burning over 4300 newtons. Tom flew Spectra on a Kosdon J450 to 2806 feet, his Bad Attitude on a J460 to 2121 feet, and his Million Millimeter on a K458 to 5862 feet. That K458 is an awesome motor, all the noise and fire of a 98mm motor without breaking the bank on every flight. It's the smallest of the 98mm motors, a single grain full K (2560ns) reload. All the rockets recovered successfully and undamaged, though the Million Millimeter came down in the trees to the east of the field. While avoiding snakes, poison ivy, and lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!), Tom and Mike Strang found the rocket. Thanks Mike!

Mike Strang, who certified to Level One the week before, wasted no time in logging more flights on his PML Callisto. For his first flight, Mike boosted his Callisto on an H128, then chose a 38mm H123 for his second flight. Both flights were successful, and resulted in some lengthy walks. Mike has already invested in an altimeter and a level 2 rocket (a PML Sudden Rush) so we're going to be seeing barometric recovery soon.

Jeff Cook put up 2 flights, starting with Slacker II, a scratch built rocket from LOC parts. The rocket flew great on an F25. Then Jeff pulled out his Aerobee - Hi, and chose an Aerotech J460 Blue Thunder for power. The rocket boosted fast and straight, and deployed it's streamer right at apogee. The rocket came down fast under the streamer and the Adept altimeter blew the main chute right on schedule at 250 feet, resulting in a short walk and a soft landing.

Steve Baughman logged flight number 26 for his XRV Mk IV, this one on a K1100. The onboard electronics package indicated an acceleration of just over 16 Gs, and the rocket reached a max altitude of just over 5600 feet. The rocket deployed a small drogue chute at apogee and a main chute at 500 feet and landed safely and undamaged less than 300 feet from the pads. Great flight!

Marvin Smith showed off his new toy, a brand new Transolve P2 altimeter. Marvin flew the new altimeter in a scratch built 4 inch diameter rocket powered by a J415. The altimeter functioned perfectly, deploying a drogue at apogee (backed up by the motor) and a main chute at 440 feet. The altimeter indicated a peak altitude of 4500 feet for the flight.

Totals for the 2 day launch showed 26 flights burning 18,000 newtons. Future references will refer to Skye Dance XVI as a 2 day launch (Skye Dance XVIa was the second day of the launch and will not be refered to separately).
Paradise 3
Paradise 3 took to the skies the weekend of May 15th, 1999. A two day launch held just outside Eden, Texas, the launch can best be described in one word: WIND! The winds blew 15 - 20 mph throughout the weekend with some higher gusts. There was a 30 minute period Saturday evening when the wind fell off to 12 - 15 mph and some serious rockets were launched. I didn't fly anything (it was too windy for me) but a number of Tripoli Austin members were present and did fly. This report will cover the exploits of the Tripoli Austin members, plus a few of the memorable certifications I witnessed (and remembered the names!).

The highlight of the launch (for me) was Jim Long's successful Level 3 certification flight on an Aerotech M1315. Jim's scratch built rocket weighed in at 67 pounds and stands just over 12 feet tall. It is constructed of 7.5 inch phenolic tubing, fully glassed, surrounding an inner 6 inch phenolic tube, also glassed. It is essentially a 6 inch rocket surrounded by a 7.5 inch rocket and nose. The gap between the inner and outer tubes is filled with 1/2 inch centering rings and foam, resulting in an extremely strong rocket. While Jim was prepping the rocket, he had it supported by two folding chairs at the front and rear ends. When I asked Jim if the rocket was strong enough for an M motor, he sat right on the middle of the rocket and lifted his feet off the ground. There was over 10 feet of suspended rocket bridging the two chairs with Jim sitting in the middle, and it didn't even flex. I don't think I could do that with any of my rockets, even my fiberglass Dynacom rocket, and I wouldn't try. Jim builds them strong.

The original plan was to have the finished rocket weigh about 50 pounds and use an Ellis Mountain M1000 for boost. However, as construction progressed, the rocket kept getting heavier and heavier (they never get lighter, do they?) and Jim switched to the Aerotech three inch M motor, the M1315. The motor performed well and boosted the rocket to a max altitude of 4800 feet where it deployed a 20 foot main chute. The rocket touched down gently and undamaged over a mile downwind, and was recovered the next morning. It was a pleasure to sign off Jim's level 3 paperwork. Congratulations Jim!

Mike Strang of Tripoli Austin also took advantage of the brief drop in winds and successfully certified to Tripoli Level Two. Mike used a PML Sudden Rush for the flight, boosting on an Aerotech J275. The rocket uses two step barometric recovery, deploying a drogue chute at apogee and a main at 250 feet. The Sudden Rush really doesn't weigh enough to justify a drogue chute (a streamer would be MUCH better) and the rocket drifted a considerable distance under the drogue, 1.4 miles to be exact, before touching down. The rocket spent the night in the field, and next morning Mike recovered it using his GPS to extend an azimuth line all the way to the rocket. The rocket was recovered in perfect condition. This was Mike's 4th high power flight, and already he's at level 2 and flying J motors. Congratulations Mike!

Steve Baughman flew his trusty and reliable XRV twice, first on a J415 and then on a K550. Both flights were perfect and two step barometric recovery brought the rocket back reasonably close to the pads. Steve had a 3 inch K560 motor ready to go, but the winds were a little too strong for the full 2560ns K motor.

One of the many Level One certifications was Gary Estes (what a name for a rocketeer!) from Dallas. Gary's rocket boosted on an H70 and utterly disappeared. We never saw it or heard it eject, and we never saw a chute. We had no clue where to look for the rocket. Undaunted, not knowing azimuth or distance, but determined to certify Level One, Gary took off looking for his rocket. Over 3 hours later, Gary returned with his rocket in hand! It was a perfect flight, the rocket had deployed normally, and Gary just happened to run into it during a very systematic search pattern. Congratulations Gary!

Other Level One certifications included Mike Hudgeons and Brandon Daily, both of Fort Worth. Mike used a beautifully built PML Endeavor for his certification flight, boosting on an I357. It was a great combination for a level one flight as the rocket went to about 1500 feet, deployed right at apogee and landed very close by. Congratulations!

Other Tripoli Austin fliers included Mark Carlson and Ed Jacoby. Ed flew his new Hawk Mountain "Bad Attitude" on a J415 for a great first flight. The rocket utilizes 2 step barometric recovery, and deployed it's drogue right at apogee. At 250 feet the main charge fired, but the main chute did not quite make it out of the tube and did not deploy. The rocket hit under drogue only, but suffered absolutely no damage. That fiberglass is tough stuff. Mark Carlson flew his Arcas on a long burn K185. The rocket utterly disappeared and was feared lost, but was spotted by Jay Holcombe seconds before it touched down with a fully deployed main. The rocket and recovery systems functioned perfectly, we just didn't see it till the last second. Both Larry Whitworth and Billy Clark were present, but didn't fly due to the high winds. Marvin Smith was ready to fly his photo rocket but weather conditions did not allow him to fly.
Heart of Texas 99 (HOT 99)
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.