Tripoli Austin - 1998 Launch News
NTHP 1998
The Dallas Area Rocket Society (DARS) sponsored North Texas High Power 98 the weekend of January 24th and 25th, 1998. The launch was held at their Windom launch site, about 1.5 hours northeast of Dallas (about 4.5 hours from Austin). Conditions were perfect on Saturday the 24th - skies were totally clear and winds were calm. Two Tripoli Austin members certified to Level 3 with M motor flights.

The first M flight of the day was accomplished by Tom Montemayor. Tom flew his scratch built Dynacom rocket on an Aerotech M1419. The rocket stands 7 feet tall and uses two step barometric recovery. Loaded lift off weight was just over 35 pounds. The rocket boosted straight and fast, going supersonic 4.8 seconds after lift-off. The rocket achieved a max altitude of 14,436 feet and deployed it's drogue chute right at apogee. Unfortunately, about 15 seconds after the drogue deployed, the main deployed (probably caused by the weight of the main pushing the nose cone off). So, the rocket was over 12,000 feet in the air with a fully deployed main. Though winds were calm at the surface, they certainly were not calm at 12,000 feet. The rocket drifted off to the east and disappeared while still high in the air.

Two days later, Tom received a call from Tony Reynolds of DARS. Tony reported that the rocket had been found by a farmer about 5 miles from the launch site. The rocket had been picked up by the sheriff, and was currently at the Honey Grove police department. Tony drove to Honey Grove to pick up the rocket, and Tom drove to Dallas to pick up the rocket from Tony. So the story has a happy ending.

There is frequent discussion on the rocket forums about the ability of Adept's altimeters to go supersonic without deploying the drogue chute. The brand new Adept RAS2-50K functioned perfectly for this flight. The data clearly shows two discontinuities as the rocket went supersonic, but the altimeter was not confused by the shock wave and did not deploy.

Next up from Austin was Stu Barrett, also flying an M1419. Stu was flying "The Grand Shot" a scratch built Dynacom utilizing two step barometric recovery. The brains in Stu's rocket were provided by a Black Sky Altacc. Stu's rocket lifted off straight and true, and right at apogee deployed it's drogue chute. The rocket descended fast under the drogue, and at 500 feet deployed it's main. The rocket landed within sight of the pads. The rocket reached a peak altitude of just under 14,000 feet with a max velocity of 916 feet/sec. Acceleration was a fairly constant 6 Gs.

Several other Tripoli Austin members also flew. Billy Clark flew his 12 foot tall NASA rocket on a K1100 to just over 1100 feet. On Sunday, Billy flew his TEXAS #1 on a J350 and Larry Whitworth also flew a J350 in his modified Mini-Mag.
Skye Dance XI
After two rain outs, Skye Dance XI finally took to the skies on Sunday, April 5th. Skies were clear, with easterly winds around 10 mph at the beginning of the launch, falling off to around 5 mph near sunset. Though winds were light, the easterly direction resulted in high flying rockets landing in fields other than our own. Since dropping a Bruiser class rocket in somebody else's field might not be considered very neighborly, no K motors were flown. There were a total of 39 flights by 11 fliers during the 5 hour waiver, burning just over 11,000 newtons.

Mark Carlson was the most prolific flier of the launch, putting up 6 flights, all successful. Mark also certified to Tripoli Level 2 by successfully launching his new PML Eclipse on a J350. The Transolve altimeter indicated a max altitude of 2187 feet for the 8 pound rocket. Mark also flew his Rocket R&D Arcas to 966 feet on an I211, a PML quarter scale Patriot on an I161, his LOC Forte on an H128 (first flight of the launch), his stretched Mini-Mag on an I211 and his LOC Graduator on an F50. Mark burned a total of 2300 newtons and recovered all his rockets undamaged.

Larry Whitworth burned the most perchlorate, burning a total of 2432 newtons. Larry also had the most powerful flight of the launch, his US Rockets Swarm flying on a J415. Larry also flew his LOC Warlock on a J275, his LOC Ultimate on an H238, and his scratch built Viper on a G54. All of Larry's rockets recovered safely, though his Swarm landed over a mile away.

Launch Director Tom Montemayor put up 4 rockets, burning a total of 1512 newtons. Tom flew his scratch built Spectra on a J460 Blue Thunder to 3903 feet. The altimeter indicated a peak velocity of 632 feet/second and a max acceleration of 8.6 Gs. Tom also flew his NCR Archer on an H128 and 2 D12s, his Mountainside 4 inch V2 on an H238, and his scratch built Psychedelic Persuasion on an H73.
Spectra boosting on a J460.
Ken Kryszak, Prefect of Tripoli San Antonio, drove up with the San Antonio contingent. Ken put up 5 flights burning 880 newtons. Ken's biggest flight was his scratch built Stormbringer (better not!) flying on an I154 Black Jack. The rocket boosted perfectly and deployed it's drogue right at apogee. Altimeter problems resulted in the main not deploying, but the rocket landed safely under the drogue. Ken also flew his scratch built ductile rocket, Thunderdog (convicted of starting the Outlaw fire a few years ago) on an H73 for a perfect flight. Ken also flew his US Rockets Warp on a G104, his scratch built Drop Shape 26 on an E18, and his Zinger 6 Roko-Copter on 2 C6s.

Rick and Anthony Taylor put up 5 rockets between them, with 3 being clusters burning a total of 1220 newtons. Rick's scratch built Dufus boosted straight and VERY fast on a core I357. Just after burnout, three outboard G40s ignited and the rocket just disappeared into the blue, still thrusting. A great flight! Anthony flew two cluster rockets, his LOC Starburst on 2 F32s and his scratch built Dose on 2 F20s.

Other launch highlights included Larry Lyssy's scratch built Heracles flying on a core I284 and two outboard F20s. Larry also flew his scratch built Flash (a TTTAAAALLLLL rocket) on an I211 for a perfect flight. The onboard altimeter indicated a max altitude of 2986 feet.

New member Benton Reed successfully certified to Tripoli Level One with his beautifully built THOY Phoenix. Benton's first attempt with this rocket boosted on an I357 and deployed right at apogee, but unfortunately the nose cone parted company with the rest of the rocket. After repairing the damage and coming up with a better method of securing the nose cone to the rocket, Benton flew again, this time with an H242. This flight was perfect and Benton received his certification.

Other fliers included Chuck Sparks with a nice flight of the Checker-Out on an H112, Jeff Cook, Don Hamilton (a nice 3 F62 cluster flight) and Joshua Cagle.
Skye Dance XII
Skye Dance XII took to the skies on Sunday, May 3rd, 1998. A cold front had come through earlier in the day, and at our scheduled launch time of 3:00 p.m. winds were blowing out of the north at 10 to 15 mph. We delayed the launch a couple of hours until the winds dropped off, and by 5:00 the winds were less than 10 mph and we started flying. There were a total of 21 flights by 7 fliers, burning a total of 10,600 newtons. Launch totals were down from previous launches because several fliers thought the winds would not subside and therefore did not attend.

The most prolific flier of Skye Dance XII was Tom Montemayor. Tom flew 7 rockets, burning a total of 3,366 newtons. Tom produced a couple of memorable flights, including the first Kosdon ever flown at Skye Dance. Tom flew a Kosdon I500 in Spectra for a super high speed flight to 2,843 feet. Tom also flew his Brighthawk on a core H180 and 2 outboard F10s. The 2 F10s burned for 8 seconds, sounding like a radiator leak and producing considerably less thrust. The rocket arced over and began to descend with the F10s STILL burning (hissing), but they quit around the time the apogee charge fired. The rocket achieved a max altitude of 2,124 feet, LOWER than it goes on a single H180. Those F10s sure don't do much. Tom also flew his LOC Bruiser on a K550 to 3,380 feet. The onboard electronics recorded a max acceleration of 11.2 Gs, very impressive for a rocket as big as a Bruiser.

Spectra boosting on a Kosdon I500.
Mark Carlson had a great day, putting up 5 rockets and burning a total of 2,412 newtons. Mark certified Level Two a month ago at the last Skye Dance, and wasted no time buying and flying larger motors. Mark flew his first 54mm motor in his PML Eclipse, a J460 Blue Thunder. The motor proved to be a great choice for the rocket as it thundered out of sight under the hot blue flame. The Transolve altimeter functioned perfectly, blowing a drogue at apogee and a main chute at 440 feet. The altimeter indicated a max altitude of 2,960 feet. Mark also flew his Cluster R Arcas (with fiberglassed fins) on a J350. The altimeter again functioned perfectly, blowing an apogee charge and a main ejection charge. The rocket reached a max altitude of 2,202 feet.

Mark's PML Eclipse lifting off on a J460.
Marvin Smith, our aerial photography expert, flew two rockets, both powered by J motors. Marvin flew his scratch built photo rocket on an Aerotech J415. The rocket carries a 35mm camera that Marvin has modified to automatically shoot 1 frame per second. The flight was perfect and the photos show good detail on the ground. Most "point and shoot" lightweight cameras use around a 1/250 second shutter speed, and this shutter speed is a little slow for high speed rockets. Marvin also flew a 3 inch scratch built rocket on a J90, hoping to join the Skye Dance altitude record holders. The ALTS altimeter functioned perfectly, blowing a drogue chute at apogee and a main chute at 250 feet. However, when Marvin reached the rocket, the altimeter was not beeping anymore. So, the max altitude was lost.
Marvin Smith's photo rocket boosting on a J415.
Rick Taylor had the highest verified flight of Skye Dance XII, 4,860 feet. Rick did this with his trusty scratch built rocket, Rufus, flying on a J415. Rufus uses two stage barometric recovery and landed less than 50 yards from the pad. The rocket suffered minor damage when the ejection charge blasted the flashbulb almost through the airframe. It helps to mount the ejection charges vertically inside the rocket. Anthony Taylor flew his PML Phobos on an Aerotech G75 for a perfect flight.

Newly certified Level One member Benton Reed showed up with three rockets. Benton flew his THOY Phoenix on an Aerotech I300 Blue Thunder for a very high speed flight. All those fins on the Phoenix sure make it whistle during high speed flight. Benton also flew his Launch Pad Harpoon on a G104 and a Rocket R&D kit on a G35 Econojet. All flights were successful.

James Reimund brought two rockets to Skye Dance. James first flew his Aerotech Strong Arm on a G64 for a perfect flight. Once the winds dropped, James flew his Pentium on an Aerotech I211. The Pentium suffered an arithmetic error on it's first attempt (ignitor failure), but screamed out of sight on the second attempt. The rocket was recovered in perfect condition.
Skye Dance XIII
After a record 4 cancellations due to weather or mud, Skye Dance XIII finally took to the skies on Monday, December 14th. The launch was arranged on only 4 hours notice (just enough time to get out the required NOTAM) so the turnout was small, only 5 fliers. Skies were clear with north winds around 5 mph. There were a total of 11 high power flights, which included 3 different motor manufacturers, 1 certification flight, and 1 MONSTER rocket.

Mark Carlson had the first flight of Skye Dance XIII, and also burned the most perchlorate, almost 2800 newtons. Mark's first flight was with his trusty LOC IV on an H128 to check the winds aloft. The flight indicated light northerly winds up to at least 2500 feet, so we all pulled out our higher flying (and more expensive) rockets. Next, Mark flew his PML Eclipse on the new Ellis Mountain J330. This was the first Ellis Mountain motor flown at Skye Dance. The economical motor, using a 38mm 900 newton second case, is similar to a Kosdon in construction, using snap rings to hold the nozzle and forward closure in place. Unlike Aerotech or Kosdon, the motor has no tracking smoke or ejection charge. The motor functioned perfectly, boosting the 8 pound Eclipse to a max altitude of 3100 feet. Two step barometric deployment brought the rocket down safely, landing close to the pads.

Tom Montemayor also put up 3 high power flights, starting with his NCR Archer. The Archer was Tom's first high power rocket and has logged over 60 flights (and almost as many rebuilds). The Archer flew on a core H128 and airstarted 2 D12s after the H burned out. Though the flight was less than vertical, the rocket deployed and landed safely. Next, Tom loaded a Kosdon J450 into Spectra for flight number 43. The J450 uses a 38mm 640 newton second case for a burn time of 1.5 seconds. The motor was the LOUDEST flight of the launch, and boosted Spectra to a max altitude of 3057 feet. Onboard data acquisition indicated a max velocity of 551 feet/second at 1.5 seconds into the flight. That's 0 to 375 mph in 1.5 seconds! I don't think a Porsche can do that, especially straight up! Finally, Tom flew his brand new Hawk Mountain "Bad Attitude" on a J460. The Hawk Mountain kit is a 4 inch diameter all fiberglass model, and can be purchased with a 54mm or 75mm motor mount. It's an expensive rocket (over $300), but with the strength of fiberglass should last for years. The rocket boosted straight and true on a J460, but the alleged 10 second motor delay turned out to be a 5 second delay. The rocket was still traveling at 156 feet/second when the ejection charge fired, but the strong rocket suffered no damage. Max altitude was a somewhat low 2220 feet.

New member Steve Baughman attended his first Skye Dance launch, flying his highly modified LOC EZI. Steve designed and built his custom onboard electronics which capture altitude and acceleration at a rate of 20 samples per second during boost. Steve's first flight was on an Aerotech J180, which boosted the rocket to a max altitude of 3492 feet and a peak velocity of 380 feet/second. Steve then loaded a J460 into the rocket, hoping to achieve a higher altitude and velocity. Like Tom's J460 flight in Spectra, the medium delay turned out to be short, and the ejection charge fired while the rocket was still traveling upward at over 200 feet/second. A robust recovery system resulted in no damage to the rocket, and it was recovered safely indicating a max altitude of 3081 feet.

Benton Reed successfully certified to Level 2 with his beautifully built Honest John. The rocket was originally a Public Enemies kit, but Benton did extensive modifications to the rocket, including two step barometric deployment. Benton flew the rocket on a J275 for a great flight and recovery. Congratulations you can start spending some REAL money.

Jeff Cook's new high power rocket, an Aerobee, wasn't ready yet, so Jeff flew two smaller rockets. Jeff flew his scratch built "Roswell" on a G104 and his scratch built "Slacker" on a G80. Both rockets used streamer recovery and were recovered safely.

Finally, there was the BIG rocket. Mark Carlson pulled out his Rocket R&D Skyraider. The rocket uses a 7.5 inch airframe and stands over 7 feet tall. Mark modified the rocket considerably to include a payload/electronics compartment, zipper-proof construction, and replaced the standard parachute with a 15 foot chute. Including 2.5 pounds of nose ballast, the empty rocket weighs 25 pounds. Mark chose a K550 for the big rocket's first flight, using the onboard altimeter for apogee deployment backed up by the motor charge. The huge rocket thundered into the air under K550 thrust and deployed it's huge chute right at apogee for a gentle, safe, landing. A fabulous flight! The altimeter indicated a peak altitude of 1426 feet.
Skye Dance XIIIa
Our four year streak of good weather on New Years Eve ended in 1998. The weather was forecast to be good all week, partly cloudy and winds less than 10 mph. What we got was a low overcast at 1500 feet and visibilities of 5 miles in light fog. The Flight Service Specialist in San Angelo reported "Conditions are significantly worse than forecast.". That was the only correct thing they said all week.

Nevertheless, a few diehard fliers showed up and we managed to launch 5 low altitude flights. All 5 flights launched and recovered successfully. Later in the day, the ceiling started coming down even lower and operations were halted.

Mark Carlson was up first, flying his modified and weighted down Mini-Mag on an I211. The rocket thundered into the sky and deployed at apogee for a great flight.

Tom Montemayor was up next with a Mountainside Hobbies 4 inch V2. The rocket accelerated fast off the pad under the thrust of an Aerotech H238 Blue Thunder, in spite of over 2 pounds of ballast in the nose. Deployment occured right at apogee for a good recovery.

Next up was Rick VanVoorhis with a Level One certification flight. Rick chose a LOC Mini-Mag for his certification rocket flying on an Aerotech H180. Rick also chose to lengthen his Mini-Mag 18 inches, improving it's stability and allowing him to use heavier motors. After several attempts at ignition with shorted copperheads, the H180 ignited and lifted the Mini-Mag into the grey sky. The rocket was recovered undamaged for a successful Level One certification.

Anthony Taylor was up next, flying his upscale Mosquito. Anthony's Mosquito sports glassed on fins and a 29mm motor mount. The rocket flew great on a G54, but unfortunately landed right on the road, slightly damaging a fin.
The final flight of the day was Steve Rogers, flying his Patriot with an F62 Darkstar. The rocket carries a digital camera which Steve has modified to shoot pictures during flight. Steve has produced several fine aerial photos, but technical difficulties prevented any photos from this flight. However, the rocket launched and recovered safely and undamaged, and Steve has promised us photos from the next attempt. We can't wait!

Mark Carlson's Mini-Mag.
Tom Montemayor's V2.
Rick VanVoorhis' Mini-Mag.
Steve Rogers' Patriot