Washington Aerospace Club
National Association of Rocketry Section 578
Tripoli Rocketry Association Prefecture 41

5/19/2001 Launch

A dozen rocketeers showed up at the Offutt Lake launch site on what proved to be a challenging day of rocket flying. The wind, especially up high, never let up. Running 10 to 15 mph at ground level all day the winds up higher were even stronger. We established our flight line in the middle of the main road and scouted around for the best permanent launch area. A nice spot for the July 7th, "Pacific NW Open contest" was located near the main road and minor smoothing of the ground finished the work we'd 'officially' come out to do. Then it was time to fly rockets!

After the first couple rockets were put up a few hundred feet and quickly blown way, way down wind, sensible types decided to fly with smaller motors. After all the forest was just a 1/3 of a mile away downwind. On the other hand I decided that giving in to wind is like giving in to terrorism; you do it once and then you're never safe. So I loaded an Apogee B2-9 in my old 'Salvation' B streamer model with just a 12" piece of flagging tape for a streamer, aimed it way up wind and let it rip. It went waaaay up there, and way up wind. Surprising though how fast it came right back past us and kept right on going. It left the field in just over a minute, cleared all the trees and was last seen a couple minutes into it's flight well on it's way to finishing the crossing of Offutt Lake.

That problem taken care of, the wind was left with just being a nuisance. A few flights later Eric Strickland and son put up his Lil Nuke on a nice G64 reload flight that went way, way, way up there. Straight up too, no chicken aiming upwind or anything. Eric is clearly a competitive sort. He minimizes weight for maximum altitude by using just enough black powder to pop the nose cone but not some much extra that it actually gets the 'chute out. But then he didn't need a 'chute. That way the wind could just barely carry his 'chuteless' rocket to the edge of the field and drop it on a dead branch 30 feet up in the air on the nearest tree. It doesn't even get a bruise while landing that way. Of course it may not fair so well when Eric comes back later with his ladder, chainsaw and shotgun.

Other good flights were also put up with many Alphas, Big Daddies and the sort airing out for some flights. Some of the kids at the launch are so new to rocketry that their rockets were landing right back by the pads. Those of us with more experience were able to show them that with proper tipping of the rod you are able to see much, much more of the field during recovery. It think our advise was generally well received.

No record of today's launch would be complete without note of the remarkable hybrid flight Andrew MacMillen put up. Some of you undoubtedly saw his hybrid rockets two or three times at Monroe earlier this month. Few in our area have dared to dabble in hybrids. But Andrew has a nice Pratt ground support setup along with his Ratt works H70 motor installed in a nice light airframe with Missile Works Electronics. I dare say we were all eager if not impatient to see this bird take to the air today.

After filling the tank and then a short countdown the motor puffed, then lite and nearly leaped skyward. A clean steady thrust gave the bird some speed as it climbed 25, 50, 75 and even 100 feet into the air! It was breathtaking! Now anyone who saw Andrew's Eggloft Duration flight thermal away last year at Monroe knows how competitive he is. I think he is even more competitive with his use of black powder than Eric. Or perhaps he was just really concerned about staying under that FAR 101 weight limit. I can't say for sure. Andrew says it was just that the Missile Works Altimeter needs at least 400 feet to arm. Whatever the real reason, the rocket appeared to suffer only minor damage from it's brief flat spin to the ground. I'm sure that I'm only one of those that want to see this fly again and soon.

Jim Pommert ;-)

After my stunning hybrid flight, and after everybody else left I put up my Mars or Bust on a F23-7 for a good flight, and another long walk. But the wind gods were appeased - they settled down thereafter.

Andrew MacMillen.


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