From ROCINews - Volume 1, Issue 9
One of the goals that ROCI set for itself was to find a site suitable for flying High Power Rockets and conduct at least one HPR launch this year. While that sounds like a relatively easy thing to do, it turned out to be much more difficult than any of us imagined. First, we are a new club and we have had to do a lot to get things going this year. Next, we had to find a landowner who would be willing to let us use his property. Finally, we had to handle the logistics of the event; acquiring launch equipment, FAA waivers, porta-pots, etc.
The first part was definitely the biggest challenge. Finding a landowner with a sufficiently large parcel of land who would also be willing to let us use it was a most difficult task. We knew we were probably looking for a farmer; after all, this is Indiana and the farmers are the people who have large parcels of undeveloped land. Unfortunately no one in our club owned that amount of land, nor did anyone know anyone who did.
So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I just started asking everyone I know (and several people that I really didn’t know) if they knew anyone who could help us out. Finally, I got a reply from a friend of a friend of a friend who said that I should try calling a farmer that they knew in the big town of Aroma Indiana. I felt pretty uncomfortable cold calling someone like that, but I figured that the worst thing he could do to me was say “no.” But, to my surprise, after about 45 minutes on the phone, he didn’t say “no.” He didn’t say “yes” either, but at least he didn’t reject it outright. Instead, he asked me to send him some more information about the hobby and asked that I give him a few weeks to think it over. I was encouraged by this so I sent him the information he had requested and gave him the requested few weeks to think it over. To make a long story short, after a few more phone calls and a visit to his farm, he agreed to allow us to conduct a small “test” launch.
Well, we had our test launch on November 10th & 11th and I have to say, it was fun. That’s not to say that there were no problems, but by and large, it was a good weekend.
I arrived at the field fairly early on Saturday morning. I own the launch controller that we use for ROCI events so I needed to get there early. I was surprised and pleased to see that I wasn’t the first to get there. Jim Stum was there, ready to help with setup. The day was a bit breezy, so we had to spend a little time figuring out where the best place to setup would be. After a short discussion, we started unloading and assembling our launch range. Before long other members arrived to help and we were setup and ready in no time.
|Saturday's Motor Counts|
Because of the wind, there really weren’t a lot of HPR flights on Saturday. There weren’t a lot of other flights either, but it was still a pretty fun day. One high point came when Matt Stum decided to launch his EZI-65 with an I211-M motor. We had launched a few other smaller rockets on G’s and H’s and they seemed to have landed in the recovery area OK, so Matt decided to go for it. The I motor really gave the EZI-65 a great ride, it arced over and deployed the parachute; everything looked great! Then it started to drift… It drifted a little more than half a mile into some trees, some tall trees, then it proceeded to tangle itself in the top of two or three of them. Not a good way to end an otherwise perfect flight.
Another high point was Rick Weber’s Level 1 certification attempt. The rocket was a modified PML Calisto. It was set up for dual deployment and had casino internet an onboard color video camera and transmitter. (see Cameras and Craters on page 2 for more information on Rick’s camera rockets) Rick chose an H128 to power the rocket. The boost was perfect, but the altimeter failed to deploy the drogue or main parachutes and the Calisto landed pretty hard.
Only one other rocket, Mony Chaffin’s Tomahawk, headed for the trees that day, so when it was all over we felt pretty good.
Our second launch day started with quite a bit less wind than the first. Better yet, the forecast said that it was going to get better as the day went on. About a third of our launches on Sunday were HPR flights; significantly more than we were able to launch on Saturday.
|Sunday's Motor Counts|
The high power pad (we only had one) was kept pretty busy on Sunday. Matt Stum, Rex Osborn, Shawn Batten and Monty Chaffin kept us all entertained with a variety of rockets. Monty flew several nice rockets, but his 4” Mercury-Redstone and his 2.5X Solarsailer upscale were real crowd pleasers. Rex, as always, had the rockets with the best paint jobs. Most of us could never achieve the results that he regularly does, and if we did we would be reluctant to fly them. He launched several of these near museum quality masterpieces. Shawn got in several flights of his rocket, Amber, despite the fact that he landed it in the trees on its first flight. Not to be deterred, Shawn grabbed a rope and a jug full of rocks and was able to bring it down to be flown again. Matt flew the largest motor of the day when he launched his Bittersweet on a J-420R. It not only flew well, but the bright red flame made it look really great too.
The day was not without incident though. Jim Prince had a blow-by in one of his motors that sent his Small Endeavor through the air doing cartwheels. Carl Simmons launched a Terrier-Sandhawk with an I-357 in the booster and an H-123 in the sustainer. The sustainer was started with an electronic timer. Unfortunately the delay was set a bit long so the sustainer veered off the vertical before the upper stage ignited, sending it off at about a 45 degree angle. This resulted in the rocket flying out of the recovery area and landing in the trees. One other problem occurred when one of Carl’s rockets ejected it’s motor casing. The 38mm case fell right into a group of flyers waiting for pad assignments. Fortunately, it was spotted in time for a few of us to warn everyone to get out of the way. No one was injured, but it sure got a few of our hearts beating a bit faster.
All things considered, this launch was a great success for our club. It didn’t go perfectly, and it wasn’t as big as the SMURFF launches that SCAM used to have at the AMA, but it was ‘our’ launch. We did it by ourselves, we learned a lot and we had a lot of fun in the process. More importantly, we didn’t frighten the landowner. He has invited us back for more launches in the spring and fall of 2002. That should give us the time we need to make the next one even better.
I’d like to thank a few people for helping make this launch possible:
- Tim Johnson - For the use of his farm.
- Matt Stum - For making the club a launch rail on short notice.
- Jim Stum - For getting the waiver and working with the FAA and Grissom Airbase. Not to mention arranging for a porta-pot to be on site. Jim also supplied the HPR pad and rods. He was also there first thing in the morning on both days to help set up and he stayed around to help tear things down again.
- Gary Degler - For handling flyer registration for the weekend and for making a map and signs to direct everyone to the site.
- Greg May - For helping out with LCO duties.
- All Attendees - For making this event worth doing. I look forward to doing it again.