East Anglian Rocketry Society - Flying Rockets in Cambridgeshire, UK
Index: Launches: Reports: Big EARS 2005: Sunday

Niall's Big EARS 2005 Report - Sunday

Having had a few short hours of sleep at home, it was time to get up again and get ready for another day of rocketry goodness. My girlfriend, Mel, had decided in the end that she did want to come along (with some Stats work in case it was too boring - pah!) so I took a bit of a detour via Flitwick but still got to the EARS site at a reasonable time. I'd missed Damian, Damian and Chris lobbing Damian Burrin's 'Naked Ambition' I-class altitude attempt on an I350 at 9AM to over 8000ft, but not a lot else. As we arrived Tom Hicks flew his Vaughn Brothers 'Blobbo' from the HPR range for a good flight on....an Estes D12! Perhaps overkill sending it out as far as the J pads (it has rail guides) but it meant a landing in the crops rather than the trees.

I didn't have much stuff to unload today, having only taken home things like my laptop. During the night the impressive storm had driven water into the marquee, but I think my stuff was on the leeward side and I just had a slightly damp cardboard box, no other damage. Since I had no big rocket to fly any more, and plenty of motors, I dragged out some of my older model rockets (single Estes motors - who'd a thunk it!) and enjoyed the simple prep and flight routine.

Chris Brown soon appeared, with Josh Hall in tow - only to discover his range box full of water. Before long, however, they had Josh's Eliminator ready to fly on a D12, and were soon back after a successful flight and recovery. I'm not sure what else flew before 12, but at about midday it was off to the model pads with my 'Mork' (old but rarely flown) and Art Applewhite 'Stealth', along with Josh's Eliminator, to give Ben Jarvis something to do other than play with his laptop in the RSO tent!

Josh Hall flies his Eliminator

I was flying 'Mork' (partner to a lost rocket called 'Mindy') on a lowly A8-3 (no B motors, didn't want to buy any...), 'Stealth' on a C6-5 and I'd also prepped 'Wikinger' with an E9-8 - a combination I'd flown 3 times before with great results. All my rockets were Day-Glo orange for some reason! Josh's Eliminator made a good flight on an E9 - its turning out to be a bit of a classic motor for small, light rockets! I flew my 'Stealth' next, and it had a much better flight than its first on an A8 last month - much less wind, and the C motor kept it going much longer. This rocket spins on ascent, and makes a pretty cool sound. It stops ascending pretty much at burnout, turns over and spins back to the ground - quite a fun little rocket.

A couple of my small rockets - Stealth and Mork

Mork flew next, on the 'blink and you'll miss it' A8 - not exactly a spectacular motor (but not bad in a min-dia rocket), but didn't deploy its streamer and tumbled back quite fast - no damage though. After picking up the first two rockets, I set up Wikinger on the EARS model pads (not a porta-pad in sight this year and Mike Roberts' old pad is retired too) and hooked up the clips. The E9 is the 'Duracell Bunny' of Estes motors - it seems to keep on going and going, with a 3-second burn. If you look up the specs it's not far off twice the impulse of a D12, but with a less aggressive thrust spike. The sustain thrust is virtually identical, as is the average, so its less suitable for heavy rockets than the D12, but in a light rocket like Wikinger (which weighs next to nothing) they perform very well.

Wikinger on an E9-8

After a good boost and nicely long 8-second coast, a puff of smoke signalled deployment of the 12" chute, and Wikinger drifted gently back to earth. I have no idea why it came with a 20" chute, even on the 12" it drifted a fair distance into the field beyond the day parking. Luckily I got a good bearing on where it came down and it wasn't long before I had the rocket back. Having recovered Wikinger, it was back to the EARS marquee, which was getting quite busy - and quite warm. Opening the rear door soon solved that, and it was quite pleasant inside and out.

I'm not sure where the next hour went - quite possibly this was when I did a little shopping at Apollo 11 - I resisted the temptation to buy all sorts of stuff (like I've not got enough rockets to build!) and just bought some bits to rebuild ETV2. I think I've got enough, I've probably forgotten all sorts of obvious bits, so Alan will probably get another order when I get round to rebuilding it. Either that or I'll order a load of different stuff to make a sleeker, lighter version of ETV2 (well, a clustered, staged BP powered rocket anyhow). I'm also liking the idea of building a couple of HPR rockets to take my WCH H100 - a minimum-diameter Cirrus Dart-type rocket and a 3" behemoth with 6 outboard 24mm MMT's and all sorts of electronic possibilities with my G-Wiz and timers. The idea is to build a 1/4 scale model of the Gates Brothers 'Porthos 2', I've got 2 38mm HPR rockets under way already though so it'll be a while before I build either of those. I also want to get some nitrous and PVC burned before I go risking the motor in a rocket that'll get to better than a mile high!

Damian Burrin had been busy sorting out his RAF traffic cone (now somewhat legendary), complete with 38mm MMT and video downlink. Flying a traffic cone is cool enough, but doing it with on-board video - perfect! Last time Damian 'deployed' the video camera's batteries at apogee, but this time they were secured firmly and the video system was checked out before launch. With a 6-grain (big shiny motor casing on those!) Pro38 motor loaded up in the cone, and its concrete-filled nosecone installed, it was time to burn some AP :)

Damian's Video cone, loaded with a Pro38 J330

At about the same time Chris Brown flew his 'Raptor' on a D12 for a good flight, though it could really benefit from small AP being available. Working down the HPR pads, away from the RSO tent, next up was Mike Hoffman's 13-D12 cluster, called 'King of the Pies' (I think, I may be confusing it with one of Chris Eilbeck's rockets - Reach for the Pies). Mike had put this rocket together the day before, mainly using 'no more nails', but thanks to having pre-cut fins it didn't actually look too bad! Compared to some of his other efforts, it was pretty slick! (Anyone who saw the 3-stage Big Daddy/tower of D12's will know what I mean!)

After a quite slow Quickmatch ignition (keep it sheathed!), Mike's rocket took off in quite an impressive fashion - the motor cluster was equivalent to a 220H150 or so - not really that far off a Pro38 2-grain in fact! About half way up one of the motors came loose, and I think it ended up not far from where I was standing! I certainly heard something fairly close, I was busy tracking the rocket with the camera. Unfortunately my photos ended up washed out by the pale sky, but I got the launch. At some point, which may have been near apogee, the rocket separated, and the nose cone floated off, leaving the (34" long) booster section to come in ballistic. Whistling like an incoming bomb, the main section of the rocket impacted with quite a thud, though when I saw it later it didn't seem too badly damaged.

15 D12's at once - Photo Ben Jarvis

With the sillyness out of the way, it was time for Damian to fly his J-powered traffic cone. Coming to think of it, that's a pretty silly rocket :) When the 6-grain motor roared into action, it flew about as well as you would expect an ex-RAF traffic cone to fly - certainly not a J-class altitude contender, but a good flier nonetheless. Chris Eilbeck was tracking the rocket with his high-gain antenna, recording the live video on a Sony DVR mounted neatly in a briefcase with the 2.4GHz reciever unit. The cone deployed its flourescent 'chute at apogee, and began a fairly rapid descent, landing just in front of the day parking area with quite a bump. As soon as it was down, Chris and Damian were replaying the video - and very good it was too! With very few breakups the camera captured the huge flame during boost, a great view of the EARS site at apogee and several good aerial views of the cars parked as it returned to the ground.

Damian's Cone in flight - Photo Ben Jarvis

Bit of a hard landing

After this, I went to see what Ben was up to - he had been planning on flying Transient Glory on his K1100, but decided to burn it in Nemesis 3, since TG would reach the best part of a mile, and only has single-stage recovery. Mel thought I was very sad for taking such an interest in watching Ben prepping the motor, but how often does anyone fly AeroTech 54mm stuff over here? Even better, from a rocketry geek point of view, the 54/1706 casing was already loaded with a K185 so I got to see what a moon-burner looks like inside. That is one huge fuel grain on the K185, quite what the CTI N1100 must look like is another matter! With the K185 safely bagged up, Ben brought out the K1100 reload kit - 4 black grains of blue thunder. Unlike the Pro54 motors, which basically come ready assembled, the AT reloads really are a kit of parts. Unfortunately, Ben's was missing an o-ring, but another was soon found in another reload. Having thoroughly inspected all parts of the K1100T and K185W reloads (who knows when we'll see them again), I left Ben to finish prepping, much to Mel's relief!

Rocket Porn - AeroTech 54/1706 reloads!

Back inside the marquee, I heard a muffled call over the PA, I couldn't tell what was being launched. I got outside just in time to see one of Malcolm and Michael Jennings' creations fly on a J380 (possibly a J280) Smoky Sam motor. Running up to the rangehead through the acrid smoke, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss Malcolm's flight - he had a K530SS loaded up in his 'Christmas Cracker' rocket. Those big Smokies really are cool - the 54's leave a huge great dirty mark all over the sky! A feature of the weekend was the smoke from the range blowing back towards the spectators and parking area - Malc's flight was no exception and smokier than most. His rocket seemed to deploy its main parachute at apogee, and drifted down very slowly for such a big rocket. However, I think he had it all back and set up in front of his shop before long. It was nice to see him fly something - I'm always in Malc's tent buying stuff (usually motors!) but I rarely see him fly. I guess he'd done good business and decided it was time to burn some AP!

Malcolm's Christmas Cracker on a K530SS - click here for a larger image

I grabbed a picture of Chris Bishop with his rebuilt L1 rocket, but I didn't get his flight with the camera. After suffering a separation, Chris's bad luck went the other way - the nose cone ejected but no parachute! Thankfully this was enough to destabilise the rocket, which came down in a moderately fast tumble somewhere on the far side of the trees. I'm not sure how the rocket fared, I don't think it was too bad, and Chris assured me he'll be back to have another go. He's also working on some more rockets, so we can expect to see him flying at EARS and UKRA events this summer.

Chris Bishop with his rebuilt L1 rocket, after core sampling the day before

The 'Olly 3' rocket that flew so well on Saturday flew again today - this time on a no-longer-produced C11-0 booster to a C11 second stage. As usual with these motors, staging took place about 50ft off the pad, everything was clearly visible. Shortly after this Sally Gurney flew her 'Blue Thing' - an unusually painted Estes Silver Comet. Sally and Stuart (who came to Big EARS together) were good fun to have around - as far as I gather Sally has been flying rockets for a while but Stuart is pretty new to it all - but fired with enthusiasm by the sounds of things. He had plenty of questions to ask, and I did my best to answer the ones about why I'd built my rockets in particular ways. Sally's 'Blue Thing' made a good flight on a D12-3, and was safely recovered.

Sally's 'Blue Thing' flies on a D12-3

At about 4PM, Chris Eilbeck had his 'ADR2' ready to fly again on another Pro38 I285 (4-grain classic), this time with a wireless video camera installed. ADR2 made a good, fast and straight boost, tracked by Chris with his video gear. The flight was pretty much textbook - separation bang at apogee thanks to the RDAS, and main deployment right on cue, giving a reasonably close recovery. To boot, Chris got excellent video all the way up and down, which can be seen here.

Chris set to receive live video from ADR2

ADR2 in flight - Photo Ben Jarvis

Stills from ADR2's video camera - click here for a larger image - images Chris Eilbeck

Coming up from the prep area was Ben Jarvis, with the rocket (or perhaps should that be motor....) we had all been waiting to see - Nemesis 3 on an AeroTech K1100T. The K1100T is the Blue Thunder load for the 54/1706 casing, and along with the other loads for that case, is somewhat legendary. The K1100T is a motor spoken about in hushed tones by the old-timers, who revere its huge blue flame, massive thrust and ability to tear mere mortal rockets to shreds. Its smaller brother the J800T is equally revered - in fact pretty much all the AeroTech Blue Thunder motors are very popular but unfortunately rarely seen these days. A K1100T flight is something pretty special then - a few more exist in people's range boxes, but until AeroTech comes back to the UK, its unlikely that we'll see many flown.

Ben rocking the 'Pyro Farmer' look - that ain't no straw, that be an igniter!

Nemesis 3 had flown very nicely on the Pro38 J330 on Saturday, and was set up similarly for the K1100 - single deployment via a timer, armed with a pull-pin. I took a few photos while Ben set Nemesis 3 up on the pad and installed a pretty meaty igniter. Blue Thunder is generally quick to light, but Ben isn't known for wimpy igniters or ejection charges! Before Nemesis 3 flew, a nicely finished FlisKits Richter Recker was set up on one of the UKRA pads - in fact beyond Nemesis 3, despite it only having 3 D12's installed. Should have brought the pad a bit closer! However, it made a very nice flight - one of the best model flights of the day perhaps - with a perfectly straight boost and deployment of both chutes right on time.

Richter Recker on 3 D12s

With the range clear, the time was nigh for Nemesis to ride the 1600N initial thrust of the K1100. Weighing around 10kg with motor, acceleration off the pad was going to be fast - over 12Gs for most of the very short burn. I wasn't quite sure what to expect - having felt the weight of Nem3, and seeing the size of it sat on the pad, it was hard to imagine that it could do anything other than rise slowly into the sky. I ran down the track to set my PadCam rolling, and to switch Chris Eilbeck's far better setup on - a videoconferencing camera and Sony DVR. Once I'd done this I turned and looked back towards the rangehead to hear Richard say 'I think Niall should move from that position' - I don't think watching from 10ft would be such a good idea, leave that to the cameras.

As Ben and Jim McFarlane walked away from the rocket having armed the electronics, they both uttered a strange benediction and crossed the rocket with a stick, before throwing it away into the crops. 'You can't mess with 10 years of tradition - it won't work otherwise!', said Ben. With everyone ready with cameras, Damian Burrin, on RSO duties, started to read the flight card. He squealed in childish excitement when he realised what Ben was about to fly - I'd never seen a K1100 and from what everyone had said it was going to rock!

After a short 5-count, Jim McFarlane pressed the button, and after a quick puff of flame from the igniter, Nemesis 3 leapt off the pad like a bullet, trailing 5 feet of bright, purple-blue flame and a banshee scream from the motor. Immediately I knew just what people meant about these motors - the noise was incredible and the way Nemesis 3 moved surprised me almost as much as Gary's K660 flight the day before. You just don't expect such a big rocket to move so fast - its quite unreal. As the 1.something second burn finished, there were whoops and cheers from the crowd, followed by even more as the hefty ejection charge deployed the huge 'chute and the rocket began to slowly descend. I swear that motor made my ears ring, its sound was felt as much as heard!

Loud, fast and awesome - Nemesis 3 on a K1100T

I was immediately checking my camera, and to my satisfaction, I'd managed to catch the Blue Thunder flame right at ignition. I really hope we get some more of these motors over here - the CTI ProXX motors do the job very nicely, but for sheer Hollywood glamour you can't beat AeroTech Blue Thunder or White Lightning motors. Ben set off to recover Nemesis 3, which drifted a lot further this time - almost to the road that runs past the farmhouse, several hundred yards out from the trees. Apparently it was getting a lot of worried looks from passing motorists with its huge 'chute billowing in the wind!

Ben's amazing liftoff shot of Nemesis 3 - click here for a larger image - photo Ben Jarvis

After the excitement of Ben's K flight, Andrew Stevenson had his Level 1 rocket (a Rebel Rocketry Max Impulse 2.5) prepped again - this time with more nose weight after its interesting flight on Saturday. Again it was loaded up with an H153 2-grain Pro38 motor and set up on the pad. This time, Andrew was successful, and his rocket made a very nice flight without the strange deviations of its first flight. Of particular note was the paint job he had done on the payload section - very nice interconnected stars in green fading to black, all carefully done with hand-cut masking tape! After Rod's successful Level 2 flight the day before, the Stevenson father and son team had managed to do what they had planned - L1 and L2 at the same event. Congratulations to them both, I'm looking forward to seeing their growing HPR fleet fly again.

Andrew Stevenson's successful L1 flight

Damian Hall and Richard Parkin were now setting up the HyperTek GSE for Richard's L2 flight. I had my sport-scale SA-2 'Guideline' ready to fly on a D12-0 to a D12-7 on the model pads - this time without quickmatch between the stages. The pad wasn't quite level and the rocket took off and headed uprange, staging perfectly, with a very noticable increase in acceleration as the second motor lit. However, the combination of the less than optimal flight angle and the long delay meant that at ejection the 12" (crappy Estes) 'chute stripped, and the rocket, not for the first time, returned in an unusual fashion - the body following the weighted nose cone. It landed not far from where Damian and Richard were setting up, and Damian was able to point me to the area where it landed. Luckily I found it within a few second, undamaged. I wasn't sure where the booster had gone, but on returning to the marquee I found that someone had recovered it and returned it to my table - thank you whoever that was! The chute was completely gone, leaving only the shroud lines! I think it needs a more vertical takeoff and a 5 second delay in future - and possibly a better parachute.

My SA-2 on a D12-0 to D12-7 - click here for a larger image

About 15 minutes later, it was time for the customary raffle. I usually seem to do pretty well in these raffles - in the past I have won an HPR kit, several model kits and a t-shirt at events, and yet more model kits in online competitions. I bought 10's worth of tickets - after all the money goes straight into the club and to good use - securing the flying field and the toilets for example. This raffle was no exception and I won first a Rowe's 38mm Glue and Screw (AeroPack style) 'Cone' motor retainer - a thing of beauty - and a Physics of Flight 'Adder' rocket kit, almost 60's worth of goodies! The 'Adder' is like a downscaled Viper3, with 3 18mm MMT's, and looks to be a decent quality kit, coming with a Nylon 'chute and nomex heatshield, both nice features in a model kit. I'm not sure where the cone retainer is going - but it should work nicely with my WCH motor in something. If not, I guess I'll just have to get the license and fly some Pro38 some time :)

The customary raffle

After the raffle, launching continued apace, with fliers taking advantage of the pleasant weather. It always seems that at the EARS site, the best weather comes at the start and end of the day! Tom Hicks flew his AT Strong Arm on an F20 or F22 Econojet motor - as before it had a rather too long delay, and the rocket was halfway to the ground before deployment, but he got away with it! I'd spotted Marcus heading out with Miss Piggy, but it wasn't until the flight was announced that I realised he was about to fly. I ran up to the range head, waving my arms, and Damain Burrin on RSO must have noticed since he shouted 'Run boy, run!' over the PA! Unfortunately Mel didn't see Miss Piggy fly, I'm not sure she approved of such torture of an innocent inflatable pig, but she had wanted to see Marcus' twisted creation fly.

Launched on an H153 (yet another!), Miss Piggy flew just as you would expect an inflatable pig full of expanding foam to fly - amusingly! She got about 25 feet off the ground before taking a right turn, heading straight back towards the ground, levelling off again before plunging, smoking, into the field. After the ejection fired, Marcus went off to get the largely undamaged Miss Piggy back - more nose weight required perhaps...

Miss Piggy on an H153 - click here for a larger image

Roy T-H then flew his repaired 'Time Capsule' - on a Pro38 G69 I believe. It was a nice flight, seemed like the right motor for the rocket. A few minutes later, after getting a photo of Dave Driver and his beautiful BSD Thor (3", 3-fin), I watched Stuart Livings fly his 'Chaos Theory', which he'd built over the weekend, on an E9 for a really good flight - very straight and very high, probably in the region of 2000ft. Those motors really are good in small, light rockets! Despite a small 'chute, it still ended up a long way away, and was recovered by chance later!

Stuart Livings' Chaos Theory on an E9

Dave Driver's beautiful Thor - click here for a close-up

Next on the model pads was James Hall with his (most of a) Richter Recker, on 3 E9's - 12.50 for a bottom end G flight isn't too bad when a Pro38 G69 is over 20! I think it left the rod with only one motor burning, but soon all three were going and it made a nice ascent. The 'chutes didn't deploy however, but it was recovered intact I believe.

Josh Hall's Richter Recker on 3 E9's

A couple of minutes later, attention was turned to the HPR range where Richard Parkin was about to make his L2 attempt flight. About half an hour earlier he had tried, but after a long fill it was concluded that the NOx tank was empty - they were only filling with gas! The tank was dumped, and a fresh tank of NOx fetched from the prep area. This time I got myself in the best place for photographing the ignition of a HyperTek - up at the controller box with the flier. This is located about 100ft from the pad :) After a brief fill, a steady stream of liquid NOx started venting from the rocket, indicating a full tank. A signal was given to the RSO, and after a brief 3 count Richard activated the controller's 'fire' switch.

Richard Parkin's Level 2 flight on a J250

As usual, a bright flame appeared under the rocket, and a moment later the tie-wraps melted, releasing liquid Nitrous Oxide into the combustion chamber. I've seen a few HyperTek flights, and Damian Hall (whose GSE it was) has flown even more, but both of us (and Richard I think!) were surprised at just how fast the 2.5" rocket moved. Weighing just over 2kg empty, it pulled 18G's off the pad - very respectable for a hybrid! With the characteristic raspy sound and small, bright flame, Richard's rocket continued to accelerate hard until burnout, coasting upwards to just over 3600ft - a bit lower than predicted - and splitting in half for the drogueless descent to 600ft, where the main deployed right on time.

Richard Parkin's Level 2 flight under 'chute

Unlike some others, Richard has had good luck with the BlackSky AltAcc, and this flight was no exception. With a successful L2 flight in the bag, all that remained was to recover the rocket. All present agreed it was a great flight, and it showed that in the right rocket hybrids can be just as spectacular as solids in terms of sheer power. The motor Richard flew was a 745Ns J250, using the 440cc tank, 0.125" injector and standard J grain. This is the most powerful combination of the 440CC tank and J grain, and has a peak thrust of over 500N.

Richard added via email:

I am convinced the issues people had with AltAcc's involved early models. The 2A and 2B were essentially the same unit but with, I think, different code. Given the 2C's increased capabilities I am certain the hardware must be different, and mine now has 20 HPR flights on it - all but one flawless, and the one that failed was my fault ;)

I would have no hessitation in recomnding the 2C to anyone - its just so simple to use and mount! Having said that I have just bought the DefyGravity Control altimeter - looks intersting ;)

> All present agreed it was a great flight, and it showed that in the right rocket hybrids can be just as spectacular as solids in terms of sheer power.

But not in terms of mass fraction; I have some solid J's to play with at next EARS and am interested to see how much higher it will go.

-- Richard Parkin

I can't remember when it was, and I didn't get any photos, but a flight of note on Sunday was Kev Timmins' stretched BSD Horizon, on an I287SS (4-grain smoky), with dual-deployment. He launched from the furthest pad, and his rocket landed right next to the closest, about 20 feet from where it was launched! Kev tells me that is reached 2369ft and despite landing on the path, was undamaged, not even a paint scrape! Not sure how you get much luckier than that!

Kev T's Horizon - Photo by Colin Rowe

Next up after this was Richard Osborne with his G-class altitude attempt rocket, which he had been working on all weekend. Loaded up with a G69 1-grain motor, and a small altimeter - a Perfectflite ALT 15K - Richard was hoping to beat Ady Waters' record of 3800ft. Ady himself flew twice on G69's at the event, in both cases to around 2900ft. Richard's rocket left the (mini) rail fast, and disappeared off into the clear blue sky above. At deployment, a few people, myself included, saw a flash of orange from its streamer, but soon after that we lost sight of the rocket. Not long afterwards someone spotted the rocket - or at least part of it - returning fast under the streamer. It landed not far out in the crops, and Richard soon recovered it. He only got the payload section back, the booster was missing without trace. It wasn't very big, and no doubt will be buried several inches in the ground, under the crops, which are getting to the size where small rockets get hard to find in them!

Richard's G-class altitude attempt - Photo Ben Jarvis

I can't remember Richard's exact altitude, but it was just over 3000ft, not quite what he hoped for. The possible reasons for this are many and varied, but the flight looked good, deployment was at apogee and it was impressively straight (the last of Richard's altitude attempts was impressively unstable!). Richard thinks that poor surface finish may be one reason - polished rockets do fly higher! He's got the bits to make another, and the altimeter is OK so the UKRA G record may yet fall this summer. If/when AT 29mm G's come back (or even better the 24mm G55), it should stand to get a real boot! Ady's rockets were somewhat larger, and reached similar altitudes, so Richard suggested that perhaps his altimeter was under-reading. I'm sure another altimeter can be found to fly it against, the results will be interesting to see. Whichever way, with a booster separation and loss its unlikely that the altitude would be accepted for an altitude record.

After Richard's flight, Dave Driver set up his beautiful Thor with an I212 (3-grain Smoky Sam) motor, and Tom Hicks took his VB Blobbo out for a flight on an E9. I've seen a few Thors, but Dave's must have the best finish I've seen on one - quite possibly the best finish I've seen on a rocket! Beautiful fillets, not a sign of spiral grooves, even and glossy paint, all complemented by the decals and a purple Rowe's Retainer. I'm surprised Dave can bear to fly it!

Dave Driver's Thor on an I212SS

The Thor made a very nice flight on the small smoky motor, though I am coming to think that in anything less than 38mm 6-grain the Smoky Sam motors are a bit disappointing. (I guess the I350 can be forgiven since its one of the biggest I motors available - good for records - and it works very nicely in Ben's Kone). They might be redeemed if they were a bit louder, but compared to the I205 classic I think the I212SS is a much less impressive motor. Now the J400SS, that's a different matter! Still, the Thor had a very successful flight, deploying a single chute some way up at apogee, and floating gently down. Dave had quite a trek to get it back, but as far as I know it came back without damage to fly another day. I expect we'll see it fly again at UKRA if Dave comes along. I spent a while talking to Dave this weekend (having only 'met' him online at TRF), he was quite interested in my WCH motor and is thinking of ordering the G60/H60 combo from Scott to fly down at SERFS. Hopefully he'll get a preview at UKRA when I fly my H100.

As Dave went off to collect his Thor, Roy T-H came along with a Semroc Hydra7, complete with a seemingly random assortment of Estes B and C motors, a TRAXA on board and a lot of nose weight. Mel thought it was a pretty sexy-looking rocket, I'm working on one so I was interested to see how Roy's did. He was igniting the motors with unsheathed quickmatch, I asked him about this and said it would be fine. However, at ignition, it all burned rather slowly, and the motors lit in a staggered sequence. I think one of them completed most of its burn on the pad - I'm sure a single B motor wouldn't get the Hydra7 very far! My photos only go as far as ignition of a motor, after the rocket took off they became washed out by the bright, hazy sky. However, the appearance of the RSO tent and ground in the photos a few frames later gives some indication of the direction taken by the rocket! I have no idea how it ended up, but I suspect it may be minus a few fins now!

Roy's Hydra7 - click here for a larger image

After Roy's flight, Sally Gurney had some fun flying Estes Mini-rockets. I've never really seen these fly before, but the way they move is very impressive on the little 13mm A motors. Amazingly she got most of them back, despite saying before that they were one-time only and she didn't mind losing them! The last of the little rockets was a very nicely painted Mosquito, as expected, it disappeared and was never seen again! After Sally's full 'C' worth of micro-rocket flying, a family who had been busy building model kits all day came out with 4 rockets, and flew them in drag-raced pairs. As far as I remember all their flights were successful, though one ended up in a tree for a while.

Sally's nice mosquito

Also after the G altitude record was Marcus Lauder, who brought out his well-flown 'WTF', which I have previously seen fly on an F25. This time he was flying with an AeroTech G40 single-use motor, not something seen very often. The G40 is the White Lightning cousin to the G80 Blue Thunder motor, and was popular before the AeroTech fire, delivering a useful impulse and thrust. In the US they just come in under the 62.5g propellant limit for model rocket motors, so are again popular with non-certified fliers. Equipped with altimeter and tracker, a suitable (skinny) rod was found and set up on the nearest HPR pad. To get better photos, I moved myself to the minimum safe distance position - about 30 feet for a single G motor.

WTF on a G40

As usual with AeroTech WL motors, especially older ones, ignition was a lot slower than with CTI motors, though Marcus was only using the supplied 'CopperHead' igniter. I caught an excellent lift-off photo, which shows the big, bright flame and thick white smoke. As well as being 29mm vs 38mm, you can see easily why people prefer AeroTech motors to Pro38's in terms of visual impact. The Pro38 G's are a bit weedy-looking compared to the G40, but they are fast to light and reasonably loud :)

WTF Launch sequence - click here for a larger image

WTF kept on going on the G40's 4 second burn, but acquired a very noticable spiral towards the end of the flight. I'm not quite sure what happened beyond burnout, but I saw Marcus later with only half the rocket recovered and no altitude reading, so I don't think he got the record or all of the rocket back. Hopefully when AT stuff comes back we'll see some more G40's, they're rather nice little motors.

Ben's 'Overkill' on 3 C6's

It was about this time that Mel's mum and two sisters turned up to take her home, just as well a few rockets were ready to fly at the same time. I'd been keeping 'ETV1' prepped to make sure they saw something fly, even if it was only small. Its a shame they didn't get to see Ben's K1100, for anyone new to seeing high-power rockets flying that would have been an awesome introduction! The next few flights were my ETV2 on an E9-6, Rod Stevenson's Big Daddy on CHAD-staged D/E motors and Ben Jarvis' 'Overkill' on 3 C6's. (Yes, Ben flew from the model pads!). In the middle of this, Rod Stevenson also flew his trusty PML Hydra on an H153, for another good flight, so they got to see some HPR. Now he's L2 certified, Rod could subject the Hydra to a J285, but I suspect it may be a one-way trip on that motor! Still, it flies very nicely on the 2-grain motor, and this time was no exception. I've seen Rod fly the Hydra several times, the first being at the very first EARS meeting I came along to in 2003. Its been through a Pro38 CATO, but keeps on going strong.

Rod's Hydra on an H153

After saying goodbye to Mel, I checked if the range was still open, and grabbed a couple of rockets to fly, making the most of the evening sun and clear sky. I chose to fly 'Stealth' on a C6-5 again, since prep is uber-quick (put motor in rocket, fly) and it doesn't go too high. I also set up Wikinger on another E9, this time with a 6-second delay. I was looking forward to seeing it climb into the evening sky on the thin smoke trail that just keeps going - the E9 is perfect for this rocket, which will happily fly on a C6, being very light.

Stealth, Wikinger and ETV1

As before, 'Stealth' (a strange name for a day-glo orange rocket I think) made a spinning ascent on the C6, turning over at burnout, the ejection charge firing on the way back down. It landed just out of the crops, and I had it back in no time. Wikinger, on the other hand, (as expected) went a long way up on the E9, its 12" chute appearing as a tiny dot at deployment. It drifted a long way, but I saw it most of the way down, as did Sally and Stuart, who were packing up to head home at the time. It ended up about 30 yards out into the field beyond the drainage ditch on the far side of the trees from the launch area - quite an impressive distance! It was strung out across a tramline with the body on one side and the chute on the other, and with the flourescent orange paint and white chute sat on the crops, was easy enough to find. I'm starting to think that the 12" chute might be a bit big! At Pete's farm I flew it with the original 20" chute, on an E9, and it got half way back to the UKRA hut!

As far as I recall, this concluded the day's flying, and about an hour later everything was pretty much packed up. I was amazed at how much stuff (3 fairly sizeable rockets included) Ben got into his SMART car, a feat he attributed to not having Richard with him! With the packing up done, we left those camping with children (Damian et al) on the site and headed to the Papworth Hotel for curry, which was just what I needed! I'd avoided the picnic club all afternoon, so I was hungry and really enjoyed the meal. Having dropped Mike Roberts back at the site and helped move a few tables, I set off home, and got back by about midnight.

Packing up to leave

All in all, Big EARS 2005 was a great event, and everyone who attended seemed to enjoy themselves. As well as the usual good company we had a weekend of good rocketry - altitude attempts, certification flights, hybrids, lots of BP clusters, video from rockets and several very impressive flights that won't be forgotten in a hurry. Thanks must go to all who helped make it such a good event - organisers, vendors and fliers alike. I'm looking forwards to UKRA 2005 a lot already, I just hope the weather is as good as it was for Big EARS.

I had a really good weekend, despite trashing my trusty ETV2, I managed to burn a mid H's worth of BP, which I consider pretty respectable. I'd hope to fly ETV2 several times and really eat into my BP stash, I guess I'll have to knock up something quick and clustered in time for UKRA! I don't know if I'll rebuild ETV2 this flying season, I think I'll concentrate on moving into high power and hybrids. Its too recently that I painted the damn thing! This does mean I probably won't make much of an entry into the inaugural 'Powder Keg Trophy' contest, but we'll see. ETV2 will return, hopefully better, lighter and more powerful. What it really needs is small AP - preferably of the Blue Thunder variety! Failing that, a massive first stage cluster may just provide enough whoosh off the pad - on Saturday it peaked at less than 6G's and for most of the first stage burn it was only pulling 2G's. 330ft from 100Ns isn't too great, I was hoping to crack 2000ft with the 2-stage flight!

In summary, based on what I managed to record, Sunday saw at least: flown, though I know I've missed things off the list. If anyone has more accurate info, please let me know. I know I missed a few HPR flights, and a lot of model flights, it was a good day's flying.

Be sure to check out the gallery for all the best photos from this launch

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