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

Niall Oswald's EARS April 2005 Report

Until the moment the range closed, the wind was strong all day

The weather forecasts for the Sunday of EARS April launch were not promising - rain moving in later and wind all day. We didn't see any rain - in fact there was quite a lot of sun - but the wind never really died down. The EARS windsock was out straight for most of the day, and those who flew rockets soon found out about the wind. However, despite the wind, quite a few rockets were flown, and Malcolm Jennings' Rockets and Things tent seemed to be doing good business all day. I for one stocked up on BP for the next few launches - get it while its available!

Ady setting up 'Hell Fire' and 'Hell Fire' on the pad

I arrived at the EARS site a little before 10AM, followed by Ady Waters. Ady has built some more small HPR rockets with the aim of taking more UKRA records in the G-J class, and he's also working on a K-class rocket - perhaps the records table will see more changes later this year. Ady flew his 'Hell Fire Mk1' twice today, once on a G69 (1G Pro38) and again on an H153 (2G Pro38). Hell Fire 1 is minimum diameter, but quite heavily built, and launched from a rail. Ady started prepping soon after arriving, and decided to brave the wind and make the first flight of the day at around 11:30. Hell Fire had a good flight on the G motor, and since it was launched into the wind it landed back in the field adjacent to the pads.

Launch and recovery of 'Hell Fire'

Next up after Ady's flight were some model flights. There were a few models flown throughout the day, with the new EARS model pads and controller working well. Edward Horibin flew his Art Applewhite Saucer on a D12-0, and it coped well with the wind. I was impressed by the amount of smoke and flame that came out of the motor at burnout - its no wonder CHAD-staging works so well!

Art Applewhite Saucer on a D12-0 - click here for a larger image

A couple of the CROCK guys came up for the day - Iain Banks and Mark Smallman (thanks Iain for the correction!). Iain flew his modified BSD 38 special on a Pro38 J285 (648Ns 5-grain motor) for a good flight, and the biggest motor of the day. The main deployed at 2400ft, and the rocket drifted quite a way, but was recovered without damage.

38 Special on a J285

Gary Sinclair - EARS Chairman - was there as usual, with his fleet of MPR and HPR rockets. Today he flew his trusty Estes Silver Comet on an Aerotech F24 - Gary has a small stash of these 24mm reloads and I've seen his Silver Comet fly a few times on the small WL F motor. I positioned myself in the field to get good launch photos, but the igniter failed and the rocket was taken off the pad. When Gary launched, I wasn't around so I missed the actual flight, but it looked good from back at the cars.

Gary's Silver Comet on the pad and Gary setting up

Richard Parkin also came along, and indulged his liking for minimum diameter rockets by flying a Vaughn Brothers Extreme 38 on a G79 (1G Smoky) reload. The motor was very tightly wedged in the rocket (too much masking tape) and took several tries to remove after a good flight. I was quite surprised to see Richard running after his rocket - I think he was trying to make sure he saw it come down! Richard tells me it reached 2246 feet, as reported by the onboard ALTACC. Having just said that he wouldn't build anything else, Richard was rather taken with some LOC tubing and decided to build a minimum diameter rocket for Hypertek motors. I may have to do the same at some point for my PP 54mm hybrid motors, the eye-bolt in the forward closure would make it all so easy!

Richard Parkin's rocket on G79SS - click here for a larger image

About 10 minutes after Richard had flown, Michael Clarke flew another 1-grain Pro38 motor, this time in a PML Phobos. The liftoff was surprisingly loud, and after catching the wind as it left the rail, the rocket had a good flight. As far as I know, Michael recovered the Phobos without problems.

PML Phobos on a G69

I returned to prepping my 'ETV2', which I had decided to fly in the same configuration as the previous 3 flights - 4 E's and 2 D's, rather than as a 2-stage, given the wind. Once the rocket was prepped, I decided to wait and see if the wind would die down at all, and went to watch other people's flights. I knew my rocket would only pull 3G's in the boost phase, so I wasn't sure about flying on such a windy day.

Gary Sinclair was back on the high-power pads again with a scratch-built cluster called 'Small Print' (I believe). This rocket has a cluster of 3 29mm MMT's, and for its first flight Gary filled two of them with Aerotech F20 'Econojet' motors. AT motors are now fairly rare, clusters of them even more so.

Gary's 2x29mm Cluster on the pad

Gary set the rocket up with two of his own dipped igniters, and I got into position to photograph the flights. When Gary pushed the button, there was a pop and some smoke, followed by a couple of seconds more smoking, and then 'phut-phut-phut' before both motors came up to pressure together and the rocket blasted noisily off the pad. The noise and smoke from the small AT motors is quite impressive!

2x29mm Cluster Ignition - click here for a larger image

Gary also later flew his 'G60' on an H153 - I missed the flight with my camera unfortunately. I asked Gary about the rocket - he said it was intended to be a small rocket to fly on G60's (the original 1-grain Pro38 reload) but turned out too heavy and flies on H153's instead.

At about 1:30, Ady Waters flew his 'Hell Fire' again, this time on a Pro38 H153 (2-grain) motor. This time the rocket was much faster off the pad than on the G motor, but seemed to catch the wind more. Ady had a long walk to recovery, as did most fliers this month.

Launch of 'Hell Fire'

The next launch I photographed was at 3:30 - I'm not sure what was flown in the gap between 1:30 and 3:30, but there were quite a few model flights throughout the afternoon. I think I spent most of the time between then eating, talking and resisting purchasing any more BP motors - it would be fair to say I picked up 'a few' from Malcolm!

Muhahahaha - how long will this lot last me ?!

The next flight I photographed was Marcus Lauder's rocket on an I205 (Pro38 3-grain). I'm not sure what the rocket was called (GPI or something similar), but it was about 3" in diameter with a 54mm MMT and 38mm adaptor to fly the Pro38 motor. Marcus also had an altimeter on board - a Perfectflite I think. The flight was very good - the 3-grain motors make quite a roar - but the rocket ended up stuck in a tree over by the farmhouse. However, the EARS extending pole was put into use, and the rocket recovered safely.

Marcus' rocket on an I205

Having decided that the wind wasn't going to die down, I decided it was time to fly ETV2. Enough people had said that now I'd painted it, it was bound to spack that I felt a bit nervous hooking up the clips to the customary bundle of quickmatch. It was still pretty windy, and the previous G-Wiz graphs show that for most of the boost period (after the 'Estes spike') the rocket only pulls around 3G, so I was concerned that the rocket might end up flying horizontally. However, the previous flights had shown that off the pad the rocket behaves very well, it seems as if it is almost neutrally stable until the D12's drop away.

ETV2 on the pad and business end - click here for a larger image

As before, I powered up the G-Wiz MC - happy bleeps - and set the rocket up on the pad, before taking a few photos and hooking up the igniter clips. I really need to launch this rocket off a pad without a blast deflector - most rockets don't have half a mile of quickmatch and motors hanging off the back though! With a willing button-pusher found, I got ready to photograph the flight as usual. Ignition was rapid, and the rocket left the rail smoothly, and continued upward as if there was no wind at all! The CHAD-staging was perfect too, and the 'duracell bunny' cluster smoked upwards for 5 seconds until burnout. About 6 seconds later, the rocket arced over, trailing a thin line of tracking smoke, and out came the parachute.

ETV2 in flight - click here for a larger image showing all the way to burnout

I now joined the other fliers who had been running after rockets as I made my way to the far side of the trees, to make sure I didn't lose sight of the rocket. I tracked it all the way to the ground, seeing it land a long way away in the field, reasonably close to the unplanted area of grass left by the farmer. I could see the parachute against the crops for most of the walk to the rocket, and when I got closer I could hear the screamer and the quieter beeping of the G-Wiz. The G-Wiz reported an altitude of 1626ft - about 20ft lower than last month's flight - and save a bit of mud on the nosecone the rocket was in perfect condition. The only problem I had was that I couldn't download the G-Wiz data in the field, but I sorted out the (PC software) issue at home and got all the data out. (FWIW, the issue was with which Java VM the G-Wiz software was using - it seems to only like the one it comes with).

ETV2 laid out in the crops, a long way from the pads for a 1600ft flight

Download the GWiz Data file here. You'll need to install the GWiz software from www.gwiz-partners.com

Earlier in the day I also flew my Art Applewhite 'Stealth' (ironic name since its day-glo orange!) on an A8-3 - the up was ok, but the wind really caught it and recovery was a real tumble. After a brief search I found it - more power on a better day next time.

Chris Eilbeck had spent most of the day prepping rockets and drilling out a plastic nosecone, and clearly felt the need to fly something. In classic style, something heinous was lashed up at short notice - an Estes Snitch (they just beg for abuse - people have flown them on K motors before!) with 6 E9-P's around the outside. It was originally to be three, but shortly after buying the first lot Chris was back in Malcolm's tent doubling the total impulse to a small 'H' - about 180Ns.

The 'Super Snitch' was sent off to a pad a long way from the RSO tent, with a wobbly Estes-size rod for guidance. At ignition, it rose gracefully into the sky on a thick trail of smoke, climbing for about 3 seconds before turning over and returning to the ground pretty quickly. All in all a very nice flight - makes me really want to do a bigger cluster (7+) of D's or E's, the smoke is really impressive. I'm thinking of a 7 motor cluster as the first stage of a 2-stage entry for the recently proposed 'Powder Keg Trophy'.

Chris' Super Snitch - click here for a larger image - more photos in the gallery

Cath Bashford flew what I think is the first rocket I've actually seen her fly - a PML Bull Puppy on an Aerotech (yes, AT) F52T. Cath and Marcus have a big box of shiny AT hardware (oh how nice it all looks - Gary Sinclair's is the same) but with the current situation it mainly sits around looking pretty. The F52 is a Blue Thunder load for the 29/40-120 'consumer' casing - its one where there's a spacer above the small fuel grain. Having been through a bit of last minute simming (including an episode of Mr Parkin demonstrating very poor measuring skills!) and a rail guide falling off, Cath's rocket was ready to fly. Being a small-ish, but interesting motor, I wanted to get closer to get better photos. However, the first countdown was very quick, and I don't think I would have got the liftoff if the motor had lit. As it was, the dipped igniter fired with a very loud 'pop' but the motor refused to light.

Final preparation, a cheery pose, AT business end

The rocket was taken down, the rear closure removed from the motor, and a new igniter found. The dipped igniter had left a clear outline of the motor's C-slot on the convergent face of the nozzle, but perhaps because of its ferocity it had failed to ignite the motor. The new igniter - an AeroTech motor igniter from a larger motor - only just fit in the slot, and looked very chunky.

Motor opened, rocket being loaded on the rail

It certainly did the job - ignition was instant and the small rocket shot off the pad on the small (but full F) Blue Thunder motor, leaving a thin smoke trail. Arcing over at apogee, the parachute deployed, and the rocket floated gently down into the field somewhere near the farmhouse. However, a thorough search of a wide area failed to find the rocket, despite two attempts. A shame, since the rocket flew very nicely, and losing a rocket is always bad - there's a lot of time lost, as well as the valuable rocket, casing, motor retainer etc. Hopefully the rocket will turn up - it is made of quantum tubing and plastic so should survive OK.

Flight of the Bull Puppy

The last flight of the day was made by Sal 'Muppet' Davies, and was a little 'unusual'. From what I gather the motor was an old Rocket Services motor - a G30 'Comet'. The 'airframe' was a Barbie paper cup, epoxied around the motor. Ignition was via a length of PIC slowburn, started with an Estes igniter. 'Barbie-Q' sat on the pad as the PIC burned closer, and was then off with a huge 'whoosh', spiralling upwards for several seconds until the very short/non-existent delay put out the parachute. The rocket was actually found, and was later used to test some 'already gone' quickmatch - but that's another story ;)

Barbie-Q - click here for a larger image - more photos in the gallery

After this it was time to pack everything up, and then people had another look for Cath's lost Bull Puppy. The crops are just at the height where finding things gets hard - its a good idea to put a bleeper or tracker, as well as your name and address on your rockets, especially if they're going a long way. After that curry was had at the Papworth Hotel, and then it was off home to download all my photos and get the data out of the G-Wiz. No rushing back to Bristol this time thankfully!

So, in summary - there were: flown, but that's only based on what I remember, its probably a bit more. I'm fairly sure that's all of the HPR stuff though. If I've forgotten anything, let me know! No hybrids this month, I'm still waiting for my 'H' motor so I can start 'passing gas'. One day soon (I hope) I'll have the hardware and 4 reloads...

My personal totals for the day were:

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

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