Well believe it or not, I would call the launch this weekend a partial success. I had three main goals for attending the three day launch. One was to launch my Talon 4 and earn my level two certification; the other was to have fun socializing with my rocket buddies, drinking a few beers and relaxing. Also I really wanted help launch uprOar on Sunday. My cousin Jim came all the way up from
California to attend the launch last weekend. I certainly hope he had a good time, the weather did not cooperate and the launch was called off on Saturday, but I had a great time visiting with Jim.
Friday’s launch was much better than I expected. The clouds were high and actually had some holes with a little blue poking through. The winds were relatively calm and I had lots of rocket fuel to burn. First up was my Level Two shot, I bet I put together the rocket three times before I felt comfortable launching the thing.
The launch went perfect (the easy part) but at apogee the rocket turned over and dove right for the prairie. I was expecting a nice deployment of a small parachute. My heart sank as I watched the rocket plummet to the earth, at 1100’ above the ground the main chute deployed. The forces of deploying a large parachute while falling at about 300 miles per hour was just too much for the rocket, it pulled the eye bold out of the booster section. So the section with the fins and motor thwacked into the prairie, while the main parachute carried the e-bay several yards down wind from the wreckage. It was a disappointing flight but not a total loss, the electronics, motor, and recovery system is undamaged and I can use the fins to make another rocket. The next rocket will be named ‘Thwackmaster’ just to tweak the rocket gods. I will place a note in the prep checklist “Keep the cartridge grade BP away from the FFFFG BP so you don’t get them confused.” I won’t get into details but all Black Powder is not created equal.
Next was Upsqueak.
The launch was perfect but again recovery was an issue. The charge went off and the nose cone came off, but the parachute didn’t come out. So Thwack into the ground it goes.
The good news is that I planed on launching it on some serious firepower, so it was built tough. All I had to do was pull a plug of prairie out of the end of the tube. Not a scratch.
Then the last rocket of the day, ‘Thing one / Thing two’.
This is a rocket that Patty and I built together with a theme. It started with finding T-shirts on sale while we were at a gift shop in Orlando, Florida. So I got a ‘Thing Two’ T-shirt and Patty got a ‘Thing One’. No I don’t remember why it was that order, Patty says it’s because she thought of it. Then we thought it would be fun to build a two stage rocket, name it the same, and launch it on our 22nd anniversary. Due to the weather we had to launch it a day early but it was a perfect flight. It did go a bit higher than I thought it would. A bit of a walk is an understatement; however there is no one I would rather walk a few miles with across the prairie than my lovely wife Patty.
That evening the weather turned uglier so we went home to sit around the fire pit and discuss what went wrong with my L2 shot. I invited John and Evonna over for a few beers, so it was a nice little party. After way too many beers I went to bed with dreams of nice weather. No such luck. The decision was made around noon to close down launch operations and tow the trailer away for the weekend. I had to go back and get my HPM out of the mud and take her home. Luckily my cousin Jim rented a Hummer 2, so we had no trouble getting across the mud and clay to the launch site. The HPM is remarkably agile in the mud, good ground clearance and low gearing helped get her to the highway.
Needless to say the EX launch for Sunday was canceled as well, something about horizontal hail, lightning, and wall clouds make people nervous about coming out to the prairie. On Sunday we woke up and found a beautiful sunny day, puffy clouds, and a slight breeze out of the south. At first there was much griping about how nice the weather looked. One look up north and all doubts were removed. Dark clouds wrapping around the northern part of the state. We spent the day shopping. No Uproar launch this weekend. Bummer, I was really looking forward to sending the rocket up with Jim there to push the button.
All in all the weekend wasn’t a total loss. I had a great time with Jim, drank Budweiser, had some nice conversations, and did some serious relaxing. Patty was a joy to be around, her attitude was contagious and she kept me out of a funk I was developing.
Now the conversation is going around about launching uprOar near the end of May. Maybe the 20th, of May. That would be great, it’s near my birthday and the weather may cooperate. It’s just sad that Jim won’t be here to watch her go up.
P.S. Thanks Jim for being a great house guest, thank you Patty for the great photographs, and thank you Elvis for walking miles to find a pile of fiberglass that was my rocket.