Every once in a while it happens. Almost every weekend I find myself sitting in my leather recliner watching late night TV with an ominous feeling of disappointment. I didn’t use my time wisely, I pissed away my precious hours off of work, I could have done more. Not last weekend.
The only way I could have done more is if I didn’t sleep.
I took Friday off from work as a vacation day. The winds were fierce, 40mph with 70mph gusts, so Mile High Mayhem had to be delayed. I started out the day with a wonderful breakfast with my lovely wife at Mimi’s Cafe. I highly recommend the Chipotle Breakfast Burrito. Then we spend the day preparing for the launch, loading motors, checking wiring, agonizing over little details, you know the normal stuff you do before a big event.
The next morning we left for the launch site early. My goal was to get out there by the time the FAA waver opens around 8am. We brought a big box of Starbucks coffee for the brave soles that chose to camp out Friday night. Besides the blustery winds, Friday night experienced a hard freeze; the prairie can be unforgiving at times.
Due to the fact that Mile High Mayhem falls on the same weekend as our wedding anniversary we decided a while back to build some anniversary related rocketry project. On year we built a rocket with two motors called “Double Trouble”. Another year we built a two stage rocket called Thing one and Thing two. This year we both built identical kits and painted them with a black and white theme mirroring each other. My cousin Jim designed a wonderful decal for these rockets (Photos to come). We even went to the effort of launching them on rocket motors that had opposite smoke effects, one with black smoke and one with White smoke. (I-195J and I-284W for you rocket geeks) We launched them at the same time (Drag race style), my rocket left the pad faster and probably went higher but hers came back to earth later, enjoying more air time. She also had the dubious honor of being the first rocket I have ever seen to land in the windmill stock tank. She was lucky, not only was the tank nearly empty, but what ever fluid was inside was frozen. Mostly cow spit I suspect.
Patty and I had lunch on the prairie and watched others fly. Then after cleaning our motor cases and chatting people on the flight line I drove Patty home. I took the opportunity to get cleaned up and load the HPM for camping out on the prairie. Recently the speedometer stopped working on my HPM so put my Garmin GPS above the steering wheel, it gives me a good indicator of not only speed, but direction, and arrival time. Every vintage VW should have a GPS to help even out the technology. I can officially say that I averaged 50mph over the 43 miles to the north site. Slow and steady wins the race.
I arrived just in time for the waver to close. Time for some BBQ, beer, and good company.
Elvis and I have been launching our Dragons Breath propellant for over a year now and it has become quite popular with spectators. Last month we decided that the sparks are being wasted on sunny days, so we decided to down scale the motor a bit. According to the rules it is not allowed to launch high power rockets at night, so we made up some Dragons Breath propellant to be used with rockets capable of flying on a G class motor. Since the motors are so small and cheap, we made about a doze. To imagine what they look like, picture a dozen sparklers and fountains going off upside down and shooting into the sky. This proved to be quite popular. Then we put away our toys and opened a few beers to celebrate. Then a few more… Well you get the picture.
I made a big mistake choosing what to wear that evening.
It seems that the Corduroy shirt that I was wearing has a magical property that I was unaware of. It acts like Velcro to a sleeping bag. This is not immediately obvious to a person who had had enough beer to make his lips numb. I began to suspect there was an issue around 2am when I had to make use of facilities that do not come standard to vintage VW busses. Luckily for me the prairie is not discriminating on this mater, however, I still had to free myself from the sleeping bag. The bag somehow has managed to wrap around me like some kind of Chinese whole body finger puzzle. I didn’t panic; I simply started to work on the problem one step at a time until I was free. From the outside of the bus this probably looked like I was being regurgitated from a sleeping bag shaped monster. After I used the facilities I voluntarily crawled back into the sleeping bag, this time with out the Velcro shirt. Sure it was cold, at first, but I wasn’t interested in being regurgitated from a reluctant sleeping bag again. It was then that I found that the zipper on the sleeping bag was stuck. Not stuck in a good place, but near the bottom of the bag by my feet. Lucky for me I had some foresight and I brought another sleeping bag. I just put one over the other. During the night I went back and forth between being too hot and being too cold. This evened it’s self out right about the same time as the sun came up.
“The sudden and unexpected end of Norbert….”
Or “Captain Danger dodges a bullet”