July 2nd, 2001 Launch Report
Members of SEARS #572 conducted a demonstration launch on
July 2, 2001 for the Summer Reading Program at Troy State
University at Dothan, AL.
Members attending: Jack Kale, Sherry Stein and John Stein.
The launch was less than two miles from the Dothan Municipal airport,
and a first for FAA Air Traffic control at the local tower. They
were courteous, professional and supportive. A few phone calls placed
before the NOTAM were a big help. Jack Kale did his usual excellent
job of arranging the NOTAM and communicating with the FAA.
The sky started to look threatening, but the rain held off till the
launch was completed. The heat, humidity and almost calm winds were
ideal for rockets and gnats. Gatorade and bottled water company stock
Students from the first through the sixth grade, as well as parents and
teachers were there to enjoy the first demonstration we put on for Troy
State University at Dothan. Also in attendance were the local press.
WDHN Television carried some of the video on their 5:00 PM and 10:00 PM
news, and the Dothan Eagle newspaper had a nice write up on the first
page of the Local and State section with a few pictures. Also present
was one truck and crew from the Dothan Fire Department. Since this was
the first launch for Troy State, they were not sure what to expect and
requested that the fire truck be present and on standby. The truck and
crew are from the fire station that serves Jack's residential area and
it gave them a chance to put a face with the name of that rocketeer in
the Enhanced 911 Database they had heard about.
Jack started off with his educational talk using his "ugly yellow hat"
with the apple taped to the top...a great way to get the kids involved.
He asks "Does anyone notice anything different about me?" After
someone mentions the apple he asks "What do you think the apple is
there for?" He always gets someone...usually a boy...to say that we
are going to shoot the apple off his head with a rocket. This is a
great opening to talk about the NAR Safety Code, and then start the
"lesson" about Sir Isaac Newton, gravity, and the laws of motion.
The racks were already loaded and rockets were ready to fly.
First off the pads was Jack's Centrix on an Apogee 1/2A2-4...almost out
of sight. Streamer out at apogee and no damage.
Next was John's Estes Space Shuttle on a C5-3. The Shuttle does glide,
but not for long. Still a good flight with no damage.
Jack's Fat Boy on a C6-3...wobbled just a little as it left the rod,
but straightened out for a nice flight with no damage.
Next was John's Glider Thang on a D12-3. This is the first time I had
a new Estes D12 with a weak ejection charge. There was enough charge
to eject the booster parachute, but not enough to kick the gliders
away. It all came down together with no damage.
Next was Jack's two-stage Buford, a BT-60 based rocket using a
C6-0/B6-6 combination. Perfect flight with no damage. Lots of "ooh's
and aah's" for this one.
Next up was John's Estes Skywinder on a C6-3. The kids really had fun
with this one.
Then came the first "F" flight...John's Estes Pro Patriot on four
D12-7's. All motors ignited for a "WOW" flight. Nice picture in the
newspaper with plenty of smoke as the Patriot leaves the launch rod.
John's Big Daddy was next on an AeroTech F24-4. A great demonstration
rocket/motor combination because it's very fast, not too high and
everyone can follow the flight. A little bonus delay, maybe six
seconds instead of four, but a good flight with no damage
Jack's Egglofter was next on the rack, but the D12-3 motor refused to
ignite. We recycled the launch system and tried again. Nothing.
We were asked by Patricia Fritchie, the teacher who coordinated the
launch with Jack, to hold the launch so the TV crew could set up their
camera. Jack answered questions from the crowd and talked more about
how safe model rocketry is when you follow the safety code. He
stressed the importance of using manufactured and certified motors. We
also used this time to reload the racks.
A few sprinkles of rain and some darker clouds gave us a little warning
of what was to come.
The launch resumed with Jack's Skywinder on a C6-3 for another great
flight. Nice footage on television of the rocket leaving the rod and
the smoke trail.
John tried his Glider Thang again on a D12-3... nice boost, one glider
separates at burnout and glides quite nicely, the other waits for the
ejection charge to...well, it is supposed to come off. Well, at least
the parachute is out and...uh, just because it's out does not mean it
will open. The booster with one glider attached and tailed by a
parachute that won't open hits the ground with authority. One broken
wing on the glider and a crumpled body tube gives Jack the chance to
explain why we have the safe distance area just in case of failures...
like this one. The TV camera catches this one leaving the rod and
luckily NOT the crash...or if they did it was not aired.
With a new igniter installed in Jacks Egglofter we tried again for
successful ignition...no joy. Must have a little clay in the nozzle.
A few more sprinkles and we pick up the tempo.
Now for the larger rockets. John's Estes Honest John on an Aerotech
E18-4 for a nice loud flight. Great combination.
Jack's Estes Shadow was next on an F24-4 for another perfect flight
with the parachute out at apogee and no damage.
John's HV ARCAS flying with an AeroTech F52-5, arrow straight boost and
ejection a little before apogee, but still a great flight with no
damage, just a few grass stains.
And Jack capped off the day with his LOC Forte on a AeroTech F40-4 for
a great boost, ejection just past apogee and a perfect landing right at
the pads...almost capturing the launch rod! This is an excellent
rocket and motor combination for school demonstrations...lots of
"Cools!" heard for this flight.
A total of fourteen flights with only one being damaged. All of the
AeroTech Motors used Copperhead igniters with a 100 percent success
rate. The only motor that did not ignite was the Estes D12 that
may have clay in the nozzle.
What a day. We were able to skip a few hours of work, give the kids a
little knowledge and launch some rockets, too.