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Sept 12th 2009 Launch Report

SEARS572 held its monthly launch on 9/12/9 at Green’s Sod Farm in Samson AL. The weather was gloomy with 50% rain prediction. This caused most flyers to stay home, but those who showed up had a great time. We had cloudy skies and 10MPH winds from the East. The wind direction was consistent throughout the day, which allowed us to pick a great setup spot. Some rockets drifted quite a bit, but all were recovered on field. Our monthly theme was Sci-Fi and Warp Factor.

We had a late start. Greg’s car suffered a CATO. John Hansel picked up Greg and the launch gear. They arrived at 10:00 and we were set up by 10:15 and launching rockets. That’s right, it only took 15 minutes to set up. SEARS now has a high tech, state of the art, MIL spec wireless launch system. This is a totally awesome, robust, idiot proof system designed and built by John H. John has spent hundreds of hours and over $1000 of his own money to build us this equipment. Setup and tear down is very fast and easy. Its 100% reliable; if your rocket don’t launch, it is definitely an igniter problem, not a controller problem. I even got copperheads to work on it. It is user friendly. You just hook up and press the continuity check button without having to flip any switches. It quits beeping after the launch, so you can hear the roar of burning rocket motors and the symphony of exploding ejection charges.

My Estes Klingon Battle Cruiser was given the honor of 1st launch. This was a great flight, but suffered a separation during deployment. A cloaked Federation Starship severed the shock cord with its laser beam.

SEARS youth flyers continue to advance their skills. Malin Ward busted the cloud barrier with some high altitude flights. His E-powered Blue Ninja sent him off on a long recovery hike. Ben White had a great helicopter flight with a Cosmic Cobra. His Screw Machine was really cool too.

Rick and Joshua Gutknecht flew a Holverson Wicked Winnie and an Estes Mean Machine. Remember to bring your Mean Machines for the December drag race event. If you don’t have one, start building. Rick has mastered the mono-copter. His Applewhite Bumble Bee flew successfully with no decapitations.

Marty and Randy Wiggins were brave enough to fly high power. Mustang GT-40, Mini Magg, and Space Invader provided the loud roar and smoky liftoffs that we normally enjoy at SEARS launches.

Cliff Oliver won the warp factor challenge with his clustered Estes Fatboy. All 7 motors lit, for a warp factor 7 flight.

Dr Roy took the frequent flyer award with 13 of our 39 launches. He made multiple flights with his fleet: Mini Mars Lander, Applewhite Stealth, Centuri X-24 glider and USAF UFO Snitch.

We only had 2 crashes. Randy’s Fat Boy flew great on a D12, but had problems on an E9. It took off, flailed around for about 1s, and then became stable at a low altitude on a horizontal path, resulting in a lawn dart. My clustered, staged Renegade took off with only 2 of 3 motors lit. It staged at a low altitude on a horizontal path, resulting in a lawn dart. These were entertaining flights that some folks might consider failures. However we sometimes learn more crashes than we do from successful flights.

Jack Kale came out to see what we were up to. Jack has recovered from cancer and is looking great. He brought out some vintage, out of production rocket kits. A few lucky flyers picked up some great scale kits at giveaway prices and the money was donated to the club. Jack will be back at future launches to fly with us.

I’ll claim flight of the day with my 3X Estes Orbital Transport. You don’t see many high powered boost gliders, and this one is spectacular. I think John H had some leftover parts from the launch controllers, and installed a voice activated guidance system when I was off recovering other rockets. There was a NASA roll after liftoff. Then after apogee John yelled “Chute” and it came out this time. The glider separated and slowly drifted away as the booster landed safely on the field. “Turn, Turn” the glider turned back into the wind. Airspeed matched wind-speed as it hovered for many seconds but did not stall nor dive. Then it made a few more turns, flew over the swamp and landed on the field. Debbie, Lulu and I drove around and saw the glider near the road. We also saw a big Water Moccasin near some tall grass as we went to pick it up. Remember to be careful during your recovery hikes and try to bring a buddy with you.

We packed up at 1:30 to avoid the rain. See ya next month for Odd-roc event.

Russ Roberts

The launch pictures are here.

Below are the controllers for the new Wireless Launch System. Thanks to John Hansel for designing and building this state of the art the system.  See more pictures in the Gallery

New Wireless Launch System (Thanks John!)

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