Skybusters, NAR #535

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Launch Reports

Launch Report for Roadtrip to Erie, PA (Saturday, 07/24/2004)

Fellow Rocketeers,

My trip out to the Erie Rocket Group's Sugar Grove Launch is now in the books. My good luck for flying rockets on the gosh darn nicest weather days of the entire year is still running strong! You could see for miles on this exceptionally clear day. Along the 180 mile trip, I was just dreaming of what my HyperRatt (red/silver/white rocket) will look like on it's maiden voyage in the PA skies. What happened up on those farm hills is another story...

The VISA version goes like this:

Start of launch time: 10:00 am
My arrival time: 12:15 pm (typical)
Number of Red Apple quicky mart's in the center of town of Sugar Grove where I ran into Dwayne Wilkey who led me out to the field just a few miles to the East (1)
Number of strawberries on the top of my strawberry pie that I ate for lunch that I bought off the Amish on the way (4)
Number of flyers on field when I arrived (1)
Total cars in field (6)
Number of HP flights for the day (10?)
Tanks of Nitrous (2)
Tanks of FILLED Nitrous (1)
Feet of ignition wire (0)
Lost Allen wrenches in X-Rockets Laucher kit (1)
Number of times we had to fix the GSE being as though this was the first real test of the system since the last time when it was hit by lightning causing the valves to "Fire" and melt down the fill stem resulting in no hybrids launched (countless!)

Anyway, we had some fun getting things going, but the real bugger was that those valves were shot, and the only way we filled a flight tank was by first closing the tank handle valve, firing the solenoid valve open while opening the tank handle valve with the fill button pressed! It took some searching for some wire that would actually light a motor!

We launched Rick Olson's Hypertek successfully, but his main chute did not deploy, and his 4" Black Brant hit too hard.

Then when it came time to launch my HyperRatt, the ignition system just barely burned through the tie strap, the rocket launched off with a sputtering thrust to about 80 feet, and crashed flat on the ground. Totally bent, first flight failure. Now I have to repair all tube sections and a fin for next month along with my GemiNOS from LDRS 23! I have a call into Doug Pratt to alert him to these problems. Hopefully they can exchange the valve for one of his BFV's. But what about the ignition problems????

On the bright side, I would recommend flying at this field. It's much more remote than our Amherst site, with a lot of recovery area. Their waiver is 5200' but it looks like you could go 6000' OK. Because the field is in a valley of gently sloping hills, drainage from rain is not a problem. There is a small lake near the site, but not where we were landing rockets. Dwayne told me that the winds we had experienced that day were the strongest you get, at about 7 mph gusts!

The Erie Rocketry Group was very accommodating to me, and we really had a good time talking rocketry. I would keep an eye out for their Summer Picnic Launch coming up soon. An overnight stay to enjoy the food and fireworks sounds like a goodtime for me and other Sky Busters! We are invited!

Martin Dorociak

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