May 24 2003 launch report (5/24/2003)
STS-107 Memorial Launch
In honor of Laurel Clark, Mission Specialist (Cmdr., USN).
Wonderful flying weather!
On Saturday May 24, about two dozen MASA members and visitors
gathered at the VFW soccer fields near Elk River. It was darn
near perfect flying weather - partly cloudy skies, warm
temperatures, and only a hint of a breeze out of the south.
Despite the Memorial Day weekend's effect of keeping attendance low,
there were an astonishing 156 flights.
Big thanks and applause to:
- Mike Erpelding - for filling his truck with gear
- LCO / RSO volunteers: Glen Overby, Alan Estenson, Mike
Erpelding, Stuart Lenz, Ellison Lenz
A few of the flights:
MASA members - please send in your thoughts about the
Glen Overby writes:
Today was a great day for flying! I think we flew for 5 1/2
hours. Here's a summary from my spreadsheet of what I flew (not in
D12-3 Five (tube thing) 17.00 1
E9-4 Five (tube thing) 29.50 1 Unstable!
D12-3 Aerobee 300A 17.00 1
E9-8 Altitude Junkie 29.50 1 lost nosecone; streamers were not ejected
B6-4 Too Many Tubes 5.00 1
C6-5 Generic A 9.00 1
E9-6 Generic B 29.50 1
D12-7 Aerobee 300 17.00 1
D12-5 Aerobee 350 17.00 1
Total 170.50N-S 9
My "Altitude Junkie" came off the pad funny and
weathercocked to the north, with a nasty spiral. It didn't deploy
it's streamers, probably due to having the 'chute wadding packed
too tightly. I found it on the field just north of the high berm,
intact except for the nose cone. Apparently the aliens were short
a nosecone, so they borrowed mine.
After the launch, Mike and I measured the field. Is is 1157'
(east/west) by 1250' (north-south) or 33.2 acres.
Stuart Lenz writes:
The morning started hazy, clouds at ~2000 feet, but there was
no wind. Ellison and I arrived about 10 minutes before 900,
Glen has just arrived and Mike E and Alan were at the East end of
the field marking out pad positions. We started by helping drag
out the equipment that Mike had brought and assembling launch
pads. By 930 we moved our rockets out onto the field. Glen took
the first (and second) LCO/RSO shifts, Alan launched the first
(two) rockets and I started with the Estes Space Shuttle (of
doom). Perfect flight straight up, ejected core, which parachuted
down and the shuttle transitioned into a perfect glide. Is that
the way this kit is supposed to work? Never has before.
Additional people were starting to arrive, Ken, Dave, Ted and
Seth. Ellison and I continued to launch rocket as fast as we could
prep and recover them. some old ones, some old ones we had never
launched before and some new ones. Alan continued to launch and
recover them two at a time. Alan and Mike took the 3rd and 4th LCO/RSO
shifts in some order and then relented and let Ellison do the 5th
Everything launched perfectly straight up (still no wind) and
many recovered within 200 feet of the pads. I remember several
ballistic recoveries and some separations, but most of the flight
seemed to work just right. I took the 6th LCO/RSO shift after
flying about 20 rockets. The launch rate continued good with
virtually no waiting for pads and only a few slow periods. At
about 130 I turned the vest over to Glen again and flew a few
additional rockets, with the last being the Stomp Infinity on an
E9-4 which made a perfect landing across the road and according to
Alan only the second rocket to ever do so. We recovered it on the
way home at about 230.
Ellison had the most fun flying the Spool with a total of 4,
minor damage on the last flight when it hit the metal soccer goal
on landing. Together we got 3 flights of the Edmonds CiCi glider
and a total of 38 flights. Live long and prosper.
Mike Erpelding writes:
Saturday was a perfect day for flying rockets. I got there
bright and early at 820 ( used to a longer drive <grin>)and
started to unload my truck. I wasn't sure were to set up the range
because the faint breeze was from the east. I had most of the gear
unloaded when Alan arrived. We decided to make an east/west flight
line so rockets wouldn't be recovering over everyone. I brought
along my new mulitipad launcher that I just finished, the Double
Dozen, for her first taste of BP exhaust. Stuart was kind enough
to set up five of my pads for me. As the day went on, we added
more misfire alley stations as more people showed up. I think we
made it up to pad 11?
Mark Thell had the idea of egg lofting. I had a Scrambler with
so I thought I'd join in too. I borrowed Mark's egg and added 3
more flights to the egg. Ellison borrowed the egg next for its
5thflight. It was a good flight; but broke upon removal from the
"barely big enough" Pratt egg capsule. Some teams had
the same problem at TARC in VA.
I had several flights of the day. My Max Trax functioned
perfectly reading out an altitude of 561 feet. My twin mini motor
cluster rocket, Silver Moon suffered a separation of both the
chute and the nosecone. Post mortem revealed sheared shroud lines
and a failed nose cone loop. Blue Streak's nosecone loop also
I would like to nominate Alan's chad staged Silver Comet for a
Massy award in the "Ouch!" category. The booster motor
separated singeing the boattail; but didn't light the sustainer. I
think everyone said "Ouch!" as it impacted.
After packing up, Glen and I stayed behind and measured the
field. The field is 1157' east/ west and 1250' north/south.
This would make the field meet one G motor minimum sizing of
1000'X 1000'. It's about the size of Apple Valley High School's
field. This field isn't always G recoverable. If the weather was
this calm and the rocket was heavy with a low expected altitude,
it might be possible to maybe do F's.
Alan Estenson writes:
It was a glorious day for flying rockets - warm, just enough
sunshine to be pleasant, and just a hint of a breeze (not enough
to stir the windsock.) Being a holiday weekend, the turnout
was not terribly large, but that let those that did attend really
chalk up the flights.
Ted Cochran finally persuaded his KosRox Mars Lander to land
upright on its legs. Ken Hoyme put up two nice flights of
his 30-year-old Estes SPEV. After some initial igniter
troubles, Ken Jarosch had four nice flights of large Estes rockets
on E and F 24mm reloads.
Jim Myers flew his FlisKits "Deuce's Wild" four times
on clusters of two B or C motors - pretty neat! David
Whitaker performed a couple of his NARTREK Silver flights
successfully. Austin Whitaker flew his Quest Nike Smoke six
Mark Thell had rigged one of his rockets with a pop-off
parasite glider, one of those little inexpensive styrofoam
delta-wing type. It flew amazingly well and had an
Personally, I managed 20 flights during the day. Some of
I flew my "Super Duper Serval" twice, first on a
D12-7 and then on an E9-8, for two nice flights. My Estes
Python flew well on an E9-6 for my only other E motor flight of
the day. For high altitude, I flew "Rings of Fire"
full up, staging D12-0 to D12-5.
Playing with boost gliders, I had three "ok" flights
of my Edmonds CiCi, two "decent" flights of my Edmonds
Ecee, one great flight of my Edmonds Deltie, and one lousy flight
attempt of my Edmonds Tinee. Once again, it broke in half
when the motor ejected.
My modified Holverson Wicked Winnie had a great flight on a
C6-5, so later I CHAD-staged it C11-0 to C6-7 and that was even
better! (I watched it all the way up, all the way back down,
never moved an inch, and it landed three feet away from me.)
That was so much fun, that I decided to CHAD-stage my Estes Silver
Comet, C11-0 to D12-7. Let's just say that the D didn't
light, and my poor Silver Comet will never be the same. My
only other mishap of the day occurred when my Estes Sidewinder
broke its shock cord and took a two inch core sample. No
damage though other than a little nick and some dirt.
Ken Jarosch writes:
Great time. Little wind.
I brought 9 Estes rockets to fly with many modified to use
Aerotech engines. Most are high drag light weight kits. I got to
fly 5 rockets which were tested with various engines.
1) 2nd flight on a modified Big Daddy. E9-4 went unstable at
about 12'. It landed at a flat angle with a paint scrape on
one fin and a minor fracture above the epoxy line.
2) 2nd flight on an old Optima (11 years) with an E18-4w. Two
new copper heads did not ignite the fuel. I finally use a First
Fire and it took off great but went over the top and half way
down. I have been having late delays with this batch of E18's.
3) My 3rd flight, with my modified Executioner using an E28-4t
(2), really took off the pad and delay seemed about right.
Previous flights used a F21-4w and a E9-4.
4) The 2nd reload flight of an old Super Big Bertha (12years)
used a F12-3j (2). After the included copper head again failed to
lite the fuel, I found some old 4" copper heads which are
heavier and have more pyrogen at the heads. The Bertha took off
great with the delay about right.
5) The last flight was my modified Shadow on a F24-4w. This
fight I used the old copper heads for a no trouble launch. This is
the rocket that crashed at Blaine in May 2002 with an E15-4w. This
was 2nd flight with a F24-4w and by far the best.
The trouble that day was with the new copper heads and the
unstable flight of the Big Daddy.
The Big Daddy had been reinforced using Loc centering rings and
motor tubes. I used a screw eye , longer and heavier shock cord
with an Aerotech 22" nylon chute. This rocket had been
modified for use with a F21-4w. It had flown at Blaine in April
with a good fight. The E9 (2oz.) might be a little heavier than a
F21 but not by much. I think the burn rate on the F21 must have
lightened it enough with the higher velocity and the enlarged fins
to remain stable while the E9 thrust curve fell into a unstable
area. Nose weight will be added to balance out a 2.5 oz. motor.
Full launch tally (in
Adobe Acrobat PDF form, requires version 4 or newer of the Acrobat
The totals were: 156 flights, 177 motors. The
cumulative total impulse was 1838 Ns with an average total impulse
of 10.4 Ns. The motor breakdown follows: