On Saturday, September 30th, MASA held its tenth launch of the
year. The launch was held
at the sod farm near Nowthen. This was a rescheduled launch
due to rain and poor weather on the 23rd.
The weather was bright and sunny with temperatures at least in
the mid to upper 60's. There was no breeze at all for most of
the morning, but afternoon it became fairly stiff out of the NW.
Thanks to everyone who served helped out!. Thanks to
everyone who helped set up the range and stayed to help pack it away
at the end of the day. A HUGE thanks to Mike Erpelding for
bringing out the launch equipment!
Caleb Boe successfully earned his Junior Level 1 High Power
Certification when he flew his PML Tethys on an H180 motor.
Congratulations! Caleb's flight was "supervised" by Alan
Estenson and witnessed by Mike Erpelding.
"Clusters" was the theme for the day, and at least 14
cluster-motor flights took to the skies.
There were also a number of high-power flights with 7 H's, 2 I's
and 1 J motor used.
Alan Estenson writes:
I had planned 3 or 4 flights today, but in the end
stopped after 2. First up was my LOC Cyclotron on an
I161-M. It was a very pretty flight, and the cornfield
paranoia device proved unnecessary as it landed out on the
The second flight was a milestone of sorts. I
happen to have had the first-ever "H" powered flight at a MASA
launch and the first-ever "I" powered flight at a MASA launch.
To keep the tradition going, I decided to fly my LOC I-roc on a
J350 for the first-ever "J" powered flight at a MASA launch.
It was a gorgeous liftoff and flight. It landed (buzzer
screaming) in plain sight just on the edge of a cornfield - just
on the OTHER side of a drainage ditch. Thanks to Carol &
Ben for walking all the way out there and keeping me company.
Only after we walked all the way out there did I realize that
I'd have to go back around and walk all the way through the
cornfield from the north side to get to the rocket.
I hate corn.
After a long trek through the corn, I got to the rocket.
Fortunately, Ted had driven out to check up on me, so I was able
to toss the rocket to him across the ditch. Deciding not
to take Ted's suggestion to jump back across the ditch (Nope!)
I walked all the way back through the cornfield again.
Did I mention that I hate corn? I grew up on a
farm, but I hadn't spent this much time in a cornfield since I
was a teenager.
After that, the breeze had come up, and I didn't have
the energy to fly anything else.
My other highlight of the day was assisting Caleb with
his Junior L1 cert flight! Congratulations!
Rick Vatsaas writes:
It's been a while since I could make a launch.
I only came out with two rockets. My 50's Sci Fi Styled
Scorpion, and the 4" Space Ship One. I hoped that someone would
have a black sky rail and a reload for me to launch the SS1.
I flew the Scorpion first on a F21-6. It had a curious
corkscrew flight but nonetheless recovered intact.
After that, Mike Erpelding sold me an H180W. So Glen
Overby and I loaded it in the SS1. I put it out on the pad and
waited for Mark Thell to show up (I promised). The flight was
fabulous and went much higher than on an H128W. Deployment was
also flawless. Unfortunately, it hit hard, and both booms were
broken. It will fly again, after I add some of the missing scale
For a final flight, I put up the "Squirellorpion" , I
shouldn't have, as it arced into the wind and recovered over the
cornfield. Despite my lengthy search and a swim in the
irrigation canals, the rocket stayed in the clutches of the
Lusty Corn Maidens.
That's my story, and I am sticking to it.
Ken Jarosch writes:
I only got in 3 flights this launch. The first was a QCR
swingwing that I have been trying to get to open on 3 attempts.
All requiring major repair. Today with extra rubber bands it did
open nicely. It started into a nice glide but started a spiral
that deepen and crashed into the ground breaking a wing. All
those repairs have unbalanced something.
I only brought 2 of my clusters today and both were part
of the Estes Pro Series. The first to fly was the Impulse with
2x D12-5's for a nice flight due to a 6' steel rod in the Mantis
pad. The second rocket was
the Patriot with 4x D12-5's. This weighed 28 oz. loaded so the 4
D's did not give it the fast lift off I expected but still a
nice overall flight. Maybe a couple of 24 mm reloads 4x D15's,
E28's or F39's ?
The Patriot was partially built in the mid 90's,
finished, primed and painted over the last 4 years. It finally
flew on Saturday.
I have a Mirage that has been built for several years. I
prepped it around 1:00 with a G35 that I wanted to use up. We
had trouble with coupler tube grabbing and could not free it up.
By then the winds picked
up and I decided against the flight.
Glen Overby writes:
Today, I was an Altitude Junkie. I arrived with three
rockets ready to punch holes in the sky:
"Poof!" a BT-20 minimum diameter rocket with a D21-7. I
flew and recovered this rocket earlier this year, so of course I
wanted to try again. I didn't get binoculars on it at ejection
but later I think I had something that was the color of it's
streamers... that wasn't descending.
"Poof! 24" a BT-50 minimum diameter rocket with an
F21-7. Rocksim predicted 4300' but it's always a bit
over-optimistic. This rocket disappeared from the pad and headed
a bit north-west of the launch site. It completely disappeared,
although I think I heard a "pop" of the ejection. I scanned the
sky with binoculars but never found a trace of it. Darn, I had
an F72 with me for it's second flight.
"Dart 10c" another BT-50 rocket on a D12-0+D12-7. I've flown and
recovered rockets just like this on a single D12-7, and I've
recovered my Comanche-III many times. I was expecting to see
this rocket again, but it disappeared in the sky. Maybe it was
the background of white puffy clouds, but I wasn't able to track
it. I don't think I was going above the clouds, as the lowest
ones looked like jet contrails. I think I really need to have
_someone else_ launch rockets like this for me so I can watch
the whole flight with binoculars.
"Payloader 60" a simple BT-60 rocket with a nice big
payload tube to put electronic gizmos. I flew it twice (D15-4
and D12-3) with my homebrew altimeter (peak altitude recording
only) in it. Both times the altimeter
acted like it hadn't been launched. After the second flight, I
guessed that the battery may have taken a jolt on launch, apogee
and/or landing and reset the gadget. I found credence to that
theory when thumping it on my desk at home and it reset. I'm
working on solutions to that problem which involve electronic
components and adhesives (i.e. electrical tape). I'm persistent,
if nothing else :-)
Buzz McDermott writes:
What a difference one week makes! The weather and field
conditions for the October launch couldn't have been much nicer.
The sky varied from almost clear to partly cloudy, the
temperature was mild and there was little breeze for much of the
day. Apparently the wind was almost calm until around 1 pm. The
field was also in great shape. No standing water or mud. The
grass was firm. The road was dry.
There were some most interesting flights as well for
this launch. I especially liked the Spaceship One on an H (I
think H180), the Tiny Pterodactyl on an H180 (my neck is still
sore from trying to keep up with that liftoff!) and the J350
flight. For something a little different, how about four Big
Bertha's glued together lifting a styrofoam Space Shuttle. I bet
NASA wishes its Space Shuttle would glide so well! After a
really cool liftoff on a 4xB6 cluster the styrofoam glider
proceeded to catch a strong thermal and actually *gain* altitude
after separation. That glider made it all the way to or past the
tree line to the far north of the flying field!
I got in a few smaller flights. First up was a test
flight of my Semroc cc:SpacePlane on a 1/2A6-2. I obviously need
to do a bit for trimming of that model. One quick loop on the
way up and another on the way down. Not the best glider flight
My second flight was an Estes Delta Clipper. This is a
two-stage, near-minimum diameter model Estes produced for a
couple of years when they first introduced their ill-fated E15
motor. I decided not to not 'go for broke'. The model can hold a
D12 booster and E9 sustainer, but I decided to fly it on a C11-0
to D12-5 combination. It still made an incredibly high flight.
The sustainer landed somewhere in the drainage ditch along the
west side of the field. I searched for about 20 minutes and
couldn't find it. I gave up and decided to look again when I
left for the day. As I was packing up to leave another club
member walked up with the sustainer in hand! I had apparently
walked right by it two or three times. I was walking on the
wrong side of the ditch to see it.
Next up was my stretched Estes Fat Boy on an E9-6. It
had a wonderfully straight flight and nice recovery using an old
Centuri parachute. The paint scheme was read, white and blue
(one third of the rocket each color) with a big white star on
each fin. I also named the rocket to match the paint scheme. I
forgot to put my name on the flight card but everyone still
seemed to know whose rocket it was. For some reason, everyone
looked at me when the name was read - "Little Tex". Why did
everyone just assume it was *my* rocket?? :-)
I also flew my Estes CC. Since the last flight of that
rocket resulted in, how should I put it, a "less than optimal"
flight, it was sporting a brand new sustainer section. While I
was loading it on the pad another member (who shall remain
nameless to avoid his embarrassment at being beaten so badly :-)
) was loading an Estes Sidewinder [AMRAAM - ed.] bashed
into a two stage rocket. We decided to drag race. I was flying
on a C11-0 to C11-5 combination and I believe he had a D12-0 to
D12-X upper stage. My CC Express won the 'first off the pad'
part of the race with the C11 burning and igniting the upper
stage as the rocket barely cleared the launch rod. You could
hear the staging barely half a second or so after ignition. Some
thought it was a booster CATO. At any rate the upper stage lit
and made a nice flight, landing in the plowed field on the east
side of the launch area. The Sidewinder made a great flight and
went MUCH higher than my rocket. The Express landed in about
half the time as the Sidewinder.
Finally I prepped and loaded a Rugged Rockets Six Pack
(a minimum diameter, tube finned, phenolic rocket) with a very,
very old Aerotech E15. The igniter fired and was chuffed out the
motor. I took the rocket back to the car to look for a better
igniter. I've never had any luck trying to use a second
Copperhead igniter in an Aerotech motor was a first igniter has
lit and failed to ignite the motor. I look for a better igniter
that would fit the E15 but couldn't. So, that rocket never made
it back to the pad.
At this point it was around 2:30 - 3:00 pm and the
breeze was picking up a little. I decided to watch some of the
other flights and did not prep any more rockets.
I hope we can have another launch next weekend. I'm
ready to do a little high power flyin'!
Ted Cochran writes:
It was a gorgeous day, especially in the morning when
the winds were light.
Due to other commitments, I got there around 11:30. The
wind was light enough for me to try hand tossing my newly
finished SweetV for the first time. It was in pretty good trim,
and after a bunch of tosses to get a feel for the controls (not
much can be done in 100' flights, but at least I figured out the
controls were hooked up properly and that the glider was pretty
responsive) I decided to try to fly it for the first time on a
D11-P. I only have about a half-dozen RC flights under my belt,
all on the single channel Arcie II, so my goal was controlled
flight, and I did OK. I got a circle in, and a safe landing.
I flew three cluster flights: Ted's Testbed went up for
the 22nd time, on 3 D12s. It flew straight as always and landed
about 30' from the pad.
My modified Big Daddy flew on an E9-6 plus four A10s.
All motors lit, although a couple of the A10s were a fraction of
a second behind the others. It also flew straight.
I also flew my reproduction Ranger on 3 B6s, also for a
good flight, despite the chunk missing from one fin from when a
TARC team crashed into the roof at Apple Valley High School a
few years back.
I enjoyed watching the other flights--there were a lot
of them! I had an eye on Glen's minimum diameter flights for
longer than he did, but they were all eventually lost in the
high overcast (and distance). Jeff Taylor had the
nicely-painted fleet highlighted in the Planet article with him.
Carol had her cool-looking Deuce's Wild. David's flights were
Maybe next Spring we should plot out the drainage
ditches--Google's satellite photos aren't good enough to
spot the bridges, and having a map at the site might be really
helpful--right, Rick? :-)
Caleb Boe writes:
I was very excited about this launch as I was planning
to certify Level 1 Jr. High Power with my Tethys.
After setting up my pad and launch controller I began
prepping the rocket with Mr. Erpelding supervising me. Mr.
Estenson assembled the motor for me and was the official "adult
supervisor" of the flight.
I used an H180-M for the flight; the delay was shortened
by two seconds. After three tries the motor finally lit
and the rocket lifted off. The igniter was bad on the first two
tries. Ejection was a bit late, but the flight was still a
After post flight inspection Mr. Erpelding completed my
forms. I was very thankful for a beautiful day for my flight.
Thank you to Mr. Erpelding and to Mr. Estenson for helping me
with my certification flight.
I also flew my Richter Recker on a G64-7 hoping for
success this time. (Last time the upper parachute opened and the
booster core sampled.) Thank you to Mr. Whitaker for
helping me assemble the G64. I placed the upper parachute
below the booster's chute, hoping that it would pull it out. I
had a beeper in both sections in case it landed in the corn.
The liftoff was beautiful but the recovery was really
poor. The parachute's got stuck inside the rocket and never came
out. Both sections came down together and landed in the mud.
This was a good thing as the rocket suffered minimal damage. My
mom and I are planning to make a different parachute design for
the booster. (The one I'm using seems to be too bulky and has a
tight fit in the rocket. Hopefully this will help prevent them
from getting stuck again.
There were many other great flights that day, Especially
Mr. Estenson's J350 and Mr. Vatsaas Space Ship One.
Thanks again to everyone who helped my with my Level 1
John Carlson writes:
Fantastic day to shoot rockets, I'm glad it worked out
that we could use the field. I got to launch nine rockets. One I
was most concerned about was my 28 year old Mega Bertha 2 stage,
it has 2 d12-0's in the
booster staging to a single D12-3, it had one successful flight
and one that wasn't, both of those were 28 years ago, So I was
hoping it would work today, and it did just fine. One thing to
note is the booster is so large that I added a parachute to
lessen that damage in impact.
I also flew a Estes Scud. Star Probe, Tie fighter, all
these were of the 20-25+ year old range. Also flew a sunward
Maverick and Wave Rider and a X-prise vanguard and screaming
eagle. I had one really old rocket I launched it was a Prodyne
Swallow it's about a 40 year old kit, it had a great flight but
the nose cone separated and the body lost a couple of fins when
it hit the ground, nothing that can't be easily fixed. I was
also very lucky to be there as it was our 17th anniversary and
my wife said it was ok to go and have fun.
Jeff Taylor writes:
It was McKenna’s 11th Birthday on Saturday, so we weren’t at
the launch for too long, but I did get in a few flights.
My Big Bertha with fluorescent flames had a decent flight,
landing only maybe 50 yards from the pad. Unfortunately by the
time the range opened to recover it, the wind had dragged it
across the ground another 100 yards and into the weeds bordering
a drainage ditch to the east.
I flew my Northwest Airlines Renegade as a single stage since
I forgot (again) to pick up some C6-0’s.
I also flew my newly completed Porta-Pot Shot porta-potty
rocket. It flew well, but landed in the drainage just west of
the pad. After recovering it from the green muck using Mike’s
Gopher Pole (thanks, Mike), it had that distinct odor that one
would expect from any porta-potty – so I knew it was now
I missed Caleb’s cert flight but congratulations to him for
getting his Level 1 Jr. Certification!
I would also like to congratulate Carol again for her
successful Level 1 Certification flight last month. I had hoped
to see her L1 Black Brant fly again at this launch, but since
the winds were picking up and there seemed to be a lot of corn
retrieval missions, I think she made a good choice to not fly
Alan’s “J” flight was awesome!
Neal Higgins writes:
What a beautiful day to use up all my H motors.
I started the day by flying my ONYX on a G75 for a
perfect flight. Next came three flights of my X-Calibur.
The 1st flight used an H123 and was a beautiful flight except
for the separation of the payload tube from the rest of the
rocket. A few screws and CA and it was ready for its next flight
on an H210R. Another perfect flight. The last flight of X-Calibur
was on an H180. Again another beautiful flight.
I had one last H180 to use up and I decided to put it in
my Tiny Pteradactyl. What a neck snapper. Sorry for the sore
neck Buzz. Thanks Glen for spotting it on its return, I had
almost given up hope of seeing it again.
The last flight of the day was my 2x Centuri Vulcan on
an F50. I used a 9 sec delay but it should have been a 6. The
Vulcan hit hard and will not fly again without major repair or a
Congratulations Caleb for the successful Level 1 flight!
Full launch tally (in Adobe Acrobat PDF form, requires version
or newer of the Acrobat reader)
The totals were: 102 flights, 133 motors. The cumulative
total impulse was 4798 Ns with an average total impulse of 36.1 Ns.
The motor breakdown follows: