Flight Log - Ocotillo Club Launch

Ocotillo Rocketeers
Sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies

This is a story about a man named Fred,
A computer engineer with something loose up in his head,
Saw some rockets flying one day at Mission Bay,
and said, I'm gonna do that too, in a really big way,

... Gonna build one. Go fast. Reeaaaall High.

Started with a G and he flew it in the air,
It was pretty cool, but the big boys get more air,
so he went back to his basement and built a rocket just for fun,
Headed to El Dorado to fly his level one,

... Certification that is. Restricted Access Motors. Looow Explosives

He flew it on an H, and he flew it on an I,
Got his level one and in the twinkle of an eye,
Said my level two is the one I gotta see,
So he loaded up the Truck and headed out to Ock-o-tee,

... Desert that is. Big Sky. 15000 ft Waiver.

(to be continued!)

Well, I took SkyDream out to Ocotillo this weekend for my level two attempt, which, I'm most happy to say, went well.

Click here to see a 1.9 Mbyte MPG movie of my Level 2 certification flight.

This was the yearly dual-club launch for the Dart and Ocotillo clubs. The main event of the weekend was the Scratch-Build-Egg-Loft contest, which I took part in, and which was lots of fun. There were lots of nice flights, a number of people achieved their level one and two certifications, and although there were a few sad losses, I think everyone pretty much had a good time.

The weather was pretty rough when I arrived on Saturday. I drove through rain to get out there, and it caught up to me during the day/early evening. Saturday saw 60-65' with winds upto 40mph and occasional showers. Sunday was much nicer, in the mid 70's clear and warm for much of theday, tho still breezy with 15-25mph gusts.

The two largest rockets of the weekend (that I saw) were the big yellow one on the left, and Kevin's on the right, below. The big yellow one flew on an M1350 with 4 outboard I motors. It boosted quite nicely, but deployed the parachute early. In fact, it was so early, that the I motors air-started while the rocket was under chute about 2500 feet directly above the flight line. But it turned out to be ok, and the rocket was unharmed and re-usable (as far as I know). You can click on the pictures below to see movies of these flights.

Click on the images above to see movies of these flights

Flight #1 - SkyDream #3 (J135-M)

First thing upon arrival Saturday morning I had Kevin adminster the level 2 written test to me. I missed three (out of 50) questions, and so passed. I then borrowed a 54mm motor casing and closures from Andy, bought a J135-M reload from Rocket Silo and loaded it into the rocket.

My simulation showed an estimated height of 1561m (5120 ft). On the first try the Davies Fire Match went off but failed to light the engine, so I got my first exposure to Thermalight, as we wrapped the ignitor for the second attempt. The rocket took off very quickly and zoomed out of sight on it's 7.5 second burn.

After it was sighted, I set out to find it. I still had not found it 1000 yards down range. I finally ran into a gentleman carrying it back from near the road. It was zippered (again!) from the top of the body tube down to the motor bulkhead. I guess it opened too early or too late, not sure which, cuz the altimiter beaped out 5265 feet (just 15 feet short of a mile!), which wasn't that far from my simulation. I think it must have been due to the weather cocking on such a long flight. The rocket was probably flat on its side, travelling very quickly when it deployed. So I didn't pass on my first try. There are pictures and movies, but they're not really worth seeing :-)

After getting SkyDream back to the launch area, I decided to stay out in the desert and look for Andy's lost V2. After walking about a mile the other side of the road and zig-zagging back, I still hadn't found it after 2 hours. I ran into Andy about 500 yards from the launch area and he gave me a lift the rest of the way in on the ATV. I returned to the launch area and joined into the scratch built Egg-Loft contest. Built the rocket from 3-6 and then headed back to Mira Mesa so that I could rebuild SkyDream.

Flight #2 - EggBeater #1 (H128-M)

I took place in the scratch built contest (click here to see a 1.7 Mbyte MPEG movie of the first contestants' flight, a ground to ground ballistic missle which was pretty typical of the kind of luck that folks had :-).

We were given two mailing tubes, some nylon, string, tape, epoxy, etc, and were allowed three hours to build a rocket to fly on an H128 and safely carry an uncooked egg to the ground. I holed up against the wind in the back of the truck and built the darned thing, just barely getting it done in the allotted time (in the picture below ours is the third rocket from the top). There were quite a few "innovative" designs. My next door neighbor built one using ring-fins. Some were tall and others short like mine. One team used every piece in the kit, including the plastic bag it came in and the empty roll from the masking tape!

In the picture below, you can see me prepping the rocket. I arrived back at the flight line at about 8:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. Andy is loading his rocket as well in this picture. Although Andy (and Rocket Silo) didn't compete, they flew rockets to show us newbies how it's done. RS didn't do too bad (their egg cracked, but did not shatter), but ahem, Andy's rocket didn't fare so well, separating from the parachute and falling ignomiously (is that a word?) to the ground!

The rocket flew great during boost (as shown in the picture, below left) but sufferred at ejection as masking tape proved unworthy to hold the shroud lines to the parachute which separated and floated to the ground about 500 yards downrange, nicely documented with the photo on the right, below.

The results were somewhat unsatisfactory. Below is a picture of the payload after the body and nosecone loop-d-looped their way to crash about 15 feet from the launch pad. Unfortunately, closest to pad is measured by the farthest piece (in my case the parachute). The winner of the contest, and the only one with an unbroken egg, was (insert name here) from the San Diego Dart club. Not only did he win the contest, but he achieved his level one certification at the same time! Whew, talk about exciting.

Flight #3 - SkyDream #4 (J90-L w/delay cut to 6 seconds)
Level 2 Certification!

Click here to see a 1.9MByte movie of my Level 2 Certification Flight!

I stayed up till 4:30 a.m. the night before re-building SkyDream III. When I rebuilt the rocket I made a few modifications, including the aluminum carpet strip re-enforcement around the mouth of the body tube (visible in the photo above) and a 1" nylon strap to bring the connector for the bungee cord out of the body tube. Someone, I think Jim, had suggested that a wide strap would be less likely to zipper the tube than the bungee cord.

After being up late, driving out to Ocotillo by 9:00 a.m. and participating in the Egg-Loft contest on Sunday morning, I was pretty tired and anxious as I prepped SkyDreamIII for flight. There were no more J135's available, so I chose a J90, but there were only long delays available, so Darrel helped me cut the delay down by 8 seconds.

Above, you can see me prepping the rocket for flight on the launch pad. I don't look nervous, do I?

The boost was nice, if not super straight. There was a lot of weather cocking due to the slow flight. My sims showed 3200 feet, but unfortunately the altimeter didn't work correctly. The burn seemed to take forever, and although the ejection seemed a little early, the chute deployed and it landed about 500 yards downrange, with hardly a scratch on it. I brought it back and showed Andy and got Kevin to sign the paper, and voila! I'm a level 2 rocketeer! You can click here or on the picture below to see a 1.9 Mbyte MPG movie of the flight.

After the sucessful flight, I had a celabratory beer and spent the rest of the day cleaning motors and basking in glory!

Look out! Now I can fly J,K, and L motors!