Flight Log - LDRS XX - Lucerne Dry Lake, CA

I had the opportunity to attend this year's LDRS XX (Large Dangerous Rocket Ships) launch hosted by two of the Southern California Tripoli prefects, LTR (Lucerne Test Range) and ROC (Rocketry Organization of California). I'd like to start off by thanking these two prefects, their members, Tripoli, the management, and the vendors, particularly Steve and Neil from Rocket Silo and the representatives from Aerotech. They did a great job of putting on what is the largest launch I've ever been to, hosting over 2500 visitors, 1000 rocketeers, and what seemed like a thousand rocket launches a day for the four day event. Thanks Guys!

Arrived at the range about 4:30 on Friday afternoon. Operations had already shut down due to the vicious winds. I heard tell of nice rocket launches and walked the flight line looking at folk's stuff. I was hoping to buy some motors and casings, but all of the vendors had already closed up shop. I was kind of tired from the drive, so decided to go back to the hotel (stayed at the GreenTree Inn in Victorville), have a nice dinner and a relaxing evening in. Here's a few pictures taken while walking the flight line:

Got to the range Saturday morning at about 6:00 a.m. and grabbed a spot on the flight line with some of the other DART folks. Our club was well represented, Andy and Joanne, Ray, Val, John, and a number of other members flew rockets at the event.

One of, if not the most spectacular event of the weekend was Andy and Joanne's 1/3 scale V2 flying on an "M" and a bunch of K's. The 239 pound 15 foot tall rocket grabbed the launch rod when it took off at about a 45' angle, arcing back over the crowd to crash behind the flight line. It was very low (300 ft?) when it passed over our heads. It popped and stripped the parachute like it wasn't even there as it was probably going over 300 mph when it crashed in the parking lot a couple hundred feet away from where I was standing. I remember saying to myself "it's not supposed to be getting bigger!" as you could clearly see the paint job on the rocket as it flew overhead. When it hit the ground (thank god it didn't hit a RV ... it would have totalled it), it left an 8 inch hole about 3 feet around in the hard desert floor. I know Andy and Joanne and everyone present were both saddened by the crash, yet relieved that no one was hurt and there was no property damage. One thing I found funny was that immediately after the crash, everybody I saw was smiling, and dozens of people were running to see the crash site. A quote I heard on the net about sums it up. "I like Warren, but I love good carnage!" ...

In the first picture, the V2 is arcing back over the flight line. You can see the hole in the ground in the second picture, and in the third folks are loading the remnants (mostly the booster) into a truck.

One of the most successful and beautiful flights of the weekend was the AeroPac Russian N1 project. You can click here to see a 3M MPEG movie of the flight.

Here's a few more images from the weekend ...

Flight #1 - DoubleTrouble #1 (I211-M)
Saturday - Double Trouble's first flight.

For the first flight of the weekend, I chose to fly Double Trouble on an I211 medium. The flight was perfect. The rocket climbed to about 2500 ft, opened up at apogee and came down under drogue. It opened up at about 700 ft to deploy the main chute and gently touched down. When I took the rocket apart, I found that the apogee charge had not gone off, but that the motor had separated the rocket. After much thinking I determined that this was o.k. because I had simulated that the rocket would open very close to apogee with the I211-M. When the rocket opens due to the motor, the electronics module is separated from the body and doesn't fire the charge. It's kind of cool if you think about it. But over the weekend, as it turned out, I never really used altimeter based apogee ejection. I'll have to try longer delays at Ocotillo to prove to myself that it's workin'.

Flight #2 - DoubleTrouble #2 (J90-L shaved)
Saturday - Double Trouble's second flight.

I shaved 1/8" from the J90 delay so once again the motor ejection did the trick. The rocket flew real nice. The altimeter beeped out 2948ft, which was substantially higher than my simulation of 2578ft, thus substantiating the theory that motor ejection was a-ok. However, when the rocket got down I found that the main charge had forced the screws connecting the forward body tube to the electronics module (the screws were just tiny wood screws right into the rocket body). I replaced them with epoxied-nuts and machine screws that night in the hotel room :-)

Otherwise the flight counted as a complete success.

Flight #3 - GPARS #1 (I211-M)
Saturday - GPARS first flight

For the third flight on Saturday, I decided to send GPARS up on an I211. Once again, the boost was perfect and motor ejection separated the rocket at apogee. It took a little while for the body-chute to open up, but the parafoil opened very near apogee. The parafoil flew back over the flight lin from east to west and landed about 200 yards away from the pads on the western side. When I got to the rocket, it beeped out an actual altitude of 3040 ft ... way higher than the 1958 I had simulated.

During flight, I diddled with the R/C controls, and at points seemed to almost have it, but in the end I couldn't honestly say I was controlling the thing. At that point I was using baling wire as the control extensions and I think they were getting bent during boost and ejection.

Flight #4 - SPRS #12 (G38-7FJ)
Saturday - SPRS Demo attempt

For fun we decided to fly SPRS. It went up and opened ok. I had reworked the nosecone adding a rechargeable battery and switch. The changes might have affected something cuz I couldn't seem to get it trimmed for flight. It landed ignomiously 300 yards out on the eastern side of the range.

Flight #5 - SkyDream #7 (J135-L shaved)

On Sunday my agenda called for "pushing the envelope". I wanted to fly some rockets high and fast. In the end, I decided that SkyDream was the most expendable, so I loaded it up with the biggest motor it had ever seen to date (the J135), shaved about 3/16's off the delay and launched it first thing Sunday morning.

She flew nice and straight, opened right on cue, and landed without any damage. The altimeter beeped out 5385 ft, which was my first flight over a mile, and a little higher than the 5120 ft I had simulated or the 5265 ft acheived at Ocotillo on the same motor. A very nice flight indeed.

Flight #6 - GPARS #2 (I211-M)
Sunday - GPARS second flight

I wanted to try GPARS again to see if I could work the kinks out. In the hotel room the night before I had re-rigged the parafoil, eliminating the baling wire and using 90lb test line to bring the shroud lines out of the electronics module. I also had to make a new shock cord as the previous flight had burned the original one. I also decided to fly it without the GPS unit and servo controller ... as it is not worth the risk that I might crunch them until I get the R/C flight thing working correctly.

GPARS flew to 2520 ft (according to the altimeter) and opened up just fine. Once again, I nearly had control of the R/C parafoil, but never seemed to quite get it. The module landed about 300 yards out on the eastern part of the range, the body landing a hundred or so feet away from the module.

Flight #7 - SkyDream #8 (K185-L shaved)
Sunday - new personal high-water mark for altitude and motor size!

For the last flight of the weekend I decided to fly SkyDream on a K185. I didn't quite want to go supersonic yet, and sims showed her reaching over 8000 ft and approximately 654 mph on this motor.

It's a shame I don't have footage of this flight as it was probably the prettiest one I've done so far. The rocket streaked straight up with a slight roar, on the 7.5 second long-burn K185. Well out of sight by the time the motor burned out, it coasted another 12 or so seconds and you could just barely make out the puff of smoke when it opened. The RSO even said it looked cool over the P.A. When the rocket came down (about 3/4 mile out on the eastern side), there was no damage and the altimeter beeped out 9270 ft!!! Wow oh Wow. Nearly ten thousand feet in the air. Two miles straight up. Makes me think of 15000 ft (the "Goddard Line"), supersonic rockets, and potentially a level III project :-)

Summary of LDRS XX

LDRS XX was a great time. I can't wait to fly SkyDream again on a K motor. I'm thinking another K185 to film it, then try a K550 for supersonic or shred! Boy-oh-boy did we ever have fun and see a lot of truly "Large Dangerous Rockets". Once again, huge kudos and thanks to all of the people who organized the event.

Pat Horton