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DART Club Launch, 1/12/2003, Fiesta Island


The Fleet

Launch Log



What a beautiful day. There was no wind at all, and the low cloud layer kept the hot January sun off us poor San Diego rocketeers. This was our first experience flying with the DART club, and we had a great time. Andy Woerner made us feel very much at home. The local city regulations prohibit the use of standard wadding (it doesn't degrade quickly enough). I didn't know about this, so Andy generously donated a bag of cellulose wadding and off we went.

Our flights

We brought only two models to the club launch, and only got to fly one of them, but we had a terrific time. My daughter spent the first half of the morning watching launches from inside my trunk (where I had set up shop), but eventually got over her fear and came out to the launch controller with me. By the end of the morning she was playing happily in the sand, only covering her ears when an E or F motor went skyward. She had a lot of fun, and made me stay later than I'd planned just to watch the rockets fly.

Estes X-Ray, flight one
My first flight in 25 years was my Estes X-Ray "payloader" on a 1/2A3-4T. This was a nice straight boost with good deployment of the streamer just after apogee. The only negative for this flight was that it nearly smacked into a small child who didn't know what "head's up" meant yet. Thankfully it missed him. It's a very small rocket, but it doesn't take much to upset a toddler and ruin his day.

Estes X-Ray, flight two
Another very nice flight on the same motor. Next time I'll try out the A10-3T Andy gave me and see how high this little rocket can really go. After two flights there was definitely some powder residue accumulating on the shock cord. I suspect I was skimping on the cellulose wadding. Andy recommended 1.5 calibers of depth, and I think I was underestimating.

Speaking of estimating, I have no practice at estimating altitudes yet, so I'll leave that kind of data out for now. I can say that the X-Ray got good and small on that little 1/2A engine. That's good enough for me for now.

Astron Invader toss test
I brought my "Flying Pie Plate" (Astron Invader) boost glider out for the launch, but decided to give it one more test toss before putting it on the rail. I'm very glad I did. The nose dive was strong enough to scuff the paint on the nose and break a very small piece out of the wing. A second toss fared no better. With no tool long enough to take some of the clay out of the nose cone, I decided to play it safe and take it home for more trimming.

Other flights

There were a lot of terrific flights today because of the calm skies. Most rockets came down only a short stroll from the launch pad. There were a couple of exceptions, however. One cluster rocket failed to fire all of its engines, sending it in a very wide ballistic arc out toward the bay. A two-stager suffered a short pause between the booster burnout and the secondary's firing...just long enough for the rocket to point out on a path almost identical to the cluster rocket's. Good thing both ejected their parachutes soon enough to avoid a dip in the salt water.

Thankfully, I only saw one crash today. A scale Sprint ABM model flew a perfect circular arc away from the flight line and directly into the ground. The model spiked in like an arrow, the motor still burning happily away. I didn't get a chance to talk to the owner after the crash, but from the looks of the exterior the model suffered only some paint loss on the nose cone.

The most memorable launches of the day were a pair of perfect flights for a scale Saturn V. The exterior detail work was very, very nice, and I remember keeping my fingers tightly crossed each time it reached apogee. The sight of the three big red parachutes was very welcome.

Thanks to the DART folks for making us feel welcome. See you next month.

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Page last updated: September 4, 2003
Copyright ©2003, William Scarvie

Any advertisements below are placed there by Angelfire, not by me. Companies or links advertised below do not imply my endorsement of these places. For the places I like to visit, please see my Links or Rocketry Links pages.