Asa 4
What a fabulous day for flying rockets! Asa 4 blasted off into Central Texas skies the weekend of March 15th and 16th, 2003. Conditions were excellent; high scattered clouds, winds around 10 mph and temperatures in the mid 70s. Sponsored by the Heart of Texas Rocket Club (HOTROC), the launch was held at their Asa, Texas site which features thousands of acres of flat farmland.
I was only there the first day, Saturday, arriving at the site around 10:30 intending to fly 5 high power rockets. You would think that a normal person could get 5 rockets into the air in 7.5 hours. Well, I couldn't. Between prepping, launching, recovering, taking photos, talking to friends and signing off a new Level 3, I only got 4 rockets up. I usually shot photos only when I was at the range head waiting for my birds to fly, so I missed a lot of flights. My apologies if your flight wasn't included.
Click on the thumbnails for larger photos. There are 4 videos.
The first M flight of the day was Jim Parker (left in photo) out of Austin, Texas. Jim had a 7.5 inch V2 powered by an Aerotech M1419. If you've ever built a V2, you know that stability is a real problem, especially with heavy motors (like an M1419). Jim put a lot of ballast in the nose (the entire black section of the nose) and the rocket was stable and flew great.
A spectacular White Lightning boost. The V2 reached an apogee of 10,050 feet where it deployed a drogue. The main didn't deploy and the rocket landed hard in very soft mud uprange, suffering minor damage.
Hey Sadam, Heads Up! Jim Parker's two stage is the rocket on the right. First stage power was an L1060 and second stage power was a K. Marlin Philyaw's rocket is on the left.
Jim's rocket boosts on a Green Gorilla first stage. Second stage ignition did not occur and the altimeter deployed a drogue at apogee. Recovery problems developed on the way down and the rocket hit hard in the back of Alan Davis' pickup, smashing a fin off a rocket that was innocently minding it's own business, laying in the back of the truck.
Tom Montemayor's first flight was "Three's Company", a 3 inch diameter three stager. First stage was a J275, second stage was an I211 and third stage was an H123. This was flight number 5 for the rocket.
Three's Company lifts off under J275 boost. The first stage separated at burn out and the second stage I211 fired on schedule. At second stage burnout the stage separated but the third stage H123 did not fire. The third stage coasted to apogee and deployed a streamer. At 250 feet the main chute deployed and the rocket landed safely downrange. The second stage was also recovered undamaged. The first stage deployed it's chute early and suffered a broken fin. A great 2 stage flight! Max altitude was 4,185 feet.
Next, Tom brought out his trusty "Unshredable". Scratch built from Dynacom fiberglass, the 5 inch rocket was powered by an Animal L777 White Wolf.
L777 White Wolf boost! That "white wolf" sure looks a lot like Aerotech's "white lightning". The rocket reached a max altitude of 6,278 feet where it deployed a 24 inch drogue. An 8 foot main parachute was deployed at 750 feet and the rocket landed softly and safely about 100 yards from the pads.
Next, Tom brought out his newest rocket, his 7.5 inch all carbon "Nazgul". Powered by an Animal M1850 Green Gorilla, the all up weight of the rocket was almost 40 pounds. This was flight number 2 for "Nazgul" and it's first flight under M power.
Spectacular M1850 boost. The 40 pound weight of the big rocket was no problem for the mighty M. The rocket boosted fast and straight and reached a peak altitude of 6,223 feet. Drogue deployment occurred at apogee and a 10 foot main chute was deployed at 750 feet for another soft, safe landing about 300 yards downrange.
The toughest part of the flight is over and Nazgul descends gently under a 10 foot chute.
Tom's final flight of the day was "Olympic Gold", powered by an Aerotech K458. You don't see this motor very often; it is a 98mm single grain full K. The rocket is 5.5 inches in diameter.
Liftoff! The K458 provides lots of fire and smoke. The rocket came off the rail at a slight angle into the wind and didn't reach it's usual 6,000 foot altitude. Max altitude was 5,226 feet. The rocket descended under a large streamer to 750 feet where main deployment occurred. The rocket landed softly and undamaged about 100 yards uprange in deep mud (yuck!).
Marlin Philyaw also brought out a scratch built 3 stager. First stage power was a K, second stage was a J (I think) and the third stage was powered by a Mighty D.
K power liftoff! A most interesting flight....when the first stage burned out we all saw something fly off the rocket. The stages separated and the second stage fired on schedule. In an unrelated incident, another smoke trail suddenly appeared way over in another part of the sky. We think that the 3rd stage sailed off on it's own after first stage burnout. The second stage was stable without the 3rd stage and fired on schedule, and the third stage got lonely all by itself and decided to fire it's own mighty D. All parts of the rocket were eventually recovered.
A family portrait, Tim Sapp and family with his Level 3 attempt, "One Nation Under God". A beautifully built and finished rocket, it features both 3 inch and 98mm motor mounts and of course, redundant electronic recovery.
One small problem, the arming switches ended up about 12 feet in the air! First, Tim tried a ladder. Not high enough. Then, he tried a ladder in the back of a truck. Still not high enough. Finally, we drafted the tallest person we could find and sent him to the top of the ladder. Success!
M1850 Green Gorilla liftoff! A spectacular boost, fast and straight riding a green fire. Deployment occurred at apogee and 2 beautiful chutes appeared for a successful Level 3. Congratulations Tim!
Mitch Adamson drove up from the Rio Grande valley for his Level 3 attempt, using a scratch built 7.5 inch rocket and a Hypertek M740 motor. The rocket was named "XLor8or" (say the X and L separately and you'll figure it out) and was simmed to reach 6,050 feet. I had the pleasure of being Mitch's certification TAP member.
Liftoff! After a 15 yard penalty for a false start, the rocket was successfully filled with nitrous oxide and launched. The Hypertek "Earthquake" motor buzzed into the air, reaching a peak altitude of 5,854 feet. Main deployment occurred at apogee, as planned, and the rocket landed safely and undamaged close to a mile downrange for a successful Level 3. Congratulations Mitch!
Brian Wheeler from Austin Texas also attempted his Level 3, using a scratch built rocket. The rocket had flown successfully on L power. For his cert flight, Brian chose the Animal M2500 Green Gorilla.
M2500 liftoff! An awesome liftoff and long coast to apogee (9,951 feet), but no deployment event occurred at apogee. The rocket spun down all the way, mostly horizontal, and hit hard downrange.
Mark Simms flew another M1850 in his minimum diameter carbon rocket. Simulations indicated the flight would reach 23,000 feet. It may have, but it did not deploy and came in ballistic and supersonic.
Steve Baughman returned with his scratch built XRV, this time powered by an Aerotech L1120. The flight and recovery were a complete success.