Happy New Year!!!
Skye Dance XLII (42)
December 31st, 2004
Our tenth annual New Year's Eve rocket launch, bonfire and fireworks show blasted into the cloudy Kimbro skies New Year's Eve, 2004. Conditions were okay; skies were overcast at around 4000 feet and the winds were southerly at 10 mph. The good news was the temperature was a balmy 78 degrees. We had 5 fliers, half dozen astronomers from UT astronomy, and assorted guests of Mandot and Becky watching our show.
Mark Carlson had a great day, putting up the first flight of the launch, the most flights and the most thrust. Mark's first flight was with a small rocket, something like an Onyx, boosting on a G64. The boost was fast and straight and we heard it deploy, but the chute did not come out of the airframe and the rocket strained itself through the trees uprange. All 3 fins were stripped off, but the airframe and nose escaped damage. For his second flight, Mark showed off his EX skills by flying his quarter scale Patriot using his homemade I motor for power. The motor simmed out to about an I220 and it performed perfectly, boosting the Patriot to around 1800 feet where it deployed it's main chute and landed safely.
Mark next brought out his scratch built "Turn Two", powered by a long burn Aerotech J135. Dual deployment was supposed to be provided by an AltAcc altimeter. On the pad, Mark was unable to arm the apogee charge. Since the rocket had a backup apogee charge (the motor), Mark elected to fly with the single apogee charge. The liftoff was spectacular; a slow, low G climb into the darkening skies. The rocket reached a max altitude of 2476 feet where the motor charge deployed the drogue. Unfortunately, one of the "safety" features of the Altacc is that if the apogee charge does not fire, it deploys the main chute at apogee. So, Mark had a main deployment at 2400 in fairly breezy, dark conditions. Mark and Grant searched for a hour or so and were unable to find the rocket, but Mark found it the next day, undamaged. A perfect flight!
Finally, Mark brought out his huge Skyraider. We haven't seen the Skyraider in a couple a years; it is a 7.5 inch cardboard behemoth made by the long gone Rocket R & D. For the flight, power would be provided by an Aerotech K550. The flight was fantastic! The rocket was launched after dark and the powerful K550 lit up the sky as the big rocket thundered skyward. There were a couple of heartstopping seconds as the rocket arced over at apogee and started screaming downward, but deployment occurred, the shroud lines held, and the rocket landed hard but safe under a slightly fouled 16 foot chute. Another fabulous flight!
Mark's 1/4 scale Patriot powered by EX I220 power. A perfect flight and recovery.
Mark's scratch built "Turn Two" boosting on Aerotech J135 power. The rocket spent the night in the field, but was recovered undamaged the next day.
Mark's 7.5 inch "Skyraider" blasting into the night sky on the thrust of a K550. An awesome flight!
Stu Barrett also had a spectacular day, putting up two most interesting flights! Stu's first flight was with his Buck Rogers rocket, a rocket that features a core 38mm motor and three outboard 29mm motors. For this flight, Stu chose Aerotech's most unreliable motor, the I435PB (pipe bomb) for the core motor, a G35 White Lightning for one outboard, an H124 Blackjack for another, and a G100 (or something like that) Silver Streak for the third outboard. The plan was a blue liftoff, then white, black and sparky on the way up, not necessarily in that order! With the crowd hiding behind heavy things, the button was pushed and....and.....nothing. Okay, replace the ignitor and try again. 3....2.....1....push the button......wait.....it's coming.......nothing. Damn. Okay, clean the battery clips and try again. 3..2...1....KA-BOOM!!! The I435 functioned perfectly; a flash of blue, a one second boom and the rocket is almost a thousand feet in the air. I saw at least one airstart, but I don't think the silver streak lit. Regardless, a fantastic flight and a safe recovery!!!
Stu's next flight was with one of his oldest rockets, a THOY (remember them?) Phoenix. For this flight, Stu used a 29mm H200 (or so) Silver Streak. These are fantastic motors; they got a bad rap as a firestarter, but at a location like Skye Dance where there is nothing to burn, it is a fabulous motor to watch. The motor performed perfectly....lighting up the night with thousands of sparks. Motor deployment even worked perfectly and the rocket was recovered safely and undamaged.
Stu's "Buck Rogers" rocket. How many motors you got in that thing Stu? (Four).
Perfect I435 boost
Tom Montemayor (me) only had time for one flight. I got to the field at around 2:45, and I figured surely I would be able to prep and launch 2 flights in 2.5 hours. Unfortunately, I didn't make it.  We had a lot of ignition problems early, finally diagnosed  as rusty clips on the battery. Then, of course, I had to photograph every flight, and by the time I launched and recovered Spectra, it was getting too dark. Plus, there were many spectacular flights planned after dark that I didn't want to miss. So, the single flight I put up was flight number 80 for Spectra, powered by a Kosdon J450. This flight also was a test flight for a new Adept altimeter. The flight was perfect, and the altimeter performed perfectly and the rocket was recovered safe and undamaged. Max altitude was 2288 feet.
Tom Montemayor with Spectra
Kosdon J450 boost
Silver Streak boost!
These 2 photos courtesy Ed Jacoby
Finally, after the launch, the bonfire was lit and the fireworks began. Ed Jacoby was at the launch but had just returned from vacation so he didn't have any rockets prepped. He had lots of propellant for static burns and fountains that were better than anything you could buy at a fireworks stand.
Many thanks to our fireworks photographers, Caroline, Marsha and Eric.
The bonfire was pretty good sized, maybe 40 or 50 feet across. Various fireworks and propellant grains found their way into the fire so that at random times there was a little extra excitement coming out of the fire!
Again, thanks to Caroline and Marsha for their photos.