Tripoli Austin - 1997 Launch News
Skye Dance VII
After two rain outs, Skye Dance VII was finally held on Sunday, April 20th, 1997. Skies were clear, with winds around 10 most of the day. Near sundown, the winds dropped to around 5, at which point the HIGH flights began. Over the 5 hour waiver, just over 22,400 newtons were burned.

Mark Carlson had the first flight of Skye Dance VII with his LOC Forte on an H128. The flight and recovery were perfect. Mark had a total of 4 flights - a THOY Phoenix on an H180 for a fast, perfect flight; a modified LOC Mini-Mag on an I357 Blue Thunder, and a PML quarter scale Patriot on an I161. The Patriot suffered a separation, but both halves were recovered safely with little damage.

The Launch Director, Tom Montemayor (me), had a good day with 3 successful flights. Tom flew his NCR Archer on an H128 and 2 D12s for a perfect flight, then flew his scratch built Spectra on a long burn J90 to 2984 feet. Two stage barometric recovery dropped the rocket relatively close to the pad. This was flight number 34 for Spectra, the workhorse of the Montemayor fleet. Finally, Tom pulled out his 98mm K458 in the Million Millimeter for a perfect flight to 5708 feet. Two stage barometric recovery resulted in the rocket landing about 2000 feet from the pad.

Tim James, a newcomer to Tripoli Austin from Belton, had 4 successful flights. Tim started off with his Aerotech Arrow on a G80 (looked a lot like a G40), followed by a LOC Caliber on an H97. Both flights were perfect. Tim then flew his LOC EZI on an I161 for a great flight with a close to the pad perfect recovery. Finally, Tim had one of the most spectacular flights of the day with a modified LOC Magnum flying on a J800 and 2 F50 Silver Streaks. The rocket boosted straight and fast on the J800, with the Silver Streaks cutting in at staggered intervals. Since the flight was launched close to sunset against a darkening sky, the Silver Streak effect was fantastic!

Stu Barrett also contributed two spectacular flights. His first flight was with the "Buck Rogers" rocket, a modified THOY kit flying on one I435 and 3 G40s. THIS time (see Skye Dance V for what happened LAST time), the I435 functioned perfectly for a high speed boost on 3 feet of blue flame. About a second after the I435 burned out, the 3 G40s airstarted and added some White Lightning smoke and flame to the rapidly disappearing rocket. The rocket was recovered successfully using 2 stage recovery and indicated an altitude of just over 4400 feet. Stu also flew his THOY "Mighthawk" on a 7 motor cluster - 2 I140 Blue Thunders, 2 F50 Silver Streaks, 2 G40 While Lightnings and 1 H100 Smokey Sam. Stu really cleaned out his motor collection with this one! Anyway, the rocket boosted perfectly on 2 columns of blue flame, then filled the sky with sparks when the Silver Streaks cut in. Next, the exhaust turned white with the White Lightnings, and finally turned black with the Smokey Sam. WOW! Four colors on one flight and totally successful.

Jeff Cook had 2 flights on his "J.K. Scarecrow", both using 54mm long burns. His first flight was with a J135 to 4400 feet. The rocket uses 2 stage barometric recovery and landed about 1500 feet away from the pad. Next, Jeff loaded a K185 into the Scarecrow and the rocket disappeared into the blue. Pam Cook spotted the rocket during descent, and again the rocket recovered successfully. The altimeter was beeping out just over 5700 feet.

The "Flying Taylors", Rick and Anthony, had 5 flights between them. Unfortunately, Rick had the only rocket which was lost. Rick's scratch built "Dufus", with custom round Mickey Mouse ear fins (like the old Estes Sprint) boosted perfectly on an I211. The chute deployed right at apogee, and the rocket just drifted, and drifted, and drifted.....never to be seen again. Rick also had a great flight with his VB Blobbo on a D13. Anthony flew his Estes Phoenix on a G40, his LOC Onyx on a G54, and his scratch built 3D on......guess what....3 D12s. All flights were perfect.

Chuck and Jonathan Sparks put up one rocket between them, an NCR Army Hawk flying on an H128. The flight and recovery were perfect. Chuck had his two stager, "Divine Inspiration" ready to go, but the winds were just a little brisk for two stage flights.

Billy Clark's first flight was with his scratch built "Texas #1" flying on an I154. The rocket separated when the delay proved to be a little too long and the chute deployed with considerable downward velocity. Next, Billy launched his scratch built "NASA" on a K550. The rocket ejected just a little before apogee for a perfect flight and recovery. Finally, Billy launched his "USA" rocket on a K1100. The crowd held it's breath as the huge rocket arced right over the parking area, but the chute deployed right at apogee and the rocket recovered safely.

Larry Whitworth had 4 flights, the first being his "Banana" on an I211. Larry also flew a modified LOC Mini-Mag on an I211, and a LOC Ultimate on an H180. All 3 of these flights flew and recovered perfectly. Finally, Larry pulled out his "Mean Monster" on a core K185 and 2 outboard I211s. One of the I211s ignited before the other (predictable) and the rocket came off the rod and pitched over near horizontal. At this point, the K185 finally fired and the rocket roared off on a near horizontal, high speed flight. The rocket strained itself through trees downrange and was totally destroyed. Rest In Peace.

There was a single Level One certification on Sunday. Brett Williams drove in from Fredricksburg to certify with his PML Endeavor. Brett didn't choose a wimpy H motor for his certification flight - he chose an I211. The beautifully built rocket boosted straight and true and deployed right at apogee for a successful certification. Then, just to prove it wasn't luck, Brett launched his Rocket R&D Falcon on an I161 for another successful flight. The Falcon spent the night in the field and was recovered the next day.

Finally, James Reimund launched a NCR "Corporal" on a G40. The rocket carried a 144 MHz transmitter, and James used his directional receiver to track the rocket. The electronics functioned perfectly, though the rocket didn't land far enough away to require electronic locating.
Skye Dance VIII
Amazing....a Skye Dance launch held on the first attempt! Skye Dance VIII took to the skies on Sunday, May 4th under clear blue skies. Winds were 10 - 13 at the start of the launch, falling off to less than 5 by 6:30 p.m. There were 38 high power flights, burning over 20,500 newtons.

Rick Taylor contributed 3 flights to Skye Dance VIII, all HIGH power. Rick started off with his PML Ariel flying it's most powerful motor ever, an Aerotech I284. The rocket screamed off the pad and reached a peak altitude of 3654 feet, where it deployed a streamer. The onboard altimeter deployed the main chute at 250 feet for a perfect flight. Rick also flew "Rufus", a scratch built 4" rocket from PML parts, on a J415. Using two step barometric recovery, the rocket landed close to the pads with the altimeter beeping out a peak altitude of 4884 feet. Finally, Rick flew his giant scale Mosquito on a K550. The rocket weighed in at just over 18 pounds, which was no problem for the awesome thrust of the K550. The rocket maxed out at just over 2000 feet and recovered safely.

Chuck Sparks showed up with two rockets, including his scratch built two-stager, "Divine Inspiration". We've seen "Divine Inspiration" fly as two separate rockets, "Divine" and "Inspiration", but this time the low winds finally allowed the rocket to fly in it's two stage configuration. The rocket stands over 9 feet tall and weighs in at over 10 pounds. First stage thrust was provided by an Aerotech J350, and second stage thrust was provided by an Aerotech I195. The flight was perfect with both stages firing on schedule. The upper stage used two step barometric rocovery and landed close to the pads. The first stage drifted considerably farther but was recovered safely. Maximum altitude was 5930 feet. Chuck also flew a scratch built, the "Checker-Out", on an I161 for a perfect flight.

Tom Montemayor contributed four flights, including his high power two stager, "The Integral". The "Integral" stands just over 9 feet tall and weighs in at over 12 pounds. It is a 4 inch diameter scratch built rocket from LOC parts. First stage boost was provided by a J415, with second stage boost provided by an I211. The upper stage utilizes two step barometric recovery. The flight was perfect, with both stages firing and recovering safely. Maximum altitude was 5816 feet. Tom also flew "Spectra" on an I284 to 2714 feet, his scratch built Gemini-Titan on 2 G40s to 1827 feet, and his newest rocket, "Psychedelic Persuasion", on an H73. All flights were perfect.

Jeff Cook showed up with his reliable "J.K. Scarecrow". The Scarecrow flew twice, first on a J350 to just over 2900 feet, and finally on a K185 to 6361 feet. This was the highest flight of the day, and holds third place (as of this writing) in the Skye Dance altitude records. Both flights recovered safe and close, using barometric recovery. Jeff also flew his **formerly** reliable rocket, the "Slacker". Slacker boosted extremely fast and high on an H128, and then decided to leave this world and join the next time-space continuum. The rocket lawn-darted into the field, and was found the next day. Rest in Pieces.

Mark Carlson had 5 flights for the day....all successful. Mark launched his THOY Phoenix on an H123, his LOC Forte on an H128, his LOC IV on an H180, his PML quarter scale Patriot on an I161, and finally his modified LOC Mini-Mag on an I211. A great day for Mark.

Billy Clark also put up 5 flights for the day. Billy flew his third K1100 in four weeks in his trusty "USA" 30 pound rocket for a perfect flight. Billy also flew a J350 in a Warlock, an I195 in a scratch built LOC kit, an H123 and an H112.

Stu Barrett had the flight with the highest risk factor for the day, and as usual it functioned perfectly. Stu fired three outboard G80s in his Buck Rogers rocket, then air-started a long burn core J90. Mercifully, the three G80s all fired together and the rocket was vertical when the J90 fired. A fantastic flight. Had one or more of the G80s not could have been more interesting.

Larry Whitworth had four flights, including a LOC Ultimate on an H180 that separated several seconds after the chute had deployed, and a scratch-built Viper on a G64.

Steve Rogers certified Level One with an H123 flight in a THOY Falcon. Marvin Smith flew a 35mm camera in a scratch built rocket on a J415 and later flew a scratch built with an H90 core airstarting 2 H124 outboards. All flights were perfect.

Anthony Taylor had 5 flights for the day, including an Estes Commanche three stager. All 3 stages fired (D12-0, C6-0, C6-7) but the rocket lawn darted when the upper stage motor ejected.
Skye Dance IX
Sandwiched between a windy day on Saturday and a cloudy, rainy day on Monday, Skye Dance IX took to the skies on Sunday, November 16, 1997. Skies were perfectly clear, with winds 10 to 15 in the early afternoon dropping off to 5 to 10 by sunset. Over the 4.5 hours of the waiver, there were 25 high power flights burning over 11,600 newtons. As usual, most of the high power flights occurred during the last hour of the waiver, with darkness shutting us down with rockets left to be flown.

Tom Montemayor was the most prolific flier on Sunday, putting up 5 rockets. Tom flew Hobbes with a new Dark Star F62 (flew perfectly), Psychedelic Persuasion on an H73, and his Gemini-Titan on twin G40s. The altimeter in the Gemini failed and did not deploy the main chute at 250 feet, but the rocket landed safely and undamaged under the streamer. Tom also flew his Brighthawk on a core H220 and 2 outboard G40s to 3201 feet. Finally, Tom attempted to fly the first Kosdon at Skye Dance, boosting Spectra on a Kosdon I310. Unfortunately, the motor suffered a massive blow-by, with a foot of fire coming out of both sides of the rocket. The altimeter successfully blew the chute with the rocket reaching a peak altitude of 77 feet.

Jeff Cook flew the most power, 2,660 newtons in three flights. Jeff also established a new second place altitude record at Skye Dance when his trusty Scarecrow reached a peak altitude of 6,406 feet boosting on a J415. Jeff also flew a long burn J135 in the Scarecrow, reaching a peak altitude of 4,664 feet. Jeff also flew "Spike-Roswell", a collection of parts from Spike and Roswell, on a G54.

Tom Lanier drove over from Houston to fly 3 rockets. Tom flew his LOC Heavy Duty Beauty on a core H238 airstarting 4 F32 outboards. Only 3 of the F32s fired, but the rocket was going so fast the asymmetric thrust did not affect the trajectory. Tom also flew his Aerotech Tomahawk on an F50 and his ACE Yellow Jacket on an FSI E60. Surprising, the E60 functioned perfectly for a great flight.

Anthony Taylor also had three flights, and set the Skye Dance record for the most attempts to launch a rocket, six. Finally, on the seventh try, Anthony's LOC Onyx soared skyward powered by a G54. Anthony also flew a scratch built cluster rocket, "Dose", on 2 G40s. Both motors ignited together for a great flight. Anthony also flew another scratch built rocket, "Pringles", on two C-6s. This rocket's airframe is made of a Pringles potato chip can. The rocket flew great.

Larry Whitworth contributed two J flights to the day's activities. First, Larry flew "Lime", his bright green rocket on a J350. Lime is a modified LOC Minnie Mag and flew great on the 38mm J motor. Next, Larry launched his PML "Sudden Rush" on a J415. The rocket used 2 step barometric recovery, but it appeared that the main chute deployed at apogee. The rocket was projected to reach almost 7000 feet, and with a fully deployed main chute and the winds at that altitude, the rocket drifted away and was not found.

Ken Kryszak and Larry Lyssy drove up from San Antonio and contributed two flights each. Ken flew his "High Rotor", a QCR kit utilizing helicopter recover on a C6-3. The rocket boosted vertically and at apogee deployed rotor blades and came down VERY slowly. A great flight and recovery. Ken also flew his "Stormbringer - ER" on an I161. The Stormbringer reached 3,563 feet and recovered safely using 2 step barometric recovery.

Larry Lyssy flew "Parts", a scratch built on an I357 for a perfect flight. He then pulled out his custom 5.5 inch rocket, "Heracles". No, not Hercules but Heracles. Something about Romans versus Greeks here, but I'm not sure which is which. Anyway, Heracles flew great on a J350 and recovered safely.

Single flights were logged by Niels Saustrup flying his scratch built "Cloud Nine" on an H242 (the rocket disassembled at the end of the boost phase), Chuck Sparks with the "Coral Snake" flying on a G75, Rick Taylor flying "Dufus" on a core I284 and 3 outboard G40s (none of the G40s fired, but it was still a great flight), and Mike Reiner flying his custom reinforced EZI on a J275 (don't try this with a stock EZI).

Finally, Stu Barrett put on his usual show flying his LOC Magnum on a core J460, airstarting an F50 Silver Streak, airstarting a G40. As usual, the rocket performed perfectly with each motor firing just as the one before it burned out. A real crowd pleasing flight.
Skye Dance X
Skye Dance X was our traditional New Year's Eve launch, this year held on December 31st, 1997. For the fourth consecutive year, weather conditions were perfect - perfectly clear skies and winds less than 5 m.p.h. all day. Temperatures were in the mid 60s. After sunset, we continued with night launches and fireworks. The launch produced 35 logged flights burning a total of 24,384 newtons. Four fliers were responsible for 80% of the newtons burned.

Tom Montemayor flew 8 rockets burning a total of 6980 newtons. Tom's BIG flights included the "Million Millimeter" on a K458 (5697 feet, max velocity 598 ft/sec, max acceleration 4.4 Gs), a LOC Bruiser on a K550 (3447 feet, 598 feet/sec, 11.1 Gs), and the 38th flight of Spectra, this time on a J135 (4990 feet, 566 feet/sec, 5.4 Gs). That 98mm K458 sure produces a s....l....o....w liftoff (4.4 Gs), but by the end of the flight it's really cooking (598 feet/sec). A nearly constant 4Gs over almost 6 seconds ends up with a lot of velocity. Tom also flew his MSH V2 on an H128, a scratch built named "Psychedelic Persuasion" on an H73, and a scratch built "Hobbes" on a G35 Econojet. Tom flew the only multi-stager of Skye Dance X, that being old, reliable "Shadowfax". Due to a broken wire in the electronics section, the thrust sensor did not detect second stage ignition and deployed the emergency chute (out the top of the rocket) during the second stage boost. The rocket was going so fast that the chute instantly stripped and separated while the rocket continued on, straight and true (apparently, you don't really need a nose cone). Right at apogee the primary chute deployed and the rocket recovered safely. Tom's contribution to the night flights was his "Night Flier" a modified Big Bertha flying on a core G42 airstarting 2 D12s.

Stu Barrett burned the second highest total of newtons, 5120, with only one flight. Stu flew the first L motor at Skye Dance, an Aerotech L952. The motor was flown in a scratch built rocket constructed from Dynacom fiberglass materials. The rocket achieved a max altitude of 6710 feet, where the motor charge ejected prematurely. The rocket was traveling just over 200 feet/sec when the motor charge fired, so it was probably good for another 500 feet or so. Stu's "zipperproof" design coupled with tubular nylon shock cord and a good parachute resulted in a safe recovery with NO damage to the rocket. The rocket achieved a max velocity of 688 feet/second. Stu plans on using this rocket for his level 3 attempt later this year.

Billy Clark was next up in the total AP burned department, his total being 3940 newtons. Billy flew the tallest rocket of the launch, that being his new "NASA" rocket which stands over 12 feet tall. The rocket boosted spectacularly on a K1100 to a max altitude of 1266 feet. Billy also flew his LOC Warlock on a J350 as part of a Warlock drag race, and his Minnie Mag on an I154, also as part of a drag race. Unfortunately, Billy's Warlock did not deploy and was destroyed in the only lawn dart of the launch. Billy also flew his Texas #1 on an I211, his DR Hero on an I195 and his Legacy on a G75.

Larry Whitworth was the fourth "heavy-duty" flier, flying 7 rockets and burning 3892 newtons. Larry's biggest rocket was a U.S. Rockets "Swarm", which he flew on a J415 to an altitude of 4550 feet. Larry also participated in the two drag races, flying his Minnie Mag on an I154 and his LOC Warlock ("Big Banana") on a J275. Larry also flew a heavily modified Minnie Mag (over twice as tall as a standard Minnie Mag) on a J350. Larry flew a LOC Ultimate on an H180 and had two night fliers for the night launches: a scratch built Viper on a G54 and a U.S. Rockets "Swarm Jr." on 12 D12s. The 12 D12s were really spectacular at night.

Rick and Anthony Taylor had a great day with 4 day flights plus a night flight. Rick was successful with has cluster attempt, "Dufus", which boosted fast and straight on an I357 Blue Thunder, then airstarted 3 G40s. The rocket didn't have an altimeter in it for this flight, but it definitely went over 3000 feet. Anthony Taylor flew his PML Phobos on an H128 for a great flight, an Estes Phoenix on an F25, an Estes Gemini DC on a C6 and finally his Pringles rocket on a cluster of 2 C6s. All flights were successful and recovered safely.

Jeff Cook suffered the only lost rocket of Skye Dance X, his trusty, reliable J.K. Scarecrow. Jeff flew the Scarecrow early in the day on a J275 for a successful flight that made 4019 feet. Jeff then loaded a K550 into Scarecrow, for the most powerful flight in the rocket's 15 flight history. The Scarecrow is constructed of LOC 4 inch tubing with fiberglass reinforced fins. We were a little worried about whether the LOC paper tubing could withstand the awesome thrust of the K550, but there was no problem as the rocket boosted straight and incredibly fast. The rocket deployed it's drogue chute right at apogee (calculated at over 7000 feet) then deployed it's main chute at 250 feet and disappeared over the ridge line to the north. Jeff walked to the top of the ridge line and saw......nothing. There was nothing but black dirt for a mile in every direction, but no rocket. After several days of searching, the rocket was declared lost. Scarecrow was a regular at all the Skye Dance launches and we hope for a quick replacement.

Neils Saustrup contributed two flights to the day, both successful. Neils flew his "Cloud Nine" on an H242 Blue Thunder out of his tower launcher, and an Estes rocket on a C6.

Newcomers Dick and Tom Chenault each contributed a successful flight to the launch. Dick flew a PML Amram on an H112 Black Jack and Tom flew his LOC Naked (unpainted) Forte on an H180.

Finally, Patrick Kallina flew two rockets, both Estes. He flew his Pathfinder and Mega, both on D12s.

Steve Rogers made 3 attempts to launch his modified THOY Falcon on a J135. This was going to be Steve's level 2 certification flight, but it was not to be. Each of the 3 ignition attempts produced fire coming out of the motor, but the motor refused to ignite. Finally, as darkness fell, the rocket was still on the pad. Maybe next time.