2000 Launch News
Skye Dance XXII
Finally, after almost 3 months of burn bans, bad weather, bad field conditions, no waivers and scheduling conflicts, Skye Dance XXII roared into the blue the weekend of March 25th and 26th. Conditions were typical springtime; breezy afternoons and calm evenings. Waivers were scheduled for 2.5 hours each day, from 4:30 till sunset (around 7:00) to take advantage of the light evening winds. Five fliers put up eleven flights with power ranging from a middle H to a full K.

Tom Montemayor had the most flights of the launch, putting up 5 rockets while burning 6 motors. On Saturday, Tom flew his 4 inch scratch built Spectra II using a Kosdon I255 Dirty Harry. The rocket achieved a max altitude of 2028 feet and recovered safely. The I255 reload uses the same case (640 ns) that the J450 uses, and with the J450 the rocket reaches 3000 feet. So, using the black smoke motor causes a 30% performance penalty. You've got to really like black smoke and not care about performance to use these motors. Tom also flew his Bad Attitude using an Aerotech J800. The 4 inch fiberglass rocket reached 3625 feet at a max velocity of 518 feet/second. Max loading was 8.1 Gs. Dual barometric deployment brought the rocket back safe and close. Tom also flew Spectra I using a Kosdon I300 for a successful flight and recovery. On Sunday, Tom flew Stud Duck using an Aerotech J275. The rocket deployed at apogee (no altimeter) and drifted far to the north, disappearing over the horizon. The rocket spent the night in the field and was recovered undamaged the next day. Tom also flew his scratch built Gemini-Titan on 2 Aerotech G40s. Both motors fired simultaneously and the rocket reached 1701 feet and recovered safely.

Mark Carlson burned the most propellant and certainly had the most spectacular flight of the launch. Mark warmed up with his trusty PML Eclipse flying an Ellis Mountain J330. The flight and recovery were perfect and the altimeter indicated a max altitude of 2187 feet. Next, Mark flew his latest scratch built creation, a 6 inch diameter phenolic rocket. The rocket used a Black Sky altimeter for two step deployment backed up by a timer. With an empty weight of 27 pounds, Mark chose the Aerotech K700 for the first flight. The full 2560ns K motor had no trouble lifting the heavy rocket to a max altitude of 3204 feet. Max velocity was 417 feet/second and max loading was 5.7Gs. The rocket deployed it's drogue right at apogee and it's main at 500 feet for a perfect flight and recovery. Finally, Mark flew his Arcas on a J135 to a max altitude of 2932 feet. A perfect flight ending to a perfect day!

Tom Kindel achieved Tripoli Level 2 on his first attempt using a modified PML Tethys. Tom lengthened the rocket, added an electronics compartment and added dual deployment capability. For his certification flight Tom used an Aerotech 54mm J275 for thrust and an Adept altimeter for onboard intelligence. The rocket boosted fast and straight and deployed a small drogue chute right at apogee. The main chute deployed at 250 feet (it looked a lot lower) and the rocket was recovered undamaged for a successful certification. Congratulations Tom!

Ken Kryszak, prefect of Tripoli San Antonio, drove up to fly his newest custom creation, Troika. The beautifully detailed rocket has a core 38mm motor mount and up to 4 outboard 24mm mounts. For this flight Ken chose a core H242 Blue Thunder and 2 Estes D12s in the outboards. The custom onboard electronics was supposed to airstart the D12s one half second after liftoff. Unfortunately, the battery voltage was too low and the airstarts did not fire. This did not effect the overall flight as the H242 accelerated the rocket powerfully off the pad and deployed a main chute right at apogee. Before the flight, we heard Ken say that the continuity light sure looked dim. Should have replaced those batteries, Ken!

Finally, Terry Parks flew the first hybrid ever flown at Skye Dance. Terry used an Aerotech J390 hybrid to power his 4 inch fiberglass Hawk Mountain Bad Attitude. After HOURS (at least it seemed like hours) of filling, cooling, venting, weighing, filling some more, venting some more, cooling some more, etc., the rocket was finally ready for flight. The button was pushed, the motor fired, and the heavy rocket began struggling for altitude. After two seconds it was at least 100 feet up, still trying to make up it's mind as to which direction it wanted to go. The ascent stopped immediately at motor burnout, and the onboard intelligence deployed the drogue and the main a quarter second later. The rocket landed safely and undamaged about a hundred feet from the pad. The altimeter indicated a max altitude of........uh.......you won't believe this......440 feet. It sure seemed like an awful lot of trouble to go 440 feet. It was spectacular - there was never any danger of losing sight of the rocket. Anyway, it was a successful flight. Next time, it needs MORE POWER!
Skye Dance XXIII
After a one week delay due to high winds, Skye Dance XXIII took to the skies the afternoon of Sunday, April 16th. Weather conditions were ideal; dead calm winds and clear skies. However, rain the previous week caused the field to be muddy, and the launch was scheduled with very short notice. Several fliers were also frantically trying to complete their income taxes, and as a result the turnout was very low, only 4 fliers. A total of 9 flights were flown during the 2.5 hour waiver.

Mark Carlson put up 4 flights in 3 different rockets with power ranging for G to J. Mark flew his trusty LOC Forte on an Aerotech G35 Econojet for a perfect flight, then loaded a G64 reload in the Forte for another perfect flight. Next, Mark flew his Cluster R Arcas using an Aerotech J350 for a spectacular flight. The Transolve P-2 altimeter functioned perfectly and two step barometric recovery brought the rocket back close to the pad. Finally, Mark flew his stretched Mini Mag on an I211 for another perfect flight. A perfect day!

Tom Montemayor put up 3 flights, including his oldest high power rocket, a North Coast Archer. This is not the same Archer you can buy today, the original was about a foot shorter and featured a 3 motor cluster. Due to the shorter length and the weight of two additional motors, the rocket was barely stable. At Outlaw 1 in 1990, this Archer came off the rod tumbling, did 3 or 4 complete flips and crashed into the LCO table, still thrusting. A photo from that launch shows the LCO table laying on it's side with the microphone, flight cards and assorted debris everywhere, the LCO chair upside down, and the LCO (Dwayne Nutt) running for cover. I remember the last words out of the PA as Dwayne abandoned his station: "LOOK OUT!". Ah, the good old days. Anyway, for Skye Dance XXIII the old Archer functioned perfectly, boosting on a core H128 and airstarting 2 D12s just when the H128 burned out. A perfect flight and recovery.

Tom also flew Spectra on a Kosdon J280. The J280 is Kosdon's "slow" propellant, which produces a bright orange flame and actually allows the flier to watch the rocket blast off. The "fast" propellant for this motor, the J450, burns so fast and so powerfully that the rocket virtually vanishes. The J280 produces an 8 G liftoff, the J450 produces a 13 G liftoff. The flight boosted beautifully and deployed a streamer right at apogee. At 250 feet the main charge fired and deployed the parachute, but the lower section of the rocket hit and fouled the main chute as it fell. The rocket landed hard, damaging a fin. Finally, Tom flew his Bad Attitude on an Aerotech J415. The flight reached a max altitude of 3624 feet and deployed it's drogue right on schedule. At 250 feet the main fired and the big rocket landed close. A beautiful flight.

Rita Long flew her scratch built "OOH-AHH" rocket using an Aerotech J800. The 10 pound rocket boosted fast and straight under Blue Thunder power, and the Olsen altimeter deployed a small drogue chute right at apogee. The rocket descended fast under the drogue, and at around 500 feet the altimeter deployed a large main chute. The rocket landed close and undamaged with the Olsen displaying a max altitude of 5530 feet. The highest flight of the launch!

Finally, Jim Long flew his "Lost in Argonia" rocket. This rocket was lost at LDRS in Argonia, and after being run over by a combine, was returned to Jim in less than perfect condition. That PML phenolic tubing just doesn't do very well in a one on one against an angry combine. Anyway, Jim carefully salvaged the undamaged part of the rocket (about 1 square inch), built a new PML rocket around it, stuffed an AltAcc dual deployment altimeter in the rebuilt rocket, and launched it with an Aerotech I435. The rocket screamed off the pad at an estimated 20 Gs, arced over the top, and did absolutely nothing in the deployment department. The rocket came screaming down and impacted about a half mile away. Repeated searches failed to find the rocket, so now it is "Lost in Kimbro". Though we couldn't find the rocket, we did find a deep hole in the ground with Chinese music coming out of it.
Skye Dance XXIV
The first launch of our Fall 2000 season, Skye Dance XXIV, took place under threatening skies Sunday evening, October 15th. The start of the season was delayed by a summer long drought that resulted in a high fire hazard throughout the county. Finally, the rains came, the dead crops were harvested and launches could again be conducted safely.

The early afternoon of October 15 did not look like a good day for flying rockets. Winds were blowing out of the south at 12-15 mph with thunderstorms and rainshowers in the area. By launch time, the wind had dropped off to 5 - 10 and only one thunderstorm remained in the area, a very large level 5 storm off to the west which was slowly approaching.

Mark Carlson had four flights for the day, including the first flight of the event, flying his shortened PML Patriot on an H123. The 38mm motor performed perfectly and the parachute deployed right at apogee for a safe recovery. Mark also flew his LOC IV on a 29mm H180 and his LOC Forte on a G33. Both flights performed perfectly. Finally, Mark flew his PML Eclipse using an Ellis Mountain J330 and a Transolve altimeter for dual deployment. This rocket, motor and altimeter combination had flown successfully over a dozen times. The rocket boosted fast and straight under the Ellis "Thor's Hammer" power, arced over at apogee and started down. We waited and waited for the deployment charges to fire, but they never did and the big 4 inch rocket made for the center of the earth, impacting in a forested area to the east.

Tom Montemayor didn't think the weather would allow any J or K powered flights, so he brought only 2 rockets, both powered by I motors. Tom flew his 5.5 inch "Stud Duck" using an Aerotech I357 Blue Thunder for a perfect flight and recovery, then flew Spectra 1 using a Kosdon I300. The Kosdon fast propellant shot Spectra into the air at warp speed, and the onboard timer deployed the parachute right at apogee for a perfect flight and recovery.

Jeff Cook flew his modified Aerobee-Hi using an Aerotech J180 Blue Thunder. The 9 pound rocket boosted straight and true, trailing a hot blue flame. Right at apogee the onboard Adept altimeter deployed a drogue chute, and at 200 feet (it looked lower) the main chute deployed. The rocket landed safely and gently slightly upwind for a perfect flight. The altimeter indicated a max altitude of 2441 feet.

Rita Long brought her scratch built "Screaming Mimi" rocket powered by an Aerotech H180. The beautifully painted rocket left the rod at a considerable upwind angle and deployed it's parachute at apogee, way upwind. The rocket didn't make it back to the launch area and appeared to landed safely in the forest. Unfortunately, the rocket could not be found.

Finally, Ed Jacoby flew his scratch built "Prince" rocket using an experimental motor of his own manufacture. The 38mm full I motor put out a vivid green flame and easily lifted the six pound 4 inch diameter rocket about 2000 feet up. The dual barometric deployment functioned perfectly and the rocket landed very near the pads for a perfect flight. Ed also static fired a 38mm H motor which put out a cherry red flame.

As the sun set, the thunderstorm to our west intensified and drew near, and we were all treated to a spectacular lightning display after dark. A PERFECT day for flying rockets!
Skye Dance XXV
December 3rd, 2000 just didn't look like a good day to fly rockets. At noon, there was a thick cloud cover at 3000 feet and a brisk northerly wind. As the afternoon wore on the wind began to drop and the ceiling rose and by launch time we had a 6500 foot ceiling with winds around 10 mph. Four brave fliers gathered at Skye Dance to fly.

Tom Montemayor put up the maiden voyage of the newly rebuilt Spectra, christened Spectra III. Spectra flew using a Kosdon J450 to a peak altitude of 2430 feet. Max velocity was 453 feet/second and acceleration was a crushing 12.5 Gs. The dual deployment worked perfectly and the rocket was recovered undamaged. Next, Tom put up his Bruiser using a 54mm Kosdon K700. The rocket roared into the air with LOTS of power behind it, and reached a peak altitude of 2761 feet and a max velocity of 583 feet/second. Wrasp predicted 2749 feet and 585 feet/second. Pretty amazing! The altimeter deployed the main at apogee and the rocket landed safely near county road 1100, about 3/4 mile away.

Mark Carlson put up 3 rockets, starting with his shortened PML Patriot on an H123. The flight and recovery was perfect. Next, since the launch was getting boring with all these successful flights, Mark pulled out his trusty THOY Snipe loaded for bear with 3 Estes D12s. At ignition, one of the D12s catoed and sent a spectacular flaming orange comet through the rocket and into the air. What was left of the rocket chased us around a couple of times with the remaining 2 motors, then landed safely under parachute. A GREAT flight! Finally, Mark flew his stretched Mini-Mag using an I211 for another perfect flight.

Jim Long flew a scratch built rocket for it's maiden voyage to test out his new Olsen altimeter. The rocket lifted off beautifully under I211 power, then the main parachute deployed just after apogee, as planned. The rocket landed safely about a half mile downrange. Investigation revealed that the Olsen did NOT fire it's deployment charge, and the rocket was saved by the I211 motor backup. When using electronic deployment, especially with a new instrument, it's always a good idea to have a motor backup available. It sure saved Jim's rocket.

Finally, Nathan Rubio flew his beautifully built PML Small Endeavor using an Aerotech I211. The rocket carried no electronics and was using the motor ejection charge to deploy the main chute at apogee. Even though winds were light, the predicted altitude was over 5000 feet and we were worried about recovering the rocket. The rocket roared off the pad and was never seen again. We never even heard the ejection charge. Hopefully, the rocket will eventually be recovered and returned when the farmers begin plowing their fields for Spring.