ROCStock 22

November 11th-13th, 2005

/ Lucerne Dry Lake

3 flights, 6282 N-sec burned

After a brief hiatus from rocketry while I got settled in at USC, I returned to the playa for ROCStock, intent on certifying all three levels. Beautiful weather all three days allowed me to do so, and pull a stint as LCO, too. (That was always my childhood dream... I was a strange child.)

Flight 1: LOC IV, AT H180

For my L1 cert flight, I went with the tried-and-true combo of the LOC IV on an H180W. To ensure that I didn't break any fins on landing, I replaced the stock parachute with a ginormous SkyAngle; there was no wind, so drift shouldn't be an issue. It was weird to fill out the flight card and not put my dad's name on the top next to mine. Rick O'Neill counted down and away we went; I got strangely nervous after motor burnout, knowing it all had to work properly this time. Like clockwork, the chute appeared at apogee and the rocket drifted back down, landing about 50 feet from Nadine (who refused to get it for me =)). Level 1, check!

Flight 2: Thor, CTI J285

I took and passed my L2 test immediately following my L1; Rck O'Neill administered the test in the back of the ROC trailer. For the Level 2 flight, I elected to go with a Cesaroni J285, since I already had one on hand, and it would easily allow me to trim the delay to the desired length. The Thor was readied in single-deploy mode using the same SkyAngle chute as I had put in the LOC IV previously (for good luck? really not sure), but misfortune struck when I opened the J285 to adjust the delay and found delay potting resin goo all over the reload. Luckily, Andy Woerner at What's Up Hobbies volunteered to trade for a new one, so a few minutes later we were back in business. I loaded the rocket on Pad 39A and passed the camera to Eric Williams to take photos. Allen Farrington called out the countdown and I hit the launch button. The J285 sprang to life and lifted the Thor gracefully up the 13 foot rail. Ejection happened at apogee and the rocket floated down, landing near the far pads. Successful L2!

Flight 3: Nike Smoke, AT M1297

I put off my L3 flight until Sunday so I could pull a stint at LCO and RSO; now that I was qualified there was nobody to stop me! Prep on Sunday morning was relaxed. My TAPs (Ron McGough and Andy Woerner) gave the Nike the once-over before I carried it up to the RSO desk, where I was greeted by Kurt Gugisberg. He signed my red card after another inspection, and I headed to Pad 39A to load up. (Another childhood dream: certify L3 off 39A. I got totally lucky that Leslie brought the pad to the launch!) Loading on the rail went smoothly, and I armed the avionics and raised the bird vertical. (Both units were baro, so the orientation change didn't affect anything.) Rick O'Neill was the LCO, and he let me push the button again, so Eric was on camera duty. He chose an interesting angle - you can see my TAPs looking at the rocket as it's leaving the pad (along with everyone else at the launch, except who looks from the back to be John Wahlquist at the registration table! =)) Liftoff was immediate and authoritative, and the rocket tore into the sky on the trademark White Lightning plume. I knew the rocket could do four grains of WL propellant, but still, the "dance" it did as it approached Mach freaked me out. It held together, though, and deployed the chute right at apogee - L3, baby!

Altitude: 10,747 ft

I like to design, build, and fly rockets. PostFlight started as a project to help me keep track of them. Now I've opened it up so you can follow along, too.
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Hey! What are you doing down here? The rocket stuff (yea, it's © 2017 David Reese) is up there!