Little Dragon

Little Dragon
Length:61"Status:Active / 12 flights
Motor Mount:54mmBuild Dates:2008-12-01 to 2009-11-20

Little Dragon is a 3" rocket pieced together from scrap elements of other crashed vehicles, and named for the band from Gothenburg, Sweden. It contains the fin can and motor mount section originally from Pull My Finger (and reused on Mercury), the nose cone from 8 Ball, and an airframe tube that was originally supposed to be a motor mount for the rebuild of my 5.5" Nike. The result, after a few layers of fiberglass and a set of rail buttons, is a strong and capable dual deploy 3" rocket that is easy to prep and has flown many times.


Event: Indiana Rocketry March 2014

Date: March 9th, 2014

Motor: PPL K1500

Apogee: 8,720 ft

This motor was the bowl scrapings from the big Alpha that Jacob's dad flew at AIRFest this year. I knew it was going to be pushing it a little hard, since that motor ran at close to 1000 psi and this one had a tighter nozzle. So I loaded it into the cut-down 2550 case from the previous flight of Little Dragon, just in case things got a little bit "sportier" than planned. And since it was the revenge flight for the case, why not make it the revenge flight for the rocket, too? I knew it could handle the high average thrust from the previous UltraViolet flights, but I was still nervous as Tom McFee counted down. (It didn't help that he forgot to arm the pad the first time ;)) The big'un did its thing and then WHAM, it was gone in a blur of white shockwaves, so fast that a few people thought it shredded. But it didn't- it just disappeared into the sky! (I was just glad the motor stayed together.) The Beeline in the nose was sending out happy beeps through apogee and main deployments, and led me to the rocket laying on the ground a couple of fields over, covered completely in wet Ash Grove mud and beeping out over 8700 feet. It's good to have this rocket back.

Event: Indiana Rocketry January 2012

Date: January 29th, 2012

Motor: PPL K900

When I woke up the morning of the launch, the weather was perfect enough that I decided it was a good day to do something I had been wanting to for a long time: stuff a 2550 into Little Dragon (going for a flame-to-rocket ratio of > 1). The white load had been sitting around for a loooong time (the result of a casting party a year earlier), but was pretty much ready to go; I quickly swapped forward closures to add a recovery eyebolt before loading the motor in the rocket and heading out to the field. I was the last one to go for the day; loading onto the pad was easy, and within a few minutes we were ready to go. Doug Jackson held my tracker for me while Gus Piepenburg pushed the button; the motor pressurized and the rocket vaulted from the pad, only to separate almost immediately, followed by a rather obvious motor failure. Mayhem was breaking loose as the electronics and recovery system tumbled down (the altimeter never armed) while the booster continued a flaming, twisting journey across the sky, eventually landing in the muddy field next door with a thud. Post-mortem indicated that, in my hasty forward closure swap, I had neglected to include the o-ring. DOH! Luckily, the 2550 is so long that the damage was confined to the anti-zipper coupler and some minor bubbled paint; a little fiberglass and epoxy and she will be as good as new.

Event: NERRF 7

Date: June 26th, 2011

Motor: Infinity J750

Apogee: 5,879 ft

Todd had three more 54mm grains of UV sitting around, so I decided to kill the stash with a 1050 load. They had already been cored for a 1750, though, so in the 1050 case things were going to be a bit sporty (Kn = 288, highest ever for this propellant). To get data, Andrew volunteered his Parrot, which I taped to the forward bulkhead of the motor against the retention eye. After I helped Todd recover his flight, I headed to the pad and set up Little Dragon. Wayne Anthony called out the count again and the J motor lit up smartly, spanking the rocket into the air at 30.6 Gs, with burnout at 1.27 seconds. LD disappeared into the sky momentarily, but was spotted again on the way down; main deployment happened like magic at 600 feet, courtesy of the Adept22, and landing was gentle in the soy field next door. Bailey was on recovery duties again via quad; on return, the rocket beeped out 5879 feet. Good flight to end the weekend at NERRF!

Flight Summary Motor Curve Flight Curve

Little Dragon on a Infinity J750

others: preflight

Event: NERRF 7

Date: June 25th, 2011

Motor: PPL J210

Apogee: 5,549 ft

I had loaded this motor a few months prior at Red Glare, but didn't fly it due to low cloud cover and Shake Weight prep on Sunday. It sat in the rocket for April and May, and finally made the trip to NERRF in June. The grains were one Loki Blue and two Loki Reds, aiming for a purple-ish flame. Prep was simple, since the motor and charges were built back in Maryland; all that was left to do was install the altimeter and tracker, and fly. Todd and Andrew helped pad prep, and we were off almost immediately after returning to the rangehead. Ignition was on time, and liftoff was stately, arcing upwind slightly; the blue grain burned out relatively quickly, and the red grains tailed off for a few more seconds. Neither event was visible, but Andrew caught sight of the vehicle just after main deployment, descending a field over. Bailey Lynch hopped on his quad and ran out to fetch the rocket, saving me the walk -- thanks dude!

Little Dragon on a PPL J210

others: pad prep | liftoff

Event: Tripoli Indiana February 2011

Date: February 19th, 2011

Motor: Kosdon J280

Apogee: 3,431 ft

Things were dragging on in the afternoon, but the weather was sooooo nice I couldn't not fly again. With less than an hour left in the waiver, it would be a race to the finish line to re-prep Little Dragon from its previous flight. I checked the battery voltage and left it in place, added two new deployment charges, re-packed the chute, and built up a J280 for the 38/640 case (my favorite 38mm). I was the last one flying; Brian called out the countdown, and after a quick chuff, the motor lit up and Little Dragon roared into the sunset on a big orange tongue of fire. Apogee was easily visible, and main deployment happened on time at 700 feet; LD landed nearly on the road! In my haste to prep the airframe, I neglected to clean off the mud from the previous flight; it apparently caused some serious extra drag and weight, hampering the vehicle's performance by 1500 feet or so as compared to its previous flights on this motor. No matter, it was a great flight to end the day!

Event: Tripoli Indiana February 2011

Date: February 19th, 2011

Motor: Kosdon J230

Apogee: 6,233 ft

Keeping with my latest methodology, I had prepped Little Dragon the night before (while watching reruns on E!, bad decision) and so I was second to the high power pad on this beautiful February morning. Tom and Pam had just arrived (with Pam's parents in tow) so I hoped all would go well with this flight! As with its previous launch, Little Dragon boosted quickly and absolutely disappeared at burnout, but continued presence of a tracking signal from the BeeLine indicated that things were working. Eventually, we heard the pop of the main charge firing, and after a few moments of free-fall while the chute unstuck itself (baby powder next time?), things sorted themselves out for a soft landing in the mud. The orange chute was visible from the road, so recovery was quick. The PerfectFlite beeped out 6233 feet; significantly higher than the last 1050 load I flew, so I guess that camera adds some drag!

Little Dragon on a Kosdon J230

others: recovery

Event: Red Glare IX

Date: October 22nd, 2010

Motor: Infinity K1700

Apogee: 8,337 ft

Shortly after arriving on Friday morning, I unpacked my shipping crate and put together Little Dragon. I had checked batteries and installed avionics prior to shipping the rocket out, so things got off to a quick start. Ryan supplied some BP and Todd had some matches and the motor to be assembled. After buttoning the recovery system up, I borrowed a saw from Crazy Jim to cut the liner for Todd's UltraViolet K motor. The 1750 hardware still hadn't been cleaned from Shake Weight's flight in April, but it disassembled easily and was quickly reloaded for flight. Gary Tortora let me borrow his allen wrenches for final assembly and things were ready to go by about 1 in the afternoon. I waited a few hours for the wind to die down, and put LD on the pad just before sunset. Jeff Taylor donated an igniter, and we were set. The UltraViolet propellant was still a new formula that hadn't been fired but one time in a 240 case, which produced a gentle burn, so we were expecting about a K800 in performance. But it's rocketry, so surprises happen; Neil counted down and hit the button, the motor shrieked to life, and Little Dragon hauled ass skyward at an incredible clip. I missed the liftoff shot; one frame it's there, one frame it's gone! As the motor shut down a second later, I heard Jeff behind me: "Yeah, that was a little faster than a K800!" No kidding! The rocket all but disappeared at burnout, but we were tracking it with the Beeline in the nose. No events made themselves known, but we still had signal several minutes later, indicating that things probably had worked out for the best. We all piled into Ryan's car and took off in the direction of the tracking signal; about 5 minutes later, we located the rocket hanging from a power line on Ell Downes road. Ryan informed Neil, who said they'd get it down the next morning; I was content with that, but a few minutes later, a well-meaning (but unwise) soul pulled it down from the power lines and returned it to the rangehead. Sheesh man, it's only a rocket. After the adventure, LD was recovered and happily beeping out 8337 feet. Thanks to Todd for catching the liftoff shot, too!

Event: QCRS June 2010

Date: June 6th, 2010

Motor: PPL J300

Apogee: 5,084 ft

The skies were clear on Sunday at Walcott, but the winds were up, and I wasn't sure what motor to put in the Little Dragon, which had been prepped since March. I had a 4 grain of Blue v3 to fly, but that motor would require coring the propellant, disassembling and cleaning the 4 grain case from yesterday, and reloading it. The 54mm 1050 case was already prepped and ready to go with three grains of propellant (that still needs a name) left over from the Talon P motor, so (twist my arm) that's what I stuck in the rocket. After Kevin Kremer flew his N motor, I quickly loaded LD on the pad, armed the altimeter, and turned on the camera. Liftoff was sporty, since I had cored the motor to 3/4" instead of 5/8", and the rocket quickly disappeared from view. I had given up hope of a visual track, but the Beeline kept sending out reassuring pings, informing us that apogee deployment had occurred; the only question was, where? I began searching the skies downwind frantically, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rocket under main, when suddenly we heard a loud POP and I wheeled around -- there was the rocket, main deploying, about 100 feet upwind of the pad. It bounced down in the beans planted on the sod for an easy recovery.

Little Dragon on a PPL J300

others: video

Event: Tripoli Indiana February 2010

Date: February 21st, 2010

Motor: CTI I236

Apogee: 2,504 ft

Though I could have flown up to the ceiling of 5000 feet with an I255 or I299, I elected to keep things low so I wouldn't have to slog through the muddy fields to recover my rocket. I had an Aerotech I357T reload to fly, but everyone was getting cold and I didn't want to be too much of a holdup, so I grabbed the 3 grain case again and went for a CTI I236BS I had on hand instead. With a fresh battery in the altimeter and a charged tracker, it was a quick prep under the watchful eyes of Darryl from Wildman Kentucky. Pad loading went smoothly, and after appropriate heckling from Prefect Vic Barlow, LCO Gus Piepenburg called out the count, and the CTI blue motor lit up immediately. Little Dragon soared beautifully straight towards the gray sky with a breathtaking blue flame. At burnout, a light grey smoke cloud appeared as the motor shut down and the bird coasted quietly to apogee. I had removed the streamer for this flight, and after a tumultuous descent to 400', the main fired on time and quickly inflated, much to the surprise of Vic (who now insisted I had set the main too high for this flight - suuuure :)) Darryl helped me recover the bird and dump the snow out of the payload tube, with the altimeter quietly beeping out 2504'. Not a bad flight for the day!

Little Dragon on a CTI I236

others: recovery

Event: Tripoli Indiana December 2009

Date: December 13th, 2009

Motor: CTI I180

Apogee: 1,836 ft

Since the ceiling was so low, I kept the remainder of my 640 loads in the box, and pulled out instead my CTI 3-grain case and an I180SK reload I had picked up for it at the previous launch. (Thanks to Kendall Reed from Tripoli Vegas for the case... it was a raffle prize from Turkey Shoot three years ago, and this was the first time I was going to use it!) Prep went well until I had the vehicle on the pad and attempted to arm the altimeter, to no avail - one of the power leads had popped loose from the board, so it was back into Doug's trailer to rewire the whole avbay before reloading the vehicle and getting the three happy beeps of dual deployment. I set the main at 400' to keep from having to walk too far through the muddy fields. The CTI Skidmark motor did not disappoint, igniting quickly and providing a spectacular boost. After burnout, the thunder echoed off a distant treeline. NEAT! Little Dragon coasted to apogee under the cloud deck and became two pieces for its descent down to main deployment, which happened as planned for a landing just downwind of the pad. Perfect flight for today.

Little Dragon on a CTI I180

others: liftoff

Event: Tripoli Indiana November 2009

Date: November 22nd, 2009

Motor: Kosdon J450

Apogee: 5,175 ft

The weather was still beautiful as we arrived on Sunday. I still had several reloads for the 640 case to burn, and so, wanting to show off a little bit more of the "power" side of Kosdon motors, I loaded up a J450F for Little Dragon. The rocket had been graceful on the J280S, but the J450 would be more along the envisioned flight profile for this bird - punchy, fast, and loud. I kept the avionics settings the same, figuring I'd see about the same altitude. Tom Feldman and his girlfriend Pam Slaughter helped me out to the pad with it. David was on Beeline duty again, my friend Ben was tracking visually, and Brian LCOed the countdown again. We heard the igniter fire and suddenly, WHAM, the motor hit, catapulting Little Dragon into the air. Tom tells me he heard a little girl on the flight line crying, it was so loud. I was amazed I got a launch photo. This time I had included the delay grain, and tracking was easy up to the apogee altitude of 5175 feet, where the streamer appeared. This time, the bird fell across the road before the main deployed, and it landed softly in the disked field next door. Another excellent flight!

Event: Tripoli Indiana November 2009

Date: November 21st, 2009

Motor: Kosdon J280

Apogee: 5,030 ft

The first flight of Little Dragon went off without a hitch at Tripoli Indiana's first high power launch of the season. The first prep (which included fabrication of the avionics bay in the field) always takes longer than expected, and so I didn't have the rocket on the pad until about 2 in the afternoon, but no worries, since the winds were dead calm and the skies were beautiful. LCO Brian Perry announced the flight - this would be the first Kosdon motor many in attendance had seen - and after a five count, the J280 didn't disappoint, throwing Little Dragon just under a mile into the air on a beautiful orange plume. I had lost the delay element to this reload many years ago, replacing it with an aluminum plug, so there was no tracking smoke. However, the apogee event was clearly visible. We watched the descent to 700', where the main appeared on cue, dropping the rocket about 50 yards away at the end of the parking area. Poor David Hailey didn't even get to use the tracking equipment I made him hold for the entire flight! Little Dragon was easily recovered and cleaned up for its next flight this weekend.

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.
I fly with:
Indiana Rocketry, Inc. MDRA
Hey! What are you doing down here? The rocket stuff (yea, it's © 2018 David Reese) is up there!