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Challenger 498 day/night launch, November 14,2009

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luke strawwalker

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Well, the November Challenger 498 club launch was really a blast, making up for
the poor weather which plagued and ultimately cancelled last month's launch.
The weather finally cooperated with great conditions-- high overcast which
partly broke up during the day, giving plenty of light for flights but
eliminating staring into the sun while following flights. The winds were a bit
variable, but almost nonexistent, with the highest gust I saw being a blustery 6
MPH. The temps were in the low 80's and the humidity was pleasant. and the
field was green and the ground was dry. All in all near perfect conditions. So
perfect in fact that I missed about half the day, having been torn away by
needing to finish baling hay after the long summer drought and heavy October
rains that have kept everybody in a holding pattern SO long...

Mikus arrived between noon and one and set up the range, and proceeded to kick
things off with his EDMONDS CECEE boost glider on a A10-3T mini engine. After
some triboelectrification difficulties which prevented power from effectively
being transmitted from his car battery to the interlock controller, the CECEE
took off on a beautiful flight. At apogee the glider and pod separated and the
streamer was ejected, with the CECEE settling into a nice spiralling glide,
which actually beat the pod to the ground, funnily enough, with both glider and
pod only a few yards apart. Mikus then launched his DER GOONY MAX on a C6-5,
which flew nicely but went into a severe corkscrew on descent, which dizzyingly
enough sped up to the point the chute was almost horizontal at one point, but
which landed undamaged. Scott and his son Matthew launched their GOLIATH on a
C6-3 for a good flight, which they used to calibrate their baseline and ALTITRAK
setup for Matthew's science project, using a Blue Ninja to carry different
shaped identically weight-adjusted BT-60 nosecones to see their effects on
aerodynamics and altitude. The Goliath reportedly came in at 275 meters
altitude, Scott reported.

Mikus flew his NASA PEGASUS on a C6-5 for a good flight, and Matthew sent up his
Estes RASCAL on a A8-3 which tangled it's chute on the fins. John Thro launched
his much-anticipated INFLIGHT MACH 10 on a B4-2 on it's maiden flight, which
gently arced into the wind, deployed it's streamered nose just past apogee, and
rolled out into a steep, fast, but very nice glide, landing a bit hard with only
cosmetic damage. Matthew launched his ALPHA III on a B6-4 for a nice flight,
and Scott send up his nicely decorated DEFENDER on an A8-3 for a short low but
nice flight. Mikus brought out the MAXI-ALPHA III and sent up upstairs on a
D12-3 for a good flight.

Matthew broke out one of his BLUE NINJA rockets on it's maiden flight on a D12-3
for a good flight. John brought out his scratchbuilt FIRESHARK sustainer for
it's maiden flight on a B6-4 for a good flight. John then returned with both
stages of the FIRESHARK set up with a C6-0 in the first stage and a B6-4
upperstage for it's first two-stage flight, which went well. Mikus sent up his
MOZZIE on a G53-5J motor for a good flight over the fence into the sorghum/okra
field. John launched his BLUE NINJA on a D12-5 with the GUM CAM aboard-- we're
waiting to see those videos John! Matthew launched a BIG BERTHA for a good
flight. John sortied his MACH 10 on a B4-2 for a BEAUTIFUL flight. Mikus's
SUPER BIG BERTHA took to the skies on an E15-4 but suffered a fouled chute and a
dinged tube.

Mikus brought out his modified twin-engined Thunderstar equipped with a pair of
about 6 inch long 1/2 inch diameter LED light stick pods, which could flash,
glow solid, chase, strobe, etc. which he calls the EVENING STAR, launched on two
C6-3's, but which due to the smallish fins and heavy cluster and LED pods, went
unstable about halfway through the burn and luckily popped the chute and
recovered without damage. Mikus then launched his ELIMINATOR equipped with
small LED side-pods for a successful night flight qualification. John sent up
his nice scratchbuilt 7-UP FLYER on a pair of B6-4's in a cluster for a good
flight. Mikus sent up his METALIZER with small LED pods for a good night
qualification. John launched his BIG DADDY on a D12-5. Mikus sent up his BABY
BERTHA modded with an LED shining into the nosecone making it glow hot pink, on
a B4-4 for a good night qualification flight, and tried the EVENING STAR yet
again after adding a bit of noseweight to help the stability, this time on a
pair of C6-5's, but she still went unstable right at burnout and turned sideways
into a tumble, recovering successfully, but still too unstable for a night
flight. I hope Mikus gets the bugs worked out of this one, because it's a cool
looking rocket!

John launched his DEMON RIDER on a C6-5 with the GUM CAM taped looking down on
the side of the rocket, which put it broadside to the airstream and tended to be
a bit draggy. The rocket lifted off and arced over, ejected its chute but
promptly tangled and landed rather hard, but mostly undamaged from what I could
see... another vid we wanna see there John! Mikus launched his ASTROBEAM on a
C6-5 for a good night qualification flight. Matthew sent up his BLUE NINJA again
on a D12-5 for a good flight, as part of his science experiment program, as he
did repeatedly throughout the day. We're not sure exactly how many flights he
made, because his research was highly secretive and we'll all have to just wait
until his findings are reported to his science class to find out.

John Thro launched his DEMON RIDER again on B6-4, this time without the gum cam
along, for a good flight. Matthew launched his ASTROBEAM on a C6-3 for a flight
he described as Awesome! NO, KOOL! in the flight log:) Michael David launched his
EGGSCALIBER on a D12-5 which unfortunatly stripped it's chute and landed hard,
breaking a fin. Jeff Roberts couldn't resist bringout out his Big Bertha
sorta-cloned scratchbuilt WARP DRIVE rocket, with a new Warp Core to replace the
one destroyed in the last night flight it made last year due to a stripped
Apogee freebie 32 inch chute. THis time it was recovered under a 24 inch
TopFlite nylon chute. The WARP DRIVE's warp core was powered up and she was
launched on a D12-3 for a very nice flight, ejecting right at apogee and
settling into a nice smooth recovery, gliding cross-country a ways in the breeze
under the 24 inch chute and recovering about 100 yards from the pad. Michael sent
up his ASTROBEAM on a C6-5 for a successful flight, and then launched his modded
Blue Ninja night-flyer he calls the BLUE HARPOON, equipped with a cool blue LED
lit plastic mini-lightsaber looking plastic rod with bubbles inside it to
diffuse the light, and painted with glow in the dark washable paint. It flew
nicely and ended up drifting a long ways down into the field behind my house,
and was recovered by me shortly after everyone left, as Keira and I puttered
around the pasture on the golf cart with the lights off. We drove within two
feet of it and I spotted it by the shroud lines, since the harpoon had
apparently lost battery contact and wasn't glowing until I picked it up. Mikus
launched his BABY BERTHA with it's LED glowing pink nosecone and suffered much
the same fate, drifting even further than the BLUE HARPOON did, again found by
Keira and I driving around the in dark dodging round bales, again coming within
about 3 feet of flattening it out. It's mini-LED apparently had intermittent
contact in it's switch or battery, because it wasn't glowing when I found it,
though it did glow when I fiddled with it a bit, but quit again spontaneously.

Mikus launched his METALIZER equipped with 3 LED mini-pods on the sides, shining
up into the metallic mylar chute. It drifted long and ended up over the fence
by a hay bale. Jeff launched the WARP DRIVE again, it's whirlygig Warp Core
losing battery power, boosted by an E9-4 for a nice flight, arcing south and deploying
near apogee and settling into another nice long walk recovery, landing not more
than 50 feet or so from Mikus's METALIZER, still glowing and blinking strongly
in the hay field. I imagine I resembled a Christmas tree returning with the
multicolored blinking Metalizer in one hand and strobing WARP DRIVE in the
other. John Thro launched his FIRESHARK Ona B6-4, and Matthew sent up his
ASTROBEAM in a C6-3 for a nice flight. Mikus planned to send up his mini LED
pod equipped ELIMINATOR but had more triboelectification problems at the
launcher, probably from all the LED's and scrubbed... :)

With that, we broke the range down, packed up, put up, and chased the cows off
long enough to get through the gates, made a few passes along the fence looking
for errant night flying rockets that were still MIA, and called it a day and
locked up. Keira and I made some passes in the dark and ended up recovering the
missing rockets.

A good time was had by all, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone out
here next month.

Later! OL JR :)
 
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