Challenger 498 night launch at Needville, TX 11/8/08

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luke strawalker

Well-Known Member
Oct 8, 2006
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We had a terrific launch out at the Needville farm this afternoon and
evening! We had a nice crowd for our first Challenger 498 night
launch and the general consensus is that IT WAS A BLAST and everyone
wants to do another night launch!

The festivities started off about 3 pm. Yours truly was still
working on his night launch offering and didn't get down to the field
right away, but things were progressing nicely by the time I got
there. After placing the sign in sheet by the launcher, we all had a
nice visit while prepping and flying birds. Most of the night flyers
were pre-qualified for after dark flights in the late afternoon.

Here's the breakdown according to the sign-in sheet. Everybody sorta
listed their flights in blocks under their name, so they won't appear
in the order flown.

We'll start off with Mikus. I suppose Mikus is still fearful that
I'll start an impulse tax or something, since he didn't list what
motors he flew (LOL, especially when I started doing an Obama
impersonation in a booming voice stating "I want to make sure
everyone behind you gets a chance to succeed too" type nonsense:)
Anyway, Mikus put up his Birdie, Gauchito, Firehawk, a VERY nice
flight of an Estes Phoenix missile, A Baby Bertha with a neon
purple/pink glowing nosecone on his pre-qualification flight, an
Astrobeam on pre-qual, an Evening Star (bashed from a Thunderstar
previously crashed out here IIRC), Estes Patriot, his VERY nicely
done Big Daddy, D-Region Tomahawk, Renegade, Der Red Max, and
National Aerospace Plane. All were really nice flights.

Scott and Matthew joined us with a plethora of new rockets, and it
was good to see them out here with us again. Matthew finally
recovered his Estes Super Shot rockets that got lost out here around
the time of the Challenger Memorial launch last spring (Dave had one
he found later, and I found the other a few weeks after that:) They
launched their Alpha III twice on A8-3's, once with a chute not fully
deploying, the other a normal recovery. Their Guardian was sent up
on a B4-4 and again on a B6-4 for a pair of nice flights. Next was
their Astrobeam on a C6-3 for a good night qualification. The Alpha
III went up again on an A8-3 for a good flight, and the Guardian
returned to the sky on a B6-2 for a smooth trip.

It was good to see Dave again, as between his schedule and mine we
hadn't both been at the same launch since May. Dave had a number of
good flights, and we were all treated to his FANTASTIC Centuri Saturn
V which went up just before sunset on a trio of C6-5's (and C6-3?)
without it's plastic fin extensions for a beautiful flight! She
returned gently to terra firma under two chutes on the main rocket
and single chute for the 3rd stage, capsule, and tower. It was a
sight to behold! Dave also sent up his Cosmic Cobra on a C6-5 for a
great flight, BMS Clone of the Month Astron Drifter on an A8-3 which
failed to deploy it's chute, Super Mark on a D12-5 which turned in an
excellent high flight, and treated us to his nicely done Semroc
Apollo Little Joe II which went aloft on a B6-4 for an excellent
flight and recovered neatly under tandem chutes!

Mike and Kelly and the kids sent up some neat flights. their
Astrobeam went up on a qualifier on a C6-3, then again after dark on
a C6-3 for a very nice flight. They had some VERY nice flights with
an Eggscalibur modified for night flight with a bright LED in the egg
compartment, once on a C6-3 and again on a C6-5. They also sent up
an Amazon twice on C6-5's for night flights, and a Blue Ninja on a
D12-5. Their SpaceShipOne headed upstairs on a C6-5 as well.

Some of the more memorable flights was Mikus's C11-3 (or was it 5?)
that flew nicely but sounded like a frying egg on the way up-- rather
bizarre! Shortly thereafter Jesse sent up a rocket on a C6-3 that
had the longest bonus delay just about any of us had ever seen. She
was streamlining in like a bullet when the chute popped about 30 feet
or so off the ground and she recovered nicely. Jesse didn't write
down any of his flights on the pad so I can't give a lot more detail
here but to say that he did have a good number of VERY nice flights,
and treated us to some composite night flights on F level power!

The night flying was TOTALLY cool. A large number of Estes
Astrobeams flew, and most all turned in some very nice flights. One
impacted before ejection on the pre-qualifiers and suffered a crimped
upper tube, but was quickly field repaired with it's upper tube
replaced with a Chrome Dome tube, and turned in a very nice night
flight. Mikus's Baby Bertha with it's glowing purple/pink nosecone
was a sight to behold, and turned in some REALLY cool flights and
just looked awesome all the way up and down! Dave sent up his
offering of a three-finned clear payload sectioned bird (sorry no
name, but he told me he FOUND that rocket on the roadside and
modified it for night-flight). In it's clear payload tube it carried
a blinking red LED beer bottle lapel pin. It weathercocked a bit
unexpectedly and headed off after the sunset, and deployed heading
west and continued off that way on descent, and was given up for
lost. I located it about 2 hours later, after everyone had left,
about 15 yards across the fence, probably 150-200 yards due west from
the lauch site. It was still merrily blinking away when I located
it, and continued to do so in the truck as I spent another 20 minutes
or so searching for a lost Blue Ninja that went up with glow-sticks
for lighting in the dark. Sorry no luck there, at least not
tonight. Not sure how far that one drifted. I, Jeff Roberts,
produced my own scratchbuild for the night launch, and was pleasantly
surprised by what a hit it was. I copied the fin pattern for the Big
Bertha off Jim Z's site and using some paper towel tubes, constructed
a CHAD clone of a lengthened Big Bertha type rocket which flew on a
D12-3, and carried aloft one of those spinning blinking LED
children's toys acquired from the local TSC store, which I
called "Der Warp Drive". Once the button was taped down with a bit
of balsa, she was loaded on the pad and fingers crossed. She flew
beautifully to zenith and soon deployed her Apogee 34 inch reefed
chute which brought her down at the gates, quite near the group of
kids out helping recover Jesse's mean machine, which flew covered
with glow sticks and suffered a jammed chute (Jesse was plagued by
chute deploy problems today) and got the last 4-6 inches of tube
dinged pretty good. The spinning blinking Warp Drive came down and
bounced off the gate, and fouled it's large chute's shrouds in the
weeds, but thankfully Jesse disentangled it before it was shredded by
the excited glow-stick and flashlight equipped kids! I'm just
guessing but I THINK they had some fun! :) We were treated to a lot
more Astrobeam flights, and some more homemades/modifieds that turned
in some really nice flights. I attempted another flight of Der Warp
Drive, and suffered an ignitor failure and some difficulties packing
the dog barf and chute in the dark, despite our red-lensed
flashlights (I prepped her at home earlier in the day for the first
launch, as she's a bit persnickety to prep with that spinning LED orb
on top and that huge 34 inch chute. Alas, that was to be her
Waterloo, as on her second flight she ejected but never deployed her
chute, and impacted between the tents and vehicles in a spectacular
crash that was a bit too close for comfort I must say, which
thankfully didn't hit anyone or anything, but did destroy the warp
core. The rocket itself was virtually undamaged, so she'll fly again
with a new Warp Drive!

We also were treated to a night Blackjack reload flight (yep they're
black at night too!:) that kinda gassed the place for a bit with the
still and cool evening air not dispersing the cloud very well, and
later on our finale was a spectacular G64 White Lightning reload
flight of a large rocket covered with glow sticks. It was a VERY
nice, loud, bright, and high flight that was recovered about halfway
down the farm just over the crossfence.

After a delightful afternoon of perfect weather, very little north
breeze in the late afteroon and pleasant mid-70's temps turning into
a beautiful evening, clear and moonlight under a bright gibbous moon
that at times had to be shaded with your hand like the sun during day
flights usually is, the evening turned cooler and somewhat chilly as
the evening wound down. Grilled hot dogs and burgers helped warm
everyone up, along with the great comraderie, but after all the
terrific night flights and the kids chasing down parachuting rockets
in the dark with red lensed flashlights and glow sticks around their
necks, soon it was time to head for home. I spent about an hour or
so after everyone packed it in looking for Dave's errant blinking
beer pin rocket, and our MIA Blue Ninja with glow sticks. Everyone
was quite enthused about conducting another night lauch soon. It was
a great time and we hope to see everyone at the next one!

Yall have a good one! OL JR :)
And the Centuri Saturn - V (stills come from Scott Stephenson's video clip)!





And some shots of the launch area after darkness fell (didn't attempt to take
any pics of night flying rockets - my digital cam doesn't have very good speed
:( )

BTW, those Estes Astrobeam rockets are excellent for night flying; they light up good enough that you can follow it from launch to recovery.

Challenger 498 Club Launch @ Needville 044.jpg

Challenger 498 Club Launch @ Needville 045.jpg

Challenger 498 Club Launch @ Needville 046.jpg

Challenger 498 Club Launch @ Needville 047.jpg
Dave did you get any pics of my "Der Warp Drive" ?? Just curious to see how they turned out...

I wonder if the LED's would cause a 'spiral' pattern on a digital camera??

Later! OL JR :)
Dave did you get any pics of my "Der Warp Drive" ?? Just curious to see how they turned out...

I wonder if the LED's would cause a 'spiral' pattern on a digital camera??

Later! OL JR :)

No, sorry I didn't attempt to take any night launched pictures since my digital
camera's speed leaves a lot to be desired.....:mad: . My wife and I are planning on getting a better quality digital in the near future. That should
help (I'm tired of getting nothing but smoke in those launch pictures!).
Great shots :) I really like the Sat V. Is it a D12-3 powerplant ? :)