L1 and L2 Certification - no thanks to Frances

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Well-Known Member
May 23, 2004
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Last Friday, as I was heading to Frankfurt Airport to fly to Charlotte, I found out the Freedom Launch in Orangeburg had been cancelled due to the threat of Hurricane Frances. Just my luck.

I had already mailed my L1 Rocket, PML Ariel and L2 Rocket, PML Tethys to karatekicker271, so I decided to fly out anyway. KK's father spoke to Ralph Roberts, the prefect for Tripoli, Charlotte and he agreed to let me fly at Williams Farm in Midland, NC. He obtained the necessary waivers and met us at the farm late Saturday to give the winds a chance to die down and to ensure the nearby crops were not too dry and cause a fire hazard.

The Ariel flight was on an H128-W, flight was perfect. I have never seen an HPR launch, and I fell over while trying to take pictures of the launch (forgot to bring the change of underwear). In fact, all of my launch pix were a bit messed up because in all the excitement, I did not have my camera set correctly. Just think back to your first HPR launch and remember the cool factor!

After recovery, Ralph inspected the Ariel and then I proceeded to take the L2 test - I scored 100% (I had 9.5 hours to study on the flight over). I then launched my heavily weighed down (we had a 4,000 foot waiver) PML Tethys on a AT J350W and it came down beautifully on the 60" Red/White/Blue Spherachute. Aside from a little mud on the nose cone, it was a perfect flight and now I am certified for L2!

I cannot thank Ralph Roberts enough for helping me out. He took time out from his Labor Day weekend to let me attempt the certification I had planned for Orangeburg. Also, many thanks to Karakicker271 and his family for their help and support, without which I would have not been able to certify. It really says a lot about the rocket community when you see for yourself the help and support you get from all involved. I cannot wait to move back to the US to attend a big launch or two. I am now hooked on HPR - but I still love the little stuff!

Attached is a picture of the Ariel launch - taken before I fell over :)
And last but not least, the Tethys recovery (hard to see the rocket, but I thought the sunset was pretty cool):
Congrats on the cert flights! What a beauty. I really like the closer to dusk pics of rockets - just something about the contrast of them.


I liked the pictures... and what a great story to go along with it. Thanks for sharing...

Congrats Joe, you travelled a long way to do that!
Congrats on the Certs !

Awesome pics - especially the Tethys Launch pic
Congratulations! I'm glad you were able to get your flights in. You would not have wanted to fly at Orangeburg. High winds Saturday, cloudy and even windier Sunday, and a total washout Monday.