Treed Rockets: Robin Hood Recovery... And Some Warnings

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K'Tesh

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As satisfying as it sounds, cutting down trees that have caught your rocket is a bad idea... Put down your chainsaw (and cut out the snarky remarks). Here's some ideas to help you get your rocket back.

But first a warning: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RECOVER your rockets (kites, drones, etc.) that are stuck on overhead utility lines! Attempting to do so can lead to severe injury and death! Contact your utility company in the event your rocket gets hung up on a utility line.

One of the major hazards to our fleets are trees (cats and dogs are among the others). You have a beloved rocket that you fly, and to your horror and annoyance it gets stuck up a tree. Too high (or small) for you to safely climb, how do you get it down? A common response to these situations by many (un)helpful members (including myself on occasion) is to grab a saw, and start hacking branches off, or cut it down (even if it's only meant as humor). This is usually not helpful to the rocketeer, nor to the hobby. There are those who aren't in the hobby who, upon seeing or even hearing this, get a negative view of us and our hobby in their minds. Any wonder why communities might be banning rocketry on their parks, playing fields, and school grounds? Damaging, and destroying offending trees also may be illegal. Do you own the tree? And If you do, are you allowed by your community to remove it?

So, let's get real. We've heard the question countless times. Now what can you do?

Rockets typically get caught in 3 different ways... By the shock cord draping over a branch, by the parachute getting caught on a branch. or some how the rocket getting hooked by its fins on a branch.

People need to remember these things. Shock cords can be replaced, parachutes can be replaced, and often even nosecones can be replaced easily. We invest most of our time, energy and resources on the cardboard tube(s), balsa bits, and AV bays. Those are what we want back the most. And remember, usually, a treed rocket will not come down, intact, on its own if left to the environment. The solution is to sacrifice the parts that can be replaced for those that can't. In other words, cut the shock cord, or damage the parachute until it comes down.

So, how do we do that? I suggest that attaching a line (I like to recommend Kevlar) to a projectile and firing it up there as the best option when shaking the tree doesn't work. Suitable projectiles? Lead fishing weights, blunted arrows, or crossbow bolts. Then by using a slingshot, bow, or crossbow, or even a "speargun", you launch the line up into the tree, and try to shake the rocket down, or cut/damage the hung up part.

Here's a couple of photos of a successfully recovered Estes MAV that was hung up high in a tree.

upload_2020-4-8_10-13-35.png


And here's a video on making a "speargun" for recovering rockets and drones (thanks to Greg Furtman for the link).


If we want to preserve what we have left, and attract new people to the hobby, we should keep these things in mind.

And again: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RECOVER your rockets (kites, drones, etc.) that are stuck on overhead utility lines!

Pointy Side Up!
K'Tesh
 
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K'Tesh

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[EDIT] rklapp's image was deleted from his message, and the Charlie Brown image added in. My comment (below) was about the deleted image.[/EDIT]
That's exactly the type of behavior that loses us launch fields.
 
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rklapp

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But it’s appropriate for kites, that’s my point. ;)

Just kidding. I was searching for a Charlie Brown cartoon and found this graphic. Trees have always been his mortal enemy. I replaced it with a more appropriate graphic.
 
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K'Tesh

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But it’s appropriate for kites, that’s my point. ;)

Just kidding. I was searching for a Charlie Brown cartoon and found this graphic. Trees have always been his mortal enemy. I replaced it with a more appropriate graphic.
Thanks for that... Yes, kites and rockets both have a common enemy. The difference is that our activity involves (Gasp) Class C fireworks, and Class C fireworks are... Fireworks!! And those are dangerous (according to the uneducated and ignorant masses). So, they're always looking for reasons to kick us out of places we've been for decades w/o incident. Like I was trying to point out, we don't need to give them any ammunition in their campaigns of ignorance.
 

dhbarr

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Thanks for that... Yes, kites and rockets both have a common enemy. The difference is that our activity involves (Gasp) Class C fireworks, and Class C fireworks are... Fireworks!! And those are dangerous (according to the uneducated and ignorant masses). So, they're always looking for reasons to kick us out of places we've been for decades w/o incident. Like I was trying to point out, we don't need to give them any ammunition in their campaigns of ignorance.
Some states still misclassify toy propellant devices as fireworks?
 

K'Tesh

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Some states still misclassify toy propellant devices as fireworks?
Not certain... I just remember seeing the "Class C Firework label on the Estes motors back when I was trying to get permission to do a launch at a certain location (for a camera rocket). I was refused due to that reason.
 

rklapp

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It's interesting that I can't order a small lithium battery to Hawaii from Amazon but I can order as many A through E engines as I want.
 

Greg Furtman

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I made some modifications to my "speargun", although I think of it more of a cross between a slingshot and a crossbow. After having messed around with it shooting bolts (short featherless arrows) I decided that I would get more consistant results of I nocked the bolts and had a short "bow string" to go into the nock. So I cut my tubing in half and tied a short piece of Kevlar string between them that goes into the notch on the nock. This has made a huge improvment in repeatability and consistancy. I also discovered (the hard way of course) that thin, clear molofilament fishing line is imposible to see at branch level so I bought some bright pink braided fishing line and put that on my fishing reel. Much easier to see.
RocketRetrieverUpdate.jpg
 
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