Went out for my first flights today (pics!)

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Apr 12, 2004
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I finally had a chance to go out for my first launches today. The launch area was a baseball field that was a bit on the small side, however there was not a single person around so it was safe. Myself and my friend went out with a Alpha III, Bandit, and Wizard Este's rockets and a selection of engines. Winds were just under 10 mph or so with some calm spots. We tried waiting for the calm spots to do the launches.

The first flight was the Alpha III on a A8-3. This went perfectly straight on the way up, but the rocket drifted quite a bit coming down. I was pretty exicted though. I cut a small hole in the chute after recovery. The Bandit was a bit heavier, so I sent it up on a A8-3 and decided to try the standard chute. The Bandit went up good and came down with minimal drift, but I still cut a hole in the chute. Here were the rockets after their first launches:


Next up was the Wizard. I went with another A8-3 and the Wizard did an amazing flight upwards. I was impressed, being so light the Wizard really scoots! It was coming down really fast though. I built the streamer per the kit directions but I think I would use a bigger streamer next time. It broke a fin on the ground:


With the Wizard down for the day, I went for a B6-4 in the Alpha III. I caught this picture on launch:


The picture would have been perfect if it was snapped a tiny bit later. Anyway, once the chute came out, the wind really picked up and I watched as the Alpha drifted almost horizontally through the sky. It disappeared behind the treeline. We declared the rocket lost.

Finally, I decided to try a B6-4 in the Bandit. I angled the launch rod a bit, and went with a bigger hole in the chute to bring it down faster. Unfortunately, the hole was not big enough, and the got the Bandit stuck in a tree:


We then went looking for the Alpha III lost from earlier, hoping it had drifted into a small clearing about 100 yards from the launch site. It made it _right_ to the edge of the clearing, but got stuck in a tree anyway:


Another two feet and the Alpha III would have cleared those trees and landed in a flat area with no trees, doh!

Luckily I learned a lot today. First up, I need some larger rockets that do not fly as high for smaller launch areas. I also need to cut much bigger spill holes in the chutes, or just use streamers to bring down rockets faster if there is wind. Next, I need to sand the gloss off body tubes before I glue fins to them so they do not break on landing. And finally I realized that it might be a while before I use my C6-5s in anything, I was really happy with my flights on the A8-3s and B6-4s. Losing the rockets stunk, but it is all part of the learning process :)

I have a Este's GBU-24 Paveway III to build right now, and I am going to order a Flis Kits Praetor and a Quest Big Betty soon, should be fun :)

Update: I put my flights into EMRR: https://www.rocketreviews.com/cgi-bin/flightlog/fltprofile.cgi?jump&&riendeau,brian
Sorry you lost those rockets, but glad you had fun. You just couldn't resist launching those B motors, could you? :)
Some more good low flyers are the Fat Boy, Cluster Bomb, Praetor, and lots of others that you could fly on B's. The Deuce's Wild flys great on B6's and might stay in a small field with low wind. Estes also makes a B4 motor you might want to try.

Wow! That is an amazing picture of the Alpha III liftoff! I've never seen a "low-flame" shot that clean nor that COOOL! I love it! Great shot! :cool:

Sorry you lost the Alpha III and the Bandit. Just look at it as an excuse to buy MORE rockets! Yahoo! :D :D

I thought the Alpha image was fantastic! I like how the engine plug is just falling away. Great shot!
Love that Alpha shot, the flame just scorching the blast plate is fantastic.
And sorry to hear of the high casualty rate.

It is definitely worth it to go back there sometime with a long pole (lots of ideas on treetop recovery aids in another thread here on TRF) or something. Even if all you get back are the plastic parts, you can make another rocket pretty easily.

Another idea: you should make a label with your name, address, and phone number. Actually, a whole sheet of labels, and put one on each of your rockets. It doesn't have to be big, just legible----you would be surprised how much info you can pack onto one square inch. Put it on the bottom of your BT, by the nozzle, and cover with a wide piece of cellophane tape. You just might actually hear from someone who finds it.

I like to include a short blurb in the label that says 'this model rocket is completely inert, all propellants have been consumed' because I got one rocket back from someone who thought he needed to hose it down first.
That is an awesome pic of that im gonna save that and add it to my cool rocket pics that was great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How about that red GLOW on the deflector!

You must have been in the top of a tree with a telephoto lens to get that angle. ;)
Originally posted by Stewart32
one might see that the igniter is glowing as well...

lol i've only just noticed that , thanks :)

You will be pleased with the Estes Wizard even on a A motor! Never try it on a C unless you have a BIG field & winds are light. (Ohh and no clouds ;)) That Wizard will scream off the pad on a A!!
You must have been in the top of a tree with a telephoto lens to get that angle. ;)

Nope, just standing way too close :p Actually I was pretty far back since I always expect the worst, the stand was angled towards me slightly to compensate for the wind, and I am about 6 feet tall so so that can help too.

I am happy that people like the Alpha III lift off picture, it is a good thing I did not delete the picture of the Alpha III lift off as soon as I took it. In hindsight, it did come out pretty good with the thrust right on the blast plate and the igniter and plug flying away. I will never get another picture like that again without getting really lucky :)

Both rockets were up really high in the trees. I was not in a mood to start through sticks at them so I just left them there. Next time I might bring along some stuff to help get a rocket down if if gets stuck. I will definitely put my name and phone number on any nice rockets I fly in the future.

The lure of higher powered engines is strong, I was actually expecting to launch the Wizard on a C6-5 to end the day :rolleyes: If I had not used up all of my A8-3s and switched to the B6-4s, I might still have my rockets. Next time I go out I am going to stock up on the A8s and try some B4s.

What is the best thing to make fillets out of? I really thought my Wizard would hold up to a bad fall. Looking at it up close, it looks maybe the fillet did hold, but instead it just ripped the gloss coat right off the body tube. I will sand down the body tubes a bit before gluing anything on.

My Wizard also has a dent on the top of the body tube. Like the nose cone tried to pop out sideways or the body tube ran into the nose cone. Any ideas? Is this because or the short shock cord? What can I use for replacement shock coards that might be availible locally?

Thanks for everyone's help btw. I have fun building and flying (losing) rockets and this has been a great place to learn quickly :)
For filets:

I use CA glue to attach my fins. Generously. Then, when I think fillets are necessary, I use Fix-It epoxy clay from Apogee. Great stuff.

To give you an example of how well it works:

The last time I went launching, I had two failed recoveries of note: My Goblin clone and my Estes Defender clone. Both are BT55 based, D engine powered, bothe hit around 1400' altitude, and both were packed with a 12" chute that didn't open.

The *screamed* back to the ground, fins first with that un-opened chut providing only enough drag to make the darn things come in fins first.

Hard landings. Big damage. But the fins, on both rockets, *stayed attached completely.* Now, the spiral wound body tubes de-laminated and the damage is considered major and not-repair-able, but the fins are still attached to that outer laer of that wound tube. Paint chips everywhere, no structural integrity left, but fins held!!!
BTW: Your dents, dings, and damage to the forward end of your body tube are what we call "Estes Dents." Simply stated: Estes provides elastic shock cords that are toooooo short - your nose cone rebounded on ejection and did that.

Alway replace your standard (provided with the kit) Estes shock cords with elastic *at least* twice the lenght the provide. A good rule of thumb is to go with 2x or 3x your airframe length in elastic shock cord.

You can get flat elastic of varying widths in the sewing/fabric section of Wal-Mart super cheap. Find it, buy it, use it, love it. :p
Hey Grimlock,

great photos - like everyone else I love the Alpha III shot. I've been photographing my launches for a few years now and never had a single launch shot that good (doh !)


(Evil) Bob
BTW : If you can take a rap of carboard from any motor that you are going to use in the Wizard , that will be better , because the motor will eject it self at ejection (+realeasing the recovery device) And the rocket will be lighter , might drift a little further but 0 damage all the time. If the motor is tooooo small to fit in the rocket , and it slides out on it's own acord , rap a layer of masking tape around it , so its nice and snug.
Originally posted by Karl
BTW : If you can take a rap of carboard from any motor that you are going to use in the Wizard , that will be better , because the motor will eject it self at ejection (+realeasing the recovery device)

I really can't recommend doing that. Trying to eject the motor and the streamer is very unreliable, you may just eject the motor.

The motor case is also a large % of the total weight of the Wizard so shedding that will mean it drifts a lot further...you'll have enough trouble getting it back as it is!

Your fillets should be strong enough to survive the landing. Fore Check gave a good method of attachment, you can do it with Elmer's wood glue instead of Epoxy Clay.

Good luck.
Yeh , i've glued my fins on with CA then filleted 'em with 12min NHP epoxy . Wood glue should be fine , the first rockets I ever built was the Big Bertha & Polaris last year , and they where completely glued together with wood glue , and i've never had any problems with them.
I have Elmers Wood Glue for interior use, should I have got the stuff for exterior use? My main problem with the stuff I have now is that it shrinks to about 15% of its original size when dry. I am going to get some thick CA glue, then try to make the fillets with epoxy. The CA glue I have right now is super thin and sets quick for gluing RC car tires to rims, but would not be good for trying to set a fin in place with less than 5 seconds to set :)

I put a lot of effort into making sure the Wizard motor stayed in during ejection. I did not want the motor whacking me or someone else on the head :p
That Alph III shot is really great. It could be used in a text book!
sorry to hear about your alpha 3. mine just suffered the same fate about ten minutes ago
yeah, i love the shot of the alpha III lighting up the pad!
Originally posted by Karl
lol i've only just noticed that , thanks :)

You will be pleased with the Estes Wizard even on a A motor! Never try it on a C unless you have a BIG field & winds are light. (Ohh and no clouds ;)) That Wizard will scream off the pad on a A!!

True. I flew the Wizard on a B6-6 for both my NARTREK Bronze streamer and parachute duration flights and cleared the bar with plenty to spare on both flights. Got both of them back, but the skies were clear and winds were light.