What is your funniest rocketry mishap?

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qquake2k

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I saw a post like this on another forum, but it was two years old, and I couldn't find one like it here. So I'm starting my own. Here are my funniest mishaps, which all happened when I was a kid in the 70's.

1. My buddy had an Alpha III, that the motor mount had come out of. So we shoved a D12-5 in it. It was a tight fit, and we kind of man-handled it into the rocket. The man-handling must have somehow damaged the motor. We launched it in my backyard, it went up about 20 feet and exploded, then landed on the roof of my house in flames. The funniest part was Gordon and I running around the backyard like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to find a ladder so we could put the fire out. By the time we got up there, the plastic fin can was fully engulfed. Stupid, I know. But hey, we were only 12!

2. I launched an old style Estes X-Ray at the school across the street from my house at dusk. I had put a live cockroach in the clear payload section. Since it was dusk, I quickly lost sight of the rocket, and it disappeared. I found out a few days later that a boy from my school had found the rocket laying in a street a couple of blocks away from the school. When he saw the still live cockroach in it, he thought it was some alien thing, and demolished the entire rocket with his bicycle. Wish I could have seen his face!

3. I don't remember the manufacturer, but I bought this rocket kit that was advertised as being able to break the sound barrier. It was two stage, and came with the motors. Oddly, I remember that the fins on the lower stage were glued directly to the motor casing, creating a one-time-use booster. Up until then, I had never spent much time filling balsa fins and nose cones, but as I really wanted this to succeed in achieving Mach 1, I put a lot of effort into it. I spent about two weeks on it, and got the fins and nose cone glass smooth. I painted the rocket gloss black with silver highlights. It was probably the most beautiful rocket I've ever built. Finally came the big day. I launched it at the school, and was anticipating hearing the "rifle shot" that the instructions said breaking the sound barrier would create. Several kids had gathered to watch, as they usually did when I launched rockets. I announced to everyone this special rocket's mission, but most were unimpressed. They just wanted to watch the rocket go up. After a short, breathless count down, I pressed the button. The booster ignited instantly (it was an "E", I believe), and the rocket shot off the pad. It went up about 20 feet and exploded very dramatically, showering the assembled crowd with cardboard and balsa fragments. But the funniest part was one kid who was sitting on his bicycle. When it exploded, it scared him so bad he dove off his bike. He literally dove horizontally, and landed face first on the grass! I'd have to say that was the biggest laugh I've gotten from almost anything, rocketry or otherwise!

Now it's your turn. Let's hear those funny stories! I can't wait!

Jim Lane
 

Gillard

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not funny in a haha sort of way, but.....

i had a scratch built TARDIS rocket (had flown perfectly before) come off the pad horizontally and fly straight at me, hit me in the chest, knocked me to the ground and burnt my foot. - i can laugh about it now.
 

tbzep

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tbzep

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not funny in a haha sort of way, but.....

i had a scratch built TARDIS rocket (had flown perfectly before) come off the pad horizontally and fly straight at me, hit me in the chest, knocked me to the ground and burnt my foot. - i can laugh about it now.
When I was growing up with my friends, watching each other get hurt was the funniest thing ever. We always asked if we were OK, but we did it while pointing and laughing. Did your buddies have fun stomping your foot out? :p
 

jadebox

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One time when I was launching my Talon 2 on an Aerotech G, the motor chuffed a few times but didn't light. Unfortunately, the delay did. So, it sat on the pad smoking until .....

Anyway ... it's in the video at:

https://www.payloadbay.com/video-7908.html

-- Roger
 

Gillard

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When I was growing up with my friends, watching each other get hurt was the funniest thing ever. We always asked if we were OK, but we did it while pointing and laughing. Did your buddies have fun stomping your foot out? :p
melted the sock i was wearing, shoe protected most of my foot, so no fire. got a nasty burn, and some chest bruising.
i knew it looked bad from their point of view as they went very quiet in the few seconds it was happening.
 

Atlantis

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I was out launching rockets at my Unlce's house the day of the Iron Bowl and my Semroc shuttle was on deck. Of course there was a huge crowd watching, consisting of most of my immediate family on my mom's side. Turns out, using duct tape for a launch rod stand off was not one of my better ideas. So, I counted and flipped the switch on my homemade controller (Dr. Zooch Saturn V box). The "flight" looked a lot like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_A-1OpY8Vw&feature=related
The the shuttle popped off when the ejection charge blew. I exclaimed, " that kinda worked!" The next day, I tried flying it again, however, my lauch lug stuck to the stand off, causing the rocket to go cartwheeling across the drive way, breaking up as it went. However, I'm confident I can get it to fly yet.
 

luke strawwalker

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Way back in my pre-BAR days when I was in high school, I was flying my Astrocam quite a bit, and videoing every launch with our new fangled camcorder (one of those big clunky FULL SIZE VHS machines) and having my little brother, who was about 7-8 at the time, doing the launching.

I'd set up the Astrocam on the launch pad, hooked up the leads, and my brother continuity tested it, as I was filming and we were about to start the countdown, I remembered that I forgot to open the 'shutter lock' that covers the lens aperature during ground handling to protect the film from accidental exposure prior to the flight. This little oversight had bitten me a time or two before much to my chagrin, so I immediately told him to 'stop' while I went back out to the pad to open the safety lock. I was still filming, and saw him lay the controller down on the ground as I started out to the pad, and his favorite dog wandered over to him to be petted, and was pawing around him as I walked to the pad.

Just as I leaned over to open the shutter lock, reaching for the rocket and my hand is an inch or two away, the rocket ignites and instantly leaps into the sky as I watch it through the viewfinder. I yelled and jumped back and gave my brother quite a tongue-lashing! As I looked over at him, he was laughing his head off-- the dog was still standing on the launch controller!

Nearly taken out by a dog-launched rocket... :rolleyes: OL JR :)
 

Dr.Zooch

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I've posted this before- a while back, but considering the title of this thread...

Okay- here’s my Funniest Rocketry Related Calamity… Setting: Saginaw Michigan, spring 1972, I’m in the 8th grade. In those days we lit just as many engines with that red, waterproof fuse as we did igniter wires. I discovered that this fuse burned at a fairly steady rate (X inches per second) and came up with a scheme to delay air-start a booster glider piggy-backed on another rocket. I built this rocket-plane that looked like a fat F-102 and mounted it on some three-finned sort of rocket whose name I now forget- all that’s important to the story is that it looked like an Alpha, but had 3 plastic fins. I glued the end of one length of the red fuse into one of those old Estes stubby ½ A engines and placed that engine into the glider, the other engine was a C6-7 and it was to be ignited with a different fuse. The idea was that I’d light one fuse and it would light the second. The first fuse would lead up to the glider’s engine and the second would lead to the booster. The booster fuse was about 3 to 4 seconds shorter than the glider’s fuse, so the booster would ignite first, boost into its delay arc where the glider’s engine would then light and shoot it away from the booster. Once the glider’s engine was expended, the ejection charge would pop the engine out and the glider would return to earth. Should work… right? Heck- even today I think that would be fun to try, so in the 8th grade it was a real winner!

I rigged up a pad with the fuses all set on little wooden stand-off’s of all sorts- wrapped the fuse lengths in aluminum foil- got my ant-pilot and stuck his poor little self in the glider’s cockpit- set up my 60X telescope to look closely at the business end of the rocket out there on the pad in my folks backyard… I was ready.

I lit the fuse and dashed back to telescope. Through it I saw a very bad sight. The fuses had burned through the series of stand-offs and the glider’s fuse had swung over and- as they’d say in rocketry today- impinged on those plastic fins. One was simply on fire and the other was doing this sort of snake thing as it too burned and melted. About the time I said “Aw #$%T!” the rocket took off! It went up about 40 feet and then went into the standard cartwheel and somewhere in there, the glider ignited and shot out of the loops of smoke at about a 45 degree angle upward, then did a ¾ off-set loop and came straight at me! Just as I was ducking it veered over and impacted into the back of our garage where we kept the trashbags. It plowed into one of the bags and then seconds later the ejection charge popped. I stood there sort of stunned and as I began to laugh, I saw that the ejection charge had started a small fire in the trash. I was using the garden hose to keep myself from being grounded for life when my mom opened the back door and sung out “What’s goin’ on out here?” Like any of us would- I answered… “Nothin’ ma.” Exercising a degree of cool that would later help me in life as an airline pilot… “Folks, yer’ captain speaking… what ya’ just heard was nothin’ at all, by the way if you’ll look out the left side you’ll see us passin’ over Disney World on our way into Orlando for an on-time arrival.” (Don’t let ‘em look right, because the engine we just shut down is on the right side).

Anyhow- maybe I’ll have to repeat that test again someday- in a big open field with nothin’ to burn nearby.
 

hcmbanjo

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I've posted this story before, maybe not on TRF - here goes:

I'd already sent my entry into the Estes Space Shuttle design contest without a test flight. Two week safter submitting the "plans" I finally got around to flying it with a C6-3.
It took a little convincing to get my Grandmother to come out of the ranch house to watch the first flight. My pad was about 200 feet from the back porch. I made sure she was watching and counted down.
It was vertical for about 25 feet. It did a 90 degree turn to horizontal flight, with sights on the ranch house.
There was one phone line going from a telephone pole to the house. It hit the phone line, vibrating with a "boooiiiinnnnggg". My grandmother shook her head, waved me off and went back into the house as the glider lazily circled in.
 

MarkII

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Yep, that was it! Do you know what size the booster motor was?
F100-0.

I never had any, but I have read that the cato problem with FSI's F100 motor had to do with the fact that it had a deep central core. You had to use the long igniter and insert it all the way in so that the head was at the top of the core, similar to the way one places an igniter in a composite motor. Some users failed to get the igniter all the way up to the top of the core, while others simply inserted the igniter until it got just past the nozzle as if it was an Estes motor. Both errors reliably produced catos. This is all just third-hand information to me, since I had no experience with any FSI products, but the explanation kind of makes sense, doesn't it? I'm not sure if it is adequate to explain all F100 catos.

MarkII
 

sandman

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I had picked up one of the locals hitchiking (about 40 years ago!) and had a few engines sitting on the seat of my car. No good deed goes unpunished.:confused2:

This Darwin winner stole one from me and stuck a burning cigarette into the ejection end while he was inside the lobby area of a local gas station.

Does anybody remember those? They had a candy counter an sales counter and a pinball machine. local hangout.

When the motor ignited besides filling the place with smoke and getting the local volunteer fire department involved it pretty much scared him back on top of the candy counter smashing it to a million pieces.

A few days later he tried to pick a fight with me 'cause it was all my fault.

BTW this guys name was "Moose".
 

stickershock23

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I was at an SCRA launch with Kelly 88 (sorry to steal your story Tim) Tim had an upscaled Photon disruptor. Beautiful rocket. he loaded up a G64, put it on the pad. 3, 2, 1, The motor lit perfectly, but the motor mount failed, the rocket never moved except the nose popping off. the motor went all the way through the rocket, out towards the crowd, Hit Fred's umbrella (underside) which made the motors curve around and head straight to the open hatchback of Martin's car. (where all his rockets and motors were stored.)

Yeah, Smoke Fire, Fire extinguisher.. a few burnt fingers from people trying to pick it up while its still hot. The "trunk" space still has a nice burn in the carpet... You couldn't have planned it to go better. :roll:
 

jflis

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Too good a topic to miss... I'll give a couple now and more later... (if I can live down the shame...LOL)

First major mishap was with the Estes SR71... I used to fly rockets with my science teacher's R/C club. One weekend he invited me to come to his house for a cookout and could I bring some rockets to show the neighbors... Sure, I said!

Everything was going swimingly until the SR71... All preped, on the pad, count down to zero and LIFTOFF! Under the power of a C6 motor the rocket did a very large loop with the perigee VERY close to the ground. Still under power, it began to rise up until it hit the neighbor's screen door. THe rocket went INTO the neighbors house and we could still hear it burning...

We ran over and ran into the house only to see the rocket on the kitchen table, hole in the wall, smoke and debris everywhere (the ejection charge had just gone off), cheerio's EVERYWHERE and a very startled elderly man who was just trying to enjoy a late breakfast...

My teacher and I just stood there in a panic, not knowing *what* to do. The neighbor looked up (he was about 70 yo) and said "that was the most exciting thing I've ever seen!" and he was quickly invited to watch the rest of the launching and enjoy *lunch* too :)

Then there was the time I superglued a super glue bottle to my lips and teeth....

Oh yeah, I once glued my whole palm to my oak (eg: 400 pound) work desk with the debonder *just* out of reach...

oh man....

(remind me to tell you about the scale Blue-Flame launch... LOL
 

kjohnson

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I hear that zog139 has some some funny rocketry stories. Hopefully he'll post one.
 

rokitflite

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Yeah! Jim (Zog) makes me laugh everytime he launches something :eek::p;)
 

zog139

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OK I'll chime in with a couple....

First was my Big Daddy on an E9 at NARAM-46 on sprort launch weekend. It left the pad and only went up about 10' off the pad. While the motor was still burning, layed over on it's side proceeded to "landshark" about 2 foot off the ground out the other side of the range head then took off again vertically to only 50-60 feet up then it core sampled in down range about 100 yards all with no damage, no one hurt and I'd have the say the most entertainment for one single flight with one single motor :cheers:


Second one that comes to mind is when my younger and very enthusiastic son followed me out to the launch pad as I preparred to fly a 13mm contest helicopter model. Matthew was eager to learn everything about rockets and could only watch contest flights at the time he was about 5-6 years old. I made the error of setting the model down on the ground and as I turned to tell Matthew something, he had already come around the other direction and you guessed it...........stepped right on the little model and crushed it like a fly :D. I have often been told that I am a patient man, at that moment it was really hard to not say anything. Matthew looked at my with terror in his eyes like I was going to go off :bangpan:. I KNEW it was my fault and only my fault. I had to tell him over and over it was my fault and he said he was sorry, of course I told him again it was only my fault !
 

jadebox

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At last November's NEFAR launch, as a large saucer floated back to earth, someone shouted "Oh no! My six-year-old is in there!"


Okay ... it was me. I shouted that. But, I didn't realize I was going to do that until after I had done it. So, it's okay that I laughed ... I think.

-- Roger
 

MarkII

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Without a doubt America's Funniest Rocketry Home Video! :roll:The droll on-screen comments are perfect! :D

My funniest rocket stories? I have already recounted my very first model rocket launch and told the story of my 1970 Astron Midget launch a few times on the forums over the past couple of years. Recently I also talked about the Wile E. Coyote-like flights of my MicroMaxx-powered FlisKits Tumble Weed.

Thanks to the magic of cut-and-paste, here's the Midget story:

For the one and only flight of my original K-40 Midget back in 1970, I used a 1/2A-0S (I think) booster motor, and another 1/2A-?S (probably another 1/2A-4S, but it might have even been an A-?S) in the sustainer. Upon ignition, the Midget popped up to all of about 12 feet in altitude, and then started backsliding, with the booster still thrusting! It stayed vertical and never tipped, and slowly backed down to about 6 feet (almost eye level), and then staged. Since the field was a bit overgrown, I wanted to make sure that I didn't lose the booster, but after seeing it land, I looked up and around but couldn't find the sustainer in the sky. (I did hear the ejection charge fire, though.) I was about to give up on it when my Dad said to turn around and look. When I did, I spotted my sustainer, which was clearly visible, about 50 feet away and about 30 feet up, coming down gently on its chute. Back then I was a little bit disappointed; I considered the launch to have been a partial failure. Now, however, I would give anything to be able to repeat it.


If I can dig up the other stories I'll post condensed versions of them, too.

MarkII
 

sam_midkiff

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Too good a topic to miss... I'll give a couple now and more later... (if I can live down the shame...LOL)

<snip>

(remind me to tell you about the scale Blue-Flame launch... LOL
Jim, tell us about the scale Blue-Flame launch.

Sam
 

DAllen

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On LCO duty once I had a father/son duo hand in their flight card to me which indicated the rocket was a D12 to D12-7 2-stage bird. Announced the rocket...countdown...hit the button, rocket flew flawlessly but then nothing happened. It arced over and started to point straight down.

Ruh-roh George

Then the upper stage lit and the rocket did one of the most awesome prangs I have ever seen. After thinking about it for a moment I asked the Dad, "Did you put the D12-0 in the sustainer and the D12-7 in the booster?"

Dad: "Uhhhh..."

9 year old son: "I TOLD YOU THAT WAS WRONG!" *facepalm*

It was hard not to laugh in front of those guys.

-Dave
 

JoeLaunchman

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1. I think it was either 1976 or 1977. My brother had built an Estes Mini-Bomarck incorrectly. I guess he measured the wing position from the front of the tube instead of the rear of the tube, or vice-versa. The result is that the wing went on much too far forward. We launched it in a school field with my parents with an A3-4T. The rocket barely clears the rod when it begins to corkscrew and loop through the air at low altitude, actually grazing my mother's 70's bouffant/beehive hairdo before crashing to the ground. Needless to say, no further launches were permitted for quite some time after that.

2. Two years ago, funny but more of a OMG, I can't believe that happened moment. Launched a scratch-built 2-stager with a B6-0/A8-5 combo. No problem, see the booster tumble to the ground, then the upper stage deploy the chute and come down, but I don't actually watch it all the way to the ground. I go looking for the booster stage where I think it landed but it's vanished! Nowhere to be seen. After some minutes I go to pick up the upper stage and find the booster is under the chute! The two stages had landed in EXACTLY the same spot. The odds are strongly against it but I wonder if anyone else has experienced this.
 

stickershock23

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I once saw a Saturn V chuff about 10 times on the pad, each time it chuffed the rocket jumped up a couple inches then came back to the blast shield. each time it got a little higher on the rod. finally with it about 2" from the top of the rod it came to pressure, actually went pretty straight. but under almost no power. thank the heavens because the delay grain must have burned during the chuffs, THe chute popped right at burn out, maybe 75 feet in the air.

One more chuff without lighting it would have come off the rod, fell to the ground and landsharked...
 

Marlin523

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I built my first rocket for my son who at the time was 8 years old. We spent alot of time building and painting. It was a min. diameter rocket with cardboard fins (don't remember what kind) so it was very light. It was a Saturday and it was snowing pretty hard. We took the rocket to the school field, shoved a C motor in it and sent it into oblivion.
 

SwingWing

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I've never had any rocket mishaps......Everyone of my flights have gone off perfectly:roll::eyepop::eek::roll:

Jim - as far as I know the only 2 time winner of the MASA Prang of the year award......:eek:
 

kelltym88

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I have one....*DISCLAIMER* DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME*

My friend had an Estes Phoenix and an M80. He decided it would be cool to put the M80 just above the motor. He cut out the side of the rocket and affixed the M80 just above the mmt. We took it to the local high school. There were a couple of us there, including my wife(which to this day I don't know why she was there). We hooked it up, 3,2,1 launch.... it went up maybe 12-15 feet, and then started to "dance" horizontally and kind of flop around in the air. It headed straight for Michele. Then it just landed gently on the ground.

Some kids that were there started to go pick it up and we all yelled "N0!!!!" and just then ...... BOOM!!!! The M80 went off and a thousand little pieces came floating down.

I wasn't 12, I was 22, I know shame on me, but it was kinda cool.
 

NjCo

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Everything was going swimingly until the SR71... All preped, on the pad, count down to zero and LIFTOFF! Under the power of a C6 motor the rocket did a very large loop with the perigee VERY close to the ground. Still under power, it began to rise up until it hit the neighbor's screen door. THe rocket went INTO the neighbors house and we could still hear it burning...
That's the best spot landing story I've ever heard!! :D
 
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