Mars Snooper II launch 1976...Photo by Mom Centuri Saturn 1B school launch 1977...Photo by Mr. Fushimi Some of the big ones hanging from the ceiling 1977 Estes 1/70 Saturn 1B launch on D12-3...Photo by Mom Estes plant Penrose, CO 1976...Photo by Mom Dark Lander (Mars Lander BT-101 clone) Phoenix, Arizona 2006 photo: Gerald Meux Jr. Moe's LOC IV on H128 for his successful Level 1 certification flight. Rainbow Valley, AZ 2006 Estes Outlander decked out Mars Lander-style launches on a D12-3, Rainbow Valley, AZ March 2007 Business end of an I211 in Moe's 2x upscale Tango Papa Mars Lander, Rainbow Valley, AZ March 2007 Level 3 Certification Flight of the Mighty Moe, Rainbow Valley, AZ 25 Oct 2008

Moe's Rocketry Photos

(All photos by Moe unless I'm in the photo, or otherwise noted, either in the text or mouse-over)

Note: As many of the early photos were taken with a 110 camera, they are quite grainy and of typical 110 quality. I've posted them here mainly as a historical record of my early rocketry activities. I'm just thankful my mom and dad took these photos back in the day and they still exist in my photo albums. Many photos are dated on the back and provide an accurate record for some of my activities. As you browse through these photos, especially during the 90s and beyond, the photos get a little better because of better camera equipment.

Please click here to view a listing of my evolving rocket fleet, both past and present.

[Phase I] [Phase II] [Phase III] [1987] [Phase IV] [Phase V] [Phase VI] [Phase VII]
[2006] [2007] [2008] [2009] [2010] [2011] [2012] [2013]
[Aeromoe Site Map]

1975-1977 (Phase I)

The Estes plant in Penrose
1976. Photo: Mom

As of January 2009, I've been involved in Rocketry on and off since 1975. In that year I became reaquainted with Marc Nafts, a friend from a couple of years earlier. Marc had a small model rocket in his room called the Estes Mark II. He explained to me what it was and though he'd never launched it, I soon decided that I was going to try model rocketry for myself.

My mom and I soon moved into a home that overlooked a large field...seemingly a perfect place for launching and recovering model rockets. As it turned out, most launches occured from the lawn immediately in front of the parking lot and recovery usually took place out in the field...sometimes WAY out in the field.

My first visit to a hobby shop to search for model rockets netted the purchase of an Alpha III starter set. Being just 10 years old but with a reasonable amount of plastic modelling skills, I quickly assembled the kit. I don't know the exact date of purchase, nor do I remember the actual first flight of that rocket but I knew I was hooked. I'd browse through the 1975 Estes catalog constantly admiring all the rockets, becoming familiar with specifications of all the different kits. I really began to admire the space boosters in that catalog, especially Saturn V, Saturn 1B, and Mercury Redstone (there weren't many more than that in that catalog anyway, were there?)

Moe, Marc, Soyuz and Beanie

Painting Red Max

Red Max ready to launch
Jun 15, 1975

My second rocket was the der Red Max. In fact one of the first photos of me with a model rocket is with my friend Kenny and I taking a break while painting it. I do remember my spray painting skills were pretty crude then, and I know I had some runs on that rocket. And sanding sealer? Didn't know what the stuff was (despite the instructions recommending its use!)

During the course of 1975 I acquired a few more Estes kits and was launching them into the field, probably with mixed success. I found a couple of other kids in the complex (and through school) who were also interested in rockets and we'd launch together. I don't have anything near a complete record of the rockets I built during this time, but I built a lot of what was in the catalog. I think my first scale model I was able to pick up was the 1/43 Mercury Redstone. Once I saw those redwood dowels to make the escape tower I became immediately intimidated and shelved the tower construction. I'm quite sure I made the basic fins and launched her...without the tower. I recently picked one up off eBay and I may try to do the tower...someday.

Here's some photos of my Estes 1/100 Saturn V. Photos are dated on the back as Sep 1975...pretty big step for someone who has been involved in rocketry for less than 5 months!

Starting work on
the Estes Saturn V. 1975

Saturn V night launch
on a D12-3. 1975

Some big ones hanging
from the ceiling

Boost gliders have always fascinated me, maybe because of my interest in aviation. At a hobby shop I found an Estes Nighthawk and built it. First launch I lost it in the field. Can't remember how well the boost went, but I didn't find either piece. Present day 2007, I've got two Nighthawk clones I built in 1999 but I haven't flown either of them. I'm just waiting to find the time to hit a park with some green grass so I can trim them for flight. Same goes for my two Spaceplane clones, my Quest Flat Cat, my Estes Falcon clone (which flew last summer, but not very well), my Estes Invader get the picture. I like building boost gliders...I just haven't flown many of them at this point.

Moe, Vickie, and O.C. the puppy.


Prepping Scrambler
w/24mm D engine 1975

Scrambler launch
w/24mm D engine 1975

Mars Lander launch
Feb 1976

1976 saw the introduction of the Estes 1/162 Space Shuttle and I eagerly built one of those. Can't remember exactly how well the orbiter glided back, but the launch was a success. By this time I'd already built and flown an Estes 1/100 Saturn V, Maxi Honest John and Pershing 1A, and 1/70 Saturn 1B to name a few. As for the 1B, again, that tower construction really intimidated me. Still wanting to include the escape tower rocket motor assembly to a degree, I opted for a cheap solution. I used a spent 18mm engine casing as my "tower", cut to a length closely matching the tower. Sure it looked rather unsightly but with the bits above the tower lattice glued on top of the motor casing, it was good enough for this eleven year old. I also chose to rig it with a single 24mm motor mount for Estes 'D' engines and the 1B performed really well.

Here are a few more photos from back in the day. I visited California in December 1976 and took some rocket stuff with me. The 2nd & 3rd photos are from that trip. The others are back home.

Mars Snooper 2
Moe with Mars Snooper 2

Moe with a scratch-
build on the pad
Photo by Dad
Moe with his brother
and future sister-in-law.
I'd forgotten about that
green rocket I'm holding

I think the Farside
flew successfully

Estes Nike Ajax

At some point I discovered Centuri rockets. I remember their catalogs of the day...newspaper style. I thought they were kind of cheesy compared with the glossy Estes catalogs but there were some neat looking rockets in those pages. Again, the space boosters caught my eye and soon I was the proud owner of a 1/100 Saturn 1B, 1/45 Little Joe II (what a great kit...even found a photo of it launching), and the 1/35 Mercury Redstone. I know I picked up a few of their other kits, but many of the basic 3FNC (3 fins and a nose cone) kits seemed inferior to the Estes offerings. Fiber (thick paper) fins just didn't seem right to me.
I know I'm pissing off some hard core Centuri fans out there...if so I'm sorry for having an opinion that differs from yours.

Photo by Mom
Estes 1/70 Saturn 1B launches
on a 'D' engine

Moe launching Estes
Interceptor. 1977

Centuri 1/45 Little Joe II
launches on a 'D' engine

By late 1977 I was already into some other hobbies and with a move in Feb 1978 the rocket launching field became a thing of the past. I moved away in June 1978 and that's the last I saw of any of my rocket stuff from that era...except one small item (more on that later.)

Below are some photos I took at a High School launch...very likely in 1979, since this was my first time using a 35mm SLR to take rocketry photos. I didn't participate in this event other than taking these photos. Only in Jan 2009 did I get these negatives out of storage and scan them for the very first time. They've held up pretty good over the last 29 or so years.

1981-1982(Phase II)

In 1980 I moved again. I know I built 2 rockets during this time. First was the Estes Bat...that black 3FNC with bat style decals and forward-swept fins shaped similar to the flying rodent. It was a school science project and I remember some of the kids ribbing me for gluing the fins on "backwards." It was obvious THEY were the ones with very little rocket experience under their belts. The other kit was another Estes 1/70 Saturn 1B. I found one in a hobby shop near home and for some reason just couldn't pass it up. I built it (again, sans escape tower lattice) but opted to paint it in a patriotic red/white/blue scheme (why, I'll never know.) Not sure if it ever flew with the single 24mm mount I'm sure I installed but it didn't last too long after that either.

Another Estes Saturn 1B.
I slaughtered this one with a
funky paint job...ouch.

1983 (Phase III)

Photo by Karen - my beautiful wife at the time
Back to basics
in Lompoc California.
Jun 83

While stationed at Vandenberg AFB, California in 1983 one of my work mates expressed an interest in rocketry. Oh, did I mention my first USAF duty station was Vandenberg AFB, CA...home of the Western Space and Missile Command and (at the time,) the future west coast launch site for the Space Shuttle...THAT Vandenberg AFB? What a cool assignment. When I received orders to VAFB in Oct 1982 I had no idea what kind of base it was. Didn't take me long to sort that one out though and I was elated. Anyway, my workmate Roger had an Estes Maxi Honest John he wanted to launch. For some reason I still had an FSI "F" single use motor that someone my mom knew gave me back in the 70s...the "one small item" I kept as noted in that last paragraph from the 70s above (and check the above photo of the 1977 fleet...that's the F motor in my hand.) Don't ask why I still had it but I did. Anyway, armed with a launcher and some of the basic Estes kits I'd recently picked up we found a secluded place to launch. Well, something must've been wrong with that F motor because it suffered a CATO and pretty much destroyed Rogers prized Honest John. Interestingly the same thing happened to me with a D12-3 in my first Maxi Honest John and Estes came through with replacements at the time. I don't think Roger could make the same arguement with an old FSI F motor...

Also during this phase, I remember launching a rocket at dusk with a "light stick" attached to the shock cord. We recovered it and it was kinda cool to see the glow of the stick as she descended. Not sure what kit that was, but I do know I'd picked up an Estes Soaring Eagle and a couple of other basic 3FNCs. And that brings a close to Phase III.

By the way, I managed to get at least one actual launch photo worth sharing. This is the Atlas E that launched from Space Launch Complex 3W on March 28th, 1983. I deduced this from the date of Apr 83 on my original slide and information available publically on several websites. One such source is:
Jonathan's Launch Log. Here is a link to his online
Space Report homepage.

Atlas Launch from SLC-3, Vandenberg AFB, CA
Atlas E launches from Vandenberg
AFB SLC-3 on Mar 28, 1983.
Time: 0852hrs local.


In early 1987 I paid a visit to my mom and stepdad. Lee had started building some model rockets and we took the opportunity to go to a field and launch his Der V3. Below are a few photos of that launch.

My niece Jennifer and brother-in-law Del observe
Lee launches his Der V3
while Del and Jennifer watch

Post recovery of Der V3

1989 (Phase IV)

After spending 4 years overseas I was back in the states in early 1989. I'd just gotten married and was stationed at Williams AFB near Phoenix, Arizona. Mom, who was living in Sacramento at the time, was working in a Payless drug store. She took it upon herself to send me a few rocket kits. This present sparked an interest and I was soon back in the field launching model rockets. Because I'd just purchased my first video camera (full size VHS) I have some cool footage on tape but not a lot of photos. I've started transferring all those VHS tapes to DVD and in the process I've re-discovered a couple of launches I'd totally forgotten about. This phase lasted most of the 1989 summer but didn't progress much beyond that. I still have several of the rockets, including the Estes Shooting Star that was the first rocket I launched during this phase.

Prepping some rockets
Moe Prepping Saturn V
Moe prepping
Lee's Saturn V
Lee launching his nekked Saturn V
Lee launching his
nekked Saturn V

Prepping Saturn V

Moe and Pugsley

Launch of
the "Stefanie"

5-Stager: D12-0, D12-0, C6-0, C6-0, C6-7. Got back 2/3 of the bottom booster stage and that's it.
5 Stager launched
on 3 July 1989

1992 (Phase V)

While still stationed at "Willie" in Arizona, I rekindled my rocketry interest a second time. A couple of the guys at work expressed an interest and they and their families joined me on several occasions for some field launches. I have some video and some photos from all these sessions. I also got interested in scratch-building some interesting experimental rockets. Some flew quite well, some not so well, and some were downright disastrous.

Estes Shooting Star
with parasite glider
Estes Bailout
Estes Bailout
with parasite glider
Quest Nike-X
Quest Nike-K

6-motor two stager. A bit
more weight in the nose
and this one might've flown
straight...and quite possibly, up.
Some of my fleet in 1992. The two on the left belonged to Rex. Mesa, Jul 1992.
Part of my 1992 fleet.
The two on the left
belonged to Rex.
Mesa, Jul 1992.
Estes 13mm Mosquito
Estes Mosquito
Still part of
my active fleet
in 2007
One of my Trident-inspired upscales
24mm D engined
two stager
lost on inagural flight >:(

I didn't spend a lot of effort painting many of those rockets, but at least I did go through a fair amount of balsa sanding sealer. Some of the kits I bought were a couple of the Estes Saturn V, an Estes 1/100 Saturn 1B (ex-Centuri,) Star Trek Enterprise (commemorative edition), various kits that seemed like good deals to use as spare parts, a Designers Special or two, etc etc. I spent a good deal of time scratchbuilding some conventional designs, as well as some rather unconventional departures from the 3FNC motif. Getting brave, I modified an unpainted Saturn V to accept an additional D engine holder within the lower fuselage. This booster consisted of a spool-like gadget with a 12" parachute attached. Taking the staging a step further, I fabricated a 2nd booster that would friction mount to the bottom of the spool but remain outside the Saturn's lower body. I added fins to this one, and while totally unprototypical, I had several successful launches of my 3-stage, D-powered, unpainted Saturn V. I may have first launched it on two motors to make sure the spool booster theory worked out...I'm not quite sure. I do have video of at least two, possibly three, of the 3-stage launches. Without paint and exterior details, it was a fairly light rocket and the bottom D12-0 provided plenty of power to get the whole contraption off the pad. Watching any 3-stager is pretty awesome but I have to admit, a Saturn V, even unpainted, looks pretty cool staging through 3 motors. With the help of my trusty recovery crew, I always got all the parts back. I really want to create a .mov or .avi file of a launch and post it here.

Other experiments included staging two motors to two motors, clustering, upscaling the Estes Astron Trident concept, and just plain having fun. All my known launches (except for most of the 75-77 period) are uploaded to Essence's Model Rocketry Reviews website. I've had fun watching the various videos I have and entering the details in the Essence database.

I should mention that during a 6-week trip to Mississippi in summer 1995, I stopped by a hobby shop and purchased a couple of rockets. One was the Estes Mercury Atlas; the other was a couple examples of the Estes Trans-Wing glider. None have flown yet but I still have them. The Atlas is partially constructed...maybe I'll get around to finishing it.

Also during this time I remember stopping by a Las Vegas hobby shop and discovered Estes had re-released the former Centuri 1/100 Little Joe II. I picked up several of them to add to my stash, hoping I'd build and fly at least one of them some day.

1999 (Phase VI)

Not quite sure exactly what spurred on Phase VI. I was living in Northern Califronia, and the internet was well established and many rocketry sites were prime for the browsing. Maybe finding JimZ's site with many of the classic Estes, Centuri, and other plans caused my interest in cloning and scratchbuilding to blossom. Of course BMS, Ninfinger, and many other sites out there were in my "favorites" folder. I made some purchases from BMS and Totally Tubular and started building. As I said before, I'm interested in boost gliders, and I built a couple of Estes Astron Night Hawks and an Astron Falcon among others. Since I had a couple of Estes (Centuri based) Mercury Redstones I had a capsule I could use atop a 1/35 Little Joe 1 based on Yitah Wu's plans. Those plans are still out there by the way at Ye Olde Rocket Forum.

During 1999 I discovered SARG: Sacramento Area Rocketry Group. During late 1999 I attended a couple of their monthly launches and flew some of my rockets: Dark Lander, Saturn V, Little Joe 1 to name a few. These launches were also my first exposure to mid-power launches in the E and F (and possibly G) range. Some folks had some upscale rockets...I remember a nice Cherokee D upscale. I also witnessed my first mid-power ballistic failure. Can't remember the rocket but it had a complete recovery system failure and came straight down from altitude and went through the roof of a self-storage facility near the launch site. The guy recovered the rocket and showed up with it the next month. I'll look for a slide I took of it and post it here.

Since I was living close to a lot of my family, several family members went with me to the few launches I attended. My grandma, my dad, and my Uncle Ron (who also had an interest in rockets) went to different launches with me. I have some video of at least one of the launches and this one photo of a guy with his Cherokee D and upscale Cherokee D...I was pretty impressed!

Cherokee-D's at a SARG launch in 1999.

I also took advantage of an awesome sale at one of the local toy stores and picked up some of the Star Wars-themed models at 3 for $5.00 as well as some other killer deals. RTF Mini Marz Landers were also a good deal at the local Wal-Mart and I bought six of them.

In early 2000 I moved to
Illinois and the rockets remained boxed up for pretty much the next six years.

2006 - present (Phase VII)

My most recent foray into model rocketry began in mid-2006. I'd moved back to Arizona in 2004 and the rockets remained safely packed. During the summer of 2006 I unpacked a couple of moving boxes (full of rockets) and one or two looks at the contents was all it took for me to become interested again. I researched a local rocketry club and decided to check it out. They were advertising monthly launches: model rockets up to C-engine at a local park during the hot summer months, and during the late summer and cooler months, model and High Power launches at an isolated site known as Rainbow Valley. And as a bonus I learned the annual NARAM was being held at Rainbow Valley during August. I was hooked and promptly joined after attending the first group social meeting.

8 July 2006 - Phoenix Park Launch

Geoff and Gerald
high-five after
an upright landing.

Gerald and his
Estes Rock-it.

The launch rocked!

Gerald flew his
Porta-Pot Shot.

Moe's Estes
Falcon clone.

Though I planned on attending the first Glendale park launch in early July 2006, I found out the night before it was cancelled. Two of the guys I'd met at the social (Geoff and Gerald) still wanted to launch so I packed up my gear and a few rockets and headed to the small park site they proposed. We all arrived around 8am and despite the climbing temperatures, we launched a group of rockets. I'd already purchased my 2x upscale Mars Lander from Tango Papa and brought it along to show my construction progress. I think they were suitably impressed with the quality of components and size of the project. Geoff Kerbel brought along a classic Estes Mars Lander to launch and I had my "Dark Lander" clone I'd built and flown in 1999. Both were successful launches but mine suffered an internal leg separation at the flexible joint. It's still flyable, but it has a slight limp.

Geoff comes up with
some interesting rockets.

Saturn IV based on
Pete Alway's plans.

Geoff kitbashed an
Estes Gemini-DC
into his 'Cediming Raider...'

...and it flew
very, very nicely!

SSS members Will Triggs and son James, and a fella named Chris and his son also showed up for the park launch. Both brought along a selection of models to launch...accomplished to varying degrees of success. I also launched my Estes Trident-inspired upscale version on a C11-3 for a nice launch and recovery. I also launched my Estes Astron Falcon clone on a 1/2A6-2. Nice short boost but it arched over and nosed in...thankfully with no damage. Another rocket I launched was the Estes Shuttle Express...4FNC with 2 foam gliders attached. Rocket worked fine but those foamies leave a lot to be desired as gliders.

3 August 2006 - Rainbow Valley

My first launch experience at Rainbow Valley was in August 2006. NARAM 48 was well under way and I decided to check out the action on the Thursday morning. I packed up some rockets and headed out. I'd just finished my LOC IV (LOC 4) rocket, which is designed to take mid- and high-power motors in the F-H range. I also had a 1/35 Estes Mercury Redstone (built with 24mm motor mount) ready to go. I arrived amidst the competition flying and started clicking photos of various launches. Since my first exposure to mid-power rockets in 1999 at a SARG (Sacramento Area Rocketry Group) launch, I'd been impressed by the power displayed by these high-flying rockets, and I enjoyed trying to photograph some of them. Thanks to my trusty Digital SLR I was, and have been since, pretty successful in getting some decent launch and recovery photos.

Model rocket pads were set up a short distance from the competition pads and sport launches were taking place as well. I set up my Mercury Redstone and launched it on a D12-3. Nice straight boost to apogee followed by a successful recovery. It did suffer a displaced fin but I repaired it once I got home. The Semroc guys were on hand vending their wares and I managed to get the last of the newly-released Mars Lander "Retro-Repro" kits they had on hand. They also sold me a "Centuri The Point and Laser-X upscale kits. To top it off, they threw in a commemorative NARAM 'The Point.' Another nice gesture by Bruce (from Semroc) was donating an H128 motor reload for my upcoming Level 1 certification attempt. At the same time I purchased an H180 reload. Since I had absolutely no experience with reloads of any kind, I watched Goeff prep the H180 for a pre-certification test launch of the Loc IV. He got the motor built as I taped the process and I finally had the rocket prepped just as the bell rang for last flight of the day. We toted the rocket to the pad, secured the igniter and let 'er rip. It was a great sight seeing a "large" rocket that'd I'd constructed rip off the pad and recover successfully. I was confident I was ready for the certification attempt at the next months launch. Thanks Geoff!!

Moe's modified Estes 1/35
Mercury Redstone ready
for launch on a D12-3.
Aug 3, 2006

Safe recovery of the
Mercury Redstone.
Aug 3, 2006

Geoff carries Moe's
LOC IV to the pad.
Aug 3, 2006

Safe recovery of the LOC IV
after launch on an AT H180
Aug 3, 2006. This was not my
certification flight...that waited
until next month.

Since the Arizona weather was cooling off for the winter, all the next launches I've attended have been at Rainbow Valley. Lots of model, mid- and high-power stuff going up and most of them were recovered successfully. I witnessed quite a few certification flights at the Level 1, Level 2, and even Gerald Meux's Level 3 flight.

9 September 2006 - Rainbow Valley

Gerald quickly certified to Level 1, 2 and 3. At the September launch he treated us to his Level 2 (J, K or L motor) Magnum launching on a 54mm "Skidmark" motor. Skidmarks are known for their shower of sparks at liftoff and during climb. In the photos below we see him prepping the Magnum and a then a couple of cool launch photos. September is also the month I successfully certified to NAR Level 1. I launched my nekked LOC IV on an Aerotech H128 and successfully recovered her intact. Thanks to Gerald, Geoff, and Terry for their guidance leading to my certification flight.

Moe's LOC IV on
an AT H128
Sep 9, 2006

Gerald prepping his LOC Magnum
Sep 9, 2006

Ignition of the Skidmark motor
Sep 9, 2006

Skidmark motor at
full pressure spewing sparks
Sep 9, 2006

24 September 2006 - Peoria field launch

September 24th I invited my friend Steve P. out for some model rocket launches. I chose a field where some construction was going on but it was a weekend morning so there was no one around. I launched six rockets that day and recovered five of them. My Alpha clone zipped off the pad and drifted into the BNSF maintenance yard near the tracks. Been doing rockets 31 years and that was my first standard Alpha...I'd only built an Alpha III till now. Another minor disappointment was my Flyin' Stovepipe. Using plans available from JimZ, this little boost glider was an Estes Design of the Month from WAY back in the day. It features a "Scout" style booster with a tube glider made from BT-101. Mine didn't work so well and I ended up cracking a fin on the booster. Easily repairable, but I gotta work on motor retention, as the tube glides just fine.

I lost my Alpha on
its first flight >:(

Liftoff of Bertha

Steve returns with
Big Bertha

28 October 2006 - Rainbow Valley

Gerald built a very large (by my standards) Nike Smoke he painted to resemble the Arizona state flag. The Nike is so large they had to transport it to the farthest pad in a truck. After much anticipation the crowd watched Gerald's Nike punch a hole in the sky and recover for his successful Level 3 certification. I have to admit, rocketry and rocketry photography was getting pretty damned exciting for me.

Gerald and his Level 3
Nike Smoke and
'M' motor casing

Liftoff of the Nike Smoke
Oct 28, 2006

Nike Smoke climbing out
Oct 28, 2006

November 2006 - Rainbow Valley

I didn't attend the launch.

December 2006 - Rainbow Valley

I didn't attend the launch.

January 2007 Rainbow Valley

I didn't attend the Jan 2007 launch...not sure exactly why. Probably out chasing trains or planes. The SSS newsletter says it was the coldest SSS launch in history. The Arizona desert can get downright freezing cold in the was the case that January morning.

February 2007 Rainbow Valley

The February launch was pretty exciting. I launched a few model rockets including my trusty 1/35 Mercury Redstone on an Estes D12-5. I also launched my first Estes E motor, an E9-6 in an Estes Eliminator...that purple and yellow 4FNC quick build kit. It screamed off the pad for a nice straight boost and perfect parachute recovery not too far from the pads. Second launch of my "Flyin' Stovepipe" on an A8-3 was not so successful. Still no separation of the booster and tube glider...gotta work on that.

Mercury Redstone on a D12-5

Eliminator an an E9-6

Flyin' Stovepipe

10 March 2007 Rainbow Valley

Since I'd been diligently working on getting my 2x Mars Lander ready for the March Launch I was pretty excited about this one. I'd also been working on getting a couple of Estes Outlanders which I'd modified for D engines ready to go. One of them I built and completely finished in record time...just about a week. Those are not simple kits to put together. Despite my efforts I didn't even launch the 18mm RMS D powered bird...hopefully the April launch.

Anyway, I showed up Saturday morning at 0800 and started setting up. I parked right next to Gerald so we started babbling about rocketry stuff. I pulled the 2x Mars Lander out of the cab of my truck and set it up on the back of my truck. Through the day, my modest collection of landers drew a lot of attention and I got some nice remarks about them from the crowd. Geoff kindly lent me a 38mm casing to use for this launch. For $38 I purchased an Aerotech I211 reload with medium delay, drilled out a smidgen to shorten the delay a few seconds and finished building the motor. I finished prepping the rocket, ensuring the parachutes were properly installed, and after the cursory inspection by the RSO, I loaded it up on a far pad. When launch time for that baby came no one was more nervous than I. The LCO announced it and I reiterated this was a 'heads up' launch...partly because I wanted everybody watching, but also because of the potential for marginal stability. I handed the controller to a youngin' to perform the actual launch so I could photograph it. With an audible "5-4-3-2-1-Launch" my 2x blasted off the pad and straight into my history books. It was a beautiful launch and recovery and except for some minor damage due to slightly early ejection, and she floated gently back to earth on twin 36" parachutes, landing upright on the three remaining legs. One leg was removed, quite violently, by the recovery shock cord (due to the premature ejection) and it fluttered harmlessly to earth. The nose cone suffered some minor dents but everything seems to be repairable. I've started making repairs and I hope to launch again in April 2007.
Click here to view my review of the rocket at the EMRR site.

Moe and his 2x upscale
Tango Papa Mars Lander
Mar 10, 2007
Photo: Dave Maggiano

Most of my Lander fleet
Mar 10, 2007

Liftoff off 2x Mars Lander
Aerotech I211W-M
Mar 10, 2007
Photo: Dave Maggiano

Ignition of Aerotech I211W

Business end of I211W

Climbing out on I211W

Early deployment...
note missing leg

Early deployment...
note leg near chutes

3-legged upright landing...
'chutes are still airborne

I also launched one of my Outlanders - the one with the 24mm mount. I hooked up the D12-3 and announced another heads-up launch, again because of the possibility of marginal stability. People have tried launching this heavy little rocket on the recommended B and C motors, mostly with disastrous results. Best thing to do is build it with a 24mm D-engine mount or plan on using 18mm Aerotech D-engine reloadable motors, and build the mount accordingly. Anyway, I got it set up and again let a youngin' launch it. She boosted straight up, with perfect parachute deployment. Because I'd not put a spill hole in the 'chute, the Outlander kind of circled in and toppled over upon landing. One fin housing was slightly cracked but it's easily repairable. I definitely hope to launch it again.

Postscript: After getting home I found out several of the leg hinges inside the Outlander are broken and not easily repairable. Gonna have to retire this one to the display shelf. >:(

Click here to view several reviews and flight logs of the Estes Outlander at the EMRR site.

Outlander liftoff on D12-3

Outlander ejection

Outlander recovery

My final launch of the day was another Mars Lander. This time up was the Semroc "Retro-Repro" Mars Lander I'd picked up at NARAM-48. I'd taken my time building it and it sat unpainted for months. Like the 2x upscale, I worked diligently in the couple of weeks leading up to launch day to get it fully painted and decalled. It is a great looking little rocket and nearly duplicates the original Estes Mars Lander. I took her out to the pad and again let someone else push the button so I could photograph. Perfect flight and because I'd cut a spillhole in the Estes 18" chute, she landed perfectly and remained upright...another "stuck" landing...what a cool sight! One construction SNAFU I ran into was not getting the shrouds aligned properly, resulting in the embossed detail not lining up properly. In the larger version of the launch photo, you can see this by looking at the square black outline decals and notice they cover part of the detail. I'll get it right on the 2nd Semroc Mars Lander I'm currently building (late March 2007.)

Click here to view Chan Stevens review and several flight logs of the Semroc Mars Lander at the EMRR site.

Semroc Mars Lander
liftoff on C6-3

Ejection at apogee

Nice upright landing!

14/15 April 2007 - Rainbow Valley "SpringBlast"

SpringBlast is the Superstition Spacemodeling Society weekend campout at Rainbow Valley. I attended both days but didn't spend the night. Many folks arrived Friday to set up camp and stayed until Sunday lunchtime when the range was closed due to high winds.

Many rockets were launched over the course of the weekend ranging from 1/4A's to Gerald Meux's M1939 in his Arizona Nike Ajax. We even had Tomas and Tomas Jr show up with a fairly large R/C helicopter rigged with a Canon 35mm Digital SLR under the chin. Their goal was to shoot some aerial photos of the launches while hovering above the launch site. Despite the stiff winds on Sunday, he and his son managed some great photos. I spoke with Tomas for a while on Sunday and he showed me a portfolio of his work...he does some awesome panoramic work of various sites. I learned his son operates the camera remotely from a laptop setup while dad flies the helicopter.

As I said, many rockets were launched, and most were recovered though there were some heartbreaking moments. Several rocketeers certified to Level 1 or 2, including Gerald's girlfriend Charlene, "Wild" Bill, and George. Some of the casualties of the weekend were: Gerald's M-powered Nike managed to find the only power lines for miles around; My 2x Mars Lander on an I211 broke the shock cord at deployment and free fell to earth; Gerald's "Uglier Betty" disintegrated mid-flight on a K-motor; and the list goes on.

On Saturday I launched five rockets with varying degrees of success:

Upscale Estes Star Blazer on C6-5

One of the first rockets I started building in my recent phase was a BT-55 (1.325") upscale of the classic Estes Star Blazer. Using plans obtained from JimZ's website, I upscaled the fin pattern, carved my own balsa cockpit, and eventually painted it in a red/white/blue scheme based on the original. I had a successful launch and recovery using a C6-5 and 18" 'chute.

1.8x upscale
Estes Star Blazer

2x Mars Lander on I211W

Following the "mostly-successful" first launch of this beast in March 2007 I made the necessary repairs and flight-prepped her the morning of the launch. Gerald partially supervised the motor building while Terry helped adjust the delay element by taking a couple seconds off the medium delay. I loaded her up on a very sturdy far pad with 1/4" rod and let her rip. After a carbon copy of the March boost phase, the delay took over, and like the Energizer bunny, it kept going and going for what seemed an eternity. Finally the ejection charge blew while the lander was in a rapid descent. I was tracking the rocket in my camera viewfinder and from within the crowd I heard the most-dreaded word: "separation!" I reaquired the lander with the camera and caught a couple pix of it in free fall while the nose cone drifted gently down on the two large 'chutes. The lander wasn't so lucky as she plummeted to earth and struck the desert playa. OUCH!! Upon reaching the crash site, I found my lander mostly intact but with irrepairable damage to the body. After gathering up the chutes and cone, I put it back together and sheepishly made my way back to the spectator area, knowing my lander would never fly again, but also knowing I gave the crowd a good thrill with yet another launch gone bad. No one likes to see the destruction of a prized rocket, but ya gotta admit it is pretty cool as long as no one gets hurt. Maybe the pride gets a taste of humility in the process, but it's part of the game in high-power rocketry.

I211 ignition


Six pounds under free-fall



My po' Lander...

Estes Outlander on D13-4W

I expected a better performance from this one, but it was another experiment gone bad. First thing Saturday morning I loaded up an Aerotech 18mm casing with a D13-4 reload. Only my fourth ever reload attempt, but it worked fine. The problem was the stability of this little beast. Last month, my 24mm conversion flew perfectly, even if it did suffer damage on landing. With this one, the thing was unstable off the pad and looped around several times, probably never reaching more than 15 or 20 feet in altitude. Ejection occured after impacting the ground, and surprisingly, only 2 fin housings were cracked in the crash. It's probably repairable, and with the heavier nose cone from the 24mm motor Outlander, this one should be stable next time...we'll have to wait and see. Just got served another piece of humble pie...

Estes Outlander launches
on 18mm D13 reload

Estes Eliminator on E9-8 can you go wrong with a basic 4FNC rocket? (4 fins and a nose cone...and everything in between of course.) I'd flown this baby twice before on the E9-6 and this time I loaded it up with an Estes E9-8 to (hopefully) save a bit of drift distance. Launched from a 1/4" rod, the Eliminator shot off the pad and kept going and going. Perfect deployment...maybe a bit over the top...but a successful launch and recovery. I had a little bit of a walk to recover it but I wanted my purple and yellow rocket back to fly another day. Great flight.

Estes Eliminator
on an E9-8

Estes Mini Marz Lander on A10-3T

My final launch of the day was an Estes Ready-to-Fly (RTF) Mini Marz Lander. It still had the motor in from last month when I planned to launch so I just rechecked the chute and put her on a close pad. Again, I enlisted a youngin' to push the button so I could photograph. This heavy, mostly plastic, baby version of the Mars Lander (painted and decalled to resemble it's big brothers) got off the pad but only went about 20-30 feet up, if that. 'Chute deployment occured back on the ground (yes, a bit late) but it landed who's complaining. No apparent damage so maybe it'll fly again next month. Decals are available from Tango Papa Decals.

Mini Marz Lander
on A10-3T

On Sunday I launched only one rocket (because of the winds) and spent the rest of the time socializing and photographing some of the launches. I loaded a D12-5 in my 1/35 Estes Mercury Redstone and launched it from Geoff's 3/16" pad. Very nice boost and perfect deployment at apogee. The wind carried it a fair distance but the spillhole in the 'chute helped keep it within a 5-minute walk. No major damage but it did suffer a couple of cracked fins (the glue joints of the fin halves) and a broken aerospike at the top of the escape tower...I can deal with both.

Tomas' R/C helo photo platform with
Canon DSLR mounted under chin

One of the final launches of the day was Gerald Meux's much anticipated Arizona Nike Smoke on an M1939. Gerald was hoping to break 10,000 feet altitude with this 10" diameter version and safely recover her. Depsite the brisk winds Gerald took the plunge and carted everything out to the farthest pad. Mike and I strolled out for a group photo of Gerald and his friends with the Nike and hiked back to the safety line. Once we saw Gerald sprinting back from the pad we knew launch was imminent so we readied cameras and video. Gerald uses a remote control device to perform wireless launches and as soon as the LCO started the 10-count we got ready. Gerald ended up pushing the launch button at the "two" in the countdown but I'd anticipated the launch and started firing photos. The Nike roared off the pad in typical (read: spectacular!) fashion and boosted straight up as we snapped away. It was a real crowd pleaser and soon we spotted the parachute. Because of the altitude, the Nike settled into a nice long descent but the winds were carrying it to the east. I found the rocket with my video camera and started following it down. It neared the ground several minutes later with the Estrella Mountains in the background. As I watched through the viewfinder the 'chute stopped moving and was seemingly suspended in mid-air. Uh-oh...within the viewfinder I noticed a high-tension tower just to the left of the 'chute and I yelled out "it bleep-ing powerlined!!" Sure enough, the beautiful Nike managed to find the only power lines within miles of the launch site. Long story short: the 1" tubular nylon shock cord broke after a couple of hours of the whole thing whipping around in the wind, sending the lower body/motor/fin can to an early death while the 'chute, attached to the nose cone, apparently went sailing away another mile or so, eventually landing in the scrub. Luckily, a couple of folks from the launch were able to recover the rocket and notified Gerald they had it. Whew!!! The rocket was destroyed but hopefully the expensive motor casing, electronics, and parachute are salvagable. More to come on that one...

A few more photos of various rockets launched over the weekend:

Awesome Skidmark motor launch

Wild Bill's I-powered Skeeter...
it CATO'd destructively.

FlisKits A.C.M.E. Spitfire

Gerald's Estes Maxi Honest John

Terry's Fat Pappy on a J350W

Gerald's Ugly CATO'd on a K1275R

Charlene's LOC Graduator on H128W...Level 1 Cert

FlisKits Deuces Wild

Cool Black Jack motor

Apogee Saturn 1B...very cool on F20-4.

29 April 2007 - El Mirage Field Launch

On April 29th my nephew Jeff and I got together for a launch in a nearby field. The night before I'd picked up an Estes Metalizer quick-build E2X kit for Jeff to put together before we headed out to launch. Together, we launched nine A and B motors (with corresponding rockets) under somewhat breezy conditions. We chose the lower-power motors due to the wind and the size of the field. All launches resulted in successful recoveries fairly close to the pad.

First off the pad was Jeff's Metalizer on a B4-2. Next up was my Estes Heatseeker on an A8-3, followed by Jeff's Metalizer, this time on a B6-4. For the next launch I prepped my 17-year old Estes Shooting Star. This relative oldie last blasted off in June of 1989 and thankfully the original Estes rubber shock cord survived once again. I've already removed that cord and will replace it with a sturdier cord before I fly it again.

The next rocket was my odd-ball so-called Schputnik - basically a 3" styrofoam ball with three dowels for legs/fins and an 18mm engine mount stuffed into it. I used an A8-3 for the first flight and it flew surprisingly well, ejecting the engine at apogee and "nose-diving" in with no serious damage. It'll fly again :)

My nekked Big Bertha clone took next flight honors, going up on a B6-2, followed by my gold series Estes Chrome Dome on an A8-3. Bertha's little sister "Baby Bertha" soared off the pad next, making the journey skyward on a B6-2. Final flight of the day was a stock Mini Marz Lander on an A10-3T. Gotta develop a fool-proof method for 'chute deployment for these little guys as they don't get that high and the chute almost always stays stuffed up in the nose cone. Depsite free-falling to earth, the Lander suffered no apparent damage.

Jeff prepping his Metalizer

Metalizer on B4-2

Heatseeker on A8-3

Shooting Star on B6-4

Chrome Dome on A8-3

Baby Bertha on B6-2

Big Bertha on B6-2

Jeff prepping Schputnik

Schputnik on A8-3

Jeff takes a short break

May 2007 - Rainbow Valley

The May 2007 launch at Rainbow Valley started a bit later for me because I overslept until almost 8am. I'd planned on leaving by 7am and arriving an hour later but it didn't work out that way. As it turned out, I only launched 3 rockets - one of them twice. I'd built several clones during the previous month and managed to get one of them painted and decalled. The nekked E-powered Cherokee-D clone was first on the pad with an E9-8. It was a great launch though one shroud line on the Estes plastic 18 inch 'chute came loose. No damage upon landing and it actually came down quite close to my truck. The through-the-wall basswood fins held up superbly as did the rest of the rocket. Second launch was my painted Cherokee-D clone on a D12-5. I used a 16 inch nylon 'chute in this one and the flight and recovery were perfect. Third on the pad was my Estes Drifter clone, launched on an A8-5 and 12 inch chute for a perfect flight. Final launch of the day for me was the second for my Cherokee-E. Refitted with the 16 inch nylon chute and again launched on an E9-8, the bird flew and recovered flawlessly.

E-powered Cherokee-D clone

Landed just feet from my truck

Cherokee-D clone

Estes Drifter clone

9 June 2007 - Phoenix La Pradera Park Launch

Several members of the Superstition Spacemodeling Society met at a park in Phoenix for the June launch. Regular fliers Geoffrey Kerbel, Gerald Meux, Will and James Triggs and a couple of other folks set up 'camp' early Saturday morning for a few hours of launching model rockets. I wasted no time in getting the first rocket up: my newly-constructed Estes Alpha III. This was my first launch of an Alpha III in over 32 years when I launched my first model rocket. I launched a total of 15 or 16 that day...below are some photos of a few of them.

Alpha III

Alpha 5...a
stretched Alpha III

Nekked Alpha clone

Sprint clone

Sputnik type

BT-60 Mosquito

Fin-less design

BT-55 Starblazer

Semroc Mars Lander

Below are photos of some of the other launches

Geoff Kerbel and his
Mini Marz Lander

Geoff's little UFO

Geoff's purple thing

Geoff's Gyroc

Gerald Meux and his
Estes Oracle

Gerald drag races his
Oracle and Liquidator

Gerald always flies the crap
out of his Porta Pot Shot

Fat Boy drag race

Engine went right
through the plate!

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August 2007 - Rainbow Valley

I was unable to attend the August 2007 launch at Rainbow Valley.

8 September 2007 - Rainbow Valley

The September 2007 launch at Rainbow Valley was a hot day. It was also full of rocket launches. I had a lot of fun photographing various rocket launches, including four of my own.

This rocket is a scratch-built
design I call the DEcadence.
The DE are purposely capitalized
because it is a two stager...
designed for a 24mm D12-0
to a 24mm E9-8.
This was it's inagural flight
and it flew beautifully, recovering
via bright pink streamers.

This is another scratch-built design
based on the old 13mm-powered Centuri
design named Fireflash. Nice boost
on an E9-6 but a faulty snap swivel
caused 'chute separation and the rocket
free-fell to an early death.

The Fireflash after impact. At least I don't have
to paint it. Many of the parts are salvageable.

This is a two-stager (finless upper stage)
called the Tao. Plans are available on JimZ's site.
D12-0 booster to a B6-6 upper stage.
Mine flew fairly well until staging...
then it came apart in a manner inconsistent
with proper staging.

Tao launching on the
only flight of it's short life.

Inagural flight of my LOC Graduator on a G38-7FJ.
Great launch and recovery.

I stumbled across this little guy
out in the recovery area.
It was about 6 inches long.

27 October 2007 - Rainbow Valley

G. Harry Stine Memorial Launch

I attended the G.H.S. launch at Rainbow Valley on the Saturday. Photos soon.

Repaired the gimpy leg on my Dark
Lander and it flew nicely on a C6-3.
Great flight and I even stuck the landing!

Drag race with Geoff's original Mars Lander.
He won on a C5-3
and we both stuck the landing!

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10 November 2007 - Rainbow Valley

The November 2007 launch at Rainbow Valley was great fun. I launched five rockets, including my LOC Onyx twice.

My BT-55 Honest John in primer.
Great flight on E9-8.

LOC Onyx on an F20-4T.

Estes Eagle on a B6-2.
Glider needs trimmed.

Cherokee D clone on an E30-7
Great first flight.

3" LOC Caliber ISP on an I154J-M.
Great first flight.

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Turkey Shoot 2007 - Geoffrey's Neighborhood

Three of us SSS members had an unofficial park launch before Thanksgiving dinner at Geoff's house. We had clear weather and a slight breeze in which to launch some low power Estes motors and we had a great time.

For my first flight I selected a rocket my Uncle Ron launched in late 1999 at Folsom, California...the Estes Manta. He lost it at that launch but the next month I got it back as someone had found it and placed it on the RSO table. I couldn't give it back to Ron at the time and I've had it all this time. I had to re-glue the engine mount the morning of Turkey Shoot 2007 but otherwise it was fine. Loaded with an A8-3, at launch the motor clip caught on the small collar on Geoff's launch rod and the whole "flight" took place without going was quite comical.

Oops...we have "rod lock."

Parachute snap back.

At least it didn't get damaged.

The chute got skewered on the rod.

My Honest John (K-27) clone
built in 1999 but
not flown until today. 1/2A6-2

Wil launches my Skeeter on an A8-3

Wil launches my Nighthawk (K-34)
clone on a 1/2A6-2. Again, built in 1999 but not flown
until today.

The V32 launches on an A8-3.

9 Decemburrr 2007 - Rainbow Valley

The Decemburrr 2007 launch at Rainbow Valley was great fun, albeit a bit cold and windy. The launch site was relatively dry considering we had valley-wide rain the day before. I was the first to show up on-site and while waiting for others to arrive I prepped some rockets and photographed this rainbow to the west. Light sprinkles were falling and despite the ominous clouds all around the forecast was promising.

Around 8am others started arriving. The launch was fairly informal although as always, safety was first priority. I launched a total of seven rockets ranging from Estes C motors, F and G composites and an I154 reload.

My 1st launch was my beefed-up
Estes Maxi Honest John on an
Aerotech G40-7W. Thanks go out
to Matt Steele for having this motor
on hand. Awesome flight.

LOC Aura on an F23-7J.
No broken fins this time.

Scratch Little Joe 1 on
a C6-5...hadn't flown since 1999.
I gotta paint some of these rockets!!

Scratch Honest John on a C11-5...great second flight.

2.27x Andromeda on an I154J-M.
Awesome boost on the smokey Black Jack propellent. This rocket was over
8 feet tall.

Nice arc into the stiff breeze but delay was a tad long...

She basically back slid and spun back to the launch site.

We can rebuild her...we have the technology.

See - it's already rebuilt and ready to fly. bad. This is a before-launch photo.
Thanks Bob for getting a pic of us.
Photo: Bob Heninger, used with permission.

Below are photos of some of the other launches at Decemburrr 2007.

The Level 2 Dos Rios Rockets rocket eventually destined for the elementary school of the same name. Recovered safely after separation event and failed L2 Cert attempt.

Terry's LOC Tweed-B on a J420R.

Terry's Polecat V-2 on an I245G.

Geoffrey preps a spool rocket.

Matt Steele launched a two stager with a clustered booster. The rocket went haywire during the flight but eventually righted itself after staging.

Staging event.

Sustainer looped several times under power then became stable while pointed up.

Geoffrey reacts after the booster impacted not far from where he was standing.

Boxing Day 2007 - El Mirage Field Launch

The day after Christmas, Geoffrey joined me on my side of town for some late afternoon model rocketry. We found a suitable field and proceeded to burn some black powder.

My upscale Trident clone - C11-5

Geoff's Estes Code Red - B6-4

My Alien Explorer clone - C6-5

My Nighthawk clone - B6-2

Geoff's Honest Goon - A8-3

My Red Max clone - B6-4

Geoff's der V-3 - C11-5

Geoff's Optigoon - B6-4

My big Trident clone - D12-5

Geoff's stretched Alpha III - A8-3

Geoff's Orion - B6-4

My Little Joe 1 - C5-3

12 January 2008 - Rainbow Valley

My dad joined me for the January 2008 launch at Rainbow Valley. I would be attempting my NAR Level 2 certification flight using my LOC Caliber ISP with a 54mm J180T motor. After building the motor and carefully packing the chute for ejection at apogee, I loaded the rocket on a suitable pad. Launch was great and the rocket seemingly soared out of sight. Ejection was flawless and the chute ejected perfectly. Then came the landing. The rocket drifted for some time in the calm air and Greg, with his 2 seat dune buggy, offered to take me out to look for it. After considerable searching (nearly 2 hours) I finally found the rocket. I was elated as I approached the rocket - it seemed my L2 was in the bag. My hopes were quickly dashed however as I discovered the motor had kicked out of the rocket. Dang - a failed certification flight. We drove back to the launch site and I showed the folks what had happened. I figured there was still time for another try so I went to Scott's trailer and purchased the necessary hardware and a J90 motor. After all, I owed Geoffrey a motor casing for the apparently lost motor that kicked out, so I might as well buy it now and give the flight another go. But, before I could get the motor built, the announcement was made the range was closing in 30 minutes...too short a time for me to get the motor built and rocket prepped for another flight. Since that had been my only flight of the day so far, I decided to launch one model rocket - my Estes Exo-Skell. I'd built this rocket years before but had never flown it. I prepped it for flight with a C5-3 and launch and recovery was perfect. After getting all my launch stuff packed, I decided to drive around the launch site and see if I could find Geoffrey's ejected motor casing. Afterall, the rocket had travelled nearly straight up and with luck, the motor had fallen fairly close to the pads. Well, after just a few minutes of searching, Greg, in his dune buggy, signalled me and apparently had found the casing. We met up and sure enough, it was Geoffrey's casing, seemingly undamaged. Quite impressive that we found it after it had fallen from many thousands of feet up and was truly undamaged. I cleaned it up and gave it back to Geoffrey, both of us happy that we'd recovered about $150 worth of machined aluminum.

Below are a few photos of my two launches.

Launch of my LOC Caliber
ISP on a J180T-L resulted
in a failed L2 Cert attempt.

My Estes Exo-Skell on the
pad with a C5-3

Exo-Skell lander section after launch

13 January 2008 - El Mirage Field Launch with Dad

The day after the Rainbow Valley launch my Dad and I went out to a field to launch some model rockets. Since I'd launched only 2 rockets the day before, I wanted to get some more flying in and this seemed the perfect opportunity to do something special with Dad before he headed home. Dad did the launching while I photographed the rockets. We had a nice time in the late afternoon sun and slight breeze that was blowing.

BT-80 Skeeter Eater on a C11-5

Quest Q-EZ Glider on an 1/2A6-2

Quest Flat Cat on a B6-2. Glider death dived

Estes Black Diamond on a B6-4

Estes Alpha III on a B6-4

Semroc Mars Lander on a C5-3

Neither landing was upright today

Semroc Mars Lander on a C5-3

Clone of Estes Honest John on a B6-4

Snap-back caused this damage

3 February 2008 - El Mirage Field Launch

Over Super Bowl weekend I built a Flis Kits Rose-A-Roc helicopter recovery rocket. I'd never built this type of rocket before and the build was challenging but went smoothly. I decided to test fly the bird early Sunday afternoon before the big game so I drove out to the same site my dad and I launched at the previous month. I'd prepped the rocket before leaving the house so it was just a matter of setting up the pad and launching. With video camera in hand (my way of both recording the flight and timing the flight) I launched. The Rose-A-Roc boosted perfectly straight up then arced over and proceeded to perform a perfect core sample in the soft dirt. When I go to the crash site I found the rocket sticking straight out of the dirt with the delicate blades laying on the ground. Of course I was heart-broken. I picked up the pieces and drove home.

The burn string functioned properly but apparently it remained wrapped around the blades after ejection. The damage was confined to the clean breaks of the rotors from the hub and some minor damage to the lugs used in the spinning hub assembly. I decided to repair it. Using thick CA and some 1/32 inch plywood, I methodically reattached each rotor to the hub. I'm not sure how this will affect flight characteristics when I try to test fly again but we'll see.

Below is a pre-launch photo of the Flis Kits Rose-A-Roc on the pad ready to go.

Flis Kits Rose-A-Roc on A8-3

9 February 2008 - Rainbow Valley

I thought I'd be the first to arrive Rainbow Valley on Saturday the 9th but I was wrong. As I approached the gate, I noticed Just Rockets owner Scott was already on site with his truck and travelling hobby shop. I was pleased knowing I'd be able to purchase just about any supplies I might need for the day.

I'd been anticipating this launch for a month as I'd be attempting my NAR Level 2 flight again. My
Chute Tamer(tm) was programmed with a 70-second delay (about half the computed time of 134 seconds, but I wanted to be conservative for this important certification attempt launch.) The flight on the J180T-L went off without a hitch and I gained my Level 2 certification. I'm already thinking ahead to Level 3... Below are some photos of rockets I launched today, as well as some other launches.

LOC Caliber on a J180T-L.
Successful Level 2 Cert Flight.

Post-flight with Chute Tamer(tm)

BT-70 Astron Cobra upscale on 3 D12-5s. I call it the "Queen Cobra"

Clearly only 2 motors ignited.

Safe recovery nonetheless on the 24 inch nylon chute.

Upscale BT-80 Scrambler on 3x E9-6s

2 of the E9-6s CATO'd on the pad.
The third didn't ignite.

Cool photo of the chute.

The CATO'd engines.

Damaged Scrambler rear end.

Both eggs survived their near-scrambling experience.

Rear end of the Scrambler.

LOC IV on an H180W-L.

LOC IV on an H180W-L.

Looking north at Rainbow Valley.

Some of the other rockets launched February 9, 2008:

Still Ugly puts on a great show.

Very nice scratch built Nike Hercules.

Keith's very nice Iris.

Flight of the Bumble Bee.

Geoff's camera rocket.

16 February 2008 - Rainbow Valley - SSS PRM-13

I WAS the first person to Rainbow Valley on Feb 16, 2008. A week after our club launch, members of the Superstition Spacemodeling Society (SSS) met again for the Phoenix Regional Meet #13 to begin scoring points for the annual NAR competition. For the past three years, the SSS has made national rocketry headlines by taking the blue ribbon at NARAM. Amidst very stiff national competition, the club is looking for a four-peat this year, a feat not accomplished by a club in several decades. After some friendly jibing from some of my club mates, I decided to contribute to the point standings this year and participate in the fun.

Mind you, I'm not the competitive type but I do love to build and fly rockets. SSS membership at large are all great folks and love to build and fly rockets. We're also lucky that we have the Matt Steele and his family of rocket-building daughters who love competiting at the local and national level. I thought to myself "why not join in on something great and improve my skills and knowledge at the same time." I started building my small fleet of competition rockets a couple months before this first meet and I spent a good part of the night and into the wee hours of the morning preparing them for flight. I departed for Rainbow Valley before dawn and the drive through Estrella Mountain Ranch was quite foggy...unusual for me. The sky was brightening the closer I got to RV but there were still patches of ground was actually very cool to be experiencing this in Arizona. When I arrived at the launch site, the fog had broken but the ground was damp and it was quite chilly yet.

Five competition events were planned for the day: Set Duration (50 seconds); Spot Landing; Scale; B-Eggloft Duration; and B-Boost Glide Duration. I'd prepared rockets for each event but had not test flown any except for the egg-lofter. I also brought along some other gliders and sport models just to fly for the fun of it. In the silent morning calm, I decided to begin test launching rockets before the crowd arrived.

The first launch of the morning was the first flight of my upscale Estes Astron Nighthawk boost glider. I'd built it around the BT-50 intending on flying it on C11 engines. I loaded up a C11-3 and put it on the pad. Upon lauch, it proved to be an airworthy design but both the boost and glide phases would need trimming.

Next off the pad was my Estes Astron Drifter clone on a C6-5 with an 18-inch chute. I wanted to time this for the 50 second Set Duration event. I launched her and shortly after apogee I lost sight of it and never saw it again as it drifted away to the west. I quickly surmised a light rocket, 18 inch chute and C power were NOT the right combo for this event (I actually found the undamaged Drifter the next month and after a little cleanup, I flew it again in mid March.)

I'd have to evaluate what others were flying and choose one of the other models I brought along. I didn't get a photo of Drifter on the pad.

Below are some photos of other rockets I launched before the crowd showed up. I didn't take too many any other photos during the competition as I was busy flying, prepping, and helping with timing duties.

Sky (Apogee) Condor boost glider

Estes Mini-ALCM (RTF).

Sky (Apogee) Condor boost glider (#2)

Standard size Nighthawk clone

Jet Freak boost glider.

My BT-55 Honest John
scale entry on a C6-5.

23 February 2008 - Rainbow Valley: ARG - V

A member of AHPRA displays the shirt for this annual event.

For the third weekend in a row I ventured out to Rainbow Valley for fun-in-the-sun-rocketry. This time out, I attended the Arizona High Power Rocketry Association event. I arrived fairly early (before 0730) and the place was just starting to wake up. Campers lined the flight line and rockeeters were beginning their day with breakfast and friendly chats.

I parked at the far west end of the line and really the only person I immediately recognized was Scott (Just Rockets) and his trailer. I strolled up and down the line examining the rockets on display then headed back to my truck to start prepping rockets. In the end, the first flight probably didn't launch until about 1100am - considerably later than the SSS likes to get started.

Goblin clone on D12-5

8 March 2008 - Rainbow Valley

The monthly SSS launch was held on March 8th. I attempted my first dual deploy launch with my modified Loc IV. It was also my first Redline motor launch. Perfect launch and climb but at apogee it arched over and began the dreaded death dive. After examining the wreckage we determined I had my lockout microswitches wired wrong and the e-matches never got current to fire the charges. The only salvageable airframe component was the fin can and as of late March I've nearly completely rebuilt the LocIV and I hope to try electronic deployment again at Spring Blast in April.

My dual deploy
LOC IV on I285R

Dual deploy
complete failure

Utterly destroyed
on impact...altimeter survived!

Lloyd's L2 Warlock launch

The Warlock climbs out

Lloyd certified L2!

Wild Bill's Mojave Green motor

Iris launch

15 March 2008 - Rainbow Valley - SSS PRM-14

Phoenix Regional Meet-14 took place on March 15th. This launch was the second of four launches scheduled to score points for the NAR competition. Competition flying was halted mid-afternoon due to high winds. The Set Duration, Open Spot Landing, C-Boost Glide, and some of the G-Altitude were flown successfully and the decision was made to postphone the remianing G-Altitude and the Scale flying until next weekend.

22 March 2008 - Rainbow Valley - SSS PRM-14 (Continued)

Today's launch marked the 6th trip to Rainbow Valley out of seven weekends...WOW!

Phoenix Regional Meet-14 (continued) took place on March 22th. Competition flying last weekend was halted mid-afternoon due to high winds. The Set Duration, Open Spot Landing, C-Boost Glide, and some of the G-Altitude flights were successfully flown last week and the decision was made to postphone the rest of the G-Altitude and the Scale flying. Matt Steele appointed me as an official tracker for the altitude competition. After a quick primer on the workings of the NAR-sanctioned Triple Tracker, I was tracking flights and calling in the results to base. As challenging as tracking some of the flights were, it was a ton of fun and I'd do it again in a minute. It was also cool watching the flights from a fair distance away. Below is an image of one of the Triple Trackers constructed my Mike Hutchison.

The weather cooperated nicely and after the competition flying was finished, Mike H, Gerald M and I decided to stick around and fly a few more model rockets despite the winds picking up a bit.

Below are four photos of my NARTREK qualification flights. A week or so ago I decided to begin working on fulfilling the requirements to earn the NARTREK awards. These achievement awards are given to flyers who complete a series of flights using rockets constructed by the flier and flown after signing up for the program. The Bronze level requirements are available online and bronze is the only level you can complete without actual pre-registration. You download and print the package, fly your rockets, attach photographs of the rockets and mail the package to NARTREK Base. In time you'll receive your award certificate and if you register for any of the next levels, those will be mailed to you in turn. The program is honor-system based and relatively easy to accomplish at your own pace. I used existing rockets and flew all four of my flights, successfully completing the requirements for Bronze. I completed the package and mailed it off on the Monday following the launch. I should be receiving my Silver package in due course. No flights count towards the next level until you receive the package from NARTREK base.

The Bronze requirements are: At least a 60-second parachute duration flight on a B motor; At least a 30-second streamer duration flight on a B motor; A two-stage flight; and a flight using at least a D motor. Despite the fact I'm currently NAR Level 2 and working on my Level 3 project, I love flying model rockets as well and I felt the NARTREK program would be fun to try and complete in a timely manner. Below are photos of the four rockets I chose to use to try and make my qualifying flights. On the first Parachute flight with the Drifter, the parachute didn't fully deploy and I only got a time of 41 seconds...I had to try again. Second flight was timed at 71 seconds. The Alpha made a 38.38 second streamer recovery flight; the Apogoon made a beautiful 2-stage flight and recovered undamaged. The Eliminator made a nice flight on a D12-5 and also recovered undamaged on a long streamer. Special thanks to Ms. Katie Steele for timing my flights and launching some of the rockets so I could take the photographs.

Drifter on a B6-4.

Alpha set to go on a B6-6

Apogoon on a B6-0 to B6-6

Eliminator on a D12-5

23 March 2008 - El Mirage Field Launch

On Sunday the 23rd I decided to go to the field and fly a couple rockets. I wanted to fly more than I did but it was a bit breezy and after pranging two rockets I just wanted to go home. First up was my Dark Lander decked out in custom "reverse" decals by Tango Papa. Nice boost on a C5-3 but on landing one of the legs got cracked. The other flight was the second of my nekkid Golden Scout. I shoved a 13mm A3-4T in a blank 18mm engine casing/spacer by Semroc. Flew like a champ but suffered two busted fins after a nice tumble recovery onto the hard-packed dirt. Both rockets were easily repaired by bed time.

Dark Lander on a C5-3

Dark Lander climbs out...

Nekkid Golden Scout on an A3-4T

The broken Golden Scout

Spring Blast 2008 Rainbow Valley

April 12 & 13 was the SSS annual "Spring Blast" event. Many overnighters both Friday and Saturday night including an evening launch on Saturday.

19 April 2008 - Rainbow Valley - SSS PRM-15

Phoenix Regional Meet-15 took place on April 19th. Thankfully we were able to complete the flying before the conditions got too breezy for the scheduled events.

Again, the weather cooperated nicely and most of us flyers had a great time.

10 May 2008 - Rainbow Valley

It's startin' ta heat up in Arizona. The May 2008 launch in Rainbow Valley was a great launch day despite temps rising into the low 90s around lunchtime. I showed up quite early (before 0630) to try to get my NARTREK Gold flights in before the crowd arrived. During the preceeding two weeks, I'd designed and built a basic BT-60 (1.637 inch) 24mm payloader I call the NG60 Payloader. My goal for the morning was to fly it at least six times: 3 flights on D12-5 and 3 flights on E9-6. I'd built the rocket with Cherokee-D style basswood fins mounted through-the wall. The fins are a bit smaller than the old Cherokee-D and I mounted four instead of three. The payload bay is large enough to accomodate an altimiter, with the 9V battery fitting snugly in the nose with the help of a cushion of foam. I flew the rocket a record seven times, alternating between the D and E engines so I'd know the altitudes were accurate. The flights were all successful with the exception of the 2nd flight (first on the E9-6) in that the altimeter reported a duplicate altitude of the first flight. I'm not sure exactly why that happened though for subsequent flights I physically separated the battery from the altimeter to power it off temporarily before the next flight.

My only other flight of the day was a successful dual deploy flight with my LOC IV on an I285R. The rocket did suffer a six-inch zipper in the upper airframe, probably due to using more BP than acutally required for the volume. The rocket will be easily repairable.

Unfortunately our high-power motor vendor was unable to attend so many flyers probably didn't get to launch some rockets they'd hoped to.

24 May 2008 - Rainbow Valley - SSS PRM-16

The final Superstition Spacemodeling Society Phoenix Regonial Meet for this years competition season took place on Saturday 24 May at Rainbow Valley. Skies were ominously dark and rain constantly threatened during the flying activities and the breeze was stiff at times. At least once during the launch rain drops were falling. My Dad was down for the week so he helped with launch duties while I photographed some of my flights.

I entered all the events (50 Second Set Duration, B-Boost Glide, B-Helicopter, and Scale.) As always, Set Duration was the first event and my trusty Alpha III on a C6-7 with streamer recovery returned a time of 48.87 seconds - good enough for first place in C-Division (18 years and older) for the day. B-Boost glide with my Quest Flat Cat was a bomb with my first attempt doing a "Red Baron" (tangle with the pod) and my second flight was less than seven seconds. I should have stuck with my Sky Condor glider. B-Helicopter with my Rose-A-Roc was no better. The motor had a blow-through upon ignition thereby releasing the rotors on the pad. The rocket gained several feet in altitude before safely settling down a few feet away. I didn't attempt a second flight as the motor tube was pretty badly charred. For scale I flew my (white paint only) Maxi Honest John, first on an Aerotech G79-4W then later on a G80-7T. Both flights were impressive on the G motors. I have some minor fin repairs to do on one fin as it was cracked upon landing.

For Sport flying I managed to put my NG60 payloader (with altimeter) up a couple more times, once on an E9-6 for 972 feet and once on an Aerotech E30-7T for 1404 feet. After recovery Dad and I called it an afternoon and packed up and went home.

I can say this about the competition flying: it was great fun! I hope to be able to compete again next year though I must say preparation for all the events is paramount. Several of our competition flyers will be attending NARAM-50, though I won't be going. For one, it would be an expensive trip no matter how you slice it and my competition skills aren't at the national level. I do wish all the flyers good luck and with determination and much skill, the SSS might just bring home the trophy for the fourth time in a row.

31 May 2008 - El Mirage

On Saturday 31 May, Geoffrey and I got together for some sport flying. We got a somewhat late start to flying and by the time lunch rolled around I was ready to call it a day. I got ten flights in and Geoffrey a similar number.

14 Jun 2008 - La Pradera Park, Phoenix

The SSS gathered on a warm Saturday morning for a park launch. A number of folks showed up to do some flying. I flew 5 rockets before spending an hour or more fetching my Cherokee D from a tree. By the time I got back to the launch area the sprinklers had come on and I'd about had it for the day.

Estes Super Nova Payloader

Micro Baby Bertha

NG60 Payloader

Cherokee D

Estes X-Ray

Some of the other rockets flown today:

Wil's Patriot RTF

Geoff's scratch Dragster

Jim's Shuttle Xpress

Estes Pop Fly

28 Jun 2008 - Rainbow Valley

A few members of the SSS got together at RV on Saturday to practice some flying for the upcoming NARAM-50 in Virginia. I went out to see if I could lend a hand and also to get some sport flying in.

First of my rockets off the pad was my trusty DEcadence two-stager with a D12-0 staging to an E9-6. I'd modified my A-20 Demon payload section to accomodate an altimeter by adding a pointy plastic nose cone to house the 9V battery. The rocket zipped off the pad for an arrow straight, perfect flight to a recorded 1,680 feet. Descent was near the pads and I managed to catch the sustainer. Next up was the first flight of another two-stager, this time my scratch-built BT60 upscale of the classic Estes Midget. I went all out with a C6-0 in the booster and a C6-7 upstairs. A 12" chute brought the sustainer in for a soft landing, but a bit further away. Third up was my Quest Courier egg-lofter modified for 24mm motors. Again, I went for broke on the first flight with an E9-4. Ejection was a bit early but the Courier flew straight and true. Again, I managed to catch the rocket and thankfully I didn't break the egg (kindly supplied by Matt Steel.)

My last flight of the day was the DEcadence. I'd been chatting with Matt at his tent and he suggested I try a composite motor in the sustainer. He kindly supplied me with an Aerotech E15-7W and a bit of thermalite fuse. He instructed me how to load it with the fuse touching the top of the black powder in the Estes D12-0. I wasn't sure if I was being toyed with by "the man" but I put my trust in his decades of knowledge. I prepped the bird and armed the altimeter, curious to whether or not the flight would work as planned (promised?) The D12-0 ignited as expected and when staging occured, initially nothing happened. Then there was a puff of smoke and the E15 took over, boosting the sustainer to a respectable looking altitude. It had worked!! I had a bit of a walk for recovery this time and when I got there the altimeter was beeping out the same altitude as the previous flight. Apparently, it didn't record the altitude (similar to my issues a couple months prior with the NG60 payloader) so I didn't get an altitude reading but otherwise the flight was a resounding success. Matt refused any payment for the motor stating "seeing that was worth the price of admission." I thanked him again and wandered back to my tent.

I'd planned to ground test the black powder requirements for my Level 3 Mighty Moe but I was having issues and it was getting bloody hot. Deciding to wait until another time for the ground test, I packed up my gear and headed home, satisfied I'd managed to get several rockets in the air (and back) and even got to try something new with the BP to composite staging. Matt has orgainized a final NARAM practice session on July 12th so I'll probably be back at Rainbow Valley in two weeks with a few more sport rockets to fly.

12 Jul 2008 - Rainbow Valley

Wow, I just did the math and this trip was my 28th drive to Rainbow Valley in the last 23 months.

Again, the Steele clan and a couple other flyers wanted to do some more testing prior to NARAM-50 later this month. I showed up to do some sport flying and in the end I got 6 flights up and helped do some altitude tracking. The weather leading up to the weekend was stormy but the launch field was nice and dry on Saturday morning. That's a good thing about Arizona in the summer - water doesn't stay around very long after the sun comes back out, and it doesn't take long for damp earth to dry out. The skies were mostly sunny and by the time we all departed at 12:15, it was dang hot.

First off the pad for me was my Semroc "Golden Scout" #0404 with a 1/2A6-2. The Scout went unstable off the pad and thankfully the small motor didn't provide much time for the thing to go very far. It landed, undamaged, about 50 feet from the pad.

Next up was my NG-60 Payloader with an E9-6 and my PerfectFlite altimeter in the payload bay. The rocket zipped off the pad and after a safe recovery, the altimeter was beeping off an altitude of 1064 feet - a respectable altitude for this rocket and consistent with my other flights on this motor.

I prepped the DEcadence with a D12-0 in the booster and an E9-6 in the upper stage. This time the payload bay carried my Missle Works RRC2-mini altimeter. This was the first flight of this altimeter and after a perfect flight and recovery, the altimeter beeped off an altitude of 1,431 feet - again a respectable altitude for this rocket and motor combination.

The next rocktet I sent up was my veteran (1989) Estes Shooting Star on a C6-5. Because the original Estes tri-fold shock cord mount and rubber shock cord had given out some time ago, I'd replaced the internal mount with an external Kevlar(c) static line attached to one of the fins. This in turn attached to a piece of 1/8" sewing elastic mounted to the nose cone eyelet and recovery system. The rocket boosted straight up with a slight spin and at apogee the 'chute deployed to return the rocket to a nice soft landing.

The last flights of the day were with my Semroc "Golden Scout." Thinking the motor tube was dirty with ejection residue, I cleaned it out with a piece of scratchy pad to enable the motor to move freely as intended.

This time the Scout launched on Estes mini-motors. I have a small supply of empty 18mm casings that work perfectly for shoving a mini motor in and launching in lightweight rockets with an 18mm mount. First flight was with a 1/2A3-2T and the rocket flew perfectly and with a clean motor tube, the motor kicked backwards rendering the Scout unstable for a nice tumble recovery with no damage. The next flight on an A3-4T was a carbon copy of the previous flight except this time I asked Matt Steele to launch for me so I could take a photo. Thanks Matt!

After helping Dave M. close up shop, we headed out the gate. It was a hot morning and I was glad to be headed home, though looking forward to another day of launching at Rainbow Valley come August.

20 Jul 2008 - Phoenix Park Launch

Geoffrey and I met at the park near his house for some early morning flying. Just 5 hours prior, El Mirage and probably a good portion of the valley got hammered by thunderstorms so I wasn't sure if we were going to actually fly or not. I had some rocket tubes to deliver to him anyway so we kept our appointment. I'd only packed two rockets to fly (Estes Shooting Star and Semroc Golden Scout) and after I hit the road I realized I forgot my camera. I decided to press on and not worry about it. In the end I wish I'd gone back for it...

Right on time at 0800hrs, Geoffrey showed up at the park and we commenced to launching rockets. I was first up with my Shooting Star on an A8-3, then a B4-4. Despite the high humidity, over the next 3 hours or so we took turns launching. Geoffrey had more of a variety than I did and launched a two stager, a couple boost gliders (he lost both gliders), an R&D project, and a few others. We even kept our "appointment" to drag race our Golden Scouts. Mine is #0404 and his is #0405. For some reason, mine sat on the pad for a couple seconds after pushing the button so Geoffrey had no problem winning the race as his lept off the pad at "Zero." Funny thing about my first Scout launch of the day was mine actually "stuck" the landing in the soft grass. That's right, it ended up landing with all three fin tips stuck in the dirt and the nose pointing straight up!

Another comical flight of mine was the Shooting Star on a 13mm A10-3T. The "Star" is by no means a light rocket and an A8-3 barely gets it up there. I thought it'd be interesting to try it on a mini motor. I shoved an A10-3T in an empty engine casing, put her on the pad and hit the button. Star rose into the air ever so gracefully to about 30-40 feet then made a nice ballistic trajectory right into the park grass. Just after the nose dug into the soft earth the ejection charge went off, sending the vertically standing body tube and fin can straight up into the air until it reached the end of the elastic shock cord. The body snapped harmlessly back to the ground, virtually undamaged. The fin can did move up the body tube about an inch, probably from initial impact. Otherwise my 19-year old Shooting Star was still flyable after 15 launches so I put it up again on a B6-4 for my final flight of the day.

As I didn't have my camera I don't have any record of these launches. I did snap one photo of the Scout sticking out of the ground with my cell phone camera...I guess the thing is usefaul at launches afterall! Here is a photo of the Scout after "sticking the landing"

13 Sep 2008 - Rainbow Valley

The September club launch was my opportunity to test fly my Graduator 3-D, my LOC Graduator converted for dual deployment. I wanted to flight-test my newest PerfectFlite altimeter in preparation for my Level 3 certification at GHS the next month. I basically added an e-bay to the rocket and also used the G motor as backup. The altimeter performed flawlessly, kicking out the drogue at apogee and then motor fired correctly as backup. The main fired at the pre-determined altitude as well so all was good with the altimeter. It was the only rocket I launched that day but many other fliers punched holes in the sky with their creations.

25/26 Oct 2008 - Rainbow Valley - G. Harry Stine Memorial Launch

I'd been looking forward to this day since early in the year when I decided I'd attempt my NAR Level 3 at the GHS launch. For several fliers that day, months of preparation would soon be put to the test as we tried, in turn, to certify Level 3 with an M-power motor. My dad came down for a visit and we arrived at the launch site early in the morning to secure a parking spot among all the other fliers who had camped over Friday night.

Dwain was first up for L3 attempt with his modified 7.5 inch Nike Smoke called Good Grief that he painted to look like Charlie Browns shirt. He had a perfect flight and secured L3. Next up was Mark with his scratch built Big Fellow Rocket and despite a minor hiccup with the recovery system, he also certified L3. I had to wait till after the lunch break for my attempt. Dwain and I toted my upscale Estes Mighty Moe out to the pad, and with some help from my Dad and our friend Joel, we got the Moe loaded up on Marks rail. Back to the flight line we marched and I asked Craig V. to do the launch honors so both Dad and I could take launch photos. After the obligitory countdown, the M1297 White Lightning came to life and put the Mighty Moe up to 4200 feet, where the drogue popped out from the rear payload bay. So far, so good. As Moe descended we eagerly anticipated the main event, which appeared to occur right on time, and Moe floated gracefully to earth under the 168-inch Spherachute. Thankfully, the winds were kind to us that day and we had to drive less than a quarter mile to retrieve the rocket. All was intact, and I earned my L3 certification. Again, thanks to all who participated in making all of our Level 3 certification flights a success that day.

Dad and I stayed out at GHS until well past 9pm that night, watching the night launch and enjoying some steaks and fixins we'd brought along to cook with Mark and his family. Geoffrey joined us too as we'd brought along a steak for him as well. After some socializing, we packed up the essentials and headed home so we could get some sleep and return the next morning.

Dad and I were up fairly early and headed back to join the crowd at Rainbow Valley. I think I did some early range duties then launched a couple rockets. I put my Estes Eliminator up on an E9-6, then the Estes Super Nova Payloader up on an E9-4, and finally my Skeeter on a C6-5. It was a great weekend of flying all around and I for one was happy to put this one in the books given all the preparations I'd made during the Mighty Moe project. Thanks again Pop for being there all along!

8 Nov 2008 - Rainbow Valley

As always, the November club launch came quickly on the heels of the G. Harry Stine Memorial launch. A fair number of fliers showed up for a day in the sun flying all sorts of rockets. I launched three rockets for eleven launches including my BT-80 upscale LTV Scout on an H238 Redline. It was a great flight to over 2,000 feet and recovered perfectly except for a dislodged fin. I also launched my LTV Goon - a goony version of the LTV Scout - a total of eight times for a personal record for most launches of the the same rocket on the same day. It suffered a couple of popped fins but was easily fixed each time for the next flight. I also launched my Edmonds "Deltie-B" boost glider twice. I wish I'd timed the second flight because it was easily over three minutes. I was able to walk under it for a couple of minutes as it circled lazily over the launch site. I'm truly impressed with that rocket!

13 Dec 2008 - Rainbow Valley

The monthly club launch at Rainbow Valley was good fun. I'd finished up my Semroc Gee'hod and put that up a few times for my EMRR review of the rocket. I also flew my BT-60 upscale of the two-stage Estes Beta, a "Mini-Brute" from back in the day which was originally designed to fly on the 18mm "Short" motors before Estes discontinued them in lieu of the 13mm Mini Motors.

A number of other flyers put their rockets up on a variety of motors. Keith L. launched a beautiful Estes Alien Space Probe, Estes Maxi V-2, and Sheri's Hot Rockets Little Joe II. Unfortunately, the Little Joe II suffered a stuck nose cone and came in ballistic, completely destroying the upper half of the rocket. He hopes to rebuild it someday.

Terry's Tweed-B2

Alien Space Probe

Little Joe II
(Sheri's Hot Rockets)

Keith's Maxi-V2

Two Stage Initiator

Moe's Semroc Gee'hod

Moe's upscale
Estes Beta

Moe's Semroc Gee'hod

Moe's Semroc Gee'hod

Moe's upscale
Estes Beta

14 Dec 2008 - Rainbow Valley

The day after our monthly club launch I went back out to Rainbow Valley to help look for the rocket Dwain lost. I also took the opportunity to launch a few mod rocs on my own. I took five rockets with me and ended up launching all of them multiple times. The only serious casualty I had was my stretched Alpha - the Alpha V. On its first flight I loaded up a C6-7 and let 'er rip. The grey skies worked against me and I lost sight of it at the top and never saw it again. I combed the area in my truck trying to locate the bright plastic streamer but to no avail. I launched the other rockets at least five times each for a total of 24 launches - the most launches in a single day for me. I even experimented with CHAD staging my Skeeter: a BT-60 upscale Mosquito. I CHAD staged it four times, each a successful launch. After I grew tired of launching I set out to look for Dwain's rocket but again, to no avail. Scott H. was also out there looking for rockets using GPS and moving in a grid pattern on his ATV. At some point after I left he did in fact find Dwain's rocket - about a mile and a half to the east/north east...basically out by the powerlines.

27 Dec 2008 - El Mirage

Geoffrey and I got together for some modroc launching a couple days after Christmas. We both launched a number of rockets and we got all of them back.

10 Jan 2009 - Rainbow Valley

My first launch of the new year was our monthly club launch at Rainbow Valley. I arrived around 0700 just before sun up. There was already one trailer on site and I soon met the occupants - they were with one of the Cub Scout packs that were going to be flying next to us this brisk Saturday. Skies looked to be perfectly clear for the day and in the end it was one of the clearest, cleanest sky days I've seen around Phoenix in a long time. A slight breeze persisted through much of the morning and as I was departing the field and closing the gate when I left in the early afternoon it seemed to be nearly dead calm.

Club President Darrel B. showed up with the club trailer in tow not long after sun up. Dwain D and I immediately proceeded to set up about 24 modroc pads for the scouts to use and then set out their controllers. After that we were free to begin prepping our rockets for the days' events.

Dwain was first up with his scratchbuilt Arizona Cardinals-themed rocket and the morning unfolded from there:

Dwain's Cardinals
rocket on a Skidmark

Yellow Jacket

Dwain's on a Green Gorilla

Jim's 4-D motor cluster
only 2 ignited

Dwain's rocket

Brad's Initiator
on a G80-7T

Fire Girl

Packers 1

Moe's BT-55 Sprite
on a C6-3

Moe's Goony Ghost
on a C6-5

Moe's Peter Alway
Vostok on a C6-3...

...was unstable
lacking nose weight.

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