Syracuse Rocket Club launch: Spritely

This month there was no excuse not to be out flying. It was warm, maybe even hot, but not oppressively. Winds varied from light to none. Clouds from high to gone.

This was the month for our Sprites to fly, and we had, I think, one MMX (Fliskits Tumbleweed), two 18mm (both Semroc Sprites, one mine), one BT-60, one BT-80 (my Mega Sprite), and one 3″ (3D Rocketry Circulus 3). Actually the more general theme for this month’s launch was classic Estes kits, and I had another one of those. Would’ve been two if I’d brought my Ranger clone but I didn’t have time to prep a 3-motor cluster. I had enough to do trying to get the Sprites done in time. Hey, you can’t rush quality work.

First I flew my Metalizer on a C6-5. Because why not, I haven’t flown it in a while. And I suppose it’s a classic Estes in the sense that it’s out of production. But in no other sense. Anyway, it flew fine.

Next I proceeded to my Semroc Sprite. Scott Sellers had already flown his. In an article for our newsletter, Don Carson recommended doing three things to keep the Sprite from spitting its motor on a modern ejection charge: First, wedge the motor tightly into the adapter. Second, bend the tip of the motor hook forward, making about a 60 degree angle. Third, add a second vent hole.

glued my motor into the adapter. I bent the hook tip forward. I decided not to add a second vent hole. It spit the ½A3-2T motor and came in ballistic.

But it’s light and it landed in the grass, no harm done. The hook tip was back to 90 degrees, though.

I considered cutting a second vent hole and trying it again, but decided to save that for another time.

Third up was my non Sprite contribution to the classic Estes kits theme, or rather Mark Riffle’s contribution; he built the Cherokee-D, I only bought it off him. I restrained myself this time and went for a C11-5. Textbook flight.

The ongoing contest this year is A parachute spot landing. I flew my Custom Razor on an A8-3 twice. First time it went at a good angle, but the wind carried it too far. Still I was in first place, for just as long as it took for the next two contestants to fly.

Second time, I switched to a parachute with a spill hole (kindly provided by Scott S.) The angle was again excellent for the wind conditions twenty minutes earlier. As for the wind conditions when the launch button was pressed, there were none, and the Razor landed far to the opposite side of the pin from the first time. They should average the two attempts, I think. Anyway, I am a big fat loser. But the rocket flew fine.

By that point it was early afternoon and the paint was suitably dry and non tacky on the Mega Sprite. I had to borrow a D/E adapter since the orange thing in my case turned out on close inspection to be, uh, something else? and I didn’t feel like sticking in an E9 on the first flight. I used a D12-3 instead. Nominally 3, and maybe it was, but ejection seemed worryingly late. It did eject, but the chute (a nylon Top Flight, as usual) for some reason didn’t inflate. Instead it did a streamer imitation all the way down… or an imitation of a chute with a stripped shroud. Anyway, no harm done to the rocket, and on inspection the chute was perfectly fine. I have no idea why it malfunctioned. Aside from that the flight was pretty good, but it’d probably prefer an E motor. 

Our other contest this month was a drag race contest. One on one, and you got a point each for first motion, lowest apogee, and latest landing. Ideally you’d go for something that doesn’t go high but comes down very slowly. In practice, well, there were only four participants and they flew very different rockets. In my heat Scott S. flew his Snitch on a C6-0 and I flew my Ventris on a CTI F36 blue. The truth of course is I’d had no intention of drag racing but Scott was looking for someone to compete against and I said “OK, sure”. Unsurprisingly he had the lower apogee. Unsurprisingly I had the latest landing. And totally randomly I was first off the pad so I won my heat. There should have been a second heat between me and the winner of the other first heat, but he had to go and I didn’t have any motors left for the Ventris, so we’re postponing the showdown to another time.

When I found the Ventris I was surprised to discover a ding in one of the fins and the total absence of the lower rail button with its standoff. Examination of the launch rail revealed the problem. It had been installed on the pad sideways, and no one had noticed until the last launch of the day. The fin had clipped a wing nut that should have been behind the rail but was to the side of it: there were still a few shards of wood clinging to the nut. As for the rail button and standoff they were still in the rail, hanging there a couple feet up. Poor Ventris can’t seem to fly twice in a row without something breaking, but this will be an easy fix. When I do it. I still haven’t repainted the fillets on the fin I reglued back in… what? 2016? Hey, you can’t rush quality work.



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