LDRS 31 was awesome and the stage for the first flight of my latest rocket, the Extreme Wildman.
Yea, that's my finger over the lense. I'm a noob. Anyway, I broke one of my rules for this launch and didn't launch it straight up. A lot of stuff had been landing in the parking lot and the air horn was blowing more often than you'd like, so I listened to the pad manager when he asked me to tilt it over the crops a little. The wind was blowing from the parking lot also, so I figured it would weather cock a little and all would be great. Instead, by the time the rocket launched 20 minutes later, the wind had changed direction 180 degrees, and as my launch video shows, it further weather cocked straight over the corn field...
You can see at the end of the video where I draw a long line in the sand and get a good line. This is a habit from flying down south in shoulder high corn and harvested cotton fields. If your line is good and you walk far enough, you'll eventually find it.
My dad and I walked out into the field and spent about 3 or 4 hours in the corn combing left and right to make sure we didn't miss it. Eventually we decided to give up on it so we could fly some other stuff, and the line was still in the sand, so if it didn't show up at the lost and found tent, we'd search again on Sunday.
Saturday ended up being a great rocket day, the drag race was amazing, huge stuff was going off the huge pads all day long and I even built the Wildman LDRS 31 special. My dad also launched a practice flight for what he expects to be his level 3 and it was one of the most successful launches we had for the entire trip.
On Sunday morning, we woke up early so we could search the field before the launches started. We decided since we had already walked a great deal of the field from the corn side, we would drive around to the far side and walk back along the line.
The blue line is my line, and it turned out we found my rocket almost dead on this line after about an hour and a half of meticulously combing through the onions and weeds. The "Your Rocket" listed is actually this rocket, and you can read more about it in the comments on the video.
My rocket was actually found with the electronics on, though not in the expected state (not beeping altitudes) and I had to wait a few days for the USB kit to be delivered in order to get the data off. It reached and altitude of 3549 ft and hit a max speed of 498 f/s. Not bad, and it should break 2 miles if it ever goes up for my level 3. The altimeter data tells a weird story however and I'm still trying to figure out exactly why the main parachute did not deploy even though the charge went off. I plan to follow this post up with a series about my interpretation of the flight, the damage and my plans to make sure this doesn't happen again.
This was a rush flight. My dad and I had just spent an hour and a half the second morning looking for my Extreme Wildman and decided since it was only 10am we had time to do one more launch each before we start the long drive back home. Our motors were already packed, so this couldn't take long could it?
All I had to do was slip the motor in and screw it tight, then I helped my dad repack his Pitbull for it's third and final flight of the weekend. Then we were on our way back to the RSO tent. Luckily we were the only people in line for this round and we both headed out the pads. I slid mine on the rail and my dad did as well, then we flipped the electronics on his and then.... just a continuous tone. We figured this meant the battery was dead since it was the third flight of the weekend. I was already on the pad though, so I was going now.
My dad had plenty of time to change the battery out and make it back to the pads in time to see the launch. It was a great flight, all events worked as intended, but the only problem was the launch angle.
LAUNCH RULE #1: When going more than 1500 ft, launch your rocket straight up at a 0o angle.
The only caveat to this is if you are going for maximum altitude, in which case you would lean slightly in the direction of the wind. The theory here is that your rocket will likely weathercock slightly into the wind and the parachute will bring it home in the direction of the wind. Above 1500 ft, especially with main at apogee, the rocket will almost certainly land in a favorable location when launched straight up. Even if there is wind when loading the rocket on the pad, it will likely change direction by the time your rocket launches, and then you're really in for a long walk.
Needless to say, the wind changed on me and my rocket drifted well over a mile into the crops.
RECOVERY RULE #1: If your rocket lands over any sort of horizon (crops included) it went twice as far as you think it did.
Luckily there were some people out in the field at this time running around picking up rockets as they landed. This was wonderful, and probably saved hours of time for people who launched the 10 or so rockets I saw them end up with.
Here she is just before launch. This rocket has a payload bay, but I have never taken the time to build out a payload for it. Just before launch my dad convinced me to tape a MiniALT in the payload bay so we would know how high it went. I sure am glad we did that because it went straight up and got a new high altitude for this rocket at 1717ft.
A side story: when I originally applied to Stack Overflow, they replied with the old "we will keep your resume on file", which to me meant thanks but no thanks. About 2 months later, I was painting this rocket on my back porch, when I got an email asking me to send in a cover letter if I was still interested. Thinking this was just a courtesy, I snapped a quick picture of this rocket with the paint still drying and attached it to the email and my cover letter simply read "Yes I am still interested. I would have replied earlier but I was painting my rocket." Friday of that week I was flying up for the in person interview. Now the last two rockets I have built (the customized Spitfire and Extreme Wildman) were built in my office. :)