It was only a month before the annual April launch of 2020 when covid came and NASA froze the Student Launch program and any flying. The next year the program was all virtual and this year it was still mostly remote, but half the registered teams decided to come and fly in Huntsville. The weather was great at Bragg’s farm on April 23 as high school and college teams revived the 22 year old tradition of launching level two motors on a NAR range. There was no rocket fair or NASA tours or awards banquet this time but the 27 flights encouraged everyone that the program was coming back.
Archive for Launches
As the weather came up favorable HARA pulled off two back to back monthly launches in both October and November skies to start the fall flying season. Both launches tested the new wireless control system, which apart from new operator familiarization, worked great. The first launch had 51 total flights of all sorts of motors as is typical of the HARA family and friends. The Geezer TARC contest brought out 4 competitors. Duane won with a new record score of ‘5’, followed by Bill with 166, Doug with 724, and Vince getting the flying pig trophy with 803, a new record bad for Geezer.
The November launch was a true high power day that had 46 flights with only 4 non HPR models lofted. It was a chilly day in Woodville and the cloudless sky favored the big motors. Many flyers came from surrounding states to certify at new levels or practice with their student team rockets, or both. They flew right up to sunset when the waiver expired and the range crew hustled to get the trailer packed before dark. Will the weather in December hold out for a third in a row scheduled launch and the Trash Panda Contest? Watch this page.
The frustration of having to cancel or slip launch dates due to bad weather or muddy field conditions prompted the officers to move the March launch up a week from the 13th to the sixth to match a favorable forecast. The decision allowed the club to be out on the Butler Mill field for a beautiful day of flying; clear sky, mild temps and moderate wind. HARA had a diverse manifest with certs and college team flights, novel mid power rockets, a shuttle glider, a high-power 2 stage, and a high power drag race that was more eventful than planned.
For more photos and an awesome video from John Kraieski’s very upscale Mars Lander sparky ascent and four legged landing see https://www.facebook.com/HARA-Rocketry-182522918458853/ Thanks to Gene, Greg and Patrick for contributing pictures!
The autumn colors of red, orange and yellow decorated the trees in the mountains of north Alabama but also the flames of the rockets flying at the monthly HARA launch. After being rained out in October and waiting since March for the field to be cleared the club was out in full force to launch into a mild calm November sky. The pads were particularly busy with HP certification flights. The crowd was present when the waiver opened at 10 am and was solid until sunset.
For a more detailed discussion of the day go to Bill’s blog at http://billsrockets.blogspot.com/2020/11/a-perfect-day-for-flying.html A multitude of rocket pictures are on the HARA facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HARA-Rocketry-182522918458853/
The bashful bride of good weather finally arrived for the anxious rocketeer grooms after running away from the past three months of scheduled launches. She was cold but calm, allowing many HP certification flights and other large motors to fly on the new field in Paint Rock. Here are a few scenes from the day.
The next launch is March 9.
HARA was represented at NAR’s 60th annual meet and rocketeer reunion in Pueblo, Colorado in August by Allen Owens and Vince Huegele. Vince was there for the BOT meeting and Allen was there to fly his level 2 scale Tomahawk, the Long Tom. The weather was great and the field was greater allowing the launch and recovery of all manner of sport rockets. Allen’s flight was excellent, and higher than predicted. Vince made two nominal flights on a Spacemonkeys plastic V-2 converted to fly on 24mm motors.
Allen loads his rocket on the away pad rail with RSO help.
Long Tom ascends on its maiden flight.
All the pieces were recovered.
An N powered rocket takes off in the background, but from the camera’s perspective it’s the same size as the C powered models on the rack.
An imaginative hybrid of the Red Max and a Saturn V on the rack with the V-2.
Vince in the crowd after flying his V-2.
When I began planning my trip to NSL 2018 I watched the New York host town of Geneseo on the weather channel map get so much record snow that I wondered if it would all be melted by Memorial Day weekend. It was. The quaint village looked a lot like Manchester, TN, a comfortable verdant community with a field large enough to have a warbird landing strip.
It was nice to get a large launch fix particularly since there is none to be had with HARA this summer. It’s also great to go to a launch and not have set up and run the range. The MARS club had done all that and was well organized.
I was only there on Saturday but for all of the 10 am -5 pm day and made six flights with four rockets, all on Aerotech E15’s provided by Chris’s Rockets. Chris and I were the only Alabama representatives. In my traveling arrangements I could not accommodate any HPR, but I did take some fun birds. Marvin the Martian in the Michael’s birdhouse did not fly so straight this time but had the chute out before the RSO could blow the horn. The Phoenix had a bit of tip off for a scale ‘acquire and seek’ flight profile but flew much truer on the second flight. My Quest Minotaur looked impressive on the pad (#5 in the photo) and going up. I flew my Estes Silver Comet twice with a Jolly Logic chute release and was saved many steps in walking to recover it.
The NSL boasted it boosted over a thousand flights that weekend and the deserves credit for the success. I saw several big rockets go up and my favorite was the N3300R in the upscale Big Bertha shown in the photo while the owner is interviewed for ‘the rocket show’.
There was a situation presented at this launch that merits comment. The NSL did not have quarter inch launch rods; they only offered rails for mid power and above. If you showed up with rockets with a quarter inch lug, you were told to put on rail buttons. The claim is that rails are safer and don’t whip like rods do. Fair enough; they are a preferred practice. But it is not fair to dismiss models built over the last thirty years with lugs as suddenly unsafe and not accommodate them. There’s a lot of Aerotech, LOC and PML kits and rockets built with those parts that need not be retrofitted with rail buttons. I hope that ranges will continue to have a pad that can take a ¼” rod because there are still a lot of rockets that will need them.
Of course a weekend full of rockets is cool, but this year’s two day launchfest had unseasonable low temperatures keeping flyers very comfortable for June. The previous week saw the passage of tropical entity Cindy dumping rain all over Tennessee and threatening the schedule, but Saturday was clear enough to set up the range on the soggy sod.
There is an annual event that draws sport rocketeers from all over to come fly their best rockets. You are invited to come to that event and be one of those rocketeers.
THE SOUTHERN THUNDER REGIONAL ROCKET LAUNCH
June 24-25, 2017, Manchester, TN
Meet some of the masters of the craft, shop for great deals and see amazing rockets. It’s a celebration of rocketry in low, medium and high power. Come out for a day or two, bring rockets to fly or just be there to watch, but don’t miss the flying circus that is Southern Thunder.