Washington Aerospace Club
National Association of Rocketry Section 578
Tripoli Rocketry Association Prefecture 41

Fire In The Sky 2004 Launch Report

M21 3

Scott T. Bowers
Launch Director, FITS 2004


  • Ethan (Casey) Jones certifiedlevel 1
  • Holly Odegard level 1
  • Bill Munds successfully certifiedlevel 1 and 2
  • Dave Woodard re-certified level 1 and 2
  • Jack Anderson certified level3
  • Hope I didn't miss anyone.

There was wind Saturday but it stayed low enough to use the waiver all day. Jack Anderson got the day off to a good start by flying the Rumble Bee a perfect level three flight. Congratulations to Jack! Next up Jim Wilkerson Flew Screaming for Vengeance one a central K1275, two J420's, and two J570's. The J's were air started in pairs and the flight was flawless. Not to be upstaged, the Deupree family tried the same thing in their rocket, Tangerine Dream, with a central K1275 and four J350's. Unfortunately the second pair did not light till touchdown. The rocket survived and the fire crew was disappointed. Scott Harrison and the crew from West Coast Hybrids in Canada flew Aluminum Frankenstein with a L750 hybrid for a manufacturer's demo. The flight was beautiful and you have to love those long burns.

Sunday dawned clear and calm, but the wind soon came up and the range went on permanent wind hold at 2:30 PM. We did however get in some good flights first. Jim Wilkerson flew Hot Rocket, a minimum diameter 75 mm rocket with mechanical drogue deployment, on an L850 on a perfect flight to 15,500 feet. The rocket was recovered using a Walston Retrieval system. Not to be outdone, Scott Harrison and his crew put Aluminum Frankenstein up on a M900 hybrid motor and flew to 15,900 feet. I guess we let the Canadians walk away with the Mansfield altitude record. Jack Anderson flew his scale Amraam on an Animal Motor Works Green Gorilla motor for an impressive flight, and Jim Pommert flew his Black Brandt on a three H242 motor's for an impressive display as well.

Monday was by far the best day weather wise. It was warm, no wind, and clear skies. Alex McLaughlin opened the waiver up at eight sharp with the Ultimate Max. The seven J420 motor lit instantly on the pad and it shot upward in a hurry. Unfortunately, the designated at about burnout. Jim Wilkerson followed up next with Screaming for Vengeance on a full Cesseroni load. Again a flawless flight with a pair of Smokey Sam J motors lighting last.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. I can not thank everyone who helped make it such a smooth and wonderful event, but I will give it a shot. Robert Neech for finding the site, Kent Newman for negotiations and waiver work, Jim Pommert for his many drives across the mountains, John Hawkins and Bob Moscoe for getting the equipment together, Andrew MacMillen for the Website work and all the printing and graphics, Dave Bradley for tireless work on set up and breakdown, Acme for keeping us supplied, Jim Wilkerson, Andrew MacMillen, Jerry Buckles, Steve Bloom, and Bob Moscoe for their diligent work as RSO's, The volunteer fireman who gave up their weekend to keep an eye on us, and everyone else who worked as LCO, PM, and just pitched in to help, I couldn't remember everyone who lent a hand if I tried. Last but not least, Tom Snell and the town of Mansfield were the greatest hosts that anyone could have ever imagined, and I look forward to many more launches at this wonderful site.

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to serve.

The following are some of the highlights extracted from the NWR list, in chronological order.

Jack Anderson
This afternoon I was able to successfully make my NAR Level 3 certification attempt thanks to the help of many people on this list. I flew my Rumble Bee on a Animal Motor Works M1350 White Wolf. I used two Blacksky AltAcc 2c altimeters for deployment and back up. The launch was picture perfect. There was a slight breeze when I launched, so I aimed the rocket slightly into the wind. The drogue deployed at apogee and the rocket began to drift back towards the pads. The main deployed at about 1200 feet, at 600 feet we heard the sound of the back up charge firing as the rocket was right above the crowd. It finally landed about 50 yards away from where I was standing. The two altimeters reported 8,253 feet and 8,502 feet. I want to thank some of the people who made this possible.

- Jane and Chris at ACME for getting the needed "M" reload to me in time for the launch
- Kent Newman and Kimberly Harms for agreeing to baby sit my reloads until my LEUP arrived
- Fred Azinger for loaning Alex his AMW 75/6000 closure and nozzle
- Alex McLaughlin for loaning me his 75/6000 casing along with Fred's Hardware and for making me a fabulous igniter
- Scott Binder for making the trip to Mansfield to witness my flight

I could not have made without all your help - Thanks.

Michael Dennis
See all of the photos I got here. It was a great day, if a bit windy :-) I have a few notes in the header of each group of pictures but a few more bits of info:
- If you know the names or owners of some of the rockets in the "unknown" group let me know.
- NakedSkinnyButt - was one of the last launches of the day and despite a fairly angled take off into the wind drifted about 1.5 miles downwind, landing in a very dusty plowed field, well past the school. We almost didn't find it, since someone had gotten to it first and wrapped the chute up and laid it back in the dirt, all the while we're looking for the chute to be billowing out, as I just knew it had to be. My son walked within 30 yards before spotting it. Reminder - the rules are; don't touch someone else's rocket without permission!
- Wizocket - The wizards hat - no where near the altitude I thought (and Rocksim said), I guess I'll have to add some extra boosters next time :-) It's undamaged despite a deployment about 20 feet form the ground with the chute never opening fully...
- NikeSmoke - awesome flight to just over 7k ft, then about 4 mins of skywriting (the good kind) as the cold smoke canister spewed orange smoke for the entire descent!
- Jack's Rumble Bee - What can I say a perfect flight for his L3 - Congratulations Jack!!! He started the first of several small fires at the pads!

Enjoy the pics, sure wish I could have stayed all weekend!!!

Greg Deputy
Bit windy..yeah...just a bit. Until the end of the day and then it was downright gusty. Fun launch, none the less.

I was only there on Saturday, but witnessed Jack Anderson's L3, Jim Wilkerson's rocket with airstarts (Way cool!), and many others. Great fun.

I had 2 flights myself. PML IO on a H153 with GPSFlight telemetry. Booster separated and came in hot, haven't located that. Walked right to the top half thanks to the telemetry.

Flew my stretched small endeavor on a J330 also with the GPSFlight telemetry. Didn't see it deploy a drogue and lost it before it hit the ground. Looking at the telemetry data it suddenly slowed way down around 800 feet, making me think the main deployed (and shredded, I'm sure). However, when going out to the last known coordinates there was nothing to be found. Location was in a clearing next to a road, and after 3 hours of grid walking with a GPS handheld I had found Bill Mund's orange nose cone lost at the last launch and John Hawkins Strong arm, but not a speck of mine. I think someone picked it up off the road. I hope to hear about it and hope its not someone who thinks they got a nifty souvenir! Oh well...

Due to my walking in circles and lines for hours on end I didn't have a chance to fly my other bird, I guess we save that for next time.

Jack Andreson
For some more updates from Mansfield I have posted pictures of 15 different flights to my web site, as people return from FITS if you can help me identify the owners and rockets that have incomplete info, I'd appreciate it.

Marty Weiser
My son John (age 11) worked the sign-in booth Sat. from 11 - 6 as community service time for a school program. As everyone who has done this duty once the major rush is aware it can get a little slow. So he took a bunch of pictures of FITS that are not your traditional rocket lift-off shots. We did a little cropping and have posted some of the best at NW Rocketry (after remembering that spaces do not work in the file name).

Another picture I am looking forward to is of about 8 of us that have upscaled Estes kits - John's Mars Snooper is the biggest, but my 12X mosquito may have been the largest factor.

It was really good put faces with many of the names we see on this list all of the time. As several have said the launch was well organized and ran smoothly except for the wind which eventually shut things down Sunday afternoon (at least for a while). There were several pad fires - a problem we have consistently had at SPARC and have finally minimized by the judicious use of weed wackers, rakes, and Round-up.

Kimberly Harms
I went to the Mansfield Washington event largely to get some flight time in on my GPS Flight gear. I also wanted to test my ARTS from Ozark Aerospace.

My goal was to launch twice with the GPS unit and then, even I knew where it landed to use the system to locate it. Turned out that this was not a problem.

The system consists of a GPS receiver coupled to a spread spectrum transmitter. Both these parts go into the airframe. On the ground is a matching receiver and then software that you run on a computer. A fair number of parts, cables, wires, batteries, but after all this is rocket science, no?

If you are like me and really hate trying to find your project in the wastelands that we launch it, you would do well to read on.

The software displays the data received in real time and shows velocity, position, altitude, etc. If you have a map of the area it can overlay the position data on that map. All data received can also be logged to a file for later playback and analysis. I just wanted to watch the screen and see the data change as the flight progressed.

The first flight (J800 - max altitude 3774) landed not too far from the pad. During the boost the GPS lost lock - not uncommon on high acceleration flights - but reacquired after being under chute and when on the ground. I still received a clear transmission while it was on the ground. I programmed the coordinates that the GPS Flight software showed into my hand held GPS receiver - etrex legend - and said "Go there". I just followed the arrow and walked right to it. When I was standing right above the nose (where the transmitter was located) the GPS said I was within 3 feet of it.

The second flight was much later in the day when the wind had picked up. The K1100 flight (max altitude 4965) was nominal and even though it used dual-deployment it landed about 1/3 mile down range. Again, while the GPS lost lock during the boost it did reacquire during the decent and maintained a lock all the way to the ground. And I was still receiving good data transmissions while it was on the ground. I entered the coordinates it displayed into my GPS and started walking. When I got down to 1000 feet I was getting very nervous as I couldn't see it and the scrub was low enough that I thought I should have. It wasn't until 100 feet away that I saw it but it was where the GPS coordinates said it would be. What had happened was the some very kind person tidied it up because with the wind the chute would have dragged it and it was all behind a dense clump of scrub. Whoever did this, I do thank you.

Would I have found it without the GPS gear? Probably but it would have been a bunch of walking about. Given that it was hidden from the direction I was coming from, if I was off a bit on my "line" (which I would have been for sure) I would have missed it. With the wind I'm sure I would have had the "distance from camp" wrong too.

All and all the GPS gear worked very well. I have no complaints and highly recommend it. Unlike the Walston / Rocket Hunter gear, this is more of a science than an art. I was never very good at interpreting different kinds of "boops" and "beeps" and knowing when the point the antenna "this way" and "that way".

The ARTS from Ozark also worked very well. While I have flown the RDAS for years - and will continue to do so - what I have never liked about it is the data reduction software. Getting the "facts" of the flight is hard. All you want to know right off is the max altitude, max velocity, and descent rates. You can get that out of the RDAS but it is a pain. With the ARTS it is all displayed right there on the screen. Again, I would recommend it.

Two good testing flights and the electronics were great.

Ethan Jones
The family and I traveled to Mansfield on Sunday where I was able to sucessfully complete my L1 cert flight. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped out including Chris and Jane from Acme, Jim Woodard (hope I remembered=20 the name correctly - I'm lousy at remembering names), the unnamed gentleman who loaned me a prepared ignitor and last but not least most certainly a big thanks to Scott Bowers who oversaw my prep and flight. I couldn't have done it without him. I used a Binder Design Thug flying a Cesaroni H153-6 Pro38 two grain motor. Not sure of the altitude. Rocksim says slightly over 3000 with that motor configuration and delay, but with the wind it probably didn't go over 2500. Sure drifted nice though. I got my exercise for the day chasing it to the water tower.

A very nice trip and event and a very nice site, despite the wind. Each of my daughters completed their first rocket launch, the oldest Brenna and youngest Megan with Alphas, both of which were unfortunately lost in the scrub after excessive wind drift on their=20 second flights. Shouldn't have gone with the C6-5 motors. Number two daughter had a very nice flight with her Blue Ninja on a D12-5 which didn't drift and landed on the track thanks to a lousy chute packing job by her father.

Bob Yanecek
Also add Chris Jenkins, his wife, daughter and dog 'speedy'. Chris was getting his first look at some large rockets going up and also picked up supplies for his L2 bird (an upscale Big Bertha).

The Mansfield site sure was nice . not perfect but definitely a nice High Power site.

For me, the event was disappointing but that had nothing to do with the site, set-up, or launch in general. I arrived before the first launch on Saturday and decided to just hang out and trust the weather forecast that winds would be much less on Sunday and Monday. That was my first mis-calculation

Then, there was enough activity on Saturday that I decided not to tie down the carrying bag for my folding chair (It's still missing so in anyone came up with an extra black folding chair carrying bag .. I'd certainly like to hear from you)

Then, I left my Binoculars laying out. Still not sure if I left them 'out and about' or if they somehow got legs from around our campsite. Never did locate them so, If anyone came home with an extra set of MEAD Safari Pro 8 X 32 binos, I'd really like to hear from you. Let's see, that'd be 3 personal SNAFU's on day one. Other than that, and the aforementioned 'breezy conditions' it was great.

The evening was a fun event with bon fire, camaraderie, and good food. Sunday dawned partly cloudy and continued breeze.

My wild hair to launch got out of hand and after a dozen or so trips out and back for miscellaneous pre-launch items I was ready to go sometime before 0900.

My dual 38 boosted wonderfully, then disappeared a couple seconds after motor burnout (coast time was expected to be 14 seconds). No further sign and just as I was giving up a wonderful woman (I believe her name is Brenda? (definitely my hero of the day)) hollered out that she had caught site of it just before touchdown. She gave me a bearing almost due South of the launch site and I blindly followed her directions thinking all the time, I'd never in a million years look out this way. Her bearing was flawless and I walked right to the rocket. All deployment actions appear to have fired nominally and the altimeter was beeping out 7926'.

Then, a few hours later, while the winds continued, the clouds cleared and launching conditions were quite good. Sure wish I had a hold on that wild hair of mine..dangit!!

Missed out on an 'all parents meeting' (no kids for us) but apparently Saturday night had some extra curricular activities that need to be curtailed in order to maintain the Mansfield site. Don't know the details but the response from the launch organizers seemed to take the incident as appropriately serious and hopefully the town of Mansfield will be forgiving.

By 2 in the afternoon a hold was called due to high winds By 6 the site was looking pretty skimpy and I let the wind batter me into submission.

Count me right up there in the wimp category. By 9 I was home eating Sunday nights camp food.

So, while I personally had a poor series of events, I attended a wonderfully run launch and witnessed more than a few beautiful flights. Great multi-staged flights, a few super air start clusters, Hybrids that burned forever, lost rockets showing up unannounced for spontaneous celebration, good camaraderie, faces to go with names on e-mails, a few ticks, some sun, and several pre-prepped rockets just waiting for SPARC's 2 day Wheatchex launch in 2 weeks.

I eagerly look forward to future events at Mansfield.

Jim Wilkerson
A really great weekend. Some of my highlights:

My son Nicholas being at the point where he preps, loads, launches and recovers like a pro. He flew his Big Bertha 4 or 5 times, plus 2 different Quest kits. He also chased down my G-Force while I was trying to get another bird to light on bad ignitors.

Flew some big stuff this weekend - my L3 rocket "Hell Bent for Leather II" on an M1939 to 9100 ft. It's main chute didn't deploy fully, but soft-dirt landing produced only some minor fin damage.

"Screaming for Vengeance" flew twice, first on a K1275 and airstarted outboard pairs of J420s and J570s to 9900 ft, then on an all-Cesaroni load, K670 (6-grain 54mm central) and outboard pairs of J330s (6-grain 38mm) and I305s (5-grain Smoky Sams) to 8600 ft. The Cesaroni motors definitely light faster than the AT, most likely due to the extra propellant in the fwd grain. Pretty cool looking at the RDAS data plot and seeing the multiple thrust spikes.

Launched my PML Bulldog on an AT K695 Redline to 3500'.

The best flight for me was my 3" min-diameter bird (Performance rocketry components) on an L850. 15,700 feet altitude and approximately Mach 1.3. Scott Bowers will be building some big EX motors for August Brothers and BALLS for it. I had an ARTS and a Perfectflite 25K/WD as the altimeters, plus one of Tom Gonser's GPS flight units. Lost GPS lock at launch due to poor packing on my part, and never got it back. We did get the baro telemetry the entire flight. Thanks, Tom, for all the help. This is the bird with the spring-based apogee deployment system - worked well again. I also had a Walston xmtr, so was able to basically drive my car directly to the field in which it landed, and walk right to the model after working some Walston art. I second Kimberly's comments about the ARTS; the instant printout of speed, Gs and altitude is a great feature of the software. It definitely fires after apogee, however, as compared to the RDAS wh

Put my Applewhite saucer up on an I357, and flew an H268 in my LOC IV.

For those of you who left Sunday night due to the wind, you should have stayed another day. Today dawned clear and still, and the wind stayed very light to calm most of the day.

Scott Bowers did a great job as launch director, and the town of Mansfield treated us like royalty. The mayor, Tom Snell, mentioned that they might do some controlled grass burns later this year and next to reduce the fire potential under the pads. Thanks to everyone who helped make this a great rocket weekend!

John Hawkins
Well I flew my up scale mars snooper II at FITS on Monday and the AeroTech motors once again did not all light even with the QuickBurst that I had made. Only 2 J350's lit. It went up a couple of hundred feet. It did not go high enough to fire the chutes and came in HOT. It shattered it airframe down to the coupler on the fin can but the fin can is unharmed and the electronics' made it ok also. I guess it paid off to use Kevlar. Even at 50 pounds the biggest part of the rocket made it just fine. I have come to the conclusion that I will use PRO 38's when I fit the mars snooper II and give up on Aero Tech clusters. Pro 38's seem more reliable to light then aero techs motors. So I will replace an 18 inch piece of the 6 inch tube, a transition, a 38 inch piece of 4 inch airframe and a nose cone and it will be ready to fly again. At least I don't need to repair the fin can it was the hardest section to build.

Robert Nech
Bill Munds, John Hawkins and I departed the launch site after everyone else except ACME and Dave Bradley. We took the route toward Chelan until we reached Hwy 97 on the east side of the river and started to head south toward Wenatchee. We didn't get very far down the highway, when (all of a sudden) the right tire on the launch equipment trailer, being pulled by John Hawkins, blew out.

We all pulled over and took a look at it. Bill Munds brought out his handy dandy pocket car jack and proceeded to lift up the trailer to get the tire off. After examining the sidewall blowout we also noticed that the rim was totally thrashed and trashed. When John had restored the trailer he replaced the left tire but not the right because it looked to be in decent condition. John did try to convince certain club members that we needed a spare for the trailer but that idea was nixed. Spare tire? Who needs one?

Now, it's Memorial Day and a little after 6:15 pm and we are wondering where in the state of Washington are we going to get a spare tire for this thing. I mentioned Fred Meyer as a possibility. John said that the trailer happened to be purchased originally from Fred Meyer. I volunteered and headed to go track down a Fred Meyer Store in Wenatchee. I ran into a Kmart first but I found out they stopped selling those tires a while ago. But I did find out where Fred Meyer was located and headed that way.

When I arrived at the Fred Meyer, like a guided missile, I homed in on the automotive department and found the trailer like the one John was pulling. Where were those spare tires I couldn't find on the shelf? None around. I couldn't frickin believe it! A trailer on display and no spare tires to sell with it! I was seriously pondering going back out to my car, getting my socket wrench and a socket, and trading out the trashed wheel for the new wheel. No one would notice, would they? So what, if the trailer was being displayed on the wall above the merchandise. I really needed a tire and I needed one...now!

But the Spock side of me prevailed above the emotional chaos that reigned at that moment when an idea popped into my head.

Spock: Why don't you go and ask someone at the front counter if they might have some in the back?

Me: Uhhhhhhhh, yeah! (said the way Bill says it.)

I ended up talking with the very helpful on-duty store manager there. I found out from him that they had sold about six trailers and all of their spares on the shelf before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Now I am getting a bit concerned again thinking that we are going to have to leave the trailer there and what could result from that. But the store manager told me to wait and he would be right back. After a few minutes he returned with a new wheel all nice, sparkly, shiny and clean. Wahoooo! He has saved the day!!!!! I paid 32 bones for it and left in a hurry to get back to the guys. By this time it was 7:22 in the pm. Oh yeah, I had to stop at the Shell and fill up the tire with air to 60psi.

I tried to go as fast as possible both to Wenachtee and back but I always ended up getting behind drivers who wanted to go 5mph BELOW the speed limit! I would eventually pass them only to catch up with another driver doing the same exact thing. Oy vey! Hey, would you please pass the SLAMRAAM (http://www.grouchymedia.com/other_videos/slamraam_boom/index.cfm) with the anti-matter warhead so I can get these Sunday drivers out of the way? 35 minutes or so later I made it back to the scene of the crime.

John mentions to me, as he is replacing the tire, that Jim Wilkerson told him at the launch site that the trailer would get a flat tire. John wasn't real happy when these two events occured in close promixity such as they did. But the tire and rim were replaced and we all headed out on Hwy 2 to Everett. I took lead and Bill followed behind John to keep an eye on the tire. Bill did originally plan to take highway 97 south from Wenatchee and head toward Tacoma to drop off his grandson, Andrew.

I guess the trailer will now need a spare in case Jim blurts it out those words again.

I am getting pretty good at finding things like tires and launchsites. What will they have me search for next? Atlantis?!?!?!?!?!

Andrew MacMillen
For those interested, here's the flight data from my West Coast Hybrids L660 demo flight.

BTW, Scott wasn't kidding about the ridiculous startup spike. Note the 13G spike above the 5.5G thrust. The same thing that blew out my 54/38mm adapter for the I110 flight. Build your rockets strong...

Scott Harrison
West Coast Hybrids would like to send out thanks to everyone that put together the FITS launch. Scott Bowers great job! The entire WAC, BOD great job! You guys have a Premier launch site on your hands with LDRS type possibilities!! It was a great pleasure to come down and fly with a great bunch of individuals that still remember this is a hobby and the key goal is to have fun! Thanks to the entire WAC membership for having us and everyone that attended making it enjoyable and relaxing to show off our product.

Everyone deserves a pat on the back for this launch! I would also like to thank Andrew MacMillen for his flights of the 38mm & 75mm hardware, Alex McLaughlin & Mike Roland for there spectacular work on the actual diameter upper section! We'll be back again for sure!

Alex McLauglin
I thought it was cool to see Andrew's data, so I thought we would post ours. This came off of an FC877 altimeter.

The speed graph is pretty interesting to me. The speed steadily increases during the 9.5 second burn of the motor. Ending up just over mach.

I've never seen a hybrid move so fast (other than the Jacob's Q hybrid at BALLS last summer).

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