Sunday, July 2, 2017

Launch! Astatula, FL July 1, 2017

The monthly Orlando R.O.C.K. launch was cancelled, the field was flooded with all the rain! After previous burn ban cancellations, now we have too much water.

Manuel Mejia has been driving to the Orlando launches for a few years now. He invited me to Astatula, Florida to his field for a quick Saturday launch. Manuel also donated some A8-3 engines for an upcoming Autism of Central Florida launch.

Check out the expanse of the field! The property was cleared for a housing development that never happened.

Manuel builds many of his rockets from tubing found around the house. At the top of those Pringle's cans is a card stock Friendship 7 Mercury Capsule. In the 1960s this card stock "kit" was a freebie from Rockwell, a perfect fit to the Pringles can body tube. The printing reminded me of the old Mercury Redstone capsule that Estes sold separately from the M.R. kit. I asked Manny to send me the PDF.

Here's very stable launch with a loud D12 engine.

I did get in two prototype flights:

The Odd'l Rockets F-104 STARFGHTER was arrow straight with an Estes B6-4 to and estimated 325'. I reefed the 12" chute. With all the tall grass it had a soft landing.

The Odd'l Goony X-15 was flown using a German made Quest B6-4 to 275'. Textbook stable and full parachute recovery.

Manuel launched his Dr. Zooch Saturn 1B flown previously at the Peter M. Frenquelle Memorial Rocket Launch on June 5, 2017. This was the Skylab 1B version. Peter was a rocketry enthusiast and good friend to Manuel. Pete's father was a veteran of the Skylab program in the 1970s. 

Another of Peter's rockets from the late 1980s when he and Manuel were both undergrads at USF.  The 4 finned BT-55 / BT-50 rocket was a mini-A motor vehicle about 10 inches long. It got surprising altitude using a A3-4t engine.

This is my Estes NIKE APACHE, not the reissue but a first-run kit from the 1980s. A great flight with a Estes B6-4 to an estimated 325'. I though the parachute was melted, it didn't fully open. When picking it up I could see the chute was simply tangled. No damage.

Last up was the first flight of the MPC X-2 INVADER, the Marvin Martian rocket. I seen these fly unstable before so I was a bit wary. There was a wiggle during the B6-4 boost to an estimated 275'. If I ever launch with a C6-5 engine I'll add 1/4 oz of nose weight to the nose cone.

Also flown: The FLYING PORTA PAD with a C6-3. This one was based on the new Estes HEX-3. I missed the launch picture. Boost was straight with a turn to the 100' apogee. No damage.

Five up, five recovered with no damage. Good to fly on a big, different field - Thanks for the invite, Manny!


  1. Nice launch pictures. I remember once you mentioned that you use "burst" mode on your camera at the moment of launch. Have you tried shooting a video instead, and using a screenshot capture? That way you don't have to worry about missing the takeoff.
    I use a free program called VLC Media Player. It has an option called "Take Snapshot" which saves a picture file of a video freeze frame. Got pretty good results from my cheap cell phone camera. With a 32GB SD card you can take hundreds of videos before the card fills up. Cheers, tally ho, and pip pip.

    1. Hi BAR,
      That's probably a better idea but I don't know if the videos are as high a resolution. My problem is, when you stand 10 - 15 feet back the camera tends to focus on the background and not the rocket. I'll give it a try though -

  2. Thank you posting pictures. Sorry I couldn't be there.

  3. Looks like a good time! Nice models and nice flights!