Thursday, July 31, 2014

Muskegon launch report!

    by Buzz Nau

The inaugural “Crap Shoot I” launch was held on 19 & 20 July 2014 at the SMASH/MMAR field near Muskegon, MI. The event name refers to the large water treatment “ponds” nearby that are affectionately referred to as “Lake Icky”. The event was a joint launch between SMASH, MMAR, and JMRC. Turnout was rather light on Saturday, but picked up on Sunday. Representing JMRC was Tony Haga, Dale Hodgson, Tom Kurecka, Buzz Nau, Scott Miller, Bob & Rob Dickenson, and The Drongowski’s, Jeff, JoAnn, and Katie. Despite the below expectation attendance there were many memorable flights.


Tom had the first launch of the event with his Sun Seeker on a H295 Smokey Sam. The ascent was perfect as there was hardly a breeze all day. The down part had some difficulties as the chute never fully deployed. Tom might change the rocket name to Van Seeker as it unfortunately struck Rob’s van on the hood causing a sizable dent. Rob didn’t seem too concerned considering the van has already lived a full life and now he has an interesting conversation dent. Tom followed up that flight with an awesome launch of his Penetrator on K650 Smokey Sam to 3,268’. Though apogee occurred over Lake Icky it drifted back nicely to land safely on the field.

Scott had recently received the new K350 Tribrid from RATT. Tony was the first to give it a try in his modified Polecat Wocket. Rather than use three smaller chutes in cannon tubes Tony tried a larger chute attached underneath. While the deployment of the chute worked as planned and the Tribrid motor performed as expected the new chute configuration caused the Wocket to become unstable. After a climb to a couple hundred feet it started to chase its tail. Tony is taking it back to the lab for some recovery system redesign. Tony then flew Dixie on a central CTI K360 White with two airstart CTI H233 Red Lightnings. The airstarts were ignited 1 second after launch by a Perfecflite timer. The flight was a huge success and landed safely in a soybean field across the road past the tree line. It was a quick find using the Big Red Bee tracker.

Dale flew Unleashed to 4,200’ on a HyperTek M1015 hybrid. That is just a loud angry motor every way you look at it as it snarls and groans all the way. The chute deployed on time at 1,100’ with it landing near the entrance to the launch field. Though the rocket remained clear of the ditch, the chute did manage to land in the water enabling Tony to make his best longshoreman impersonation as he tried to pull it out.

Jeff and Katie flew a couple rockets on Saturday including a 3” dia apogee deploy on a J350. It recovered on the edge of the field making for one impressive flight!

Buzz had three flights on Saturday. First up was his 2.6” dia Critical Mass on a new CTI I55 Mellow load. It was so slow that at one point it looked like it pushed in the clutch, drifted back a bit, then changed gears and got going again. It was an arrow straight flight that recovered on the access road near the storage shed. Next was his THOY SparrowHawk on a CTI F120 Vmax. It was apogee deploy and landed on the field. Buzz also flew his Semroc SLS Hustler on a CTI F36 Blue. The chute fouled a bit, but it landed fine on the field.

Tom Roland made his second attempt at his Level 3 cert with his rebuilt Wildman kit. This time it worked perfectly much to Tom’s relief. It was a thrilling flight that landed in the bean field across the road and was recovered some time later after a search and rescue team was assembled.


The weather was nearly as nice as it was Saturday. Tom Kurecka led off the flying again with his Super Scorpion on a K510 Classic to 4,088’. It was a great flight with just a slight roll. It landed across the road on the power line. Tom was able to get the shock line disconnected and the chute came off easily. 
Dale flew the RATT K350 TriBrid next in his SS-1. The flight executed perfectly and it was visible when the alcohol kicked in. It looked like it was shifting gears as it flew to 4,843’.This motor is a brilliant piece of work and a lot of fun to watch in action. Recovery was just a short distance behind the flight line.

Buzz flew one of the new CTI J94 Mellow loads in his THOY Falcon. Aimed slightly with the wind it was expected to autocorrect into the wind. No such luck. It flew as if it were on rails exactly where it was aimed. After a 6+ second burn and coast it reached 2,678’ and landed deep in the corn. Fortunately one of Scott’s radio trackers was installed. With Tony’s help the Falcon was recovered on the first pass through the maze. Buzz also flew his North Coast Brighthawk on a G88 Smokey Sam. The motor was rather weak and the delay a little too long. Recover was dicey as it landed partially in the ditch behind the flight line. Thankfully Scott was there to grab it immediately before any permanent damage could happen.

Bob and Rob Dickinson loaded up Bob’s giant Nike Smoke with a Loki M2550 Blue. Boost was perfect as this monster rocket screamed off the pad. Recovery had a scary moment as the main chute took several hundred feet before finally deploying at about 300’. It landed a short ways into the corn and was easily retrieved.

Tony flew his EZI on an Ellis I230. After the customary minute or two for the igniter to start the Ellis it lifted off for a perfect flight. Unfortunately it also landed in the corn. This time the radio tracker wasn’t much help, but Buzz had a pretty good line on where it landed. After missing it on the first pass it was recovered on the walk back. Buzz had a harder time finding Tony in the corn.

Jeff and Katie followed up their J350 flight on Saturday with a J570 in the same rocket, this time with a tracker onboard. The boost was downrange and ejection occurred while it was still moving at a fair clip. This may have contributed to the nose cone and chute separating from the main body. The chute and nose cone held the tracker and was recovered later in the day. The main body was unfortunately lost to the corn.

There were many other memorable flights including a Dr. Mike Cerminaro’s Honest John on an AT K550 White Lightning. Ed Lawson also had great flights with his large Blue Max on an AT I211 White Lightning and Blues Baby on an AT K535 White Lightning.

The members of MMAR and SMASH have done an outstanding job with this field and it’s no wonder it received very positive reviews from the NARAM and NSL that were recently held there. If you haven’t made the trip out for a combined two day launch you are missing a great rocket launching venue. It’s worth it even if you can only make it out for one day. 

Launch Photos

Tom Roland's 'Vertically Challenged' -
Dale Hodgson's 'Unleashed' -
Bob Dickinson's 'Nike Smoke' -
Dale Hodgson's 'SS1' -
Buzz Nau's 'Falcon' -

Monday, July 28, 2014

Next Launch August 2nd at MIS!

We will be at the Michigan International Speedway, Graves campground site this Saturday, August 2nd.. Range opens at 10:00am and closes at 5:00pm (more or less). We have launch pads! We have a fully stocked trailer! Bring rockets! Fly em!  Flights to 3000ft. AGL.

Oh, and MIS now sees fit to charge us $250/year to use the campground. Any club donations to offset the cost would be greatly appreciated. (small beans to MIS but not so much to us)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Our next launch will be July 19-20. This is a joint launch with MMAR and SMASH, held at the Muskegon Waste Water Facility.  Go to the MMAR page for directions :