Prof's Model Rocketry Page

Model Rocketry is my oldest hobby. I've been Building & Flying rockets since I was a young boy.
I currently have a small collection of rockets ranging in size from 6" to 46" in height.

This is a pic of my Explorer Aquarius, it's a remnant of my old estes fleet. They just don't make 'em like this any more.

My current Favorite is my Upscaled Mars Lander. It was a Tango Papa kit at 200% of the original Estes size.
I barely got it finished, It was still in Primer for the flights.
That was back on July 4, 2005 at the NYPower meet at Geneseo, NY.
Lots of folks thought I was kind of Nuts, doing a Certification flight with a Mars Lander.
I kept saying " If you can't run with the big dogs, Stay on the Porch ! "
They got even with me, They put me on ... You guessed it... Launch PAD #13 !
So I loaded it up on the pad , after going back for the ignitor... I was not used to putting them in at the pad.
I had only flown model rockets before, you load the ignitor during prep for them.

Then I turned to get clear for the launch and WHOA! Seems like Everyone wants a picture of this one!
15 minutes later I got back to the safety line... seeing flash afterimages the whole way.
The Launch Officer announces, "We have a Heads Up Flight here, Level 1 Certification Flight on a Virgin Mars Lander,
Looking for 700 feet on an H97 smokey motor." then he calls out;
"Who is watching this for certification?", half a dozen guys including my brother holler 'ME!'
He then says, "you have to be level 2 for this", they all Say "I am"
[ The rules say 2 level 1 certs or 1 level 2 cert individual must observe and certify the flight]
The Launch Officer grins and says, "OK, looks like plenty of coverage there"
He checks the range, checks for planes, and does the countdown...
5.........4.........3.......2......1 and mashed the button,
there is a slight delay, a wisp of smoke then a rumble as the motor lights and builds power.
Then WHOOOOOOOSH, she slowly lifts and heads up, moving very slowly for a model rocket, an excellent flight in progress.
This is the bird on the Pad




Chutes Opened

Landed Safely
Standing on a pillar of Black Smoke, it reaches for the sky, a very slow roll builds up as she reaches altitude.
Perhaps one full rotation of the rocket then it arcs over towards us [the wind was from behind us]
It seems to just hang directly above us, coming to a complete halt in the air.
then Pop.... the nose separates, the chutes come out and then one by one,
the chutes open and the long long shock cord stretches out and she swings back vertical.
The Range Officer comments on the long shock cord, but it makes for a very smooth descent.
Hardly any sway at all. It seems to hang in the sky quite a while, but it was really only about a minute or two.
Then the ground comes up...
Booing! It lands on all 4 feet and bounces straight back up several inches, then sits back down, STILL ON IT's FEET !!!
The Chutes lay out smoothly away from us as I let out an WHOOP and have to restrain myself from immediately chasing out to get it!

I wish I had better pictures but I failed to contact the Photgrapher in time to get the good ones.
The Range officer quickly ran off the remaining rockets in the group on the pads, and let us go retrieve.
I ran happily out, it was only about 400 feet away, as I approached it my brother Yelled;
"Don't, move it, we want pictures." So I waited, seems I outran them all.... :-)
After they got the pictures, I rolled up the 'chutes and picked it up.
My brother said, "show us the bottom, it has to retain the motor casing for Cert"
I tipped it over showing the casing was indeed still in the rocket.
We headed back in and as I approached the Range Officer called, "Is it OK?"
I held it up over my head and Hollered; " Not A Scratch !!"
The crowd yelled and we got lots of applause.
The Range Officer then Called "Welcome to High Power rocketry, Visa And Mastercard Accepted!"
That drew quite a bit of laughter too.
We went back to the inspection station, and the Flight Safety Officer said, "lets have a look"
I showed him the motor was still in it and nothing was broken. He said looks good, wheres your paperwork.
So He and my brother filled in the data to get my Certification done.
I also I got my initiation into why lots of folks wont use smokey motors...
The soot gets everywhere! Once on your fingers it won't come off unless you touch something clean...
Then it's not clean any more ! The rocket was Filthy !!! and it was spreading.

So that's the story of How I got Hi Power Certified on the 4th of July, 2005

 I DID finally get it properly painted and decaled though;

So now what? heh, I'm building a bigger Mars Lander for my Level 2 Cert!

This is my 2X flying at the National Sport Launch of the NAR @ Geneseo, NY this spring.
It made the Sport Rocketry magazine. Woot!
The Kit is supposed to weigh 5 pounds finished but mine is only 3.6 pounds,
I modified it with carbon fiber arrow shafts replacing the solid aluminum rods in the legs
and cut the aft closure plate weight in half with large holes and sanding down the thickness.
It's not bearing the weight of anything except itself and the legs during thrust.
And the legs press in as much as down due to the angle of mounting.
Anyway, taking all that weight out of the bottom let me leave out the lead nose weights, All of em.

Here are some shots at the Field of my New Club the Maine Missile Math and Science Club.
We have the Best Model Rocket field I have EVER seen. Nothing but grass for miles.
If you look at the background, do you see how far the treeline is? Well, the table is in the middle of the field !
These shots show the Clone, the 1.6X and the 2X while I had all 3 sizes flying.

That is just like when I got my Level 1 NAR Certification with the 1.6X
Update: The 1.6X upscale above is no more. It suffered a failure to eject the nose cone and tried to make a core sample. Total loss.
Update: The 2X upscale above was damaged but has been repaired.
It suffered a failure of engine; The nozzle partially clogged and caused thrust vectoring right off the launch rail.
The bird made 2 full vertical loops then the engine burned out with it 50 feet up going sideways, no time to get the parachute out.
Ejection charge popped a couple seconds after the crash. But since it was going sideways and not too high the damage was not severe.
I also made a 3X design using the 2D CAD software rom work. Since I'm one of the 2 primary users I'm authorized to run a copy at home, Woot !!!
There is a kit being sold for a 3X but it is very heavy compared to my design and also costs a lot.
I'm having the swiveling foot pad but done differently than his. I always thought the pads should face down.
I'm considering making them stay parallel to the back of the rocket via cantilever action but that might add too much weight.

This brings up a subject my Brother and I discuss often. WHY do people make rockets so heavy???
You cannot make a rocket strong enouogh to suvive a crash from altitude, but you can make it so heavy it's dangerous to fly it.
Case in point, My brother knows a guy who wanted to do Level 2 Cert with an existing rocket, so he put 4 pounds of weight in the nosecone.
The Ejection charge could not move that much weight and it cam in ballistic.
They looked for it for hours with no luck.
Later the farmer that owned the land came over and handed the guy a shovel, "I found your rocket" he said.
Only the back half of the fins was sticking out of the ground !!! On a 5 foot tall rocket !!!
That rocket would have gone right through a car and been stuck in the ground. That setup is unsafe in any rocket.

This is my previous Favorite;
the second in my fleet of Estes Explorer Aquarius models.
The Explorer Aquarius
It Doesn't fly real high, Having a large air drag profile,
But it looks very realistic for a Deep Space Vehicle.
I have a couple more unbuilt kits of this one as well. And I'll buy more if Estes ever decides to make them again...
The 1st one is a display now, having suffered a couple kinks in the main body tube.

The Super Vega My Magnum payloader Also well liked is my old Veteran Estes Super Vega.
A picture is on the Far Left
I still don't understand why they quit making awesome kits like this...
Unfortunately, The Super Vega was the subject of an engine failure and is awaiting a new engine mount and major repairs, or possibly a total rebuild on a new body tube.
I now have a clone of the Vega original made by Semroc and an upscale made by Q Modeling.
The clone is almost finished and the Upscale is next.

To the Left you see my brothers D powered 2 Stage Payloader the Magnum
It has made numerous flights in several states across the nation.
I delivered it back to him when we met up for the Mars Lander flights back in 2005.

On the Right is my Awesome Patriot missile scale model.
This baby uses 4 "D" engines at once, and requires FAA
clearance to fly! 
It's being modified to use High Power engines now. They will be less expensive to fly it

My Patriot

Whats To Come?

Modifying My Mars Lander.  Or another one, as it's easier to modify during construction.
I intend to experiment with an alternate recovery system in it.
I'll let you know how things work out...

Join Me for a Day of Rocketry?

If you are going to be in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire, USA. on a weekend.
Let me know by email scramjet75 at gmail dot com. I'll try to schedule a visit at the least.
The local Field is the best I've ever seen. Actual Miles of grass in all directions !!! NO TREES !!!
Check out the new club; We fly twice a month for most of the year, taking off in Wintertime.

This page updated March 31, 2014