Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3, 2014 Rocket Launch

Now we know how NASA feels sometimes.  Today's long-anticipated rocket launch was rife with problems.  Still, it was a glorious day, weather wise, and everyone had a good time.

Things started off less than optimally when we arrived at the field we like to use in Denton. Because our previous launch was in the fall, we didn't realize the field would be used to actually grow crops in the spring.  The nerve!  As we trudged from the street to the middle of the field, I happened to look down and noticed tractor tire tracks, tidy furrows, and baby plants peeking up through the soil.  We quickly reversed our steps, reloaded the car, and headed back to Lewisville where we know a tried-and-true, albeit smaller, field that is often used by remote control aircraft aficionados.  

Before we view the few photos and videos that were almost decent enough to publish, let me offer my......ahem, disclaimers (aka, excuses).  I am not now nor ever will be a photographer/videographer.  I love taking pictures and videos but I'm terrible at it.  Also, our ancient (more than 5 years old) Canon Powershot point-and-shoot camera is not the most dependable vehicle for quality media, particularly in the hands of a total technological dodo.  I should have used my phone.

That being said, here are some samples of our aeronautical adventures this morning.
The first rocket went up at an angle and we lost the nosecone section.  Permanently.  Bummer.
Zoey and Leo were poised to race to the point where the rocket came down because Papa always loads the payload sections with coins and candy.

I totally missed the launch of the second rocket, the one with the glider that detaches and sails to earth on air currents.  I simply wasn't ready when Tony sent it skyward.  It's just as well because the glider never disengaged from the rocket tube, so #2 was kind of a bust.
I did an absolutely horrible job on the third rocket because I totally lost it once it got off the ground.  This particular rocket has strap-on boosters and normally launches beautifully.  Sorry you don't get to see it.  After it reached maximum altitude, though, the two sections plummeted to earth because both parachute attachments burned from the firing engines.  Apparently my Rocket Man failed to secure them in enough protective packing material to prevent fire damage.
Dave helped little Maggie find one of the parachutes in the tall grass.

The last launch video is probably the best of the three even though there were, again, difficulties with the rocket.  It's apparently too long to upload to the blog because I keep getting error messages, so I uploaded it to YouTube instead.  I'm sorry about the extra step of having to open another screen to view it.  I'm what the French call "les incompetents" (first of two Home Alone references in one blog post).

What appeared at first to be a successful launch of Leo 5, the big rocket powered by 5 large engines, was actually a bust because two of the five engines failed to ignite, including the center core engine which ignites the second stage of the rocket.  It did go straight up, but instead of second stage separation, at this point the whole thing fell to the ground like so much lead.  Needless to say, Tony was pretty disappointed, but the kids still loved every minute.  Don't miss Leo's Kevin McAllister imitation as the kids run to find their coins and candy in the payload section!

One of the highlights of the morning was the unexpected arrival of two ultralight paragliders which landed during our time in the field.  We enjoyed visiting with the men, who had built their crafts by hand and piloted them from Rockwall, which is a hefty distance away on the far eastern side of Dallas.  They landed in the field because it was near a gas station, and they needed to refuel before their return trip.  Probably the best video of the day is the one where one of the guys took off after we finished launching.  Again, it has to be a YouTube video because it's too long to upload directly to the blog.

So, Tony has all summer to work out the kinks before we try again in the fall when our Denton field will be available after harvest and the Cribbies will be back from their summer at Kanakuk.  Today was pretty frustrating, but we have to remember that we are, at best, amateurs.  I love that Tony has a fun hobby that provides a learning experience for all of us.  One of these days the kids will appreciate more than the treats he packs for them.  Who knows?  Maybe they'll even take an interest in aeronautical engineering!