Article: 2016
By Ken Tsai, February 2010

What a stunning day for a February!

We got started right around noon, and the first flight was roughly 12:30.

Dave Randall was there and brought a friend. Dave brought his Patriot out again, and also had his Excel Plus Plus. The Patriot is just amazingly rugged. It just keeps going and going. The Excel was unfortunately grounded today for extenuating circumstances – more on that in a bit.

Dave Walp and Ian showed. They brought their usual suspects: Mozzie, Blackhawk, Cheetah – Another group of amazing flyers that just keep coming back for more. They brought more rockets in the box, but these are the staples that beg to fly.

Alex and I brought along Alex’s friend Isaac. Isaac brought his Star Dart – a ~1996 (I think) vintage small Estes kit. We brought a box of stuff, and flew a ton – No Idea (a weird tube/fin combination that we had no idea what to name), an upscale Estes Neon, Madcow’s fiberglass Arcas, Cheetah, an Art Applewhite Scimitar, the TARDIS (Doctor Who) from Squirrel Works, and a vintage Estes Rigel-3.

Brad showed up with his Initiator, and had a fantastic flight on a G.

There were some other rocketeers on the field enjoying the brilliant Sunday, as well as the usual contingent of R/C plane flyers.

Isaac started the day with his Star Dart showing us the wind – none at all. Some gusts to the southeast, but nothing too worrisome.

Alex followed with “No Idea” on an D12-5. No Idea is a scratch build, ~16″ tall using BT56 tubing for the main. Yeah, it really jumps on 24mm engines. Fortunately, the large ring/fin combinations means pretty hefty drag, so it doesn’t go out of sight.

Dave Randall put his Patriot up on an AT D reload for the first composite flight of the day. Like I said, that Patriot just goes, and comes back for more.

After that, things get a little hazy for me. Dave Randall and I had exchanged emails earlier regarding L1 Cert flights at 60 Acres. With the new Class 1 definitions, it’s possible. When we arrived at the field today, Dave’s first words were “Hi, Ken. You ready for that cert flight?”

I still haven’t received my NAR number back from HQ, so I didn’t come prepared to make an attempt. That didn’t faze Dave at all. He promptly offered up the CTI 4g H skidmark that he had brought for the Excel. Just earlier this week, I had finished reinforcing the fillets on the Arcas using chopped glass and West Systems epoxy. Clearly serendipity was with me today! So with a little trepidation, I accepted Dave’s offer, and spent the next 30 minutes agonizing over my options for the Arcas. 24, 30, or 36″ chutes? 7 or 9 second delay? Attach the quicklink to the nose bolt, or tie a loop in the kevlar lower down?? There may have been other launches while I was prepping – I really couldn’t tell you. Blow the whistle, count it down, and what a roar those CTI motors make. Gorgeous arcing flight to maybe 1500′ with recovery 2′ from the fence in the northwest corner. Looked good to me, and when I brought it back, Dave confirmed the flight. Time to get out the credit card – lots of fun engines are gonna be on the way.

I know I’m shorting several people here, but after the L1 flight, the rest of the afternoon is just a haze. Highlights for me include:

  • Cheetah drag race with Dave and Ian. We ended up in a tree (recoverable), they ended up on the next field over. Maybe the F engines weren’t the best of choices.
  • Mean Machine on an AT reload. Something about a 6′ tall rocket screaming away.
  • Brad’s Initiator, on a G engine. Takes some guts to fly something that high at 60 Acres.
  • Applewhite 29mm Scimitar (saucer) on an AT G76G. Didn’t go nearly as high as Brad’s Initiator.
  • About 15 flights of an Estes #2 Skywriter. A family was out documenting a school project that involved timing flights using various engine configs.

Once more, my eternal thanks to Dave Randall for being witness to my L1 flight, and for going out of his way to enable it. I owe him a whole lot more than just a reload.

– Ken

Dave Randall adds to the report:
Congrats for your L1 !! I was happy to witness for you and you did a great job with all the requirements. I am looking forward to more of your scratch built designs with a bit more oomph now than just B and C motors!

A few minor notes on some flights:

My Estes Patriot went up on a D15-7 first for a nice flight up to ~1,000′. I really wanted to fly the altimeter there, so I loaded up the Patriot’s payload bay with my G-Wiz HCX and a 9V and reloaded the 24/40 motor with an F24 for more fun! HCX reported 1,542′. I guess that was all I ended up flying today. I really need some more 60 acres birds!

Jeff Mobley came down with a few friends and had the nice blue Mean Machine. It went up on a D12-7 first, and the flight seemed a bit – well – anemic. Sure, low and slow has its merits, but that rocket deserves more than a D. I had Jeff build up an AT 24/40 motor with the F24 reload in it. Jeff did a great job with the motor build – the rocket kicked up off the pad with authority and the flight was perfect with a recovery just off the field. A snapped-off fin and a bit of a dent in the body tube will need some R&R but I’m sure Jeff will be back for more.

By the way, the Mean Machine has a new design from when I first built mine 20 years ago. It now has a plaster coupler between the upper and lower halves that twists together and snaps into place. Very nice – it makes it easier to transport, and robust. I think I’m going to have to get one of those!

Loved the drag races we had there too.

On a different note:

1. Recovery over in 60 Acres SOUTH is “illegal” at the moment. Redmond City Police will and have ticketed folks for trespassing while this is posted as a “Construction Zone”. They drive by 60 Acres approximately every 45 minutes. The nice guys from NWEF.ORG warned us about this.

2. NWEF has secured a location as an electric plane flying area and offered to share with rocket flyers. This is located in Kirkland, and is surrounded by houses. It was indicated to be greater in size than 60 Acres South, but the layout is a bit odd. I’ll follow up with them, as it appears that LWYSA may have scheduled weekend activity at 60 Acres every weekend from (IIRC – June) through October 31st. This might be a viable model field during the “on” season for soccer.