Article:  2112
By Carl Hamilton March 2010

I arrived at the Sportsmen’s Club shortly before 5:00PM on Friday to find Bryan and Debbie Schopp already there with their grandson, Kaleb. Bob and Ann Yanecek and Mark Lyons and Valerie Elmer arrived shortly after me. I don’t know which of them arrived first, but I’m sure they can tell you. I dropped piles of GSE close to their final locations and began setting up camp in the wind. Jim Jopson and Ray Stoner appeared some time later, followed by Cameron Tinder and crew. After some fun chit chat with friends, where the subject of my pants came up *way* too frequently, I went into town for dinner (thanks Mark and Valerie) and then turned in for the night. It was cold, but sometime during the night the wind subsided. The late hours also marked the arrive of Bill Munds and Dave Woodard of PSP and Robo Jopson. This would be the same crew that spent Saturday night at the launch site.

Saturday morning brought cold, but clear, skies and minimal wind. I finished setting up the range, called Seattle ARTCC, had some breakfast (thanks Jim and Rob), had some coffee (thanks Ray, Mark, and Valerie), and we were ready to fly. The first flight was going to be Mark Lyons’ spool rocket with “boink” recovery, but thankfully Luke and William carpenter arrived with an Estes Interceptor ready to fly and I gave them the distinction of first flight of the launch, which was perfect. Mark’s “rocket” was next and didn’t fare as well.

People continued to roll in throughout the morning and we maintained a slow but steady stream of flights. The wind picked up in the afternoon, but not enough to keep people from flying. There were many great flights, I couldn’t name them all, but of note for me were: Ingraham’s SLI flight, William Carpenter’s junior L1 certification, Ken Tsai’s almost L2 certification, a few scrambled TARC eggs, an incredible streamer from the Kentwood TARC team, Bryan Whitemarsh’s amazing corkscrew Crossbow, the Jopsons flying a bunch of parts from the away cell and finding them all, and Dave and Ian Walp flying about a million times. By the time the flying was done, the camping area that had been growing throughout the day had shrunk back to the campers and tents that stood at dawn. Despite the Walps’ effort, we *only* had 63 flight for the day. Somewhere in there, I flew my Performance Rocketry Gizmo and had a nice afternoon snack that really hit the spot (thanks again Mark and Valerie).

It happened to be Mark Lyons’ birthday and Ann Yanecek treated us to a phenomenal birthday dinner of paella, salad, and bread. Thanks Ann! This was followed by more great conversation around the burn barrel, where the subject of my pants only came up a few times. I went to bed under a beautiful, clear, moonlit sky.

I emerged from my tent Sunday morning to find a completely overcast sky with rain threatening as predicted. Every time I thought we would be okay, the sky would start to spit. None of the day-fliers from Saturday were returning and interest from those on-site was low, so I broke down most of the range, leaving one rail and one 1/4″ rod. Cameron Tinder flew his V2 again, Bryon Schopp flew something from the low-power pads, and just as Mark Lyons was walking out to put his upscale Goblin on the pad, the group from Northwest Indian College arrived. They had lots of great questions and, thankfully, were able to see Mark’s flight just to get a feel for HPR. Gary Brandt had a beautifully finished PML Ariel with him and we *almost* put it up for a certification flight, but once again the sky started to spit and the reasonable decision was made to hold off until Gary had more time to prepare for the flight. We then enjoyed some flights of their water rocket, which we discovered can have parachute problems and crash just like our rockets. Fun! Hopefully we’ll see the NWIC group at the April launch and/or FITS!

I got my camp site and all of the GSE packed into the van and was on the road shortly before noon. I enjoyed sun and blue skies until Leavenworth and didn’t see continuous rain until I reached Skykomish. We may have been able to fly a few more hours. Bummer.

I love rocket launches. With only a few beers and some fresh baked goods, I ate and drank like a king the entire weekend due to the generosity of fellow fliers. I did bring my own food, but every time I turned around somebody was offering me something yummy. Thanks to everybody that kept me well fed and caffeinated!

Thanks also go out to Tom Snell and the town of Mansfield for allowing us to fly from the Sportmen’s Club and for supporting us.

– Carl