The 24th of October was the final fly day for TRAAU & we couldn't have asked for a better day! There was a little wind but nothing that would rule out launching. The launch on the 3rd was originally going to be the final launch for the year but the land owner was very supportive and allowed us to launch once more!

Clear skies made for a perfect day and lots of low and mid power rockets got off the pads.

I put up my Binder Design 'Spike' on a G64. Recovery was on a single 12" 'chute about 50m from the launch pad.

Sascha's Binder Design Spike
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The 2nd flight for one of my rockets was my scratch-built down-scale Estes 'Mean Machine' on a C6. It's had a good life and survived a core sample with only a few repairs some time back. This launch was to be it's last. Weighing only 20 grams, the C6 pushed the rocket to some ridiculous altitude, to the amazement of the spectators. The 12" Mylar 'chute popped at apogee and with the light breeze of the day, the rocket floated for ages and was eaten by the waist-high grass.

Sascha's Down-Scale Mean Machine
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Check out Flickr for more photos.

A chilly & overcast day greeted us at Serpentine for the October 3 launch. Lots of rockets went up and some of them even came back down! One of the exceptions to this was Karl's "Captain America"

Karl's 'Captain America'
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The rocket screamed off the pad and all but disappeared. All eyes were on the sky for this impressive launch but no recovery event was seen. A good deal of searching failed to turn anything up. Karl posted a few "Lost Rocket" posters around the area and two weeks later it was recovered by a farmer. The parachute had failed to deploy and the hard earth ensured that virtually nothing was left. The RMS case was recovered in flyable condition.

With other projects keeping me busy over the last few months, I haven't built anything new to fly, so I pulled out my ever faithful Estes Big Daddy. Painted taxi cab yellow (complete with black check). I put this up on an F for a great flight

Sascha's Big Daddy (2nd flight for the day)
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See the photos of the day on my Flickr stream.

After months of designing, building, testing, redesigning, rebuilding, testing, painting and more testing, the Orbital Decay had it's final test launch. My original plan was to design a good solid transition rocket. Something that you can build and fly on Mid-power but also solid and stable enough to fly it for a L1 certification flight.

This weekend's flight was on an Aerotech RMS H128 motor. The wind was blowing but not enough to cancel the day and while smaller rockets were suffering, the Orbital Decay punched a hole in the sky. Now the work begins on production.

Orbital Decay Prototype 2 - H128-M
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I presented my scratch-built SLAM Missile to the RSO at the Tripoli launch this weekend. "Where's the sim on this?" was the first question (I was armed with a printout from Rocksim) and "Where's the CP?" was the 2nd (I had marked the CP!). Lots of frowning, but it was stable. "That's going to do a loop!" but I was approved to fly it as a "head's up" launch...

The time came to press the launch button - money was changing hands at a furious pace 'How many loops will this do before it plows into the ground?'

SLAM Missile - E9-4
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But all went well - in fact, it was a flawless flight! Rocksim predected 1,000' on the E9. It had a good majestic boost and then coasted to apogee. The 4 second delay was perfect and recovered no more than 300' from the launch pads.

Despite the bitter cold of Melbourne's Winter, Sunday's Tripoli launch at Serpentine was a huge success! By the end of the day, 15 flyers had launched 17 rockets between them with most returning to Earth in the same condition that they left.

Karl had a super flight to achieve his Level 2 certification and received the appropriate 'Ooohs' and 'Aahhhs' from the crowd that had gathered to watch.

Karl's Level 2 Flight
Karl's L2 Launch - Click to embiggen

A new Tripoli member, Tim, had three good launches. His upscale Yankee popped a fin upon landing but his upscale 4" scratch-built Goblin put in a superb performance and came down unscathed.

Tim's Goblin
Tim's Goblin - Click to embiggen

Flying this weekend was not only cold (being Winter here in Australia) but cloudy, too! While there were some good flights put in, we were restricted to about 8,000' and by the end of the day, a the last couple of rockets punched holes in the cloud at 2,000' so we called it a day.

LOC Weasel
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I launched my LOC Weasel for a great flight, unfortunately a really crappy parachute (from Semrock) completely let go causing the weasel to fall from about 2,200' into the hard ground. A bit of dirt on the tip of the nose and a cracked fin fillet was the only damage, now fixed. The parachute? Well, it was last seen heading North towards NSW...

More photos of the day after the jump!

Glenn's CATO

A picture, by all accounts, tells a thousand words.. This picture, on the other hand, tells a thousand pieces...
Continuing his run of bad luck, Glenn managed to CATO another big bird

Apogee Aspire - On the way to a ShredAbout a year ago - or perhaps longer - I purchased the Aspire from Apogee Rockets. Designed to go supersonic on a G motor. I built it up and waited for the right time to fly it. Sitting on top of a G80, it was to fly at nearly Mach 1.2 to an altitude of around 4,000'

I had to have the perfect day - clear sky, no wind. Month after month I loaded it into the back of the car and drove up to the Serpentine range. Month after month it was too windy or too cloudy. So back it came again, to sit on the shelf for another day.

This week, however, conditions were perfect! So I carefully slid the motor into the back of the rocket, securely taped it in place, re-packed the purple Mylar streamer and loaded it up on the pad.

A short while later, it was my turn to launch. The launch controller gave the customary count-down and pressed the button. The surge of power through the igniter caused the pyrogen to burn and in turn lit the propellant.

Within the blink of an eye, the Aspire was climbing skyward towards it's predicted top speed of 1400km/hr - Mach 1.16.

Something went wrong - very very wrong. As the rocket began pushing it's way through the sound barrier the cardboard and balsa decided it was time to pack up and go home; A voice in the crowd called out 'We've had an event'. I recovered about the top 2/3 of the airframe and nose cone. The fins and motor were never recovered. I didn't expect to see the rocket again - so I guess getting 2/3 back is better than nothing - and boy, was it a spectacular flight!! I do plan on re-building it, but this time i'm going to use Blue Tube. I will hit Mach and live to talk about it!

The rocket Gods were on our side for the May launch. Perfect weather, virtually no wind and not a cloud to be seen anywhere! The stubble in the paddock is short and all rockets were easily recovered :)

First off, the most impressive flight of the day was Blake's successful Level 3 flight. I've not seen many big projects flown and to see an M up close was simply amazing :) Australia now has 4 L3 certified flyers. Karl also had success flying his LOC V2 on a H for his Level 1 cert.

Photos of the day on Flickr

Blake's L3 Cert Flight 3/8 Karl's V2 - L1 Cert Flight 2/6 Glenn's Rocket 1/3
Click to Embiggen

After waiting a year to fly my Binder Design Excel, I put it up today on a 38mm Aerotech H123 for my TRA Level 1 certification.

Binder Design Excel - L1 Cert Flight
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Despite winds gusting to 20km/hr, the Excel had a great boost and perfect recovery, landing only a short walk from the launch site. My paperwork was signed off in short order, and now I can hang out with the tough kids and fly high power rockets!