Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Two Rockets and a Plane

Lyndy and I are both on vacation all this week.  We aren't going on a trip or anything, we are just free to come and go as we want for one wonderful week.  This morning we took Evan and drove to Lake Clinton, near Lawrence.  If you drive across the dam, then circle around to the back of the dam, near the spillway, you come to a huge field.  This field is the home of the Jayhawk Modelmasters remote control airplane club.  From here you can see some pretty incredible remote control airplanes being flown, some with wingspans of several feet wide.  Knowing it would be dead on a Tuesday morning, we were there to launch a couple of rockets and fly a much more modest remote control airplane.

I have been flying model rockets since I was a teenager.  I have built, launched, rebuilt, relaunched, lost, and often destroyed dozens of them over the years.  I have one rocket, now retired, that I launched just shy of 50 times in it's lifetime.  Today we launched two rather small, basic rockets.  These kind of rockets are not quite as thrilling as big ones, but they are much easier to work with and have a high success rate. 

This photo shows me right in the middle of one of the runways for the model airplanes, loading a rocket on it's launch pad.  You have to prepare the rocket for launch by getting the recovery parachute ready and stowed aboard and installing an engine and preparing it so that it can be ignited.  You have to carefully guage the wind and aim the rocket into it just right.  Too straight up and it can drift a long way on it's parachute and be lost.  Too low and it can arch over and fly straight into the ground.

Once you get it in place on the launch pad everyone gets back.  A battery powered launcher sends current to the engine though two wires.  In this photo Lyndy is getting ready to launch one of the rockets.  Both rockets flew successfully and were recovered. 

I also brought along a kind of beginner remote controlled airplane.  It is made of foam, and by the same company that makes the rockets.  Me and Evan both flew it several times until it finally landed in some standing rainwater.  We decided to stop while we were ahead and gathered all our gear together and get ready to go.  We went on into Lawrence and bought some food, then headed home on the turnpike.  Later, just before it got dark, we went over to the Washburn practice football fields and flew the plane a few more times.  Unfortunately we pushed our luck, and one of the plane's wings broke in two places.  Never fear, it is designed to be repairable, so it will fly again.  Here is what it looked like not long before the fateful flight.

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