Monday, December 29, 2008

Fleet Re-fit

I have a lot of rockets that need fixing.

My new Chrome Dome got a burned parachute on its first day. My Blue Ninja is, um, missing some fins.

One of my Mean Machine rockets got sat on on the way back from the launch field. The other Mean Machine got bent at the base becau it landed too hard. It landed too hard because my Senior Flight Dynamics Officer (let's just call him 'Pop') cut the hole in the parachute too big.

Another one of my rockets has found a new home in the top of a 45-foot oak tree on the edge of the flight range. The pre-launch briefing went something like this:

Me: "Pop, you don't think the breeze has kicked up too much, do you?"

Senior Flight Dynamics Officer: "Naw. Lets just modify the trajectory a few degrees to cancel out the wind."

The in-flight discussion went something like this:

Senior Flight Dynamics Officer: "WOW!!! With a c6-7 that little rocket went WAY higher than I thought it would."

Me: "I told you it would, Pop! "

Senior FIDO: "Yeah, I know, but WOW!!!!"

Me: "Uh..... Pop? It looks like it is headed for those trees."

FIDO: "No way. It'll clear a good 20 yards this side of the treeline. If not more. We are golden. Trust me."

Me: "I don't know...."

Rocket snags itself in top of said oak tree.

FIDO: "Hmmpf. Guess I misjudged it a bit."

Oh, well. That is rocketry.

The end.


Model rocketeer looking for new Flight Dynamics Officer. Must be good listener and able to follow simple instructions. Must be familiar with route to and from the local DQ.

Just kidding, Pop.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Word to the Wise

Not packing your parachute right can affect the aerodynamics of your rocket.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back to the Launch Pad!!!

Last Saturday I grabbed my new Chrome Dome, Outlaw, and Astro-Vision rockets, my launch equipment, and headed to the launch site with my Pop and my brother Joshua.

The sky was blue and crystal clear. My pop loves launching in clear skies because he can see the rockets better with his fading eyesight.

We used c6-7 engines, launching at a slight angle into the northerly breeze (5-10mph). The Chrome Dome was the first up, and it flew great, but unfortunately I forgot to put flame-proof wadding into the rocket before launch, which prevented full deployment of the parachute (which got scorched) so the rocket landed with a thud over on the baseball diamond.

We also had a problem with the deployment of the Outlaw parachute, though I did have wadding in the rocket this time. My new Outlaw hit the blacktop, and one of the fins broke. The Astro-Vision flew fine.

As is often the case, my Pop announced he was tired and so we packed up the rockets and headed for home after a short (3 launch) session.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dearth and Birth

I have not launched any rockets for a couple weeks. Weather has not been good on launch days, or my Pop, the executive launch director, has been too busy or too tired. With good weather we should be able to launch again soon.

Today is my birthday. We celebrated yesterday at Outback Steakhouse. I had my favorite, chicken fingers and fries for the last time. It is the last time because that is on the kid's menu, and you can only order from the kids menu if you are under ten. I am now ten!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fabulous Prizes Popping Up

The Lord willing at this Wednesday's (June 18, 6:45pm) launch, I will fly my Pop Fly rocket.

This rocket ejects a foam rubber baseball when it reaches apogee. Then, its time to catch the ball! Each kid (or adult!) who catches the ball, or comes closest to catching the ball will win a fabulous (and tasty) prize! And the prize is redeemable after the launch, or any other time!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TARC: Are You Ready?

Some interesting happenings coming up Saturday May 17 at TARC, the Team America Rocketry Challenge at Great Meadow. Here's the details.

Not only will a huge number of model rockets be launched, but there will be some big ones that can ascend thousands of feet. Also, at 2:00pm a United States Air Force B2 Stealth Bomber will thunder overhead in a flyover of the field.

This is the biggest model rocketry event of the year. There are to be aerospace and academic exhibitions, VIPs, including astronauts and high government officials.

- the old man

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Houston, we have a problem...

"Flight, EECOM..."

"Yeah, Go EECOM."

"Flight, I am reading a quadruple failure on the O2 tank iso-valves."

"EECOM, there are no iso-valves on model rockets, not to mention O2 tanks."

"Flight, that's affirm, was just engaging in a little Mission-Control tom-foolery.
SERIOUSLY, though, Flight, it would appear we need to scrub the Friday May 2 1845 launch..."

"EECOM, would you mind telling me WHY we need to scrub?"

"Flight, it's because there will be no one at the pad site to execute the launch."

"EECOM, if we scrub, that means we'll have to wait until NEXT WEEK for another possible launch. Do you REALIZE what you are telling me here?"

[EECOM remove his headset and turns rearward, and fixes his gaze on the eyes of the flight commander over the console.]

"Gene, from my chair here, this is the last option..."

The Flight Commander fixes his steely-eyed-missile-man gaze back to the nervous EECOM. He furrows his brow.

"That's the deal? We are talking the whole smash?"

"That's the deal. The whole smash."

"CAPCOM, let's get them to close the iso-valve to O2 tanks numbers 2 and 3. Oh, No! Now I am caught up in the tom-foolery. We don't even HAVE a CAPCOM..."

The Flight Commander fixes his steely gaze toward the camera and addresses the audience. "Folks, all tom-foolery aside, the z-rocketman model rocket launch scheduled for this Friday, May 2 at M Walter, is scrubbed. Hope to see you at another launch soon."

- posted by z-man's old man...

Friday, April 25, 2008


... we are go for pyro-arm

Flight: Roger that, Booster, go on pyro-arm.

Pad Leader: Houston, Launch Control.

Flight: Go, Launch Control.

Launch Control: Houston, we are go on Control Infrastructure refit and final checkout. We are go for countdown continuance.

Flight: Launch Control, that's affirm we understand infrastructure refit and checkout are good. Continue countdown.

Launch is a go for 1845 hours EDT.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


We had a great launch last night.

It was great to have most of the O family join us for the launch. Mrs O won the riddle contest. Congratulations, Mrs O!

The weather was great. Clear and no wind. My latest mods to my home designed and built rocket were successful. The rocket flew almost 2000 feet, I think. My Pop says it was about 1800. It was neat because when the rocket entered the coast phase at about 1500 feet, it did a nice, single corkscrew up to apogee.

I need to change one more thing, though. I need to put a streamer recovery system in the rocket, because the rocket falls nose down as fast as a missile, and the nosecone buries itself halfway into the ground. That kind of descent is a little bit dangerous, so I'll make it safer.

We held our post launch debriefing at the Dairy Queen. DQ is a great place to discuss flight dynamics. We'll have to do that again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


z-rocketman's Pop Here:

I have been asked to announce that we have standing plans to launch on Friday evenings, weather permitting, starting at 6:45. Launch location is the open area behind M. Walter School. We'll keep you posted on launch status here on this blog, or you can call me (z-rocketman's Pop) for the very latest.

We do not need much of an excuse to hold our post-launch debriefs at Dairy Queen (DQ), so come join us for a launch sometime.

You can always check this site for the latest meteorological conditions. We like to launch in wind less than 10mph, but we have been known to "push the envelope".

We also sometimes launch on Saturday mornings, and maybe even the odd Wednesday night. I'll try to post those ahead of time, too. If we scrub, I'll post as well.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Post-Flight Debriefing

Pre-Launch Briefing, Launch, and Flight

Test Flight 2

Thomas Edison tried and failed almost two thousand times to create a working filament for his light bulb. When he was asked about it, Edison said, "I didn't fail. I discovered two thousand ways how NOT to make a light bulb.
I needed to only find one way to make it work."

My first test of a small but high-powered rocket was a failure.

I will post a video pretty soon about my second test flight of my home designed and built rocket which I did this morning.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Old Man Chimes in...

Zechariah's Pop (Dad) here...

To my great delight, I found online the 1970 Estes Model Rocket catalog. This is the very same catalog I eagerly ordered from as a ten and eleven year old boy using my paper route money. Some of the prices appear to have risen about ten-fold between then and now.

The first rocket I bought and built was the "V2". I was very worried about losing the rocket, so I put in a very weak engine. The rocket went up about 30 feet, then back down, and the parachute deployed a few seconds after the rocket hit the ground. My brother, several neighborhood boys, and my father laughed.

The next rocket I bought and launched was the "Astron Streak". I put in the strongest engine the rocket could take, a C6-7, and launched it. The rocket soared out of sight in a split second, and, as nearly as I could tell, did not come back down. I found it about a month later, in a neighbor's yard, rain-soaked and soggy.

The next rocket I built was a "Cherokee-D". I was very excited about this rocket, since it took the most powerful engine Estes swold back then. We lauched it in a huge schoolyard in Burnsville, Minnesota that was 2.5 square miles in area. There was virtually no ground-level wind.

Nevertheless, the rocket roared up about two thousand feet, where apparently there was a fair amount of wind. The parachute deployed, and the rocket drifted strongly laterally as it descended. We chased it about a mile and a half, and it disappeared into a grove of trees. It is probably still there, some 38 years later.

In the Fall of 1971 I had started spending my money on other things, such as baseball cards. Then in January of 1972 we moved from Minnesota to Virginia, and my interests diverged further.

I was, nonetheless "bitten by the model rocketry bug" way back in that summer of 1970, and the hobby re-emerged in my life in the early mid-1990's when I got some rockets for my four older children, launching them ona soccer field in Springfield, Virginia.

Then, z-rocketman came of age, and, well, here we are! :-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I have just discovered that I am not the only rocketeer in the world who has had things go wrong with a launch!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


How can a boomerang be thrown from today into tomorrow returning from today into yesterday?

First correct response will win a DQ ice cream gift certificate redeemable after my next rocket launch, or any other time.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

First Flight: Home Designed and Home Built Rocket

I designed a rocket to be very small but that would take a very large and powerful engine. Also, instead of regular rocket fins, I installed small mini-engine sized tubes at the base of the rocket to serve as fins. I wondered how well this thing would fly.

Yesterday we went out to our favorite launch site, a nearby schoolyard, and conducted our first test flight.

We got set up, then came the countdown.

5-4-3-2-1 ! Liftoff!

The sleek, glossy black rocket came off the launch pad straight as an arrow, its D12-0 engine blasting away.

Within milliseconds, though, the rocket's straight-arrow flight turned into something that looked more like a wounded albatross trying to fly.

It went up about 40 feet before it turned completely on its side after a corkscrew ascent.

After that the engine ejected itself with a bang. The engine ejected because I designed this rocket for featherweight recovery, meaning it has no parachute or streamer device.

The rocket landed about 30 yards away, into a puddle with a splat.

We dried the rocket off, and now it's back to the drawing board for redesign. We need to figure out a way to make the rocket more stable and balanced.

We would like it to fly 4000 feet up next time, instead of 40.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Here's some pix...

from today's NOVAAR rocket lauch at Great Meadow. Enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2008