Clark College Pickup Launch - April 12-13, 2014 (Brothers, OR)

This launch was a very small “pickup” launch organized by Fred Azinger of OROC for the Clark College Aerospace team. They needed to do a test flight of their project before heading down to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the USLI competition!

As soon as I heard about this launch (only a mere 2 weeks prior) I was very interested in attending. I had several motors leftover from the previous year, including some I didn’t get to fly at the Rocketober 2013 launch due to clouds. It seemed as though I would be the only other person there besides the Clark College team.

With an itch to get an early start to the 2014 season, I left Portland at 6:30 on Saturday morning just as the sun was coming up. After making a quick stop for breakfast and supplies in Sandy before continuing over the pass, it was an easy drive out.

I got to Brothers at around 11:30 AM and touched base with Fred Azinger, Keith Stansbury, and the Clark College team before setting up camp and my pad. They were heads-down at their encampment all afternoon getting their rocket ready to fly on a CTI L2375 White Thunder. Surprisingly, I seemed to have nearly every extra tool they needed to borrow…

My PML Miranda was almost prepped so that went on the pad first. Motor was a J90W moonburner that I had built for Rocketober last year but had to sit on all winter long, thanks to weather at that launch. Needless to say, I was eager to fly it, and I would say it was well worth the wait! Perfect flight to around 4,000’, with an easy recovery about 30 yards off the main entry road. However, it did weathercock a bit which brought it to a lower altitude than expected.

Following a lunchbreak, Clark College was ready to go. After loading their rocket on Fred’s tower and getting all the cameras rolling, the project manager did the honors…no launch. After lots of testing with no luck, Fred connected his backup launch system. 5,4,3,2,1 – still nothing. I was next up at bat with my system – and it worked! It was an awesome launch with recovery about 1.5 miles south of the flightline, on the ridge behind the homestead hill. The whole team was ecstatic.

They had accomplished their one mission, so Fred and the team packed it up and went home as soon as they got the rocket back. That left me as the only person on-site! After they departed, I got 2 more flights in before the waiver closed at 5:00 PM. My Estes Big Bertha flew for the first time in a while on an E12-8, except it broke a fin on landing since I used a tiny chute to try and keep recovery close by. Next up was my Bay Area Rocketry Crayon on an F25W. That also came in for a bit of a hard landing since the motor delay went way longer than it should have…weird.

With a forecast of 28 degrees that evening, in addition to the fact that the port-a-potties weren’t in service and that I was the only person there, I headed into Bend for the night. This turned out to be a very wise choice! Got some rest and headed back out to Brothers in the morning, to fly one more rocket and to collect my easy-up and launch pad. On the pad Sunday morning was my Binder Galaxy on a J500G. That motor really got it moving! Great flight except the main came out on top for some reason – I’m guessing due to loose couplers.

Packed it up and headed home at 1:30 PM, stopping for lunch along the way. Another uneventful drive, getting home by 6:00.

Thanks to Fred for organizing this (albeit lightly attended) launch! It was great to finally be out in Brothers again.