Northwest Xtreme Rocket Show (NXRS) 2014 - June 27-29, 2014

NXRS 2014 was a fabulous event. It was easily one of the best Brothers launches I have ever attended! There were hundreds of people there (about 250 or more) and lots of rockets flown. This was also a very special launch for me, as I obtained my L3 certification at this event!

For this launch I opted to rent a small travel trailer, a 16’ R-Pod from RV’s To Go down in Wilsonville instead of sleeping in the back of my truck like I usually do, since I’d be spending a bit more time in Brothers. I picked the trailer up on Wednesday afternoon, got everything packed up, then left Portland around 10:00 AM on Thursday morning. As I found out, this trailer was a bit much for my little Toyota to haul. At approx. 3,000 lbs. loaded, plus all the other gear I was hauling, I’m guessing the rig was right at maximum capacity. Going over Mt. Hood we’re talking 35 mph, flooring it in 3rd gear over the big hills…

That added at least an hour to my travel time, getting me into Brothers at about 5:00 PM that evening. I unhitched the trailer, got camp set up, and got David Holloway’s tower set up. (My “clone” of his pad was not quite ready in time for this launch.) There was a pretty steady stream of vehicles pulling in that evening – many familiar faces, and plenty of new ones. It was great to see Robert Krausert again! Thanks to the cord of Juniper on-site, we all enjoyed a nice campfire that night.

First up Friday after an LCO shift was my PML Spitfire on an I284W. This was just to be a simple, nothing-fancy motor eject flight. After several problems with igniters it finally got moving, but the delay went way short for some reason. GPS took me right to the rocket where I wasn’t surprised to a find a huge zipper in the Quantum tube. No worries – that rocket had taken a beating as it was, plus the fin can was unscathed.

After the winds died down a bit, next up on the pad was my trusty old Binder Excel Plus (my L2 rocket) on a 54mm Orange Sunset “J-something” by Team VFD from Boise, ID. This was a really fun motor – I think it was about a J300 or J400. It took a little while to light and come up to pressure, and when it finally did it was slow off the pad but the motor had a neat long burn. The Excel got moving nicely to 4776’, and had an easy recovery just past the barbed-wire fence SE of the flightline. Thanks to Rob Lamb for the nice pad photo!

After recovering I finished prepping my L3, had dinner, and then enjoyed another nice night around the fire.

I had some family coming on Saturday to see my L3 cert, and they got to Brothers around 8:30 AM that morning. After the flyer’s meeting it was time to head out to the away cell – my dad helped load the rocket on the tower and also got a good pad photo.

I touched base with Bob Yanecek who was ready and waiting to witness. After many “good lucks” from members, Chris Andrews got to do the honors. The M1297W lit right up thanks to the big igniter I used and Code Blue flew straight as an arrow to 13,334’. That M just kept going and going! I lost sight of the rocket until Chuck Fauser called on the FRS radio with a good eye on the rocket under drogue. The main deployed perfectly at 1,000’ and landed almost due east of the flightline. The BRB900 indicated that I had landed only 0.88 miles from the pad, which was nice to see! Of course, the rocket happened to be half a mile from the closest road which meant for a decent walk through the sage. Fortunately I had a few extra hands to help carry everything back to the truck, which was a huge help! All told, the flight was picture perfect and couldn’t have gone any better… Hooray!

(Photo credit to Craig Alness.)

(Photo credit to Gary Goncher.)

After the flight, I had lunch and helped a few members with L1 certs before Bob came over to my camp to put the official TAP signature on my cert form. I then put together a K250W to fly on Sunday and did my second LCO shift. Around the campfire that night Pete Ekstrom did my “L3 crowning” by putting 3 marks in charcoal on my forehead…good times!

On Sunday morning I finished prepping the charges on my NXRS Research Test Vehicle and had it on the pad around 9:00. The winds were dead and calm so this was a perfect opportunity to fly the low-average-thrust K250W. Kelsey Black’s NXRS RTV went up first on a CTI L640 Dual Thrust, followed by mine. The K250W was sloooooowww off the pad but the motor just keep burning for what felt like an eternity on its way to 10,158’. Mike Fisher even said it was one of the coolest Binder Design flights he had ever seen!

(Photo credit to Gary Goncher.)

I completely lost sight of the rocket, but GPS indicated I had at least a chute out. Upon entering in the last set of coordinates I get a waypoint that’s 1.8 miles from the flightline…woah! Upon seeing those figures, I wondered if I spilled my main out to top with that kind of drifting. I hopped in the truck and drove over to the other side of the ridge, with the town of Brothers in sight. About another half- mile hike up a small hill I found the rocket, completely intact. (Upon viewing altimeter data later on I discovered that indeed my main came out on top. The rocket didn’t have shear pins, just friction-fit cardboard couplers – go figure I guess.) Kelsey’s L640 beat me at the Max Q challenge by a mere 554’!

Come lunchtime I hadn’t even started to pack up camp yet, so I opted to spend Sunday night in Brothers with the small contingent that was staying there, and then head out Monday morning. I was also worried about towing the trailer at night. This turned out to be a very wise decision! I pulled out of Brothers about 10:00 AM and stopped in Salem on the way back to return David’s tower. Other than the long drive it was a nice trip home.

NXRS 2014 was truly an amazing launch. Getting my L3 cert just about brought a tear to my eye…it almost felt like I was 9 years old again flying an F40W in my first mid-power rocket!