Monday 13 September 2010

Holy rockets!

One of the activities that has been taking a lot of time for me this last couple of months is a rocket project for the church. In early August the youth pastor approached me about doing something a little non-traditional for “Rally Day”, which marks the switch from the summer schedule to normal schedule and the start of Sunday School. His idea was that we would have the kids build, decorate, then fly rockets rather than releasing balloons as they have done in the past (but apparently is now considered a Bad Thing). As always, suffering from more enthusiasm than self preservation, I agreed.

As more details emerged, it became clear that having the kids build the rockets was a fantasy — we would be lucky to have time to decorate and launch. So I ended up building most of them, with Corwin helping out. In the end I built 5 “Avion”: rockets, 5 FunBirds, and 10 spool rockets. Corwin built 5 Spootniks, which are styrofoam balls with four sticks. This consumed quite a bit of my spare time over the next month and a half, including having to do several test flights to verify that things would work on the big day.

But eventually launch day arrived. Naturally I had a very full day on Saturday, with soccer games and visits so I wasn’t able to get home until 10:30 from picking up the launch equipment. I still managed to arrive at the church by 8 AM and start setting up. Corwin came along to help with things in general and I had one other adult from the church help with the actual launch. The youth pastor had roped off a well chosen section of the parking lot even earlier so we had half grass and half asphalt which wasn’t the best but better than in the street.

At 9AM the kids were turned loose on the rockets to decorate them, from ages 3 up to 15 or 16. The spools were used for the younger set, Spootniks and FunBirds for intermediate, and Avions for the eldest. The Spootniks got a light coat of gold spray paint and that actually looks good on them. The lack of coverage makes it look sparkly.

Some of the decorations were quite interesting, especially on the Spootniks, one of which looked like the Eiffel Tower. We were able to get every decorated rocket in the air, setting up racks but launching one at a time. The Spootniks and Avions flew on 1/2A6-2, the spools on A8-3, and the FunBirds on C11. Even on a C, a FunBird gets up in the sky.

I have no launch pictures because, as the only club member, I was locked in to LCO duties.

We had only a few rocket losses — 2 spools lost on impact (on grass! disappointing), one FunBird (asphalt impact, although a couple others survived it), and two Spootniks (launch rod hang, lots of melting, although not so bad we couldn’t put another motor in and fly it, the other the deployment blew the top of the sphere off). Almost all the rockets landed in the grass, due to the low wind, small motors, and a lot of luck. I was persuaded, at the end, to put A8-3 in two of the Avions which puts the rocket a good ways up. One landed across the street in the verge and the other right in the middle of Prospect. I was unenthused by that but everyone else thought it was great. I had pre-positioned adults so no kids ran out after them at least. We had one Spootnik in a tree, although it fell out on its own later, and one on the roof. We did not hit a single car.

The kids and adults seemed to enjoy it, counting down with me for each launch.

The only accident we had was almost nailing a women sitting on a bench with an engine. She was setting well back but the Spootnik tilted just the right way and the motor seemed to have an extra strong deployment charge so it shot out and hit the bench right beside her, still smoking. She jumped up, calmed herself, and then watched the rest of the launch from inside the church.

A few pictures.

Posted by Dad about Family at 10:20 | Ping URL
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