Selected photos from FireBALLS 005

The Monday after the LDRS XIV weekend, AeroPac held FireBALLS 005, Tripoli's 5th annual experimental launch, where huge uncertified motors, altitude record attempts, and numerous unplanned deflagrations were the order of the day.

(To those who attended FireBALLS 005: Any additions or corrections to the information and photos presented below will be much appreciated.)

This, of course, is Project 463, Chuck Sackett's 43 foot, 1200 lb two-stage monster, ready to be lifted to vertical for launch.

And here it is ready to fly. The booster had 2 N motors and a central P motor, staging to a single N sustainer.

5...4...3...2...1...Liftoff! gosh -- it's really working...lookin' good...

...for a while.

There had been concern before the launch about inadequate thrust-to-weight ratio, and the side-view from the videos does show some non-trivial gravity turning before the end of the booster burn. The main failure, however, was of the electronics -- both staging and recovery. This meant that after booster burnout, the rocket nosed over at an altitude of a few hundred feet and crashed to total destruction on the lakebed. Even so, those first few seconds were an awesome spectacle!

Here are some polaroids of the aftermath. A sad sight, to be sure.

Flight photos courtesy of Mike Vaughn. Crash photos courtesy of John Dunbar.

On a somewhat more practical scale, here's William Walby's beautiful J-powered LOC V-2.

This gentleman (whose name I neglected to write down) flew this beautiful red two stager to 19K ft! The booster used a homemade L-motor and the airframe was constructed from an unusual combination of LOC tubing and aluminum fins, nosecone and stage transition; this may sound odd, but it worked like a champ! This photo also doesn't do justice to the paint job, which featured interesting fogged stripes and automobile-quality finish.

Here's a typical away-cell. Jodi Michaelson (with camera) is interviewing Mark Clark as the crew prepares D.R. Hero for flight. Mark and Robin stayed to launch it, and were about 300 ft away and 500 feet below it when it exploded in a spectacular CATO.

Here's a closeup of the preparations. From left to right are Robin Meredith, Rikki Rockett, Scott Bartell and Ky Michaelson. Scott is seen prepping the ejection timers, which unfortunately never had a chance to do their stuff. Note hi-tech rocket recovery device to right of truck.

Photos courtesy of Mike Vaughn.

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