The Plaster Blaster event November 6-8th was the perfect place for Go Kitty Go to make its debut. G was attempting the “President’s Challenge” to reach or exceed 20,000 feet with his EM-SEM-FITY rocket that weekend, and if time permitted would show me the ropes of how to launch mine. I should explain that Plaster Blaster is held in Plaster City (not an actual city but a drywall factory area) nearest El Centro, about two hours east of San Diego. This trek is out to open desert to a designated launch area, which at best is not windy and only mildly hot.
The entire set-up is pretty intricate. People bring their campers, RVs, ATVs, etc to camp out for the weekend. Since I am high maintenance I drive in that morning. After having slept in a van in Yosemite before freezing the next night at the campground, I can say that now my idea of roughing it is a 3 star hotel. The more devoted rocketeers have vans, tents and several tables for prepping their projects, all safely tucked behind the launch field. My rocket did not require much prep beyond packing the recovery chute and building the motor. This is a picture of my rocket in the prep area.
Out in the launch field were 30+ launch pads, with the high power ones the furthest out. I was only flying a G motor so technically I was supposed to use the pee-wee or the model rocket pads. That is like sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving. The pee-wee area is where all the boy scouts and other kids fly their rockets. I asked to fly mine on the mid-range high-power pads. After filling out my flight card it was time to set the rocket up on the launch rail and connect the igniter to the pad.
Now that Go Kitty Go was in ready position, I had to wait my turn for launch. While waiting, I saw one rocket burst into flames on its launch pad, and another launch but the recovery chute failed to open so it crashed violently to the ground. I was growing concerned that Go Kitty Go was all looks and no akshun. Finally it was my turn. When Frank announced my launch, people lined up in the viewing area to watch. Okay so they were already there but it sounded good.
It was perfect conditions for launch (clear with no wind).
I did not realize that I had to push the launch button, so I was able to see it take off but not get pictures. I substituted another shot to give you an idea of what it looked like. My flame was greenish. The first attempt at launch the igniter failed, so we had to replace it to try again. One rocket guru Mark Canepa says that this least expensive part (igniter) is one of the most important. Now I get it.
Go Kitty Go went up about 3,000 feet before the yellow parachute emerged. The descent took about 10 minutes compared to the 15 second launch. If you squint you can see the tiny dot of the yellow chute.
Luckily it only traveled out a few hundred yards, so was easy to recover. Other than some dirt smudges, it was in great condition. With some new propellant ready to go again. G’s rocket traveled just over 20,000 feet and went three miles out. Now that it quite a trek to recover.
I was so happy Go Kitty Go had a successful launch and flight. Thanks G for your patience and humoring my moments of stupidity. Now I am researching what’s next for my level 1 certification.