Stratofox participated in AeroPac's
second test launch of the To100K rocket on September 24, 2005.
The launch took place at AeroPac's "XPRS" (eXtreme Performance Rocket Ships)
high-power rocketry launch meet, which took place September 23-25.
There was also an experimental launch day at XPRS on Monday, September 26.
But Stratofox wasn't there because we had moved about 10 miles up the playa
to help set up for the Paragon Astronautics space rocket launch.
The weather on Friday, September 24 turned bad as a storm system took all
afternoon to move through the area. The thunderstorm dropped a lot of
rain, and one person said they thought they saw a small tornado, though
heavy rain could look like that. The 30K test launch of To100K was
postponed to Saturday.
Owen DeLong KB6MER (member of both Stratofox and To100K) coordinated the
search via radio from the To100K mission control center. He ran what Hams
call a "directed net", where he coordinated radio traffic in an orderly
manner on what could otherwise have been a congested frequency with all
the people on it.
Like in August, the To100K booster worked flawlessly. The Stratofox team
who was assigned to it was two AeroPac members recruited at the launch,
Scott Bowman as driver and 15-year-old Zach Adams K7ZBA on the radio.
(Zach successfully did his Level 1 certification flight on Friday morning
before the weather got bad.)
They located the booster, turned it over to To100K team members to safe it,
and then joined in on the search for the sustainer.
There were no post-flight radio signals from the sustainer so this was
strictly a visual search.
Initially, Stratofox members Ian Kluft KO6YQ and Ben Woodard KG6FNK
drove for the ground search. But later they went back to get Ben's plane.
A third search team was Ed Hackett W7EDH and Ed Conger KD6ANO. But
Ed Hackett had to leave on Friday when the weather got bad. So on
Saturday, Benjy Levy drove and Ed Conger was on the radio.
Ken Biba KG6DLV and Paul Hopkins KE6DAX of the To100K team each participated
in the search as well. Owen assigned them Stratofox tactical callsigns.
So if you were listening on the radio, it all sounded like Stratofox. But
we actually had an integrated search that included To100K team members.
Stratofox has often prepared to do aerial searches for rockets on the playa.
Finally we got to do it. The plane is a Mooney M20C that belongs to Ben.
As it turned out, the sustainer made only a body-diameter hole as it went
underground, which could never have been seen from the plane. But they did
find someone else's rocket, the Orange Crush, 4 miles west of the launch
site. For a moment they thought it was To100K. All of us called that
good practice anyway.
Credit for the find went to Steve Wigfield and Paul Hopkins. The successful
technique was to compare reports from eyewitness (Steve Wigfield and Alan
Larkin) who saw the dust cloud from the impact. The important info was
where they were, what direction it was and terrain they saw behind it.
Unlike in the general public, eyewitnesses at AeroPAC are apparently quite
reliable because it was *exactly* where the lines intersected.
Unfortunately, dust clouds mean a shovel recovery. So AeroPAC's goal of
setting a 100K HPR altitude record together as a club will have to wait
until next year.