Thursday, September 24, 2015


I'm nervous about this weekend's upcoming CMASS rocket launch in Amesbury, MA.

At first, I was nervous about joining the club. What if I have nobody to talk to at launches? What if they don't like me?

That's just the kind of social anxiety you develop when you move to a new city and it's hard to meet people. But rocketeers have the reputation of being very friendly folk - if you like rockets, they like you. And I've been welcomed by some of the club members, chatted with a few of them online, so even though I haven't met any of them in person, I feel good about meeting some fellow rocketeers. Joining a club is a great way to expand your rocketry experience and meet new people.

No, what has me nervous now is simply that I haven't launched in a long time, and I am hoping to launch a few rockets I've built but never flown.

The Quest Quadrunner was finished last December.

This beautiful Quest Aerospace kit is about 3 feet tall, just under 2 inches in diameter, and flies on a cluster of four standard B or C motors. And I put a lot of work into this rocket - and had some moments where I thought my work would be ruined. But I really like the way it came out.

The Quest Big Dog was also finished last spring.

This rocket is the first I've completed with a 29mm motor mount, big enough for an F or G motor (or a small H, but that would probably be ill-advised with this rocket, and would require high power certification in any case). It's another beauty, and like the Quadrunner, has never flown.

Then there's the Estes Cosmic Explorer with an E motor mount.

I have a standard Cosmic Explorer, and I have in fact built one with an E mount before. It flew beautifully, and then disappeared in fast-moving high altitude winds. But this second attempt at an E Cosmic Explorer is perhaps the best work I've ever done on a rocket, and I have not launched it yet, so I really want to see how it performs.

The Quest Magnum Sport Loader has flown before - one time.

Magnum Sport Loader on the left, next to its Quest brothers
This is yet another beautiful Quest rocket capable of carrying a payload - the chamber is in fact large enough to loft two eggs at once. It's a two-motor cluster which has a dramatic flight.

I love these rockets. But, apart from the Sport Loader, they are much larger rockets than I've flown before. It's part of the reason I hesitated attempting to launch several times in Bloomington.

They're by far not the largest rockets you can build and launch. Amesbury is a high power field, so there will be much larger, more complicated, and higher-flying rockets than these. But they're the largest I've attempted so far, and I'm nervous about them.

What if the parachute does not eject? What if it gets tangled and doesn't open? What if my clusters don't ignite simultaneously? What if they have a hard landing and break on the first flight?

These are the things which make me nervous. It's because I haven't flown in a while, and because I'm new at this whole mid power thing. And it's because these rockets have been waiting on the shelf so long, I'm worried they won't make it back, because I've grown attached to them.

But these rockets are made to fly. I'm confident I built them well. I built them with care. I just need to get out there and do it.

Failure is part of the learning process. Sometimes your rockets will crash. Sometimes you'll lose them. But if you're not willing to risk a loss, you'll miss out on the excitement of a successful flight.

Someone on one of the Facebook model rocketry forums recently posted a picture of his first rocket - the Estes Crossfire ISX - a great, high-flying little rocket.

Image from

And he confessed that he was nervous about launching it. I could understand - he'd done a beautiful job building it, and now it was time to strap a motor in it an launch it into the sky??

But that is why we do this. We don't take unnecessary risks - sometimes you put a less powerful motor in than at other times. Sometimes you have to scrub a launch. But we launch these rockets, because that's what this is all about.

But, get out there, rocket n00bs. Build those rockets - then go out and fly them.

Like my Facebook page for blog updates.


  1. I joined the local club (MARS) in Geneseo NY a couple of years ago. Launches are fun- - plenty of people to answer any questions, and everyone loves to talk about their rockets. Just be sure to volunteer for range duty once you're comfortable. It will be appreciated, I'm sure... :-)

  2. I intend to! I want to get as involved as I can.

  3. I can relate to flying a rocket you have put a lot of work into, but as you said, they are built to fly. Club launches are fun; much better than launching by yourself. Hope you have a great time - take plenty of pictures!

    Recommend Quest Q2G2 igniters for the Quadrunner - I can consistently light 3 motors with Estes igniters, but 4 might be pushing those a bit.

    1. I got four packs of Q2G2's in the mail today, from I was down to only one left.

      I've flown the two-motor Magnum Sport Loader on Estes igniters before, but I didn't trust that there would be enough current through four to ignite all four motors of the Quad successfully.

      Also got an Estes Goblin and a CC Express in the same mailing - plus a free Odd'l Rockets parachute.

  4. The Q2G2s are the way to go with clusters, one less thing to worry about.
    Within a few minutes at a club launch, any nerves will be gone. The four engine Quad Runner will get plenty of attention.
    A FREE Odd'l (JonRocket) parachute? You lucky dog!

    1. Nearly all my scratch built rockets have flown with Odd'l JonRocket chutes. I never spend less than $40 on JonRocket, because I figure the free shipping is worth making all my purchases at once.

      The Odd'l Rocket chutes are sturdy and well made. Obviously designed by some kind of genius. ;)

  5. Clubs Launches are really low key affairs. People who join clubs love rocketry, and enjoy talking about it and sharing tips. I've gone a as guests at a number of them as I traveled and never felt like I didn't belong..

    Don't be afraid to ask for guidance. Safety is mostly communication, and that is always the priority (followed very closely by fun).

    Good flights are fun. Bad flights can be fun, and a learning experience to boot. I've had good and bad flights and never been discourages or embarrassed by anyone at a club launch.

    1. It's going to be awesome. Tonight, I have lots of prepping to do. I have just realized I may need to replace or repair some chutes, so that might take me a while.

      But I've been told numerous times there will be CAKE.

      And hot dogs. Personally, I'm looking forward to some hot dogs.

  6. "What if they don't like me?"

    Daniel, you're going to get along just fine. Just think of this a stage play. You are the star and all others are merely the supporting cast. Before the day is done you'll be mobbed for your autograph!

    Have fun young man!