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2008 Florida Winternationals


Bracha and I arrived at the launch site Friday afternoon to set up our tent. To save space, we set our canopy behind Brian Coyle's tent.

As the sun set, we left to head to the fabulous Royal Palm Hotel.


Saturday morning, we arrived early and unpacked our rockets and supplies.

Brian let us string our "PayloadBay.com" banner across the front of his tent and we set Big Daddy Akavish out to get a little sun.

Robb Haskins set up his tent next to ours and unloaded his (and Gary Dahlke's) large rockets.

I headed over to Wildman Rocketry's trailer and purchased an Aerotech J350W reload and a 38mm motor casing for it. I assembled the motor and installed it in my Upscale Omega.

My Level 2 Certification flight went well. The rocket streaked straight into the sky leaving a trail of white smoke.

At apogee, the 'chute deployed and the rocket drifted slowly. It landed not too far from the launch pads and, finally, I became a "Level 2" rocketeer.

After that, Robb flew his Ultimate Wildman then he began working with Gary to ready the scale Juno 1 / Explorer 1 for flight. I helped a little by loaning them my Rocket Rage parachute and helping to set up the rocket on the pad. The rocket was impressive sitting on the pad.

But it was even more impressive when it was launched on an M motor.

I witnessed my first in-person larger-than-an-M-motor flight when the FLASH Rocketry club's upscale Fat Cat Rocketry Mega K-1 was launched to about 5700' using an AMW N2800 motor.

The 11.5" diameter rocket was 10.5' tall and weighed 125 pounds at lift-off.

Later, I took advantage of my new status and went to buy a J motor for our "Big Daddy Akavish." In Wildman's trailer, I met Paul Robinson of Animal Motor Works who offered to let me fly a demo of one of his new AMW/ProX reloads. I bought a case for the motor and Paul helped me assemble the 54mm J390 "Tame Tiger" motor.

I attracted some attention carrying the four-foot furry rocket to the launch pad. The wind picked up as the countdown progressed and the Big Daddy Akavish arced significantly into the wind. The altimeter fired the ejection charge at the right time, but the parachute hung up inside the Akavish's "head" and didn't deploy. BD landed in a mud puddle and got a little wet, and perhaps a bit embarrassed, but otherwise in good shape. The motor tube inside where the ejection charge goes got soaked, but it's inside a short piece of PVC and I intended it to be removable in case the ejection charge damaged it. So that will be easy to replace.


Sunday got off to a good start with a "Sparky" drag race. Paul Robinson of AMW supplied two N-2800 skidmark motors for James Hendricksen's "Gone Bananas Again" and Tim Lehr's Ultimate Wildman.

Impressive flights continued through the day. Greg Lane flew his Stealth 54mm

Robb Haskins launched his Talon 4.

Steve Pollak's upscale Orbital Transport was a crowd pleaser.

Brian Coyle flew a unique two-stage crayon rocket.

And a giant Big Bertha took to the skies riding a shower of sparks.


We left the hotel Monday morning at about 9:30 for the nine or ten-mile drive to the launch site. Four hours later, we finally made it.

A protest at the future site of a new power station (just across the highway from the road to the Florida Winternationals launch site) forced the closing of Southern Blvd. for several hours. So, we didn't arrive at the launch until about 1:30 in the afternoon.

I worked for a short time on the AMRAAM missile program, so I was especially impressed by the launch of a life-size model of it.

While enjoying the launches, we watched the horizon to see the launch preparation for "Black Dragon," an 18" diameter, 26' tall rocket.

The tension built as the countdown began. Everyone seemed to be pointing cameras at the 375 pound rocket.

3 .. 2 .. 1 .... the DEAP 6 P-11,000 motor sprang to life ....

The giant P motor produced 2400 lbs. of thrust for eight seconds.

Derek Deville's rocket soared to 13,100' where the main parachute deployed. The rocket drifed about 3.5 miles before launding in the grass. [Black Dragon Launch Video]

Once again the Florida Spacemodeling Association and Tripoli West Palm deserve thanks for the terrific job they did as hosts of the Florida Winternationals. Now, I have to start getting ready for next year ....

Additional photographs from the Winternationals are in the Gallery at:


[Posted: 2008-02-20 | Updated: 2008-03-01]

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