Black Rock Photos
Rocketry Photos taken at the Black Rock Desert
Here is my LOC "Mini Magg" flying on an I-284 motor.
This marginally-stable rocket almost always weathercocks
(it tilts away from straight-up). This is because of
the short, stubby shape of the rocket.
Here is my scratch-built "Bigger Bertha", an enlarged version of
the classic Estes model "Big Bertha". Taking a classic small
model and scaling it up to become a larger, high-power rocket
is known as "upscaling". The original "Big Bertha" flew on a
C6-5. My "Bigger Bertha" is using a J180-10.
The LOC "Caliber ISP" is an excellent kit for getting started in
high power. It can fly on a broad range of motors, and it is a
good workhorse for payloads. Here it is flying on an I-65. Also
shown is it's parachute recovery (on a different, more sunny, day).
Here is a friend's scratch-built "Excaliber" flying on an H-123 motor.
This was a "Level 1" certification flight, meaning the owner proved
himself competent to fly High Power rockets, at least at the first
and lowest skill level.
Here is a friend's LOC "Legacy", another good starter kit. It is
more affordable, being smaller. It also can fly on smaller motors
which, though less costly, still look just great!
One of my favorite scratch-built rockets is "Spirit of Discovery".
The name was borrowed from the name of a friend's software company.
It is over 11 feet tall, with a myriad of randomly shaped and
colored decals. My favorite motor to use is a J275-10, because
it produces a slow, spectacular lift-off. Every "Spirit of
Discovery" flight has been dedicated to all astronauts, past and
future. Recently, this rocket was lost in a crash, but a new one
is being rebuilt.
Here is my "Concept 54", which is almost entirely made of fiberglass.
This is called a "minimum diameter" rocket, since the rocket's
airframe is the smallest possible diameter that the motor can be
inserted into. This provides maximum aerodynamic performance (due
to less surface friction drag). Fiberglass is extremely strong for
it's weight, so when this K-1100 motor pushed the rocket well over
the speed of sound, the rocket held together!
In addition to being one of the greatest launch sites in the world,
Black Rock also has a stark beauty all of it's own. After sunset,
the dry lakebed takes on a whole new mystique. This time exposure,
aided by moonlight, shows the "flight line" underneath the summer
stars. If you like night photos, there are more.
At some launches, special permission is secured to allow "experimental"
motors, usually homemade, to be tested. Some experimental motors turn
out to be fantastic. Others...well, let's just say they need some more
work. This experimental motor blasted the rocket into such tiny pieces
that we joked about using a rake to recover the rocket.
Out in the desert, very severe weather can hit suddenly. Experienced
rocketeers know how to secure their shades, tents, and awnings, so
they can survive high winds. Unfortunately, at the Bonneville Salt
Flats (another good place to fly rockets), lots of people came who
obviously lacked experience in this area. In August 1998, a severe
thunder storm passed over, with winds estimated at 80mph! Literally
half of the people there experienced damage of some sort. My son,
Timothy, took these pictures - I think he captured the carnage quite well.
Some of us really hate Barney the Dinosaur (a.k.a. the Great Evil
Purple One). With the help of Eric Kleinschmidt, I decided to kill
Barney once and for all. We figured that the "business end" of his
rocket, dubbed "Barney Killer", would do the job. After the launch,
Barney was delightfully disfigured. Die, Barney, die!
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