Black Rock Photos
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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

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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