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Vignettes of the TRIPOLI Rocket Launch
Article and Photos By Francis G. Graham
I was back in college again. There were twenty wonderful students from West Virginia University in Morgantown coming north to the Dragon’s Fire Launch Site in Republic, Pennsylvania (actually the municipality is, I am told, “Isabella”). Each of them had been meticulously coached by the incomparable Tripoli Pittsburgh President, Joseph Pscolka of Cokeburg, and ready to attempt certification at Level 1.
Most of them had built the safe kit, the reliable kit for certification, a Hyperloc 835. Most of them were engineering students, and I felt like I was among people that spoke the same language.
Alex Ryan Deardorff and a Hypertec 835. His rocket flew well.
There was a problem, a batch of Aerotech motors had some issues with successful ejection. As I heard of it, and I am ready for correction if I am wrong, the retainer ring was not good and consequently the motor, not the parachute, was ejected. Some of the students who had defective motors lost their rockets by ballistic impact. This also disqualifies them from certification.
Another difficulty was the winds tended to carry rockets whose parachutes did open some considerable distance. The winds were at the point where the day was a barely flightworthy day. The launch area was pretty large, but there were wooded areas that surrounded parts of it. And: rockets must be recovered and brought back for the rocketeer to be certified. But the spunky spirit of youth prevailed and the rockets were recovered. I think only one was genuinely lost.
The teen/early 20s students got to mix with some serious experienced engineers. Prefect of Tripoli Pittsburgh, John Haught builds his own rocket motors, and they work marvelously. His “Six Shooter” rocket went 6000 feet, I understand. T.R. Garman was there, with a bevy of robots and drones. Dr. Rob Camele shared his expertise as well. And also Kevin Wuchevich, with some very successful “scratch built” rockets.
This small Dave Ratliff rocket is called the “Sputnik Two”, and is a flashback to an early Estes model rocket plan of the same name. A model Saturn V was also launched.
A Very large M rocket in preparation, by Joe Pscolka..
Engineer Wuchevich calls this rocket Ugly Red. He also had a similar rocket, Ugly Blue. I do not know what his favorite color is, but I can rule out red and blue.
Rob Camele, MD, approaches the Launch Control tent.
In Early Tripoli ( 1968- 1969) such motors (potassium nitrate / sugar) were successfully built and used by Ernest Scavincky, with the exception of one rocket, the Vikar 1.
Recently they were re-approved by the Tripoli safety committee.
It was windy, and a good bit chilly, but a wonderful blue azure sky.
It was too windy for me to launch the Opus Diaboli and I left my monocopters, alas, in East Liverpool. Oh well. There will be another day. But this was a fine one.
Francis G. Graham TRA #1
Heidi with a purple Hypertec 835, Courtney White with a blue one, Joe Pscolka with Emma Dorsey, with a red one.
Paisley Addison and her rocket, “Inconvenience” registering the launch.
Emma Dorsey’s Cockeyed rocket takeoff.
John Haught wore a coonskin hat, first made popular by Davy Crockett, no less.
This is a potassium nitrate/ sugar motor, aka “carmel candy” in an aluminum casing with a steel nozzle, made by John Haught.