(Stock photo of the Graduator, now over 10 years old.)
Today I got my level 1 re-certification at a METRA launch. The cert flight was a LOC Graduator on a pro x H133-9, this is a 163 NS motor with a fast blue propellant. The flight was fast, high, and landed at the edge of the field, just dipping a fin into a drainage ditch. One or two inches further and the rocket may have been soaked and damaged badly. A fair guess would put the flight to 3500 feet. Before this flight (going in order of importance), the Graduator also went up on a really nice pro x skidmark G104. Even a little skidmark makes a nice show. The heavy rocket, now pushing 50 or so flights, cracked two fin fillets. This was before the cert flight, so I threw in some thick CA and was able to cert just fine an hour later. With this level 1 cert, and without the LEUP holding me back, I plan to build at least one new high power rocket and start working on H and I motors. It would be great to fly some V max H and I motors some time!
For the smaller flights, I sent up the 24mm hourglass model from Art Applewhite on an F39, and the three motor cluster rocket on its maiden flight with a C6-3. The hourglass rocket really hauled airframe. Even with the high drag, the thrust to weight ratio of something like 30:1 ensured a breakneck flight. Recovery was easy as usual.
The 3x cluster rocket test flight did not go so well. It seems 6 fins are still not enough, or a C6 isn't enough to get things going in this rocket, or there is not enough nose weight... or something! It will have to be redesigned because it did not fly well at all, flipping several times and landing close to the pad. No damage, but a rather goofy way to end the day.