Today I attended a METRA launch. Visibility was good, but wind was a steady 10 - 15 mph. Despite the wind, which did eventually die down by 2:00, several dozen flights were launched. Most METRA launches feature a few very large flights, and this one was no exception. Two most notable flights were: a large (I think N) rocket to 15,000 feet, and an M skidmark that was so loud, its sound echoed off of hills and trees for miles around for a good 8 seconds.
I was only able to make 4 flights due to some very long delays on one rocket. First off was the Art Applewhite spool rocket, flying on an F39T. Obviously this is a solid amount of power for such a small rocket, and it had a pretty intense flight with the usual spinning at burnout. Recovery was good, on the range just off a drainage ditch. The very next rocket was also an Art Applewhite; an orange 24mm Cinco. The propulsion was an F12J, and the flight was very nice indeed. The rocket fell back also close down range, however it landed directly into a drainage ditch into water. The motor case was salvaged, but the rocket dissolved. Construction was paper and white glue, obviously this could not survive submersion.
The next rocket attempted was the now battle scarred Loc Graduator on an F24W-4, one of the $1 motors from Narcon. Due to some unknown problem at the pad (probably alligator clip problems), this rocket failed to ignite several times in a row, consuming an hour of flying time! Eventually it was able to fly after being moved to the low power pads. This motor gave a nice, slow flight for the heavy Graduator, but ejection was too early. Recovery was nominal on the range, no damage despite early ejection.
Finally, I chose to fly one of the 18mm cluster kits that I had created out of the educators pack of kits. For the test flight, two A8-3 motors were used. This offered a safe test of the airframe and would have ideally allowed for recovery even if only one motor was ignited. As the pictures above show, only one did burn. The rocket flew fairly true despite this, but did not get much altitude at all. The wind was a factor, and on a still day recovery and flight on one motor alone would have been ok. In this instance, ejection was just a bit too late and the rocket (with the extra unburnt mass from one A motor no less) fell and broke off a fin. The rocket can be repaired.
Sadly, because of the long Graduator delays, the 5th and final flight of the day was not made. This was to be a new attempt at flying the Viper IV with 4 D12s. This will have to wait.