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National Rocket Day 2 Feb 2014

The weather was great and the crowd was huge. Certainly the biggest crowd in recent history with 577 in attendance. And what a day it was with some spectacular launches and a few not so spectacular mishaps! Dozens of have-a-go rockets were made and launched by the kids and nearly all were very successful. Evan and Joy’s Spotted Pink Creature once again successfully graced the skies (see images below with its mysterious yellow afterglow). Some of the highlights:

Alex Heffer flew a Mad Cow kit called Frenzy Massive to 6,178 ft on a 3.8 sec burn of a L1500. It required a 17ft chute to bring it gently back to Earth.

Gary Balderson flew a PML Tethys on a H123, rising just over 400 m with perfect chute deploy at apogee and landing just a few metres from the launch site!

Jim Hefkey successfully demonstrated a two-stage rocket burn with his spectacular looking scratch built Firefly with a combination of K828FJ and J825R.

Alan Wellington's first flight with Honest John on a K540 was succesful and after a bit of searching in the maize successfully returned thanks to the Jaycar tracker. His 2nd fight later in the day was not so successful. Little John on a K1103x started off looking good but it was quickly clear something was wrong when a big bang was heard and the motor casing appeared to blow through the nose one.

Tony Davies and son Jack had two successful launches, one being Jack’s scratch built (in Jack’s bathroom in London) HSW (Hall School Wimbledon) on a K700W that reached an awesome 8943 ft, the highest altitude of the day.

One of the most awesome launches of the day was Darryl Kay’s 3.2m long Mad Max on a M2000 Redline 4 sec burn, reaching 8,100 ft with maximum velocity 1073kph and perfect recovery.

Joel & Martin had a forgettable day in a 20,000 ft test flight on an L850, and Craig Packard’s workhorse Big Red had a big nozzle failure, the result of which is evident below.

Tony also brought along a drone with a camera mount that took some absolutely brilliant shots of the rockets in flight.

The brilliant video of the event is on the homepage










Phil Vukovich Lays Claim to World Sugar Record

On 17th November 2013, NZRA member Phil Vukovich launched his sorbitol powered two-stage rocket from Taupiri and is now claiming a new world sugar altitude record of 40,736 ft (=12,419.5 m). This would eclipse the old record of 12.3 km set by a team of Dutch students at TU Delft in 2009. Well done Phil!



Two historic flights take place on 20/2/2011

BIG RED Takes Flight

After no ignition on the first attempt, Big Red went on the second firing attempt. It was found that the leads from the remote firing system had been damaged from the previous Mongoose 98 exhaust plume. Changed out the units and had another countdown. The Central M1939W fired up with almost no delay and the rocket roared off the pad.

Just after it had cleared the tower, the two J800T blue thunder motors fired up instantly almost doubling the rockets initial thrust. Slow motion video shows the sudden speed increase. This event happened between 1 and 2 seconds after lift off-detect.


Big Red powered on for 7 seconds clearing the cloud deck and almost out of sight. At 8 seconds after liftoff a huge plume was seen and Big Red accelerated out of sight as a result of the two big K700W motors. Big Red made a very slight turn to the north due to this but was still very much vertical.

Big Red climbed for a further 10 seconds heading out over the cloud deck reaching a maximum altitude of 10,615 ft. For us on the ground we could only wait for the rocket to reappear on a chute. Sure enough it was seen to the north east on a bright orange drogue chute descending rapidly as planned. At 1500 ft the main chute deployed right on time and slowed Big Red down for landing.

Thanks to Alex's beeline GPS, we had great communication throughout the flight. It took 2 hours to recover Big Red due to the maize paddock. This stuff eats rockets. Very hard to find without a GPS.

Post recovery inspection has found a hairline crack in one fin. This was expected as its a big rocket and there's a lot of force acting on a plywood based fin at landing. Its very easy to repair. No other damage found on the rocket. The recovery system worked as planned with no tangles evident. On the final approach Big Red hung under a 6 meter chute and about 15 metres of shock cord.

Video of launch HERE


Record Setting Flight of the Mongoose 98

The Mongoose 98 of Joel Schiff & Martin Aspell was launched from the new tower built to accommodate any 3-fin rocket from 38mm to 150mm. The rocket took off on a N1000 motor with a great roar and the motor seemed to burn forever which helped keep the rocket in view.


After 43 seconds, the M98 had coasted to apogee at 33,701 ft AGL, setting an NZ altitude record, but the drogue as well as the main chute deployed. This meant that the rocket would not come down as close to the launch site as anticipated, and to add to the challenge of locating it, the GSM tracker in the nose cone lost signal lock at 5300 m and then stopped phoning home its position.


After a few calculations, the recovery site was reduced to one particular farm 4.7 km away and much of it was searched on Sunday afternoon without success. It was eventually found by the farmer himself two days later very near to where we had been searching! There was no damage at all to the carbon fibre rocket, although the paint work on the edges of the fins got a bit frazzled from going mach 1.5.

Video of launch HERE

Martin and Joel and now the current holders of the NZRA Open Class Altitude trophy...



...to Ethan Kosoof, Chris North, as well as Matt Graham for reaching the awesome altitude of 26,500 ft with their scratch-built carbon fiber rocket on Sunday (6 Dec 2009) at the Taupiri launch site. It was a beautiful launch from start to finish. Well done fellas! CLICK HERE for more details on this cool rocket.

Rocketeers: Chris North, Matt Graham, Ethan Kosoof and their brilliant launch.

Click below for the launch video.