Feature Flights 2021

A feature flight from last year, "The Nike" is back again for 2023. New Zealand's largest amateur rocket will be attempting a third flight, this time on a much larger motor.

The Nike was scratch built by the team throughout 2019, and is over 6.5m in length and 470mm in diameter, weighing in at nearly 200kg at lift-off. It took nearly 9 months to build, and is fully composite in construction. For 2021, the Nike features an upgraded powerplant - this time, a Q6300 with nearly 50% more impulse and a 14 second burn time.

Flight Specs

  • Length: 6.5m

  • Diameter: 470mm

  • Weight: 195kg

  • Motor: Q6300 "Turbo Diesel" - white flame, dense grey smoke, long burn.

  • Altitude: 16,000 ft

  • Velocity: Mach 0.7

  • Fliers: Ethan Kosoof, Debbie Van Tiel, Dr. Martin Van Tiel, Chris North, Kim McVinnie, Kelvin McVinnie

Ad Astra

Ad Astra has flown on M, N & O motors at NZRA events for a number of years. It was scratch built by Jack Davies from fiberglass and carbon fibre composite materials, and named after the school he was attending at the time, Marsden College. It was renamed to Ad Astra in 2020.

For 2021, Jack and Tony have upped their game and added a booster to Ad Astra, creating a two stage rocket which now stands six meters tall. It will be boosted by the mighty N5800 in the first stage, which will burn for 4 seconds before being jettisoned. After a short 2 second coast, a long burn N2800 will be ignited, powering the second stage to over 16,000ft.

Flight Specs

  • Length: 6m

  • Diameter: 250mm

  • Weight: 70kg

  • Motor: N5800 "C-Star" , staging to N2800 "Turbo Diesel" - white flame, dense grey smoke.

  • Altitude: 16,000 ft

  • Velocity: Mach 1

  • Fliers: Jack & Tony Davies

Deep Purple

Kelvin McVinnie's Deep Purple was originally built for his level 3 certification flight, which was successfully completed at last year's National Launch. That was on a fast burn, punchy M2550 purple neon sparky motor. This year, Kelvin is aiming for a more majestic flight profile, with a gentler M1360 with a 7 second burn time.

Deep Purple was built totally from scratch, and features advanced composite building techniques throughout, including a hand laid fibreglass airframe, & carbon fibre skinned balsa-core fins and bulkheads. It includes a suite of onboard electronics, and full dual deployment with a 5 foot drogue emerging at apogee, followed by a spectacular 18ft red & blue main chute at 1000ft.

Flight Specs

  • Length: 2.3m

  • Diameter: 250mm

  • Weight: 28kg

  • Motor: M1363 "Turbo Diesel" - White flame, dense white smoke

  • Altitude: 7,000 ft

  • Velocity: Mach 0.5

  • Fliers: Kelvin McVinnie

Big Red

Craig Packard's Big Red is making a comeback to National Launch Day after a couple of years rest. Big Red was built from scratch solely by Craig back in 2010, and has made several impressive flights over the years. It features a cluster of motor mounts, allowing it to fly on multiple motors at once . Since it's first flight in 2011, Big Red has seen everything from a single "M" class motor, to an "N" surrounded by 4 "K" class motors - equal to an "O" in impulse!

This year, Big Red is going up on a single M2627 "Standard", which will be a punchy flight. A short 3.6 second burn will power it up to a peak altitude of over 7,000ft.

Flight Specs

  • Length: 3.2m

  • Diameter: 200mm

  • Motor: M2627 "Standard" - Translucent orange flame, low smoke, fast burn.

  • Altitude: 7,600 ft

  • Fliers: Craig Packard

Middle Earth

Kim McVinnie's Middle Earth has featured at almost every NZRA launch for the past few years and has chalked up an impressive number of flights. It first flew at Thunda Down Under in 2019, where Kim accomplished her L1, 2 & 3 certification, all with the same rocket! Middle Earth is a heavily modified kit, which Kim used advanced composite build techniques to assemble and keep the weight low. As a result, Middle Earth has flown on everything from "I" to "M" class!

This year, Kim has her eyes set on setting a new "L" altitude record, and will be aiming to hit nearly 17,000ft on a high performance L1324 motor. This will take Middle Earth well through the sound barrier, a supersonic flight to nearly Mach 1.5!

Flight Specs

  • Length: 1.9m

  • Diameter: 93mm

  • Weight: 8kg

  • Motor: L1324 "Standard" - Translucent orange flame, low smoke, fast burn.

  • Altitude: 17,000 ft

  • Velocity: Mach 1.5

  • Fliers: Kim McVinnie


Kalen More's DarkStar is another project returning for this year's event. Based on a fiberglass 'airframe only kit' with Kalen's custom built electronics and recovery systems it's been professionally painted and finished, this year will mark it's third flight.

For 2021, Kalen is going with a K540 "Metalstorm" - a spectacular motor, which provides a large white exhaust flame, and leaves a trail of smoke and sparks in it's wake.

Flight Specs

  • Length:2.2m

  • Diameter: 100mm

  • Weight: 6.5kg

  • Motor: K540 "MetalStorm" - Translucent orange flame, low smoke, fast burn.

  • Altitude: 3,000 ft

  • Velocity: Mach 0.6

  • Fliers: Kalen More


Dr. Martin Van Tiel's Taiaha has been in the works for a number of years now - and is finally making its's long anticipated debut at National Launch Day 2021. Scratch built by Martin, the all-fibreglass airframe is over 3 meters long and 130mm in diameter.

For it's maiden flight, Taiaha will be taking the gentle approach and stretch it's legs on a long burn M1000. With over 9 seconds of burn time, it will be a spectacular sight as it ascends atop a huge white flame.

Flight Specs

  • Length: 3.5 m

  • Diameter: 130mm

  • Weight: 20kg

  • Motor: M1000 "Diesel" - White Flame, dense grey smoke, long burn.

  • Altitude: 9,000 ft

  • Velocity: Mach 0.8

  • Fliers: Dr. Martin Van Tiel

Frenzy Massive

Alex Heffer's Frenzy Massive is another well travelled rocket, having flown both in Australia at the original "Thunda Down Under" in 2015, and multiple National Launch Days here in New Zealand. The Frenzy massive is fiberglass 'airframe only' kit. Alex has custom built it to his own specifications and redundant electronic recovery systems.

This year, the Frenzy massive will get a real 'kick in the pants' from an M2050X providing a maximum 2,500 newtons of thrust and a bright white flame. Apogee and main chute deployments via dual redundant systems. Altus Metrum Telemetrum GSP flight computer as primary, Perfect flight Stratologger as backup.

Flight Specs

  • Length: 3.1m

  • Diameter: 140mm

  • Weight: 20kg

  • Motor: M2050X "White Lightning" - White flame, dense grey smoke.

  • Altitude: 5,900 ft in 14 seconds

  • Velocity: Mach 1.48 (1,840 kph)

  • Flier: Alex Heffer

Some further shots of the Frenzy Massive's previous flights can be found below :

Frenzy Massive

Heading for 18,000ft on an N2000 at Thunda 2015

Onboard Camera

Slow motion Rocketman Chute Deployment