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Brunswick County Composite Squadron hosts rocket launchings in Leland, NC

Successful launch of Lodestar rocket
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Successful launch of Lodestar rocket. Photo credit: 2nd Lt DeeDee Willetts, PD Officer, MER-NC-170 (click image to view full size)
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More than 35 rockets launched by members of two CAP squadrons during event

3/28/2015–– The Brunswick County Composite Squadron, NC-170, hosted the Cape Fear Composite Squadron, NC-023, for a rocketry event on 28 March at the Brunswick Forest field in Leland, NC.  Early in the day it was raining.  However, the skies began to clear by the time equipment was being set up.  We had beautiful blue skies and chilly weather for most of the day.  21 CAP members and approximately 20 spectators attended the event. 


After the safety briefing, cadets learned how to inspect the rockets they built.  Wadding and parachutes were loaded into the main tube after inspection.  Rocket motors were selected and prepared with an igniter before inserting into the base of the rocket.  Members took their rockets to the launcher stand and used the micro clips to connect the igniter in the base of their rocket to the cable that contains the electrical current from the “Bennett’s Rocket Blaster Launch Control.”  The launcher stand allows for three rockets to be set up at one time.  The launch control box is powered by two 6 volt batteries and sends an electrical current by command that ignites the solid rocket motor.


Cadets were stationed 500 feet away with Estes Altitraks to record altitude and angle of each rocket’s flight.  After radio communication was established between the launcher, tracker station and base, we were a “go” to proceed.  The air horn alerted all that a launch was imminent prior to the countdown and launch button being depressed.


When the launch controller encountered a slight malfunction our ever-resourceful senior members used their engineering skills to fix a wiring problem while launch activities continued with a backup hand-held launch controller.


More than 35 rockets were launched, including a home-built rocket by C/A1C Rory Gannon and a home-bulit rocket glider with servo motors by C/MSgt K.J. Willetts.  C/TSgt Joel Cashman launched his Lodestar rocket with a camera in the payload section.  The changing wind created a challenge to determine angles for launch based upon the size motors used.  Only two rockets went out of range into the surrounding trees and bush area.  The highest rocket reached a recorded altitude of 254 meters (833 feet). 


Cadets performed a line search to clean up any debris that was scattered over the field from the rocket launches.  After rocketry activities were concluded a few cadets flew their RC aircraft.  Members and spectators enjoyed the day’s event and look forward to the next opportunity.