Balls 2011

2011 proved to be a busy and exciting year and I had little time for rocketry especially the months leading up to Balls. This year I didn’t bring anything big, just my KestreL and my newly built Shovel Ready. After staying in Reno with my buddy Kenny and losing some cash on the black jack table, we arrived Saturday morning just in time to see Derek Deville’s Qu8k rocket launch. Very awesome. As the morning went on there was tons of carnage, more CATO’s than any other launch I’ve been to. The Carmack Prize had brought many contestants out to push the limits with their ambitious projects to get over 100,000′.

I had prepped my rockets the days before, and within a few minutes I had Shovel Ready prepped with a 6 grain 7600Ns load. The rocket minus the motor was just under 5lbs so the liftoff promised to be quick. The rocket bolted nicely off the pad under 41g’s and soared pretty darn strait with my eyeball-aligned fins. About 40 minutes after it left the pad we found it on the playa 2 miles away. It was in good conditions minus the newly created carbon fiber “tassels” on the ends of the fins due to the aerodynamic heating. The altimeter reported 28,500′ with a velocity of Mach 2.7. The line cutter had worked perfectly releasing the main at 900′ and the motor worked well, I was happy.

Friday night was crazy, it was one of the worst dust storms I’ve been in at Black Rock. Thanks to a couple a guys nearby that let us hang out in their RV until the storm passed. Once we got back to our tents they were broken and completely filled with dust. We were able to somehow get some sleep and wake up to some nice flying weather.

I had my KestreL ready to go on a 54-2550Ns load, the burn was great and rocket coasted over 20,000′. The search took a little while but we finally tracked it where someone had tucked the main under the rocket to keep it from getting playa rash from the wind that had begun to pickup. After coming back to our spot in the lineup we decided the weather was only getting worse so we packed up and headed out.  All in all one of my favorite Black Rock trips.

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