Operation Russ’s Level Three Certification Weekend
March 19, 2016 Three Oaks, Michigan – Overcast, No wind, 30*- 40* F
March 20, 2016 Muskegon, Michigan – Sunny, 5-10 NW Wind, 35*-45* F

My wife and I started the rocket weekend a day early and went down Friday night. This way we didn’t have to make the five hour drive down the morning of launch day and add to the stress of getting the “Big Sammie” in the air.  Saturday morning, on our way to the field, I sort of missed a turn and we took the long way to the field. We also had a problem with the cargo in the van moving during an emergency stop…we found out later where we stopped was also where we missed our turn.  My parents drove down that morning to join us at the field at Michiana Rocketry in Three Oaks. When we finally got to the field, I did help the guys at the club get a few things set up.

The big question when we got there…would we be able to launch my rocket to 6,800 ft? The problem was the cloud ceiling wasn’t very high and with no wind at all, the clouds were not moving. Around noon, after waiting a few hours and checking the air craft ceiling weather reports and flying some test rockets, I made the call to scrub the launch for the day and try Muskegon on Sunday. My dad, on the other hand, had no problem staying under the cloud ceiling, so he sent up two rockets on sparky loads. After my dad was done shooting off his rockets and we were all sufficiently cold and hungry, we took off to the restaurant and then checked back in to the hotel to rest up for Sunday.

Sunday morning came around, we enjoyed the hot breakfast at the hotel and then we were wheels up and on our way to the MMAR/SMASH field in Muskegon to prepare for the afternoon launch time. It was 40°, sunny and clear skies so as soon as we pulled in, I checked in and paid my launch fees. After registration was complete, I  started prepping my rocket for flight.  Two hours of work it was ready for the pad. Completing a quick check again through my checklist paperwork and I was good to go.  So, I was off to get Rob who was the RSO for the day and my L3CC person to do the final inspection. He did inspection and every thing check out fine. It was off to the pad to launch for Big Sammie. With some assistance getting the rocket out to the pad and then on the rail, we armed the rocket and connect to the launch system. We walked back to the pavilion, and waited for the LSO to hit the button. Pam, the LSO for the day, gave the count down and hit the launch button. Nothing happen… Guess who had to take the walk a shame out to the pad? That’s right, I had too. The igniter had popped but it didn’t light off the pyro on it. I ran back to the van for a new igniter and back out to the pad to replace it. We were set for a second try. Pam gave the count down and the rocket roared off the pad. It was amazing watching that Cesaroni Pro75-4G-CS M1830 take off.  Big Sammie made it up to 6,711 feet then at apogee the drogue parachute came out. It drifted down to 1,000 feet and then the main eight foot parachute came out. The rocket landed about 2,000 feet from the pad, so the recovery was easy in the un-plowed corn field. We picked up all of the rocket sections  and headed back to the launch site for a final inspection. With no damage to the rocket and after a inspection for damage with Rob, I am now level three certificated! The only thing left was little bit of NAR paper to get signed and we were heading home. Great rocket weekend!

Three Oaks highlights Saturday 3-19-16

Keeping warm, while waiting for the ceiling to break, that never did.

My dad’s thoughts, we are here lets fly some rockets. Here he is loading his Jart.

Jart loaded with a CTI Pro38-G67-SK 1G Sparky load


Off it goes

and is still going

jart video

here is me laughing at my dad, he forgot his igniter ..


Lets fly!!

My dad’s dark star jr, loaded with a Loki 38mm spit fire load

and off it goes

And it’s still going

Highlights from Muskegon, MI Sunday March 20, 2016

Get your game face on, it’s rocket time!!

My dad’s first mission was to find his lost dark star jr rocket, and he did with a trash bag …


Main 8ft top flight parachute

fold it up nice


Pack the parachute good

It still needs some work here..

the motor is in, CTI Pro75 M1830 4G-CS  C-Star load 🙂 🙂 🙂

Putting in the Big Red Bee 70cm GPS tracker.

Ready for RSO approval

Approved, and off to the pad we go

Doesn’t my wife look happy 🙂

Getting it on the rail guide, with help from Rob Dickinson my L3CC.


Turning on the altimeters .. and they are beeping correctly

Two check photos..

Happy wife, lets do this.


take a picture, just in case …. you never see it again!!


check the cap to make sure it has a vent hole.

and time for lift off… but wait.. it doesn’t work.. so the igniter popped, but didn’t get the motor going.. so replaced the igniter time.. this time I did a dance on the way back.



up up and away!!

The easiest recovery at MMAR/SMASH I have done… by far.

There it is.. waiting for recovery

Disconnect the heavy part for my dad to carry 🙂

payload bay, taking the shock cord and chute off for the wife to carry 🙂


back to the van to report in

Here is Rob signing off my level three paper work… all is well and good!!


big sammie 20160320 SL100
Primary Altimeter

big sammie 20160320 CF volcity
Secondary Altimeter

big red bee gps
Big Red Bee GPS DUMP


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