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SkyDart 2X and Orbital SkyDart Video Flights

More info on the SkyDart 2X

More info on the Orbital SkyDart Project

Flight at the April 16th, 2005 Birmingham Rocket Boys Launch, at the Phoenix Turf Sod Farm.

The SkyDart 2X made one solo flight, using an Estes E9-P engine.

Liftoff from C-rail



The flight was partly to to check out balance and trim with an E9, and partly to test out adding the Gearcam to the SkyDart.

The boost was a bit touchy due to the tailweight added by the E9 propellant and longer casing length. During glide it was a littlebit nose heavy, due to the propellant burnoff. But it was easily controllable. Made a couple of wide circles and landed near the launch area. The gearcam was mounted totalyl flying inthe breeze, so the wind sounds were pretty loud, with an odd squeal just as it landed.

The video is 320 x 230 resolution, a 2.7 meg Quicktime movie

More video flights were intended that day on other models , but my camcorder developed a problem which prevented recording anything else for the rest of the day.

The Orbital SkyDart Booster is still not rebuilt from the catos it had at NARAM-46. But that status may change soon.

Orbital SkyDart Project Flight on Sunday, May 15, 2005, at Southern Thunder 2005

Rebuilt the Sky Booster from the NARAM-46 catos. Cut out a part of the left forward wing section which was melted and spliced in a new piece of blue foam, then re-coevered that area of the wing. Use 3.0" tubing from Totally Tubular to replace the original 3" tube. Ran out of time to print and add the "Astron Space Lines" decal and red stripe along the body tube sides. Added additional wiring for a 5V regulator to accommodate a 7.4V Lithium-ion pack to power a Gearcam. A removable pod mount for a Gearcam was made up from ST-10 tubing and attached to the right rear fuselage, as seen above. The SkyDart 2X's Gearcam was simply strapped onto the left front fuselage looking back, using tape.

For quite some time it seemed like no second pilot would be found to fly the SkyDart, but Todd Juhrs of HARA volunteered on Sunday. It took awhile to rig up the video gear for the two cameras. Especially since to record the second camera a VCR plus handheld TV had to be used, left at the prep area several hundred feet away (while a camcorder was more easily used near the pad area to confirm everything was up and running and recording before launch)). It requited a number of people to make it happen, in addition to Todd there was Lynne Jones operating her husband Steward's pointable hi-gain antenna for the SkyBooster, Ron Witherspoon operating my pointable hi-gain antenna for the SkyDart, and Steward Jones not only recording the flight with his own camera (ground based, not airborne), but also coordinating pre-flight to be sure the VCR set-up was running properly.

Pic by David Rowe

Pic by Stymie,
from The Rocket Forum

Pic by Rocketjunkie,
from The Rocket Forum

Pic by Stymie,
from The Rocket Forum

Pic by David Logan

After quite some time in prepping and getting all the video up and running, the model was finally ready to launch. The two G12's ignited well in the SkyBooster, and the model took off with a nice climb rate, easy to correct on boost. At 6.5 seconds into the 8 second burn, I flipped the switch to ignite the E9 in the SkyDart. Unlike the E6 air-starts of NARAM-46, the E9 ignition was VERY obvious when the white smoke appeared, and the higher thrust made the SkyDart separate from the SkyBooster right away. I got to see a bit of the SkyDart's flying but had to concentrate on flying the SkyBooster. It was somewhat tail-heavy, making it tricky to fly. I tried to set up a downwind leg to do a 180 to turn into the wind but it lost a lot of altitude so I had to forget doing a 180 and had to do a downwind landing. It got into a large stall about 30 feet off the ground, fortunately holding full up allowed it to keep the nose up so it was level when it landed. Fortunately it suffered no damage. Either I have to add some noseweight to it or arrange for moving the R/C battery pack from the mid-fuselage top hatch to near the nose cone.

SkyDart view of Staging

SkyBooster view of staging

SkyDart Glide & parking area on ground

SkyBooster glide,
field & horizon view

I got to see the last part of the SkyDart as Todd flew it. It wasn't exactly the sort of model he'd flown before but he was adapting to it. His piloting chore was made a lot harder, as it was later found that one of the elevons was moving more than the other elevon (very bad for any delta-wing type model), something happened between its solo flight on Saturday and the Orbital Skydart flight Sunday. At the last moment the model was coming close to the large long wheeled mobile sprinkler assembly (the site was a large sod farm), he tried to avoid it which resulted in them model hitting the ground at an angle. Fortunately there was little damage, mostly cosmetic (It flew solo again at the Birmingham Blast Off on May 21st).

Both videos recorded successfully. Though there were some signal dropouts from the SkyDart during glide. The SkyDart pitched up pretty fast when it separated, so neither model's camera saw the other model for long, just enough for a frame grab. From the SkyDart's camera, it was seen that the model rolled quite a lot during the boost, it was supposed to be well-trimmed based on an E6 flight the SkyDart made by itself on Saturday, but something happened from then to Sunday'sOrbital SkyDart flight. In the SkyBooster video, looking forward, the two right side launch tower rails can be seen, especially the one nestled between the top of the wing and the body tube. The little green flag seen flapping around is attached to a "stopper" on a piece of surgical tubing which is used for filling the water ballast tank. The stopper and tubing are attached to an external umbilical on the tower assembly, which disengages at liftoff to let the water start dumping out (the water in the nose is to compensate for the propellant mass of the two G12's. See the X-1 page for more info on the water ballast method). This photo and this photo from the Orbital SkyDart Project page shows more on the water umbilical

A surprise seen in both videos, especially the SkyBooster's, is how the water ballast that is dumped from liftoff, flowed onto the top of the wing and part of the body tube. The dump port is at the "bottom" of the nose cone (glide orientation), but then the wing top is tangent to that side of the tube so maybe it's not such a surprise that much water runs that way. After transition to glide, some of the water can be seen flowing nearly parallel to the leading edge of the highly swept forward portion of the double-delta wing. Also, when the SkyBooster goes into that deep stall,, the airflow noise suddenly gets scarily quiet (considering the airflow noise the rest of the time), then "plop" it lands and skids to a stop.

The SkyDart video is 320 x 230 resolution, a 5.4 Quicktime movie

The SkyBooster video is 320 x 230 resolution, a 4.3 meg Quicktime movie




















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