Flight Card Process
Listed below are the PSR Flight Card Instructions. A condensed version is on the back of every flight card. We will be keeping two Launch Sign-in sheets at every event; one will be for members, and the other will be for guests. Spectators do not need to sign in. Also, you will receive a layout of the launch site. Everyone is encouraged to help out during set up. Please report an hour early if you care to help out.
LCO = Launch Control Officer
RSO = Range Safety Officer
- Prepping the Rocket: It’s a good idea to make a simple personal checklist. We would hate to see people launch a rocket only to find out that their parachute burns up and their rocket crashes because they forgot to put wadding in it. It is okay to install your motor in the rocket while you are prepping; this will speed up the launching process. We don’t want you to be running back to your car while you are in the launch area because you forgot something. Smoking or open flames will not be permitted in the launching area, prepping area or within twenty-five feet of any rocket motors. Now is the time to install your Estes Solar igniter or Aerotech Copperhead igniter. If you are using low current igniters (i.e. flashbulb or electric matches), we recommend that you do not install your igniter yet, due to safety reasons. More on that later.
- Filling out the flight card: The top portion of the card is all about rockets with motors A thru D. No one will be permitted to launch a rocket until the card is filled out satisfactorily and given to the LCO for approval. On the flight card you will notice there is an area in the top section for the length and diameter of your rocket. It is a wise idea to have a measuring tape or a ruler in your flight box for this purpose. A thru D motor rockets do not need to fill out the middle portion of the sheet; this section is for complex rockets. Everyone is encouraged to add to the middle section, even if it is an A thru D motor rocket, and even if it isn’t complex. You will notice a box in the middle for total motor Ns. This information is available to everyone. It should be in your NAR or Tripoli Membership packet, and it is usually noted in motor packs, too. This information will help us should we decide to have a launch follow-up printed. Knowing the Ns, we can sit down at the end of the day or sometime later to come up with an average amount of propellant burned, i.e. We launched a total of 17 rockets. We burned 420 newton/sec of propellant. 10-B motors, 5-C motors and 2-G motors. This is an average of 24.7 newton/sec, or a motor in the E range.We feel this is something to consider. The bottom section is for RSO and LCO use only.
- Getting RSO approval for complex rockets: This is standard. We encourage anyone wanting help from the RSO to feel free to ask for help, even if it is not a complex rocket. We all learn before, and sometimes after, a mistake. We all make them. Reducing mistakes is what will keep people from getting hurt. This has a potential of being bad for everyone, especially if we lose our club launch privileges… Safety is key! Just remember, you don’t have to do this unless it is a complex rocket. Also, if the LCO feels the RSO should inspect a rocket for any reason, his direction should be granted. This is not a bad thing. There’s no reason we can’t be safe and still have tons of quality fun.
- Place the rocket on launch pad: We’ve all done this. Note: If you are using any of the low current igniters described above, now is the time to install them.
- Give your completed card to the LCO: Nobody will be permitted to launch until the information on the card has been verified by the LCO regardless if the RSO has given approval. If you want to duplicate the information on the card for you own records, do so before you give it to the LCO.
- Launch only after the LCO countdown reaches zero: “Common sense.”
Below the instructions located on the back of the flight cards, you will notice what one would consider a complex rocket to be. Also note that we have written that the “RSO recommends the use of VCP (Visual Center of Pressure) program, Rocksim, or similar to verify complex rocket integrity.” There is plenty of shareware available online, such as VCP.
It’s neat to design rockets on the computer. It can give you altitude estimates for any given motor installed in your rocket. It gives you the approximate mass based on average building skills and it will give you an idea of how far you will have to walk to find your rocket with a given wind speed. You can even override the mass measurement and put it in yourself, if you weigh your rocket. The RSO has offered the use of his scale at launch events. Using this information makes it easier to make more exact altitude predictions and the benefit of knowing how stable your rocket is, whether it’s a kit or a scratch build, whether it takes A or G motors. The more we know, the safer we are.
Whether we build kits and keep it simple or build something that exists only in our minds, whether we use software or not, whether we launch A’s or G’s or anything bigger or between, we can make rocketry as technical as we want or as simple as it can be. There are tons of tools at your disposal for your abilities. Don’t feel forced to use them. It’s entirely up to you.