More Hawaii Launches

Ron with rockets. And a cat.
Ron with a few of his favorite things.

I’ve found a good set of pals to go launching rockets with here on Oahu, and I’ve shot a few off in the past year. Just wanted to save in writing some of the notes I took from various launches.


Launched one fine morning at Blaisdell Park in Pearl City. It was a bit windy, and the park doesn’t have a large open space, ringed with giant, menacing monkeypod trees (they’re gorgeous by the way). I brought a bunch of rockets, but only shot off two: one I didn’t care if I lost, and my Astrocam – I was hoping I’d catch some good shots of Pearl Harbor (spoiler: I didn’t).

  • Estes Athena on a C6-5. For those who don’t remember, I once found this rocket at 60-Acres Park in Redmond. I since used it as my canary launch for questionable conditions, like this morning. It went WAY up there, the shock cord broke, and I lost the nose cone.
  • While recovering someone else’s rocket, the pack of kids that were enjoying our launch actually found the Athena’s nose cone! So, I launched it again, this time with a B6-4.
  • Launched my Astrocam on an A8-3. On landing the body tube bent in half! It wasn’t even a hard landing.
  • I splinted the body tube and launched the Astrocam again, this time on a B6-4. The extra lopsided weight caused it to corkscrew quite a lot on the way up.


The next morning, I tried a sunrise launch at Sandy Beach Park. It was raining on and off, so no one else showed up. I set up my launch pad anyway and fired off my canary Athena on a C6-3. It was GONE. Just disappeared into the sky, never to be seen again. I walked all over the park but never did find it. I packed it up and went home after that. So… some kid built and lost that rocket in Washington State, I found it, moved to Hawaii, and lost it there. Hopefully some Hawaii kid finds it and gets inspired to launch rockets themselves.


Back to Waipahu District Park.

  • Due to the crunched booster on a previous launch, I tried to launch my Astrocam on a B6-4 using a custom booster I had designed and built many years ago. It worked, but the flight was a little hamajang.
  • I launched my Estes Honest John for its second-ever flight. I’m talking the Skill Level 4 BT-50 Honest John I built back in 1980 and promptly lost the unique nose cone on its maiden flight. I was extremely bummed about losing that at the time, and just never launched it again. But recently it dawned on me: I have a 3D-printer now! So I printed a new nosecone for it and launched it again on an A8-3 (I wasn’t taking any chances with it). Beautiful flight, and I caught it as it was coming back down.
  • Launched a custom 3D-printed ABS black rocket on a C6-7. Flew great, but drifted across the canal and landed in the parking lot of the old folks home.
  • Flew the Astrocam on the custom booster two more times, on a B6-4 and again on an A8-3. The latter was grossly under-powered.


Another launch from Waipahu District Park. It was the day before Halloween, and Roger showed up wearing an astronaut costume with an awesome full helmet. I shot off a few rockets that morning:

  • First flight of my Estes Goblin on a C11-3. I had built a custom payload bay in the nose cone, and it had a FlightSketch altimeter.
  • First flight of my Estes Mean Machine on a D12-3. The parachute tangled and didn’t open, but it suffered no damage landing on the park grass.
  • First flight of my Estes Tomahawk D-Region on a C11-3. WAY too underpowered! It came in hard and snapped off a fin. I had built it many years ago and use CA glue. It probably just got a little too brittle in storage for a couple decades. Afterwards I used epoxy to reattach all the fins.
  • Launched a new Astrocam on a B6-4. The streamer stuck in the body tube opening, and it hit the ground hard enough to bend the body tube. [sigh]
  • Flew my Goblin again on a C11-3. The altimeter read 489’.
  • Flew my 40-year-old Estes Icarus on a B6-4 with a Flight Sketch altimeter that read 414’.
  • Flew my 3D-printed black rocket on a C6-3.


Happy Veterans Day at Waipahu District Park.

  • Estes Omega clone I had built many years ago. Sent it up on a D12-0/C11-7 pair of motors. Flew great, but the booster landed over the canal in the old folks home parking lot.
  • Sent my Fliskits Robert Goddard Series L-13 scale model up on a B6-4. Underpowered, but no damage on landing.
  • Sent the L-13 up on a C6-7. Unfortunately, it was unstable – I hadn’t checked the CG with a heaver motor after building. It went a little out of control and crashed hard enough to jam the balsa nosecone into the body tube a good 5mm. Still need to repair that one.
  • Sent my Aerotech Mustang up on an E16-6 for its first flight. Great flyer!
  • Sent my Estes Maxi Alpha 3 up on a D12-3 for its first flight – perfect, at about 200’.
  • I had designed and built a custom two-stager many, many moons ago but never flew it. It was so long ago; I had done all the Barrowman stability calculations by hand. ANYHOW, I flew that one on a D12-0/C6-7 pair. It wasn’t very stable. When it separated, the upper stage just went into cruise-missile mode and headed out over Pearl Harbor, never to be seen again.


Happy New Year! We were able to get permission to launch at Aloun Farms, in the large field they use for parking during their Fall Festival. It was a glorious day! All first-flights for these larger rockets:

  • Estes Der Mega Red Max on an F50-6T
  • Aerotech Arcas on an F67-4W
  • Vanderburn Cherokee-H on an F50-6T
  • Vanderburn Hi-Flyer XXL (#066) on an F67-4W

All were beautiful flights, although I had neglected to put a little tape on the nose cone of the Hi-Flyer and it separated at apogee, chipping its paint when it came down in some rocky dirt. But all fixed and ready to go again someday!


Next morning, shot off some smaller rockets at Waipahu District Park.

  • Estes Blue Origin New Shepard on a B6-4.
  • My Really Koo Stuff N1 1:100 scale on an F67-4W. Glorious flight for that one!
  • Flew my modern Estes Honest John (not my vintage one) on a D12-3.
  • Flew the Astrocam on a B6-4.
  • Flew the Estes Mean Machine again on an E12-6. The nose cone section came off at apogee and landed separately. It has four BT-60 sections. The middle two have a nifty plastic coupler that comes apart easily for transport, and the instruction say to glue the other sections together. I didn’t. I eject the parachute from the lowest joint, made a nifty electronics bay out of the plastic coupler, and left the top two sections capable of going dual-deploy if I want to experiment with that. Well, when not doing that, I need to make sure they don’t come apart like it did this time, so when I returned home, I installed a removable rivet into the joint. It isn’t going to come apart next time!


Back at my favorite HI launch site, Waipahu District Park.

  • Astrocam on a B6-4
  • I flew just the upper stage of a custom BT-80 orange-white rocket I had designed and built a while back. I had built my own Arduino-based altimeter, so I shoved that one along with a Flight Sketch Mini, a Flight Sketch Comp, and a Rockit altimeter into the payload bay. It had an 18mm MTM in it, so I stuck a C6-3 into it and let it rip!!! It got about 10’ into the air (I kid you not) and flopped back onto the grass. No damage, luckily.
  • Need MOAR POWER! Traded Ron K a C11-3 for an 18mm composite D20-4W. Still didn’t go quite as high as I wanted, and it lawn-darted before the ejection charge could go off. I broke the QT connector off the Arduino board and damaged the LiPo battery. The FlightSketch Comp wouldn’t download any data. And the nose had shoved itself so far into the body tube that I had to cut the payload bay up to get the electronics out. Still need to repair that one, although I’m also considering ripping out the 18mm motor mount and upgrading it to 29mm.
Oh, THERE’S my problem!!!

And that’s it for now. Starting to get withdrawals, it’s been a few months. I have a bunch of first-flight rockets all lined up, including a couple SpaceX scale models from Boyce Aerospace. Gotta go launch some more!!!