March 24, 2007
"So easy even a 9 year old can do it". Not really, unless your the amazing and talented Jack Hugh. Read the story by Damian Hall of Uncle Bobs Rocket Shop.
It's one of theose NICE rocketry stories.
One of my customers had been getting himself into hybrids and not to be outdone, his young son age 9 wanted in on the act.
Given here in the UK we have no lower age limit on L1 the only rule is that if you are competent enough, then you are old enough. Having said that I'd personally only RSO someone that young if they have the support of senior family members, but that's a "me thing" not a "rule thing"!
Normally the certfying route is a composite motor with motor ejection for a L1. However, over here in the UK, the Police have to issue you with a licence to at least aquire composite motors. Unfortunately the Police thought that Jack was too young for this. Even with a supportive Dad in tow.
This meant that Jack had to do his L1 using a hybrid motor. Furthermore he would have to master the art of electronic recovery. To make things that little bit more interesting he needed to use pyrodex instead of black powder for the depoyment charges. Just to make it even MORE interesting, the boy had to pass his L2 written exam to fly a hybrid in the UK. (That rule is changing very soon, however the current rules are the current rules).
Around a month ago Jack sat his L2 exam and managed to get 100%! Much building later, the airframe took shape, the electronics were studied, understood and tested and the size of the pyrodex ejection charge and containment of the same ground tested and quantified.
On Sunday it was time for the L1 cert flight. Under UKRA rules an RSO has to supervise the motor assembly. That was my job. (I always supervise/assist new customers with their new hardware and talk them through the safe operation of hybrids anyway as part of the aftersales service).
I was expecting to be intervening with the motor prep, after all he's only 9 and grown men usually ask the odd question or 2. Jack had been assembling the motor and disassembling ad nauseum in his own time. Even down to the ignition method (specific to the UK). I have to say I was pretty gobsmacked. It was like watching a soldier assemble a rifle in the field. One gets the sense that it could have been done with closed eyes.
The time came to fly. A perfect flight and nice recovery on a Rattworks H-70. L1 in the bag.
Just to make it more interesting Jack re-prepped his rocket, this time using the Ratt I-80. (The Ratt I-80 is my favoutite small motor on account of it having a burn time of 27 minutes...okay a slight exageration, but if you've flown one, you'll understand where I'm coming from!)
Flew it again. Good recovery. Nice one Jack Hugh, Aged 9. It was the highlight of my rocketry year to date.