GHS 2002 Thunderbird Mk1 Flight

This flight of the Thunderbird Mk1 surface-to-air missile scale model was the most impressive of all its flights to date. All five motors ignited perfectly - a central I211 and four F24 s/u motors in the boosters. The flames from the five motors were really impressive. The TBird was launched in a fairly stiff wind, so it weathercocked slightly but still had a near vertical boost. It was so straight that it practically stood on its tail at apogee.

Photo at left - some last-minute adjustments to the altimeter bay.

The only negative part of the flight came at the deployment of the parachutes. In ideal circumstances the boosters eject while the rocket still has significant velocity. On this flight the boosters ejected right at apogee, when the rocket velocity was near zero. All the booster chutes deployed simultaneously and the shroud lines became tangled with the sustainer.
In this photo you can see that one chute is draped over the nose. Its shroud lines are wrapped around a fin, so the nose was unable to eject and deploy the main chute. The other three chutes delivered the rocket to the ground, rapidly, but with minimal damage.
The Thunderbird as it landed. Clearly visible is the sustainer nose cone piercing one of the sustainer chutes.

Special thanks to Dan Russell for manning the video camera. These pictures, and the sequence photos, were lifted from the video taken by Dan.

Click [HERE] for a frame-by-frame replay of the liftoff of the Thunderbird Mk1!

Click [HERE] for background and construction details for the Thunderbird Mk1!

Click [HERE] to return to the GHS 2002 Index.

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