NARAM 46 Special Edition!
NARAM 46 Report…
Author: Russ Anthony and Bruce Markielewski
What’s a NARAM?
The National Association of Rocketry Annual Meet (NARAM) is the NAR’s annual model rocketry championship and conference. NARAM comprises ten or so competition events in three age divisions plus a team division. While the main focus is the competition and determining the National Champions, there is a lot of other activities during the week long gathering, including “fun” events, presentations, meetings, tours, and social activities.
This year, the 46th NARAM was held at the Great Meadow Outdoor Events Center at The Plains, Virginia, with the evening activities held at the primary hotel, the Holiday Inn in Masassas, Virginia. NARAM was held from July 31st through August 6th, 2004.
Who Went from C.R.A.S.H.?
Earlier in the year, it looked like there would be a large C.R.A.S.H. contingent heading east for the National Championships. Many members were at or near the top of the point standings for most of the contest year, as was the club in the section standings. However, by July the number of members planning on attending had dwindled, mostly due to priority shifts caused by increased employment opportunities, but three members remained committed.
Russ Anthony would be attending his first NARAM, and was sixth in the Pre-NARAM standings. He planned on entering all of the competition events except Research and Development. His goal was to qualify in all events he entered, and bring home at least one trophy.
Bruce Markielewski had one goal in mind – defending his National Championship from last year. Finishing atop the Pre-NARAM points list put him in a fine position to repeat, but anything can happen once the competition begins, and his lead over arch-rival Chad Ring could disappear quickly.
Kevin Kuczek would only be able to attend for a few days, and had been working hard the past year to prepare for the prestigious Radio-Controlled Glider Championships. This annual event is separate from the National Championships competition, but is perhaps one of the most popular NARAM events. Kevin also planned to compete in some of Monday’s events before heading back to Colorado on Tuesday.
The Trip East…
Virginia is a long way from Colorado, somewhere around 1750 miles, and neither MapQuest or the Rand McNally Atlas listed any useable dimensional portals to shorten the distance. Kevin was flying to Virginia, but Russ and Bruce were carpooling, having too much to carry on an airplane. The two headed out on Friday a bit later than planned, but the first day of the drive went surprisingly quickly, and they stopped for the night in the middle of Missouri after traveling nearly 750 miles. It was around 2:00 AM local time but Motel 6 had still kept the light on.
Saturday’s drive was nearly as uneventful as the day before. Detours through downtown St. Louis allowed viewing of the Arch at least twice, and Indianapolis had their own freeway detours as well. Only 550 miles were covered as some time was needed in the evening to continue building for the contest events. While Russ believed he had models for most of the events completed, except for some recovery systems (mostly streamer folding), Bruce felt he was going into a NARAM more unprepared than any before. His Plastic Model Conversion entry (an F-14A) took a lot more time than originally thought, and for most of the events he would be flying older models that were flyable but worn. The only new models other than the PMC would be a helicopter and the payload altitude models, and these were still not completed.
The remaining 450 miles were completed on Sunday, through occasional rain, the mountainous terrain of Maryland and West Virginia, and a slight navigation error in Virginia. Another time zone was crossed, and arrival at the hotel was around 6:30 PM.
NARAM actually begins on the Saturday before the competition begins, and consists of two days of Sport Flying, Fun Events, and rocketry presentations in the evening. While Bruce and Russ were traveling across the country, Kevin was already competing in the Radio-Controlled Glider Championships (see Kevin’s account of his exploits below). The qualification rounds on Saturday and Sunday allowed each competitor three flights to fly a single flight of at least 300 seconds. The times for those flying less than “D” power were scored double. No doubt, Kevin qualified for the flyoffs easily, if his outstanding times at our club launches were any indication. The flyoffs on Sunday were cut short due to rain, and would be continued during the week.
Bruce and Russ arrived late in the day on Sunday, and hurried to get their rooms and get through the NARAM registration process. Sunday evening’s activities included a First NARAM Participants meeting. Russ was able to attend for only the last ten minutes due to the late arrival at the hotel, and missed the free pizza offered during the meeting. Following that was the Competitors Briefing. This is where the Contest Director welcomes all of the competitors and any specific range and event rules are clarified. Finally, the entries for Sport Scale, Plastic Model Conversion, and Research and Development were turned in, and most were off to finish building and making preparations for the first day of competition.
The launch site was about 15 miles from the hotel – a pleasant drive as the morning rush hour was going in the opposite direction. The site itself was impressive – very large open area covered with freshly mowed grass. Thick woods surrounded the field and recovery would be difficult outside the main launch area. The sky was overcast and the expected humidity had already set in.
The first day of competition was busier than usual with three events scheduled – “1/2A” Helicopter Duration, “A” Boost Glider Duration, and “B” Eggloft Duration. Kevin flew his last R/C Glider flight on the sport range, scoring a time that would insure a place in the top three for the event. Bruce and Russ prepared egglofters, and Russ got in a short but qualified 10 second flight with a mangled parachute. Bruce fared a bit better with 57 seconds, but was well short of the top times.
Russ had a very nice 42 second helicopter flight, but Kevin blew the competition away with a flight of nearly five minutes. Kevin chased the ‘copter south to the far end of the field, and then right back to the launch site. It then drifted completely around the launch area finally landing to the west. Several people joked that “R/C” Helicopters were not allowed! He added another 53 seconds to his total with his second flight, but no one would get close to his time. Bruce’s only flight was qualified at 24 seconds, but far from the leaders.
Kevin also had a couple of nice Boost Glider flights for a six minute total, and took an early lead in the event. Bruce’s slow start was offset in the Boost Glider event with a returned first flight of just over four minutes, and a second flight of five and a half minutes. This was enough to take first place in the event, at the cost of losing the glider. Bruce watched the model thermal away (through binoculars) several minutes after the timers lost track of it., but remarked that he would trade a glider for a first place trophy any day. Russ had a problem with his first Boost Glider flight – the model separated early from the piston pod and was disqualified. His second flight worked fine and turned in a respectable time of nearly two minutes. This put him in the running for a special award for one of the top places in Boost Glider for First Time NARAM Competitors.
Late in the day, a storm was moving in, and both Bruce and Russ tried to get a second Eggloft flight ready, but the rain came and convinced both to quit for the day. After returning to the hotel and checking the results, both realized that Russ had a chance of placing in the Helicopter event had he flown a second flight comparable to his first. Live and learn!
The three C.R.A.S.H. members had dinner at a nice steak and seafood restaurant near the hotel, and then each had separate activities planned for the rest of the evening. Bruce had volunteered again this year as a Plastic Model Conversion event judge, and spent the evening scoring static points for the Team Division entries. Kevin attended one of the several “beer-lofting” events held during the week, and Russ attended the Town Hall/Association meeting and spent some time meeting many of the attending rocketry vendors and other participants. This was one of the few nights during the week that there was sufficient time for a good night’s sleep. Everyone was still up past one in the morning, though.
There were no competition events scheduled this day. Instead, the first activity was a tour of the Udvar-Hazy Center (the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum annex at the Dulles Airport). The museum is a fascinating display, with too much to list here. Some highlights were an SR-71 aircraft, the Enterprise Space Shuttle, a French Concord, the Lockheed-Martin Joint Strike Fighter, and many WW II aircraft including the Enola Gay bomber, a P38 Lightning, a Corsair, and a Curtiss P-40E Warhawk. There were aircraft from every era, some as early as the Wright Brothers, and some historic spacecraft – Mercury and Gemini capsules and an Apollo test capsule.
After the tour, Kevin had to leave for the airport to return to Colorado, and Russ and Bruce headed back to the hotel. Russ was feeling a bit drained and thought he might have suffered a bit of heat stroke from the previous day. He spent the afternoon resting. Bruce discovered a blister on his little toe as large as his little toe, and decided to limit walking as much as possible. Also, he had more PMC judging to do.
Both met up in the evening to attend the NARAM auction – one of the more popular evening events. Lots of money was spent, and the auction earned over $3,000 for the Robert L. Cannon Educational Program. Russ won several items, and spent much of the time meeting many of the rocketry personalities that he had only read about, including Vern and Gleda Estes who arrived earlier in the day. He won a program from NARAM 30, and was collecting signatures from anyone attending that he could find that were mentioned in the pamphlet. Bruce won a 2004 TARC commemorative shirt covered with signatures to go with the one he won at last year’s auction. Once the auction ended and the socializing thinned out they returned to their rooms, as more building was required for the next day’s events, and another night of little sleep was imminent. Ever built a 36″ parachute at 2:00 AM?
This was the big altitude day at NARAM. Both events, “B” Payload Altitude, and “D” Eggloft Altitude required extremely light models with large amounts of tracking powder. “D” Eggloft challenged many competitors with several potential motor combinations. Many people used the standard Estes D12-7, with some people opting for a C6-0/C6-7 staged combination. A few tried the AeroTech D13-7 reloads. The AeroTech’s had the power advantage, but almost all of them resulted in lost tracks (and lost models).
Russ’s first flight resulted in a lost track and model, but chased his second C6 to C6 model a mile north into the trees and returned it for another qualified event. Bruce’s first C6 to C6 flight was qualified, but well below the leaders. His second flight DQ’d when the capsule separated from the body just after staging, deploying the ‘chute while flopping around wildly above the launch area. “B” Payload Altitude was frustrating also, with Bruce finishing 5th, just out of the trophies. Russ qualified again, but didn’t really expect to be competitive using relatively heavy Estes body tubes.
A catered BBQ dinner was served after the contest range closed. Great food was followed by the Imagination Celebration fun events. Sure to be a NARAM mainstay, there were some incredible launches including a Super Big Bertha launching 21 styrofoam gliders, an upscale Orbital Transport launching an upscale Sky Dart (both under R/C control), and another R/C glider launched under “G” power, doing a loop, and then air-starting another “G” motor. Truly spectacular! A short, but heavy rain during the festivities did little to dampen the group’s enthusiasm.
Trophies were handed out for all events on Monday and Tuesday. Russ got his 1st place trophy in “A” Boost Glider for 1st NARAM participants, while Bruce took 1st place overall for “A” Boost Glide and accepted Kevin’s 1st in “1/2A” Helicopter and 3rd in “A” Boost Glider.
Back at the hotel, Bruce spent several hours finishing plastic model judging while Russ attended the Manufacturers Forum. Some of the speakers included Jim Flis of Fliskits, Bill Stine of Quest and authors Peter Alway and Jack Hagerty. The most exciting talk was given by Bill Stine announcing the production of a new composite 18 mm D20 single use motor sometime soon.
Russ realized about this time that he never got around to adding a launch lug to his PMC model, and this turned out to be a serious problem. One PMC judge thought that a pop-off lug could be used, but the lead judge overruled, quoting a precedent from an earlier NARAM. Apparently, NAR Vice President Trip Barber had the same problem with the same type of model! Another method of guiding the model had to be found before Friday. But, “B” Streamer Duration was on the agenda in the morning, and more building was required. Russ finally finished building his streamers after 2:30 AM. Kids, don’t try this at home! Bruce was nearly caught up in his preparation, and doubled the amount of sleep from the night before, getting nearly five hours in that night.
The 7:00 AM alarms seemed early, especially with the cloudy conditions at the range. Events for the day included “B” Streamer Duration (Multi-round) and “B” Rocket Glider Duration. Russ’ late night streamer preparation really paid off by posting a long 110 second 1st flight with no thermals around. He posted conservative flights of 98 and 96 seconds for flights 2 and 3, opting to finish early in the afternoon in case the late day showers returned. The strategy almost backfired, however, as conditions improved late in the day. He was bumped from 2nd to 4th place in the last hour.
Bruce couldn’t coax his streamers better than 13th, despite using the same streamer material and dimensions as Russ. The Rocket glider event went the opposite way with Bruce posting an awesome 1st flight of 139 seconds and an early flap deployment resulting in 41 seconds for the second flight. It was long enough for a 2nd place finish, behind an R/C rocket glider. Russ used an upscale Deltoid, ironically Bruce’s R&D report subject, to qualify and finish mid-pack. One other competitor use a Deltoid as well, possibly influencing the R&D judging enough that Bruce’s report was chosen to present that night. Bruce found out only hours before, and had to rush to put together some notes on the project just before the presentations began, and borrowed Russ’ three Deltoids to show during the presentation. He complained “I didn’t want to present – I only wanted flight points!”.
That night, Bruce and four others in C Division presented their R&D reports, followed by the Team Division presentations. Later, a viewing of a video project on the Little Joe program filled the rest of the evening. Russ stayed up again until 2:00 AM or so scratch-building a 24 mm piston for his F-104 plastic model. While he and Bruce brainstormed several possible solutions, the piston approach seemed to be the most likely to be successful. They hoped that the piston would help the model lift off quickly, guiding the flight path until sufficient speed was obtained. Still, the flight would be a risky one.
The day was blessed with beautiful blue skies, perfect for Plastic Model Conversion and Sport Scale launches. Most contestants chose to fly their Sport Scale entries first and deal with the the PMC last, often referred to as Pandemonium, Mayhem and Chaos (and also, Plastic Death!). Russ put up his Estes Mercury Redstone without incident. Russ proved that Scale entries may be built in as few as four hours and qualified mid-pack. Bruce’s Little Joe II, a model he built several years ago, placed higher than expected in static judging and had a beautiful flight. Russ showed his F-104 Plastic Model and piston to the head safety officer, ironically, the NAR VP Trip Barber, and was rejected for safety reasons. Russ had hoped that Trip would empathize with his situation, having experienced the same difficulty, but if the irony was apparent to him, Trip chose not to reveal it.
Not giving up, Russ found and borrowed a four rail tower to launch from, but had to wait until late in the day to launch. Finding the special tower was incredibly good fortune, as these are very rare. The flight on a D12-3 was almost perfect, recovering on a fabric 24″ chute with no damage. Unfortunately, the motor also ejected, disqualifying the flight. He had ten minutes left for another attempt, and managed to just prep the model in time.
The last two flights of NARAM were made by Bruce and Russ. As a PMC judge, Bruce had to view all of the team entry flights, giving him little time to get his model prepped and flown. Fortunately, his F-14A PMC is fairly easy to prep, and he had it on the pad with about fifteen minutes left. He checked the resistance of his extended Estes igniters every step of the process, and after the last check, he held up the pad number paddle indicating he was ready to fly. Well, not quite, as he forgot to hook up the igniter clips. Ironically, Chad Ring was the LCO at the time, and asked aloud how we can have a National Champion who can’t remember the igniter clips. Bruce’s excuse was two and a half hours of sleep, but the clips were quickly attached, and the F14-A was really ready to fly!
Bruce showed why he is the Defending National Champion by easily taking 1st place with an inspiring flight on his immaculately detailed 1/48th scale F-14A Tomcat. (Awesome liftoff photo by Jack Hagerty!). Rumor has it that he spent a week on the cockpit alone, more time than Russ spent on his entire 1/32nd scale F-104.
Russ flew his again for the last flight of the competition, but the D-12 motor ejected again, this time sans chute. The result was another DQ, and a perfect re-kit of the plane, as it hit the hard dirt in the parking lot and scattering about forty pieces. Russ did not qualify for the event, and those points would cost him 4th place nationally and a trophy.
Bruce managed to get a short nap in the afternoon, while Russ put together a nice table centerpiece featuring our club flag and some of his competition models. The contest director suggested in a pre-NARAM e-mail that participants create a centerpiece for their table at the Friday night dinner banquet. The NARAM banquet and trophy presentations has a late night reputation because of years past, but the food proved excellent, the presentations brief, with numerous door prizes and good will.
Bruce and Russ were in good company at their table, as they were joined by Jim Flis and his wife, Marc McReynolds, and Bruno Depasquale. Bob Parks (a legendary glider expert whose designs influenced Bruce’s current models), and his son also joined the group. Bruce had tried to meet up with Bob during the week with no success, so this was a surprising and welcome coincidence, and the two briefly discussed some advanced glider concepts.
More surprises were in store, as Bruce found out his Sport Scale entry placed fourth, and his R&D report finished third, not only sealing his bid for the National Championship, but also capturing the C Division Meet Championship. Kevin was presented a 2nd place trophy (in absentia) in the R/C Glider Championships, which finished on Wednesday. Russ got his hard fought fourth place trophy for “B” Streamer Duration. He was also first in the event for First Time NARAM Participants, but since he placed overall, the award was given to the next qualified competitor. Russ and Bruce accepted one additional trophy – C.R.A.S.H. placed fourth in the Section Championships for the third year in a row.
Vern and Gleda Estes were awarded an unexpected honor – the G. Harry Stine Lifetime Achievement Award for their work creating the model rocketry industry and decades of support of the rocketry hobby. This is the highest award presented by the National Association of Rocketry.
The Trip Back to Colorado…
Russ and Bruce took two days to get home again, traveling about 875 miles each day, and spending the long drive talking about strategies that worked, activities attended and the people they met. Both learned a few things during the week-long experience – Russ probably won’t forget launch lugs on PMC entries anytime soon, and will check the results sheets early and often in future events. He’ll also work to develop reliable methods of securing engines in the models, and avoid oversizing his models’ parachutes.
Bruce learned that things don’t always turn out as expected, as he did well in events that he though he wouldn’t, and vice-versa. He also realized that you don’t need new models for every event to be successful – the older reliable models can compete quite successfully. And, don’t wait to the last minute to get things ready for NARAM – but he learns that lesson every year! Both finally got a some good night’s sleep, not quite yet building models for next year! But, only 330 days of procrastination left…
NARAM 46 Report…
Author: Kevin Kuczek
My decision to go to NARAM was made about two weeks prior to the event. After placing some calls with some of the people I know in the NAR that were going, plus a few FAI competitors, I pulled the plug and booked a flight. Definitely, I was going to compete in the Radio Controlled Glider Championships and maybe in a few NAR events on Monday.
Throughout this past year, many of you have seen the relatively tiny R/C model I’ve been flying. My goal in designing this model was threefold: use the lightest micro R/C gear available, use inexpensive “B” and “C” motors and lastly, make it highly competitive. There were many that doubted that the micro R/C equipment would have enough range. After lots of research, I stumbled upon a receiver made in France that is single conversion and narrow band and above all light! The developer had tested it to 1000 feet, but I was able to confirm a signal at 2000′! Way more than I would ever hope to need. In a nutshell, the receiver, battery and two servos weighed in at 11 grams. Note that this gear truly is micro and is different from that being advertised by Rob Edmonds as being micro for his new Arcie II R/C kit.
Next was keeping the glider small and light enough to be competitive on B and C motors. At $5 a pack at Wal-Mart, these size motors are easily available and cheap. This would also allow me to get as many flights in as possible without breaking the bank and get lots of experience. The all up glide mass of the glider with 82 sq. in. wing is 42 grams; a little over 0.5 g/sq. in. which would definitely make it competitive.
Finally, a few programs were used to design the model, notably Plane Geometry and a few spreadsheets I programmed. In addition, after a number of discussions with famed Bob Parks, I am currently using XFOIL, a CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) program to redesign the airfoil on my model. The new model promises to boost even higher than past ones. I am hoping to get a full report and plan done this year for inclusion in Sport Rocketry and perhaps an R&D report on low Reynolds Number glider airfoils – boost and glide analysis.
Initial polar plots on XFOIL show some very dramatic improvements in boost with low camber foils and the glide looks to be on par with what decent low Rn gliders are accustomed to. This will prove to be a lot different from what other R&D reports have reported in the past on the subject.
On to NARAM. I arrived Saturday afternoon, rented a car and hoisted what little baggage I had in the back. DC is fairly easy to navigate and I made it safe and sound at the NARAM hotel. I was surprised to find out that my room was directly across from the hotel bar and was concerned that the traffic in that area would keep me up all night. Turned out the bar closed early, but that wasn’t the reason I stayed up most nights till 3:00 AM! NARAM is a super venue for catching up with old friends and making new. Though I planned to compete minimally, I knew I would have a lot fun just chatting with people. And no doubt, I did.
On Sunday I setup and flew a half dozen R/C flights. The longest had to be pretty close to the record I set at Bear Creek recently at close to 15 minutes. I just lazily circled the prep area as there was lots of lift there. For the R/C championships, in order to make the flyoff round, you have to turn in a 300 second max when using E and above motors and 150 seconds when using D and below. Suffice to say, I easily qualified using a C motor. There were a number of Arcie models being flown on E9’s that had a hard time making 300 seconds. Even tougher was 150 seconds with a D12. I am sure though that a number of Arcie flyers did make the flyoffs. George Gassaway easily made it flying an E6 powered Stingray S8E model designed by Kevin McKiou. Certainly, because of it’s size and altitude potential, this was the weapon of choice in an event with no power class.
Sunday night, I hooked up with a few FAI flyers and had Maryland steamed blue crab with what else, beer! Delicious and definitely a delicacy. Boy, is Maryland noisy with all the crickets, frogs and what-nots at night!
On Monday, I pulled out a 5 year old glider designed for FAI B engine B/G and a 1 year old helicopter model; a very light and balanced rose-a-roc. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance of placing since I usually like to build and test “new” models for NARAM. These models definitely had some mileage on them. The performance was good enough for 3rd and 1st place respectively.
The R/C contestants decided that I could fly my R/C flyoff round flight on Monday since I was leaving on Tuesday. Thank you! The rest were all scheduled to fly on Wednesday. So, I made my flight, caught a few bubbles of rising air and posted a 12+ minute score with Chris Taylor timing. This was the time to beat. I felt for sure the Stingray was capable and as it turned out, it was. George beat me by a couple of minutes. Third place (I believe) was Keith Vinyard’s son in A Division flying a homemade R/C model. Keith has also been experimenting with the micro gear and he and I have exchanged lots of e-mails throughout this year. Important to note that there were more R/C flyers at this NARAM than at any prior NARAM in the past; it is definitely a sport that is catching on in the glider community and one that I’ve bitten the bug on….can’t you tell?
The last event I participated in was Beerlofting. An event I invented last year, but Chad Ring coined. Basically, you bring a six pack of your favorite micro brew and sample others. A load of fun. Last year, we had around 6 people that attended. This year we had 2 dozen + more that only wish they new about it but missed out for one reason or another. There were even some that showed up just for the conversation. The more the merrier is my motto! I’m sure next years will be even bigger and Chad is going to approach the NAR to see if we might be officially labeled a nar SIG – Special Interest Group! Kidding aside, it was a blast and a perfect way to end my short trip at NARAM.
C.R.A.S.H. Member Results…
1st place in “1/2A” Helicopter Duration
3rd place in “A” Boost Glider Duration
2nd place in R/C Glider Championships
1st place in “A” Boost Glider Duration for First NARAM participants
4th place in “B” Streamer Duration
1st place in “A” Boost Glider Duration
2nd place in “B” Rocket Glider Duration
1st place in Plastic Model Conversion
4th place in Sport Scale
3rd place in Research and Development
“C” Division Meet Champion
“C” Division National Champion
4th place Section in National Championships
Next Year’s NARAM…
NARAM-47 will be hosted by the Queen City Area Rocket Klub (QUARK) NAR Section #624 (website http://quarkers.org), on July 30 – August 5, 2005 at Voice of America Park, a mile-square field in West Chester, Ohio. This is north of Cincinnati and conveniently close to the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. The Contest Director for NARAM-47 will be:
The NAR Contest Board has approved the following events for NARAM-47:
“1/4A” Helicopter Duration
“1/2A” Boost-Glider Duration
“A” Cluster Altitude
“B” Superroc Altitude
“C” Streamer Duration (multiround)
“D” Dual Eggloft Duration
Open Spot Landing
Giant Sport Scale
Plastic Model Conversion
Research and Development
Russ has a goal of placing in the top three nationally, and competing for a national title. Bruce’s goal is defending the national championship once again. Both would like to see more participation by C.R.A.S.H. members, especially by younger A and B divisioners!
Photos in this NARAM 46 Special Edition C.R.A.S.H. Newsletter were provided by:
Additional Online References…
Complete contest results can be found at
Photos and videos by Chris Taylor from NARAM 46 can be found at
http://www.crashonline.org/photos.html [fix link]
The Club Photos
section of the
C.R.A.S.H. web site
has many photos taken at NARAM 46!