Australian Youth Rocketry Challenge Inc.

AYRC 2015 – Higher, faster and more impressive than ever!

AYRC 2015 - Higher, faster and more impressive than ever!

AYRC 2015 – Higher, faster and more impressive than ever!

As the night ebbed away, dark grey clouds filled the sky over the QRS launch site. The ground was damp from the previous nights rainfall, but the AYRC 2015 team were ready to get to work. A special guest from Western Australia, Dave Couzens, Australian Model Rocket Society Inc. (AMRS) Chancellor cleared his weary eyes with the time zone change and after a barista made coffee, was hands on with preparing the marquees, PA system and launch infrastructure.

The BBQ was fired up and the delectable smells of fried onion and sausages started to drift as students and spectators arrived. With the morning briefs completed, teams and helpers worked through their various checklists and tasks to get their rockets ready to fly. A light sprinkle of rain passed overhead and was the turning point to the rest of the day with nearly no wind and eventually a clear sun filled sky for perfect rocketry weather.

The usual team photos were taken as rockets were loaded and the first round of the primary challenge was underway. From dragon hearts to rainbows and thunder to stars and sparkles, as always, the imagination and build quality of the primary school teams impressed the judges. One by one, Southern Cross Rocketry (SCR) C6-5 motors tore through the sky which saw the crowds cheer with excitement as they supported the budding aerospace engineers of the future. Using SCR’s high quality igniters and motors meant every flight instantly ignited and boosted majestically.

Eggs were distributed to the secondary teams and carefully loaded into many different designs of capsules. Payload bays were attached with altimeters waiting for activation and completed rockets were scrutinised by the highly experienced RSO. Racked up and ready to fly, the amazing construction and build quality of each rocket was demonstrated by many straight and stable flights. The continual improvements from each years competition exhibits the ability of the AYRC program to extend the educational benefits to all participants.

In typical rocketry fashion, the many variables meant that not every rocket performed flawlessly. Not enough wadding saw a damaged parachute and a cracked egg as it landed at a slightly higher descent rate. One of the rockets had a shockcord that was a little too short which meant separation of the nosecone. Whilst it may have been visually stimulating to the spectators, one launch suffered a motor ‘CATO’ which destroyed the airframe whilst sitting on the pad. Whilst investigating the cause, it was found that the motor used was an infamous Estes E motor with a known poor track record. Subsequently, the rest of those Estes motors are being disposed of.

Prior to round two of the primary challenge commencing, a number of demonstrations were shown including a static firing of a see through rocket on a SCR A8-3 which showed the various stages of a motor operating. This was later followed by a flight of an electrical spool, known as the ‘Cool Spool’ on a F50 motor. Logan City Councillor, Trevina Schwarz, had the honour of launching the Australian Rocketry Pty Ltd Company Ute on the first high power rocketry demonstration launch for the day, on a H135.

QLD State Member for Beaudesert, Mr Jon Krause and 2016 Logan City Mayor candidate, Councillor Luke Smith took time out of their very busy schedules to visit the launch site and extend their support to the students and the AYRC. They embraced the enthusiasm of the students and volunteers as they attended this phenomenal community event.

As the flights continued with the second round of the primary challenge, many of the spectators indulged in special AYRC cupcakes that had the AYRC and QRS logos printed on top. These special sugar coated treats came all the way from WA and were thanks to Mel Couzens aka ‘Lamington Lady’.

With all competing flights now completed, the three judges (Ari, Julie and Dave) consolidated all of the judging cards to tally the scores and confirm the champions for 2015. Traveling over five hours to compete, teams from Faith Christian School of Distance Education used the opportunity to fly one of their rockets on a G78 rocket motor. This was followed with the last high power rocketry demonstration on an I280 Sparky Motor. The thundering crackle of the titanium flakes left the crowd in awe as it ripped skywards to over 3,500 feet.

In a close race for the top three positions for the primary challenge, Beaudesert SPS, Beauy Buddies with their rocket Solar Flare came in third with 146 points. Second place was first time entrants from Flagstone State School, known as Heart of a Dragon with the rocket name to suit with a score of 157 points. Taking out the number one position this year was Beaudesert SPS, Beauy Beauties with their rocket Fireflies and a total score of 183.

In the secondary challenge, Indooroopilly SHS, Mirage took out third position. Last years winner, Canterbury College, Shoot for the Euro Stars launched their rocket ‘The Final Countdown’ which even came with an inspirational soundtrack played through the PA with the song of the same title as the rocket. With a great effort, they just missed out on back to back wins taking second place. A last minute decision to change motors to a F24 paid off for Indooroopilly SHS’ team Mars Liner who are the 2015 AYRC champions with an altitude of 961 feet.

Councillor Trevina Schwarz stayed for the duration of the event and along with AMRS Chancellor Dave Couzens helped me present the trophies and medallions to the winning teams.

A huge thank you must go to all of the participants, their teachers and schools who make the event what it is. Also to all of the helpers that put in tireless hours, to support this amazing challenge and make sure everything runs like clockwork. Additionally, thank you to the Queensland Rocketry Society Inc. for the support with infrastructure and mentors and the Australian Model Rocket Society Inc. who provide the insurances and internationally recognised safety codes as Australia’s national rocketry organisation. Lastly, a special thank you to all of the sponsors who contribute in their various ways making AYRC continue to grow from strength to strength.

Many of the teams are already talking about their plans for next year and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Blake Nikolic
Australian Youth Rocketry Challenge Inc.