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B Altitude

 For NARAM-51, the Altitude event is for B engine class.

B Altitude combines the challenge of flying a standard size and weight payload while trying to fly to the highest possible altitude.

Altitude models can be staged, though this is quite difficult to do based on the current choice of contest certified engines.

The model does not have to use a specific recovery device, it just needs to make a safe recovery. Most people use a small streamer for recovery of Altitude models.

For the full rules for this event, please see the Altitude Rules on the NAR web page.

Scoring - For B Altitude, the scoring is best SINGLE qualified flight altitude of two flights allowed. The model does not have to be returned unless requested by the officials (in case an ejected engine is suspected, for example).

Design considerations - Designing and building a low-drag model that can successfully fly as high as possible and be tracked to that altitude.

Building and flying this event - There are not many good plans available for this event. For lack of proven stable model designs for B Altitude, or kits, I recommend the use of 18mm B Streamer Duration models. Two changes to make. One, if the shock cord is external, mount the shock cord internally, to eliminate the aerodynamic drag of the shock cord. The other change, do not use a big duration type streamer, Use a small streamer, such as 1 or 2" wide, and 18 to 36" long. Many like to use 1/2 mil or 1 mil mylar for streamers in this case, as the mylar not only takes up little room but the mylar can reflect sunlight to make it easier to see coming down and after landing on the ground. If not that, then use a bright color such as orange or red.

For some more tips, check out Lee Jame's TCC page for Altitude Events.

Plans for an 18mm Streamer model to convert: ASTRE PD/SD model plan by Jeff Vincent, and DarkStar PD/SD plan by Mark Talkington.

Fortunately, ASP , QCR, and Fliskits have some 18mm Streamer Duration model kits available. Also, Apogee, Pratt Hobbies, and Estes have kits that can be sutiable to fly in B Altitude. Plans and kits are listed further down this page.

If the old Apogee B7 motors (13mm diameter) were still contest certified, the optimal designs for this event would look much different. As staging 13mm A's is a very difficult choice, this narrows the practical options to a single staged 18mm B engine, which in this case pretty much comes down to the Estes B6-6.

A key to any altitude event is building the model to fly straight and true. Work towards attaching all of the fins so they are straight and parallel to the body. This should translate to a straight boost, with minimal wobbling that would hurt the altitude. A good finish is important for altitude models. Don't overdo it though, it helps to keep the model lighte. As weight goes up, peak altitude goes down. Try to focus on light weight designs and not build too heavy.

Tracking Powder - It is highly recommended to use tracking powder in your model. This produces a small "cloud" at ejection which the tracking crew looks for. Without tracking powder, it is not likely your model will get tracked.

Dry Tempera paint, or a fine powdered Fluorescent Dye, are often used for tracking powder. Some contestants used to rely on powdered chalk, but it is clumpy and does not really produce much of a tracking cloud for the volume/weight of the powder. Red is a good color choice for tracking powder, though some like to use black if there is a high overcast or hazy "white" sky. Fellow competitors are often willing to share tracking powder.

Here's a good way to install tracking powder. After installing wadding, pack the parachute and shock cord into the model, and push them down into the tube to leave room for the tracking powder in the upper part of the tube. Use a piece of wadding or plain paper to make up a long narrow "cup" than will easily slide inside the body tube. Press that cup into the tube, then pour in the tracking powder to fill the cup. About 1" or so depth of powder is a good ballpark. Using tracking powder can require greater forces to expel everything out of the body, which sometimes results in the engine kicking out instead (however, the cup method reduces this problem a bit compared to just dumping powder into the tube). Make sure the engine is secured in the rocket extra-tight. Some people like to attach the fins a bit above the bottom of the body tube so they can apply a "collar" wrap of tape to the bottom of the tube and the engine. This helps prevent the engine from ejecting.

click on thumbnail

Above: Example of a tracking powder cloud, using a Red powder, on a B Eggloft Flight.

Engine recommendations for B Altitude:

B6-6 (short 18mm type model)

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Model Plans & Kits



DarkStar PD/SD plan (18mm) (WOOSH website)

plan by Mark Talkington

PDF file of an 18mm model suitable for Streamer and Parachute Duration

ASTRE PD/SD model plan (NAR website)

plan by Jeff Vincent

PDF file of 13mm and 18mm PD & SD models

ASP "Streamer Duration" Kit  #KSDT - 18 (18mm)

ASP (Aerospace Specialty Products), Andy Jackson

Good competitive kit for 18mm engines.

QCR - "Straight Up I " Parachute/Streamer Duration kit for 18mm engines

QCR - Qualified Competition Rockets, Ken Brown

Good competitive kit for 18mm engines.
(specify streamer recovery when ordering)

FlisKits - Cougar 660 (18mm) Streamer Duration kit.

Jim Flis

18mm kits for Streamer Duration

Apogee "Blue Streak" sport model kit

Apogee Components

Not designed for contest use, but can be a decent model.

ESTES- "Wizard" sport model kit.

Estes Industries

Not designed for contest use, but can be a decent model when modified to use a good contest streamer.

Pratt Hobbies "Super Six" kit

Doug Pratt

A sport model kit that looks and flies like a contest model.

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 Last Updated   7/3/2009