Essence's Model Rocketry ReviewsDisclaimer
Launch Pad Kits Questions from R.M.R
(by Chuck Barndt, President, THE LAUNCH PAD) 

Just a note from the source: I would like to address some comments I've read about THE LAUNCH PAD's kits.

"The balsa is flimsy"
This sounds like the author didn't follow our recommendation to paint the balsa with thin CA. This is a simple step and can be done by simply squirting a small amount on the balsa and spreading it with a scrap piece of card stock. This will not only GREATLY strengthen the fin material, but will also seal it for future painting. Despite some comments to the contrary, this really isn't very expensive if the CA is purchased in a 1 oz. or 2 oz. bottle. NEVER waste your money on those tiny little squeeze tubes.

"Not for beginners"
I quite agree. This is Mid-Power rocketry and modelers should have some basic model rocket building and flying skills before attempting our products. I've steered prospective LP customers to Estes starter sets because they just weren't ready for larger projects. I personally won't sell to people who aren't ready.

"The fins are not pre-cut. "
Right. One goal of THE LAUNCH PAD has always been to put some SKILL back into sport rocketry. Snap-together, no-glue, no-paint rockets are not models. . . just toys. If you can't use a modeler's knife, there are other companies out there who will cater just to you. It was years before I would even buy a kit with a plastic nose cone, because I wanted the challenge of turning rough balsa into a glass-smooth finish. There was a real sense of pride and accomplishment involved. I'd like to see that sense of pride return.

"Drill a tiny vent hole?"
On some kits with the paper extensions, I've found that changes in temperature or atmospheric pressure can sometimes cause the extension to deform, particularly if it is extremely well sealed. The hole provides a vent to equalize the pressure and prevent deformation. As an alternate method, leaving the tiniest pinhole right at the tip of the paper extension will provide the same pressure relief.

"Require extra nose weight. "
Not if the directions have been followed. Our test-flight models are all deliberately built slightly LESS STABLE than the production kits. Unless a ton of epoxy is being used to install the motor mount assembly, there is no reason why any production kit should not be stable as supplied. Any kit requiring nose weight already has the proper amount of weight INCLUDED in the kit. (Incidentally, the step about using white glue to seal the clay weight into the tip of the nose cone is not just a suggestion. The glue involved adds between 4 to 6 grams of weight to the nose, and has been figured into the stability of the finished model. )

"Occasionally weathercocking or tipping to horizontal flight"
The fix is twofold: First, don't overbuild these kits. They don't need it. The recommended motors ("D" through "F") don't require High Power techniques such as fiberglassing the body or solid lumps of epoxy holding in the motor mounts.

Second, if you do suspect your rocket is overbuilt, some people, including RSOs who should know better, have been saying to "add more nose weight." DON'T DO THIS!!! Adding nose weight is a fix for an UNSTABLE rocket, which these rockets are not. It doesn't apply here. Additional nose weight makes any slow lift off and/or weathercocking problem WORSE! The second fix is to simply use a LONGER LAUNCH ROD. I lengthened the rod on my test flights one foot (from 36" to 48"), and even the heavier overbuilt rockets go nearly straight up. That's all, folks! Thank you all for your support.

"Position of the launch lug is not given in the directions. "
Correct. Once again, persons building our kits are assumed to have model rocket experience, and know where to put the launch lug. Also, I am aware that some of our kits are built strictly for display purposes, in which case the lug is not necessary. Still other modelers prefer split rail, C-rail, or tower launch systems, which all have their own methods of initial guidance.

Author's comment:
Please remember that most of our rockets are not simple sticks with fins. In many cases, particularly with the air-to-air missiles, even the original missile IS NOT STABLE. This is so they can change directions quickly to track the intended target. The only thing keeping these real missiles going where they're aimed is the on-board computerized guidance system. I have to do
the same thing just using aerodynamics.

The result is that, to keep these kits as close as possible to the original design, I often have very little margin of stability to play with. I have actually SCRAPPED several interesting possible kits (including a boosted, ship-launched version of HARPOON) because I simply couldn't get them stable enough to be SAFE in kit form. BUT the kits that I produce have all been repeatedly tested, using all the recommended motors (and several others), under as many different weather conditions as possible.

*   Build the kits according to the directions.  
*   Follow the recommended procedures.  
*   Use the recommended motors.  

THEN, if you still have any problems, PLEASE contact me and let me know. I really am interested in your feedback, but I can only help you if you FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS.

Chuck Barndt 
President, THE LAUNCH PAD