The Alpha III

After a couple disasters in a row at recent launches, I realized I had only two rockets in flyable condition, and one required a tower I didn't have. With another launch coming up in less than a week, I bought and threw together an Alpha III and a second Mongoose (the Mongoose 3).

 The Alpha III was stock in all respects as far as building went, but I found the plain orange fin unit a bit bland (as well as having smudged it with black paint from the body tube, softened by the CA glue I was using to build the model) -- so I painted it. I used Testor's Paint Markers, which had served me well in touching up the edges of the black canopy on the white nose cone of my Star Rider, and painted two fins, and all of the cylindrical fin cannister, gloss black. I then painted the remaining fin white, but the white enamel didn't cover completely on the orange plastic (or the marker was giving trouble -- I had some of the same trouble with the black marker just at the end of the painting session), so I wound up with a sort of horizontal white/orange stripe effect, rather like the vanilla/orange mix in a Dixie Cup.

 After the debacle at the first launch to which I took this rocket (I forgot to take my sack of motors, and got in only a single flight, with the 3-motor "stick" I'd made up to test-fit the extra booster arrangement for the Mongoose 3), I've flown this rocket quite a number of times. I've used motors from A8-3 to C6-5, as well as installing my 13mm adapter and flying it on A10-3T and A3-4T motors -- and true to form for an Estes design dating back (aerodynamically, at least) over 35 years, every flight has been good. I have taken to flying it on a streamer, however, rather than the stock parachute -- the plastic fins are plenty strong to take the landings, and the streamer significantly reduces drift. In fact, I've been considering a smaller streamer; the one that came with the Mongoose 3 (both were built with snap-swivels to facilitate interchanges) is almost too much for this relatively light, high-flying rocket.

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