Neil Clennan ~ my personal website

Current Fleet

after flight and repair
It was nice to start with a post showing the rockets flying, but now it’s time to show you the rockets I’ve built, and to tell you a bit about them. I’ll start with the rockets that I have flown, and then show you some of the ones I’m looking forward to flying.

The Photon Disruptor is the first rocket I launched with the JMRC (Jackson Michigan Rocket Club), which took place on October 13, 2018. You can see the flight video in my previous post. The picture to the right was taken today, so this is what it looks like after the flight and some repair to a damaged fin.

The Photon Disruptor has an interesting history. There have been 3 versions of this Estes rocket, and the first was produced from 1976 to 1981, and the later 2 being larger versions of the same basic design. While it’s not unusual for Estes to reuse the names of old rockets for new designs, it is unusual for the new design to bear such a strung resemblance to the earlier model. This one has been used 3 times and only really changed its size.

Since I originally built and flew mine during high school, that puts it between late 1977 and early 1981, so it’s the original, smaller rocket. I did most of this research after flying it with the JMRC, and came to the conclusion that the reason it flew so high and used every inch of the recovery field is because I was using the engine recommendations for the larger versions of the rocket, but in a much smaller, lighter model.

Prior to launch, it needed a new nose cone and a replacement recovery system (parachute).

viper refurbished
The next that flew on that date was the EAC Viper. This rocket was included in my Estes Aerospace Club membership, and like the Photon Disruptor, was originally built and flown in my high school days.

This rocket needed more refurbishing that the other rocket. The fins had never been put on as straight as they should have been, and it needed a new parachute, which I made from a plastic grocery bag. The picture to the left shows it sitting on the fin alignment tool after fixing the fins and a freshening up of the paint.

invader painted
That’s it for the ones I flew with JMRC. My project to reclaim the usefulness of rockets I originally flew back in high school continues with the Alien Invader.

This required a massive rebuild from its disaster back in the high school launch. The picture to the right shows it after all repairs and painting, though I still have not put the decals on.

I had been so eager to launch this back in high school that I launched before I had even painted it. I remember looking up in the sky right after launch and my buddy Steve asking, “was that a 3 stager?”

new wing, old tube

“No.” Well, Steve clearly saw 3 objects in the sky. During initial acceleration, the tube fins were ripped off by aerodynamic forces. The wings were shredded as the force ripped against the grain of the balsa wood.

I rebuilt the wings from new sheets of balsa wood and reattached them to the old components after cleaning the remnants of the old wings off of those. Once I had it all glued together, I discovered a small flaw in the new wings. The grain of the wood was not set in the optimal direction for strength. Not the worst, but not the best.

assembly rig
Given what went wrong the first time, should I tear it all down and start again, or find some way to reinforce the wings. I opted to reinforce the wings, and my research said I could do this by applying a layer of paper to each wing. After that was glued down, I painted it.

I’m going to wait until it survives a test flight before I put the decals on. I figure I saved those decals intact for about 40 years, it would be ashamed to have them destroyed if it turns out the wings are not going to survive the next flight.

Original Hardware
One more refurbished rocket, the Avenger (no relation to the comics). In this case, it’s almost a new rocket, and easier to show you how much of it is the original rocket than to tell you what was replaced. That picture to the left is all that was useable from the original high school days rocket.
Avenger reborn
I purchased all new body tubes, engine mounts, and a nose cone and built the rest of the rocket from scratch. Looking at it now, I see that something must have fallen and damaged one of the new fins, so I’ll need to do some repair before it flies.

There it is at the right, a lovely 2 stage rocket with a payload section.

Finally, I have one all new rocket. It’s called the SuperNova, and it is a 2 stage rocket with a transparent payload section and a cool looking fin design.


That’s the fleet. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the March JMRC rocket launch, whenever that gets scheduled.


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