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  #11  
Old 02-04-2017, 11:30 AM
al_packer al_packer is offline
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Thanks, guys and/or gals for posting your Alpha memories.

Other than my three human offspring, the Alpha is my favorite child. Pat Fitzpatrick gave me the heads-up that you were discussing this, which I appreciate, since I wouldn't have remembered when it first came out, and I'm certainly too lazy to do the research.

If you have any specific questions, I'll check the forum regularly for the next few days. Otherwise, you can email me at dirtcheapdesign@gmail.com . I check that account about once a week.

Bill Simon, Estes Employee payroll #00007

P.S. My favorite science fiction book: "The Stars my Destination" by Alfred Bester. It would make a great movie if someone like Tim Burton took on the project.

!! 7/31/2017 -- Corrected the typo on my email address. dirtcheapdesign@gmail.com

Last edited by al_packer : 07-31-2017 at 11:58 PM.
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  #12  
Old 02-04-2017, 11:42 AM
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I never built an Alpha until I was in the hobby for about 20 years. Something like 1997.
I actually built a Maxi Alpha (balsa fins, NOT the Maxi Alpha 3) in the late 80's with a 29mm mount in it to be able to use Composite Dynamics full-80n-sec 29mm F engines.
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  #13  
Old 02-04-2017, 11:48 AM
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My very first model rocket kit was the Astron Alpha that came with the Deluxe Starter Set in the summer of 1969 (height of the Apollo program). After at least a dozen or so flights, I retired it, and still have it in my display case along with all the existing built model rockets in my fleet. Lost the Electro Launch (it was molded red) somewhere along the way, but I still have several of the Estes Launch Control System (Catalog # 651-FS-5), the one that connects to a car battery.
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  #14  
Old 02-04-2017, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al_packer
P.S. My favorite science fiction book: "The Stars my Destination" by Alfred Bester. It would make a great movie if someone like Tim Burton took on the project.


[thread drift]....so now we know there is a connection between the Alpha and Babylon 5 (albeit a tenuous one) since the author of Bill's favorite science fiction book is the namesake of one of the B5 characters we all love to hate....and who was deliciously played by Walter Koenig) [/thread drift]
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  #15  
Old 02-04-2017, 02:18 PM
al_packer al_packer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC
[thread drift]....so now we know there is a connection between the Alpha and Babylon 5 (albeit a tenuous one) since the author of Bill's favorite science fiction book is the namesake of one of the B5 characters we all love to hate....and who was deliciously played by Walter Koenig) [/thread drift]

Now let's see someone make a flying scale model of David Weber's Dahak (Preferably full size)
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  #16  
Old 02-04-2017, 02:24 PM
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Jerry Irvine Jerry Irvine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al_packer
Thanks, guys and/or gals for posting your Alpha memories.

Other than my three human offspring, the Alpha is my favorite child. Pat Fitzpatrick gave me the heads-up that you were discussing this, which I appreciate, since I wouldn't have remembered when it first came out, and I'm certainly too lazy to do the research.

If you have any specific questions, I'll check the forum regularly for the next few days. Otherwise, you can email me at dirtcheaopdesign@gmail.com . I check that account about once a week.

Bill Simon, Estes Employee payroll #00007

P.S. My favorite science fiction book: "The Stars my Destination" by Alfred Bester. It would make a great movie if someone like Tim Burton took on the project.
Thanks for posting! #007 sounds better to me!

How about 1. why that tube length, 2. why that fin shape, 3. why that nose cone shape?
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  #17  
Old 02-04-2017, 04:14 PM
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A Fish Named Wallyum A Fish Named Wallyum is offline
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I got a Deluxe Starter Outfit for my birthday in 1977. It had the Alpha and all of the tools necessary to build it, paint included. I think we celebrated my birthday on Friday that year, and I spent Friday night and all of Saturday building the Alpha and attempting to build the Solar Launch Controller. The rocket turned out okay as I had the necessary skills by that point, but hand painting was obviously not a talent of mine. On Sunday my Mom took Dave, Jen and I to NKU where I had done most of my flying earlier that summer. It was calm on the ground, so I took for granted it would be calm up high and loaded the Alph with a C6-5. (At the time, C6-5 meant high power in my mind.) It flew like the BOOH I expected, arcing to the north a bit, but that was acceptable until the chute popped. It floated away in a hurry, landing deep into the tangle of brush that would later become one of the Scooby Do parking lots when I was in school there. I thought of the Alph every time I parked there. Didn't have another one for almost thirty years.
(BTW, I still have the Solar Launch Controller, the field box, hobby knife, Alpha Book of Model Rocketry and recovery wadding from that set. Never did get the launcher working.)
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  #18  
Old 02-04-2017, 04:49 PM
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I never had the Alpha as a kid, but I ran a model rocketry program when my kids were in elementary school. I continued doing classes after they moved to junior high. During those 4-5 years we built a LOT of Alphas IIIs. Unfortunately, most were the Halloween-ish black and orange models. A little hard to customize by allowing paint or markers.

The last year we switched to the Generic E2X since it was all white, and the kids could color them easily.

I'll bet I have a couple of those Alphas in the boxes of kits somewhere in the basement, since we bought bulk packs I ended up with a couple extras.

I've always loved the classic lines of the Alpha. I bought a Super Alpha when they came out. I was irritated that mine had a non-scale plastic nose cone, so I turned one on my lathe. I seem to recall that the body tube was the wrong length, since the plastic nose cone was too long, I did replace the body tube as well. Somewhere I recall reading that a realistic balsa cone was offered, but not sure if that was before or after the plastic nose cone.
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  #19  
Old 02-04-2017, 05:26 PM
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The first batch of Super Alphas came with a closer-to-scale balsa nose cone. And later Semroc offered one that was right.

But of course this, as well as the III (and II and IV) are all descendants of Bill Simon's original, which is the one that first appeared 50 years ago.
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  #20  
Old 02-04-2017, 06:21 PM
al_packer al_packer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Irvine
Thanks for posting! #007 sounds better to me!

How about 1. why that tube length, 2. why that fin shape, 3. why that nose cone shape?


Let's start with (3), because that's where the design started. I free-handed that shape on the nose cone lathe in Vern's garage, probably a year earlier, just making a shape that I liked. Then when the call for a new beginner's model came down, I picked the nose cone up off my kitchen table, grabbed an 18" length of BT50, and (1) cut it in half (shipping considerations for the final kit limited me to 9"). and stuck the nose cont on one end. The fins (2); well, I wanted the CP back fairly far for max stability, so a swept design was the logical choice. Straight tips meant the fin would be easier for the builder to cut from the balsa sheet, and the taper was for appearance and structural considerations. I drew a shape, then changed it to get the look I wanted and poof--I had something Vern would like.

Jerry, I rather liked being Double Double O Seven. That's one double up on Bond, though at my age it's more like to be dribble.

Bill
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