Aerotech - Initiator {Kit} (89011) [1989-]

Contributed by Mark Van Luvender

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Manufacturer: Aerotech
Style: Sport

Brief:
The Initiator is a single staged mid power rocket designed to fly on 29mm E-G motors (RMS and SU), as well as some 24mm motors (RMS and SU) with the supplied adaptor. This is an excellent kit for people making the jump to mid-power from model rockets.

Construction:

The kit contains:-

  • 1 body tube (2.6 inch diameter),
  • A 29mm motor tube, nose cone,
  • Three sturdy plastic fins,
  • Motor hook,
  • Two centering rings,
  • Fin lok components,
  • Labrynth ejection baffle system,
  • Eye hook,
  • Elastic shock cord,
  • nylon parachute.

All components were in solid condition, and seemed very high quality. I did notice some pits and scratches in the nose cone, but nothing some filler and sanding couldn't handle.

Construction of this kit was an absolute breeze. Almost seemed too easy. The instructions were in a very logical order, and will guide even the greenest of rocketeers to a successful build of this rocket. I built my rocket stock with CA, and had no problems. Starting with the motor adaptor, progressing to the motor mount, ejection baffle, than recovery and final assembly, everything went very smoothly, and the directions made perfect sense. The only thing that can tend to cause some issues are the fin-lok rings mounting to the motor tube. Aerotech kits are designed to rely on the fit of the parts - not the bond - for strength of the overall rocket. As a result, some of the parts fit very very tightly. The fin lok rings are a prime example of this. It took A LOT of sanding and sweat to get the rings positioned correctly on the tube, and the ends of the motor tube got a little dinged up in this operation, but it's worth it for how easy it makes fin assembly. I found that using a rubber jar-opening pad made this procedure much easier on the hands, as the fin loks can tend to hurt the hands a little bit.

Once the rings were in place, the centering rings went on, followed by the shock cord, and in it went to the body tube. Aerotech has probably the easiest and most reliable fin mounting method I've ever seen. Simply snap them into the fin loks (make sure they click. Can take some pushing, but not too difficult), and you're all set. Love it!

The only deviation I took from the instructions is to add fillets to the centering ring/body tube joints with 30 minute epoxy. I did this mostly because I'm paranoid, not because I felt it really needed it. Also, I did epoxy fillets on the fin/body joint after the first flight. Because of the swept back fin design, that joint takes a lot of stress. I found after my first flight that the body tube was starting to separate and tear from the stress, so I put an epoxy fillet on that joint to help strengthen the tube there. No problems since.

Finishing:
Finishing was not too difficult for the Initiator, just take time to fill the somewhat deep tube spiral. I deviated a little from the suggested paint scheme, using pearl black instead of the white. The rest is what is recommended. The decals went on without too many problems, just a few air bubbles here and there (which is typical for me - I have no patience...). The result is a solid looking rocket that anyone can be proud of.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Flight:
I have had three flights on my Initiator, and all have gone perfectly. I got mine in the starter set with the RMS system. First flight was on an RMS E16-4W. This flight was good - straight boost. Rocket started to backslide for about a second before ejection. Parachute *popped* open, and the rocket recovered perfectly. Second flight was on an RMS F40-7W. Fast, straight boost with minimal weather cocking. Awesome rocket/motor combo! Rocket arched over, and ejection popped the parachute for a perfect recovery about 50 yards from the pad. Third flight was on an F20-4 econojet. This flight was nice, smoky, and loud! Once again - perfect ejection and recovery. Once motors are available, I plan on an F52, and maybe a G33.

Recovery:
A lot of people complain about the elastic type shock cords, but for this application, I think it suits the purpose. The cord attaches to the top of the baffle, and is not subjected to too much heat as a result, and the length is more than adequate. After three flights, I see no wear at all on my cord. The supplied parachute gives a nice descent rate. A little on the fast side, but not enough to cause damage on recovery.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
All in all, I think this is an absolute perfect rocket for someone getting started in larger rockets. Motor retention being included makes the transition much easier, and this kit is actually a lot easier to build than a lot of my Estes kits. The fins are a snap (no pun intended), and the whole thing is practically fool proof, as long as you read everything and don't rush it.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Flights

Comments:

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B.S. (July 1, 1999)
This is a great kit. This was my first mid-power kit and love this rocket. The first time I launched it at my club on a F50, it screamed off the pad and straight up in the air. After I recovered it people ask me if I had something big in it, I said nope, just a F50. Needless to say since then I put Gs in and it just goes higher and faster.
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S.O. (December 1, 1999)
The Initiator is semi-expensive but well worth it after all how many people own about two or three ESTES kits and pay the same on those rockets after all the Initiator will last longer (if you don't lose it) than the combined life of the ESTES kits also the paint job Aerotech recommends may not be the best but it is easy and gives good results only one thing different thing I would do to my kit would to be add internal epoxy reinforcing but that isn't necessary if you don't intend to fly it on G's in a small field (reinforced so I can use a streamer and not just get parts back) I love my Initiator I think it is an extraordinary rocket and worth every penny.
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E.A.C. (February 1, 2000)
I heartily agree with the opinions of all the reviewers. The kit is rock solid when built according to instructions. The one negative comment I would have involves the fit of the nose cone. I also chose to do a custom paint scheme and when I checked the nose cone's fit to the body tube, the O.D. at the base of the nose cone was considerably larger than that of the body tube. The nose cone material does not sand easily and after a substantial amount of hand sanding with coarse sandpaper I finally resorted to the use of a belt sander to get a nice flush fit at the joint! Perhaps this was an intentional attempt by Aerotech to allow for the thickness of the decal designed to go at this point but I checked the fit with the decal(which I chose not to use) and it still would have required extensive sanding to fit flush. With the exception of this one problem I loved the kit and would love to see Aerotech offer some high power kits. Maybe they are testing the water with their G-Force, which will most definitely wind up in my fleet!
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Y.L. (April 1, 2000)
Personally, I felt the Initiator felt "cheap" as far as rockets go. It's the mid-power equivalent of an Alpha-III and is about as awe-inspiring. The major drawback of the kit is the fin design itself, since they are of the swept delta variety, they usually absorb the impact first when hitting the ground and are the first thing to break. Since they are made of plastic, they are a pain to repair. If you got it as a "freebie" with the Aerotech starter set, it's a fine "mid-power" beginner's rocket. If you're looking for first mid-power rocket and haven't bought the Initiator yet ... save your money and get yourself a LOC Graduator instead.
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J.W. (June 1, 2000)
I thought the kit was easy to build. Instructions were clear and to the point, no question about what to do next. I like the default paint scheme, but I see I am in the minority. I painted mine per the instructions. The nose cone was a PITA, and it is hard to sand. I didn't notice an overage with the body, but I probably spent more time sanding it than I did on the rest of the rocket (BTW, I used CA, as the instructions called for). I like the Fin-Lock concept, and wish more would use something similar. I did small CA fillets on the fins before I primed the rocket, otherwise it's built stock. If I were to ever build another, I'd lose the hook and install one of the other motor retention mechs. This was my first mid power rocket, and still one of my favorites. It's flown great on both engines included (I bought the RMS starter set). I didn't like the decals much. I prefer water based decals. Other than these few minor gripes, its a great kit and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to move up from A, B, C, & D engines.
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J.C. (June 1, 2000)
The engine mount hook is rather strong and makes for loading of engines a little bit tricky. You want to make sure you don't press too hard on the rocket wall below the engine mount when trying to swing the hook away. I built mine May 2000 and had no problem with the nose cone, it was a perfect right out of the box. It assembled quickly with no problems. Just make sure you test fit the fins first before you glue. Flew it once with an E15-4, probably could use an E15-7 since it drifted a few hundred feet with a breeze.
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D.L. (December 1, 2000)
I have several Aerotech kits, all have performed excellent. The Initiator was my first mid power vehicle. And as all the others have said it is very easy and quickly assembled. I do agree with changing the paint scheme. I did mine in black, white and red striping . The different colors make it very easy to track even in the worst conditions. It is my favorite out of my whole fleet because it is so versatile on using a wide range of motors. All the good reviews are accurate. I have flown mine on G's many times and never had any bulk head problems or any damage on landings. She has 22 flights behind her the worst I had to do was fish her out of tree that she drifted into.
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K.M. (January 1, 2001)
This is an Ideal First kit. I would suggest it after RTF's - even before the Estes skill level 1 or Quest kits. A forgiving design with crystal clear instructions.
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K.D. (January 1, 2001)
This was my first mid-power kit. I built it completely stock, using only CA (as recommended) for adhesive. I was a bit dubious at first, but I've got to say, it turned out solid as a rock! The only deviation I made was in finishing. I've always thought the Initiator suffered from a horrible paint scheme (to the point that I thought it was too ugly to bother buying), so I tossed the decal sheet in my spares box, and applied a custom paint job. Looks a million times better! If you're looking to move up into mid-power rocketry, you won't go wrong with this kit.
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D.P. (March 1, 2001)
The Initiator is a great introduction to mid-power rocketry. Aerotech's Fin-Lok system really makes the rocket durable and easy to build. I have launched my first E and F motors in this rocket, and there has only been cosmetic damage. A great kit.
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J.M. (April 1, 2001)
When flying the Initiator don't use an E motor with a 7 second delay.....I did and after the huge weathercock and arch it made, its nose became one with the earth. E motors should have only a 4-5 second delay and of course it flies great on F and G motors.
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S.P.S. (October 2, 2001)
I have flown this rocket multiple times on E30-4 to G80-7 and it flies great. Easy to build and can take some punishment. I used epoxy not CA to build mine. I clean out the baffle every 3-4 launches and it works fine. Easy to prep and stable.
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C.L. (January 2, 2005)
I have flown this rocket twice (F40-7W and F52-8T) and was tremendously impressed both times. It had impressive boosts (and a 20" flame on the F40), and recovered fine within 100yds of the pad. I really love the fin-lock assembly - it took all the trouble out of assembly. And it is DEFINITELY more awe-inspiring than an Alpha III. I love this kit.
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B.J. (April 21, 2006)
I have three flights on my Initiator and I thoroughly love it. But on the third flight the parachute shroud lines broke where they were looped around the shock cord. One of the finds broke in the crash, but the rest of the rocket was fine and I was able to order spare fins. From now on I will use LOC chutes with more substantial shroud lines.

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