Estes - Alpha III {Kit} (1256, 221256)

Contributed by Dave Sutter

Diameter: 0.98 inches
Length: 12.30 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Sport

NOTE: This review is for the Alpha III in the Starter Set

[Rocket Pic]Ahh... Old Faithful. My first kit. Flown in excess of 30 times, and still going strong. A good flier, it always lifts straight and true. Works just fine on almost any 18mm Estes engine. I've made a habit of sending it up at least once almost every time I go out to launch. Had to re-tape the parachute shroud lines to the parachute, and I recently added a snap swivel because the shroud lines kept getting twisted up, but other than that it's been completely trouble free.

One of the great things about the starter sets is that you get everything that you need to fly the rocket three times except: glue, hobby knife, and AA batteries. It includes the rocket, 3 engines, igniters, recovery wadding, the launch pad, the launch rod, the launch controller... everything. If you bought all that stuff separately, it would cost quite a bit more.

Overall, it's very nice, and I highly recommend it as a first kit. 

Description: Set contains the rocket, the launch pad, and the launch controller. Alpha III rocket is a basic rocket.
Purpose: Great first rocket.
Motors: 1/2A6-2, A8-3 (first flight), B4-4, B6-4, B6-6, C6-5, C6-7
Max Altitude: 305m, 1000ft, presumably on a C6-5 and/or C6-7
Length: 12.25"
Diameter: 0.976" / 24.8mm (BT-50)
Weight: 1.2oz.
Recovery: 12" parachute
Fins: 3, one-piece plastic fin unit
Nose Cone: Ogive, plastic
Notes: Rather thin body tube. Includes engine hook. Requires 3 sheets of wadding.
Skill Level: 1
Part Number: 1406
Price: 31.79 (remember, this is for the whole starter set, not just the rocket, the rocket alone is 8.99)



J.B. (July 1, 1999)
The Alpha III is a great starter kit and after about 25 flights the body tube gave out so I taped it up filled it then repainted. Now after being back in rocketry for about 3 years the Alpha III is always my first rocket up (to check winds). Mine has 52 flights on it and its about time for a new one and I will buy a new one! The review was right on. Just as a note this is a great flyer for young kids.
J.H. (April 1, 2001)
When seeking a good science experiment at age 14, I picked up the Ionizer Starter pack, and a second rocket which was the Alpha III. This is a great rocket that will really boogie on a C6-7. Fly in low winds because this thing goes very high (1100 feet). I was thinking 500ish but it toped that and did more. The rocket alone is about $10 (average) or in a starter set, $20. After you get this one going, grab the Alpha. It's basically the Alpha III, only balsa. Alpha III is great.
B.C. (September 1, 2001)
This review was on the $! The Alpha III is a great starter bird, as well as a proven performer. Introduce kids to rocketry? Can't go wrong with this rocket. Want to check the winds before scorching some larger motors? The Alpha III is ready to go! Another bonus is that this rocket is easily fixed or cloned if damaged. I've replaced the tube for my buddy's daughter many times without any problems. Windy, but you still wanna fly a C motor in a smaller rocket? Swap out the chute for a steamer, and let 'er rip! Only suggestion: lengthen the shock cord to at least 2 times the rocket length. Great rocket that hopefully will last as long as this hobby!
P.R.J. (March 20, 2002)
There isn't much more that can be said that hasn't already been said about this rocket. Great first rocket. Easy to build and very reliable launches. I got 13 flights (unlucky 13?) before losing this rocket in the fading sunlight of dusk. Launched on a C6-7 and never saw it again. Would highly recommend this rocket too anyone starting out in rocketry.
A.J.I. (February 10, 2008)
I purchased the Alpha III kit to get back into rocketry. Essentially, I just wanted the launch pad and controller, but I got much more in the quality of this rocket. I flew it three times today in the Dallas area. Each flight was flawless with the chute opening each time. a-8-3, b-6-4, c-6-3. On the c flight it went out of ground tracking vision for about 30 secs. It then appeared where I predicted the wind would take it. Truly amazing rocket package. Enjoy this hobby!! It is one of the best!
J.G. (April 24, 2008)
I have always liked the Alpha III. It was my first rocket when I was a kid, so I decided to get this as the first rocket for my stepson to see if he liked rocketry. Our new one has performed beautifully as would be expected. We liked it so much we built a second one. This one has modifications which I recommend any Alpha III flyer should try out (RockSim File to come): 1. Put a very small weight in the very tip of the nose cone. Something just under .5 oz. Seems to get better altitude because this preserves momentum during coast phase. Otherwise, this lightweight rocket slows down during coast due to wind resistance. 2. Put the shock cord mount further back into the body tube than recommended by the instructions. I put ours as far back as I can reach. 3. Ditch the rubber band type Estes shock cord, and use a 1/2 Kevlar® 1/2 elastic cord (like in a Quest kit). 4. Ditch the plastic chute and use a 4" x 40" nylon streamer. It gives you a really good descent rate, and drops the rocket down straighter, with less drift. If you use higher power engines (We only fly ours on Estes C's and Aerotech 18mm D21's), you will be a lot more likely to get it back this way. The fin assembly can take a lot of abuse, so don't be worried about using a chute to get a gentle landing. 5. We use a small Nomex® protector instead of recovery wadding in ours. It works great. Try it. 6. Stick the launch lug onto the fin unit, right up against where one of the fins joins the fin can. This ensures it will be 100% straight, it is easier than what is in the instructions, and the attachment to the rocket is WAY stronger. IMHO it looks better too. We stripped off the factory black finish on the body tube and gave ours a custom paint scheme. It looks cool. Definitely something you might want to try The Alpha III is an easy-to-build, great performing rocket. A 9 year old kid can put it together in under an hour, and given the features of the kit, it will fly perfectly even if built by a 9 year old with no previous rocket building experience. That makes it a great first rocket. I have flown a lot of rockets, but this is still one of my all time favorites.

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