Estes - Hi-Flier {Kit} (2178) [2003-]

Contributed by Lance Alligood

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Diameter: 0.74 inches
Length: 12.00 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 1
Style: Sport

Estes Hi-FlierBrief:
Minimum diameter, featherweight rocket that can soar well out of sight (1600+ ft according to Estes). Streamer recovery. Very similar to Estes Sizzler & Estes Star Dart.

Construction:
Parts list:

  • Body tube (which doubles as motor mount)
  • Metal motor retention clip
  • Spacer tube
  • Mylar sleeve
  • Paper thrust ring
  • Die-cut balsa fins
  • Launch lug
  • Shock cord
  • Nose cone with insert
  • Streamer
  • Decal

Typical easy-to-follow Estes directions. Start with gluing the thrust ring then motor mount clip held by the Mylar ring. Next comes the fins (with notches to allow for the Mylar ring). Nose cone needs plastic cement to join the 2 pieces. Lastly the shock cord is attached to the BT with the usual paper mount & tied to NC. Streamer is tied to the shock cord.

PROS:

  • Assembly goes quickly since there are few parts.

CONS:

  • Ugly gap in the middle of the fins to allow for the Mylar ring. (Need to use a putty-esque solution to eliminate these holes.)
  • Clean lines of design are marred by the external motor retention system.
  • The wing thickness is well...not very thick. If not attached well, I would expect bad things if one came off in flight.
  • Assuming I'd had a safe flight, I bet I would have found that the shock cord is too short.

A streamer is the proper recovery method for this small, ultralightweight design. A common issue with the Hi-Flier/Star Dart/Sizzler is that BT damage can occur with the stock shock cord. Replace it with longer elastic.

Finishing:
PROS:

  • Achieving a finish similar to the packaging is relatively easy, even for a beginner, as long as you use patience with the colors...(this was one of my first rockets & I tried to rush it.)

CONS:

  • None

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
This was my first rocket built & launched after a near-20 year absence from model rocketry. Since I had pretty much ruined the rocket with a horrid paint job (my own fault), I had already considered this rocket a loss. I wasn't disappointed...(which isn't a good thing.) It was a windy day out & the only engines I had were B6-4s. There was just enough room for the engine, a couple pieces of wadding & the streamer.

It screamed off the launch pad ~200 feet & then suddenly appeared to turn horizontal. It vanished from sight & was not recovered. (I have since assembled an Estes Star Dart which I have successfully flown twice.) I'm sure my Hi-Flier's flight was an anomally & should perform similar to the Star Dart.

I also learned with my Star Dart that an A8-3 is probably the ideal engine for a rocket this small, that a B6-4 should only be used if you have plenty of field & little if any wind, & that a C6-5 should only be used when you no longer want the rocket in your fleet!

Recovery:
PROS:

  • Very exciting & fast launches for a rocket with an A or B class engine.

CONS:

  • I was unable to recover mine--I'm going to guess that a wing came loose to cause the rapid change in trajectory. I was also flying it on a windy day (gusts over 10mph) & with a big engine (B6-4) considering the rocket's overall weight.
  • Even with a streamer, this rocket is so light that you still can expect to have to chase it on mildly windy days.

Flight Rating: 2 out of 5

Summary:
There are plenty of ways that these minimal design rockets can be damaged/lost/destroyed. Thankfully it takes little money & time to get this high flier--I mean Hi-Flier, ready for action. Even small engines can send it out of sight. I would consider the Hi-Flier to be in the "Gee, it was fun while it lasted" category.

Even if you are careful with motor selection & weather conditions, I still wouldn't expect many successful flights out of the Hi-Flier. The fins are frighteningly thin balsa, the motor mount clip is on the outside of the BT, & the shock cord in the package is too short...all of which have a couple of reasons each that can lead to failure.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Flights

Comments:

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(June 4, 2003)
I agree with the review somewhat. The reviewer took too many points off, in my opinion. However, it is far from perfect. It is quite fragile, and light. This is a good performance rocket. I launched it with an A3-4 at an angle and the rocket took off very fast. Tips: Fill the balsa with sanding sealer/CA to strength them. Omit the motor hook and ring to make the rocket look better. (seal the gap where the fin is perforated for the ring with sanding sealer) Replace the shock cord with a longer piece, or mount a piece of Kevlar® to the motor block.
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P.D. (June 30, 2003)
This lightweight rocket has pros and cons. On the plus side, its fun to watch this thing go!! It rips with a C6-3, or even any B motor, out of sight in a second - add lots of talc/carpenter's chalk to help you spot it (its small size makes it hard to track)! Another plus is its price. This is good, because on the down side, you will lose this one. The reviewer was exactly right: This one is fun while it lasts. This lightweight gets blown far off course during recovery - even with a streamer. Use a LARGE field (i.e. a farm or something HUGE), or use an A motor, or be sure there's no wind up there. Don't use a C motor unless you just want to see how high it goes! Wave bye bye to the rocket, honey! Don't let your kid build this unless they can deal with this. Oh, overpowering this little one with B or C motors will also highlight any flaws in fin placement. It's skittish. Pay attention to fin alignment - though with its lack of weight, this doesn't matter much - it will get pushed around anyway. All in all, a good $4 rocket, but not a keeper!
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C.P.M. (March 2, 2006)
A question came up about which motor to use with this model over on YORF. As a test, I measured my assembled kit and transferred the numbers into RocSim V8. What I came up with was interesting, and I have since had some confirmation from another builder with RS8. This model has less than marginal stability with anything over an A8-5. In a nutshell, it's tail-heavy. Using Barrowman calculations, I found a margin of 0.45 with the A8, and about 0.25 with the B6. The RocSim calculations were a bit nicer, with about 1.1 for the A8, but still less than 1 for the B6. The C6 was horrid either way... Reading some of the flight reports here on RMRR about horizontal flights on calm days tends to confirm this opinion. It should also be noted that a 3-sec delay on the A8, a 4-sec delay on the B6, and the 5-sec delay on the C6, caused the deployment to occur at substantially dangerous velocities. Go with the longest delay for each class of motor. The addition of ballast in the nose cone can correct this problem without introducing a massive penalty in altitude. Trial-and-error found that 3/16th of an ounce right at the tip of the nose cone brings the stability to 1.19 for the C6. For those who are still considering this model, keep this in mind.
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B.G. (June 6, 2007)
This was my 2nd rocket. Took my time and made it really nice, just like the package. Flew twice on A8's and had great flights in a smallish field across the street from my house. 3rd flight on a B6 and never saw it again. It went straight up and out of sight. The flights did not seem unstable but like a few other people said, this rocket can get high enough to do a lot of drifting or just plain get out of sight. I do think that with some simple mods to the recovery system this could be a nice A engine rocket. A little red Permatex in the plastic nose cone and a small chute, may give it some B or C engine capability. For a sub $10 kit maybe I'll try another.
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D.W.M. (June 14, 2007)
At our most recent club launch last Sunday (June 10, 2007) one of our club member attempted to launch his Hi-Flier on a C6 engine. Model went unstable as soon as it left the launch rod, zigzagged through the air and smashed into the ground at high speeds, totally destroying the model. My suggestion is to make the Hi-Flier main body tube longer to improve the stability.
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Norm Kruse (July 15, 2011)

I was able to launch the Hi-Flier on four flights. The first flight was on an A8-3 and the second on a B6-4 with good results. It was flow in low wind and a large field so recovery was possible. On the thrid flight, it was fitted with a C6-5. I was a novice at the time and was surprised that it did the corkscrew - no damage or injuries resulted. It was what prompted me to read about rocket flight dynamics and stabilty. Realizing that the CG was too low because of the heavier 'C' motor, I added some fishing weights to the nose cone lug to bring the CG up - all trial and error, no RocSim, no measuring the weight. Put in another C6-5...3-2-1 and it was gone to the moon Alice. Saw it come down, far away in some tall grass...never found it. I would build this kit again, it is a crowd pleaser.

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