The 'Sky Writer #2' rocket kit is a unique and fast building Skill Level 1 model from the Estes product line. It's a #2 pencil rocket that comes pre-painted with a white plastic 4-fin can and parachute recovery and flies on the 18mm Estes motor family to include the A8-3, B4-4, B6-4 and C6-5. At just over 26" long, this is a hearty sized model and a good looker.
The kit came in a colorful bag and included:
All items were packaged well, which is typical of Estes models and no items were missing or damaged. The only thing I did not care for was the very thin body tubes; not typical of the 'hearty' ones I have had the pleasure of working with lately.
Construction was straight forward, with well written instructions and the rocket kit went together in no time. I built it from stock with no modifications just to see how well it would hold up. The motor mount was built first, then installed into a body tube in typical fashion. Next it was time to couple the body tubes; a coupler is included in the kit to mate the two tubes and the instructions tell you to roll the tubes on a table once glued to make sure they are straight. Also note that when installing the bodytube assembly into the fin can that you position the motor retainer in line with the slot on the fin can. Once the model was built, they have you scrape off some paint to install the launch lug. This was easily done and I moved on to the recovery installation.
The parachute was cut out and constructed as usual. I also used the three-fold paper shock cord mount but did make one change. I doubled the length of the shock cord with an extra long piece of elastic from my spool; the cord was installed in the mouth of the body tube and the mount was completely covered in glue. Note that I used Alphaetic Resin throughout the construction of this model. Finally, the shock cord was tied to the nosecone and the parachute was added.
The kit comes pre-painted, so there was no finishing at all. I wanted to note that the painted body tubes still showed a lot of spiral, but since the color was yellow, it didn't look too bad. The final touches were added though there is a wrap-around decal for the eraser and a '#2 Sky Writer' decal that was placed lengthwise up the side of the rocket. All in all, it looks pretty good for an ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) kit.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
It was time to fly the Estes SkyWriter, and I had my daughter prep the rocket. After some wadding and an A8-3, it was placed on the rod and the countdown was on. It launched straight up and fast, even on smaller motors; an impressive flight.
The model started to arc over/hover when the ejection charge fired and it floated safely to the ground. One more launch was done, this time on a B4-4 and it was a good choice for the rocket as it left the pad in a hurry, yet we were still able to track the flight. A good day for a launch and the SkyWriter performed well for an inexpensive rocket.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
The Skywriter is actually one of the nicer quick kits from Estes and performed well during flight. The extended shock cord I added I believe increased it's life span somewhat, as it takes less of a beating during ejection. The paint job looks good, even though it is quite thin and the spirals don't show too bad under the yellow color. The only thing I can say bad about this model is that I do not care for the very thin bodytubes Estes uses for these kits. They can very easily be crushed or creased, so care has to be taken when handling. Besides that, the kit is a good flier and I recommend it to everyone for a fast, weekend builder; try it and you'lll be writing the skies with smoke trails from your Estes #2 Sky Writer.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5