bannerbanner
Reviews >>

Estes - Maxi Alpha III {Kit} (001903, 1321) [1979-1985,2000,2011-]

Published:2016-06-01
Manufacturer:Estes
Diameter:2.6000 inches
Length:33.2500 inches
Skill Level:2
Style:Sport
Construction Rating:
Flight Rating:
Overall Rating:

Contributed by

Brief

The Estes Alpha, designed by Bill Simon and introduced in 1967, is the prototypical 3FNC that has introduced generations of rocketeers to the hobby.  The original Alpha, of course, had a balsa nose cone and fins.  The Alpha III (1971) was an easier-to-build plastic version with a one-piece molded fin can assembly.  Estes has released several larger versions of the Alpha design, the largest being the 2.6" diameter Maxi Alpha 3, which made its first appearance in 1979 and has been in and out of production since.  I bought mine in a 50%-off Estes special in late 2015.

 

Components

While purists may dismiss its use of plastic fins, the Maxi Alpha 3 has some clever design features.  The fin unit consists of two plastic rings that go into the ends of a short section of BT-80 and hold the plastic fins in slots.  Two sections of BT-80 form the main airframe, with a short coupler and centering ring that centers the MMT/stuffer tube.  The MMT also glues into the bottom plastic ring.  A plastic nose cone, standard 24mm motor mount with hook, 1/4" launch lugs, and 24-inch plastic parachute complete the kit, which also comes with a big sheet of stick-on decals.

 

Construction

The instructions are reasonable but could stand some updates.  Most importantly, the dimensions for the motor mount are appropriate for a D-length hook, but the current kit comes with an E-length hook and adapter.  The instructions suggest that you have to paint the nose cone, but it's molded in red and would be fine as is.  Estes inadvisably recommends the use of plastic cement for all plastic pieces, but most plastic cement only works on polystyrene, and as far as I can tell, this isn't used in the Maxi Alpha 3.  So I used 5-minute epoxy on all the plastic parts.


The plastic fins in my kit were slightly warped, but I decided to not worry about it and it was no issue in flight.

The original 1979 catalog claimed that you could build and fly the kit in 30 minutes.  Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was a simple evening's build.  One nice touch is that the shock cord attaches to the forward centering ring rather than a standard tri-fold.  The down side is that the shock cord is far too short for the kit.  I replaced it with about 4 feet of elastic.

 

Finishing

Built stock, finishing consists of sticking on the decals, no painting required.  The decals didn't appeal to me, so I gave the rocket one coat of white primer and then painted it fluorescent orange, then applied upscaled vinyl Alpha III markings from Stickershock 23.  The red-colored plastic parts were a bit of a liability here as the white primer didn't quite cover the red, but the results were not bad.

Ready to fly, my kit came in at 8.3 ounces.

 

Construction Score: 4

Flight

The model's large size makes packing the chute and a generous handful of dog barf simple.  I flew it twice: once on a D12-3 and once on an E12-4; despite a stiff 15-mph wind, both flights were reasonably straight off a 3' 3/16" rod, and the delays were just about perfect.  (Several larger Estes kits lately, while originally intended for 3/16" rods, have come with 1/4" launch lugs for the newer Porta-Pad E's 1/4" rod.  Despite the looseness of the lugs, it flew fine off the smaller rod.)

Estes recommends the E9-4 and E9-6, and while I expect they would work at least in low-wind conditions, the E12-4 is a safer choice.

 

Recovery

As noted, the stock shock cord is way too short.  The pre-assembled plastic chute is not bad, but I had a shroud line tear out on the first flight.  The 24-inch chute brings the model down slowly, but may cause a bit too much drift on a small field.

 

Flight Rating: 4

Summary

Pros: fast, simple plastic construction; lightweight, flies well on a D12-3.

Cons: instructions need updating; BT-80 tubes are pretty thin; others have complained about fins breaking off on landing, though I didn't have any problems; shock cord too short; plastic parachute somewhat flimsy.

 

Overall Rating: 4

Flight Log

DateRocket NameMotor(s)AltitudeNotes
2000-07-25Donald Besaw's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3-
2000-08-19Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Landed on hard surface, broke fin, needs bigger chute
2000-08-20Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Fin repaired. Much softer landing on 30 chute
2000-09-15Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Ejection broke 1/4 shock cord. Recovered all pieces
2000-09-18Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Much less stressful ejection with much longer Kevlar and 3/8 elastic combo.
2000-10-01Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E15-4- This bird was made for mid power, just awesome. Slow majestic off the pad and good height. Added ...
2000-10-15Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E15-4- Awesome routine flight.
2000-11-11Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-4- Took two tries to ignite the motor.
2000-11-11Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5-
2000-11-12Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Vry nice. A bit lower, but nose weight didn't hurt this bird
2000-11-19Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E18-4- Absolutely beautiful. Can't go wrong with this combination.
2000-12-10Dave Russell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Typical nice flight. However, chute tangled, landed hard, broke and lost part of a fin.
2001-05-12Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D9-4- Perfect weather. Nice flight, but broke fin on landing.
2001-05-19Donald Besaw's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Another beautiful flight. Moderate winds made for a long recovery walk. Fins survived without a ...
2001-06-24Jeff Brundt's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- First flight of the day. I use this or my 2.6 V-2 to help determine the winds for launch & ...
2001-07-01Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E18-4- Good flight. Love that White Lightning.
2001-07-01Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Broke fin.
2001-07-14Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E28-4- Uncertain of early delay, motor trouble? Will try again, but will need to mend the broken fin ...
2001-07-14Luis Salinas's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5-
2001-07-26Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-4- Good flight.
2001-07-29Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-4- Broke another fin.
2001-07-29Jeff Brundt's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Used as the obligatory 1st flight of the day to test the winds. Good straight boost and perfect ...
2001-08-04MikeyR's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E28-4- Nice boost. Landed on road and cracked a fin.
2001-09-01Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E18-4- Good flight, but broke fin (again).
2001-09-02Jeff Brundt's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- The fist flight of the day, used to check wind conditions. A perfect flight.
2001-09-08Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E28-4- Four seconds is too short, will try a seven.
2001-09-08Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F12-5- Good motor/rocket combo.
2001-09-15Bob Sanford's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Another fine flight of the ORIGINAL (1980's) version of this kit.
2001-09-22Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Nominal. Typical flight profile on D12 - low & slow.
2001-09-22Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E9-6- Good flight even though the wind was picking up. Using a 24 inch 'chute resulted in another broken ...
2001-09-29Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F12-5- Good combination of motor/rocket.
2001-09-29Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Nominal for a D12 - low and slow.
2001-11-03Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E11-3- Didn't deploy 'chute, broke a fin.
2001-11-03Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E18-4- Typical flight.
2001-11-03Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E15-4- split the chute..recovered near and no damage
2001-11-24Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Second flight today; still using tumble recovery due to wind. Broke a fin (again). This rocket is ...
2002-01-12Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- First flight after overhaul. Using 24 'chute with large spillhole. Lots of drift and dragged along ...
2002-02-16Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- First flight after refit. Very nice boost, perfect delay. Wind carried rocket into tree. Rocket ...
2002-03-28Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Beautiful - only a little drift despite a lot of hang time.
2002-04-04Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-4- Very nice!
2002-05-05Malcolm Smith's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Great flight, realistic lift-off and slight weathercock. Ejection was nearly perfect as the rocket ...
2002-05-25Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E15-7- didnt have a 4 sec. so burnt another 7.....risky business....no more 7z for this rocket.
2002-05-27Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E11-3- Good boost, fun motor! Landed in pond - fished out by Jay. Tubing is wet but not soaked, OK after ...
2002-06-01Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- First flight of the day: windy! Lot's of weather vane, and lots of drift.
2002-06-22Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F21-6- The new F21 motor really works well in this rocket. I was using E15s but no more.
2002-07-02Donald Besaw's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Beautiful straight flight. I managed to catch this rocket before it hit the ground to prevent fin ...
2002-07-07Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F21-6- this rocket kicks butt on the F21.
2002-07-15Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-7- Late! Tangled 'chute; no damage.
2002-07-15Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Oh that was fun! Leaves the launcher with authority and then puts on the breaks, hangs there for a ...
2002-07-21Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F20-7-
2002-08-10Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-7- 'Chute tangled, but no damage.
2002-08-10Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E15-7- Nice! Good deployment, some drift.
2002-09-07Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Club demo launch. Nice flight.
2002-10-05Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F21-6- Excellent!!!
2002-10-09Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Good flight.
2002-10-20Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F21-6- super launch...the F21 -6 is perfect.
2002-11-30Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E9-8- Picture Perfect. Disappointed with altitude due to launch angle in wind.
2002-12-16Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F12-5- This is an old package of reloads, and provided an extra long delay on all three in the package. ...
2003-01-25Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Nominal flight.
2003-01-25Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Nice flight.
2003-02-22Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Good flight.
2003-02-22Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Good flight.
2003-03-15Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Low and Slow.
2003-03-15Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Higher! Lots of drift.
2003-03-15Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E9-6- Good!
2003-04-12Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F21-6-
2003-04-19Randy Powell's Estes Maxi Alpha 3F21-6-
2003-05-25Rocky Firth's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Maden flight. Got the kids attention.
2003-05-31Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D9-4- Very late ejection - this is a really old reload. Stripped the 'chute shrouds; no other damage.
2003-05-31Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Good!
2003-06-30Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D9-4- Long delay - no damage.
2003-07-26Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Low and slow; hung there for a split second then ejected.
2003-10-18Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Typical flight; 'chute hung briefly.
2003-10-29Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-4- Good flight.
2003-10-29Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Low & Slow.
2003-11-24Tim Burger's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D15-4- Good flight.
2003-12-26Jon Revelle's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Perfect flight. This thing ROARED off the pad. Landed in a low branch in tree.
2004-04-24Donald Besaw's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Very nice flight, gets about 400-500 feet on the D12-3. Very nice recovery close to pad. No ...
2004-08-08Rocky Firth's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Nice rocket for windy days. The D12 is a good motor to keep the recovery walk short.
2004-08-15Andrew Grippo's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- 2nd flight of day with same results - Good flight and short walk for recovery - no damage. Fun ...
2004-08-28Andrew Grippo's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Good high flight, ejection at apogee, good recovery
2004-12-28Jon Revelle's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- AWESOME FLIGHT!! Came down slow, but managed to pop part of the fin lose.
2005-01-21Andrew Grippo's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Delay decent for this rocket but not much altitude achieved with the C11 motor, may have reached ...
2005-03-18Andrew Grippo's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Good flight and recovery.
2005-08-07Mark Beever's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Delay too short but still a good flight.
2005-08-27Andrew Grippo's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Nice straight flight and good recovery. Nice stable kit to fly.
2007-03-27Donald Besaw's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Another one I have not flown in a long time. Great flight. Two fins had the rear tabs broken off ...
2007-04-28Andrew Grippo's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Good boost and flight. Low and slow. good recovery
2008-11-22John Bergsmith's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E9-4- First flight on my daughter's rocket. Nice boost with no issues, and recovered with no damage. The ...
2008-11-22John Bergsmith's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E9-4- Flight on my son's Maxi-Alpha. Typical flight, recovered with no issues.
2009-04-18John Bergsmith's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E18-4- Flight #2 on my daughter's rocket. Nice boost with no issues, and recovered with no damage. The ...
2009-07-25Andrew Grippo's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3-
2010-05-14Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Good first flight. Deploy a bit early - try D12-5 next time. Good 'chute and near landing.
2010-05-14Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Good first flight. Deploy a bit early - try D12-5 next time. Good 'chute and near landing.
2010-05-15Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E20-7- After three tries, ZOOM! Great high flight. Good deployment and nice landing, but it took a long ...
2010-05-15Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E20-7- WOW! Deployed a bit early (and about 1/2 inch of tube zipper). Good 'chute. Almost landed in the ...
2010-05-15Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Perfect small field demo flight profile - go straight up, stop, pop 'chute, land less than 10 feet ...
2010-05-15Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Very nice all the way around. Deploy just about perfect. Good 'chute (went down to 18 incher). ...
2010-05-15Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E20-7- After three tries, ZOOM! Great high flight. Good deployment and nice landing, but it took a long ...
2010-05-15Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E20-7- WOW! Deployed a bit early (and about 1/2 inch of tube zipper). Good 'chute. Almost landed in the ...
2010-05-16Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-5- Nice almost picture perfect flight. Slightly late deployment. Very nearby landing.
2010-06-12Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3C11-3- Angled north into wind. Good 'chute. Cracked the base of one fin on landing. Repaired with thick ...
2010-06-12Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- Good boost. Early deploy while still going pretty fast. Popped one shroud line and short (about ...
2010-09-18Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E15-71009 feet Nice! Good flight profile overall. Close landing. No damage.
2010-09-18Bernard Cawley's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E15-7- Nice! Good flight profile overall. Close landing. No damage.
2010-11-21John Bergsmith's Estes Maxi Alpha 3E18-4- Daughters Halloweeen Scheme, another great flight.
2011-06-17C Graski's Maxi Alpha 3D12-5500 feet Fantastic first flight of this monster. Makes me want to finish my Executioner now!
2011-06-26C Graski's Maxi Alpha 3D12-5550 feet
2011-06-26C Graski's Maxi Alpha 3D12-5-
2011-06-26C Graski's Maxi Alpha 3D12-5600 feet
2011-08-20Douglas Hurstell's Maxi Alpha 3D12-3300 feet Nice, slow, lift-off, came popped a pretty 'chute and smacked a soccer goal a few feet from the ...
2011-08-20Douglas Hurstell's Maxi Alpha 3E9-6450 feet Low initial impulse, 1/8" rod rolled over and sent this flight on a trajectory that sent it into ...
2011-08-20Douglas Hurstell's Maxi Alpha 3E9-6750 feet VERY slow liftoff. Beautiful flight, Straight as an arrow up, and came down sweetly 75' from the ...
2011-09-11Douglas Hurstell's Maxi Alpha 3E9-6550 feet Delay too long
2012-03-18John Bergsmith's Maxi Alpha IIIAerotech E15-4-Nice flight
2012-05-20John Bergsmith's Maxi Alpha IIIAerotech E15-4-
2012-10-20John Bergsmith's Maxi Alpha IIIEstes D12-3- Halloween sceme, flew great.
2013-02-02John Bergsmith's Maxi Alpha IIIEstes E12-6- Test flight for the E12-6. For this model the E12-4 would be a better choice,
2013-12-15 William Marlowe's Maxi Alpha IIID12-3- First launch as a demo for the LHS TARC team. Good WOW factor! Good launch and parachute deployed. ...
2013-12-29 William Marlowe's Maxi Alpha IIID12-3- Launch was good, light winds and almost veritcal trajectory. Rockets had reach apogee and was nose ...
2014-12-24Karl Brandt's Maxi Alpha IIIE9-6413 feet strong weathercocking
2014-12-24Karl Brandt's Maxi Alpha IIID12-5-
2016-03-20 John Bergsmith's Estes Maxi Alpha 3Estes E9-4- Firest flight was perfect.
2016-03-20John Bergsmith's Estes Maxi Alpha 3Estes E9-4-
2016-04-09 Mike Caplinger's Maxi Alpha 3D12-3- First flight; very nice straight boost despite wind; one shroud line on plastic chute broke at ...
2016-04-09 Mike Caplinger's Maxi Alpha 3E12-4- Nice second flight; landed over the berm just beyond the road on the east side.
2016-09-24 Mike Caplinger's Maxi Alpha 3E20-7- landed in the dog park parking lot; duration 1m24s
2017-09-10 Mike Caplinger's Maxi Alpha 3E20-7- igniter test flight; duration 103 seconds

- Post a Comment -

What You Can Do

eBay Offers:

Estes Maxi Alpha 3 Launch Set
  >>> Product Details >>>

$45.49
End Date: Saturday Mar-17-2018 12:22:08 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $45.49
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Estes Flying Model Rocket Starter Kit Maxi Alpha 3 1466 OOP
  >>> Product Details >>>

$39.99
End Date: Sunday Mar-11-2018 10:03:37 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $39.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Recommended Motors: D12-3, E9-4, E9-6

ESTES 1566 D12-3 Std D Engine (2)
  >>> Product Details >>>

Available from Amazon.com starting at US $7.71

Estes E9-4 Rocket Engines
  >>> Product Details >>>

Available from Amazon.com starting at US $23.49

Estes Model Rocket Engines E9-6
  >>> Product Details >>>

Check Availability

Launch Supplies:

Estes 2274 Recovery Wadding
  >>> Product Details >>>

Available from Amazon.com starting at US $4.39

Estes-Cox Corp 2302 Solar Starter
  >>> Product Details >>>

Available from Amazon.com starting at US $4.39

- Link to this Page -