Brief: Simple level 1 kit from Estes
Construction:Well, this was easy to build. They're not kidding when they mean level 1. The motor tube is encased in a plastic cage that acts as centering rings and fin alignment anchors all in one. Don't get me wrong. If you want a rocket and you want it now, this is very close to instant gratification. It can be built with the same tools that you would have if you built plastic models: Testors glue, Xacto knife, a bit of 320 grit sandpaper, a pair of scissors.
For what it does, an almost ready to fly, this is perfect.
Finishing:If you don't mind a garish rocket you don't even have to paint it. Take care though or the plastic cement will remove all the color off the body tube where you touched it. I decided to paint the rocket and add my own version of the decal on the fins.
The only thing I didn't like was the amount of flash on the fins.
Construction Rating: 4
Flight: I've flown this guy 5 times now. Three flights on C6-5 and two flights on B6-4. Every flight has been straight and true. The rocket is not over stable, so it doesn't weather cock much even with a breeze. This is good if you have limited flying space. Even on the C motor, I would have had no trouble flying from a high-school football field.
This is a good flyer. Just inspect the recovery system frequently.
Recovery:The stock chute is too small if you fly from 4300' altitude like I do. I'm using a 15" mylar chute from Aerospace Specialty Products.
On the fifth flight the shock cord broke, right at the top of the body tube. I'd wicked CA glue into the tube end, which makes it stiffer, but also more likely to cut the elastic. Even though the body dropped from about 800 feet, it sustained no damage. Here's where Estes was thinking. The elastic is not glued to the body tube, so it was trivial to replace the shock cord with a length of Kevlar® and some elastic.
Flight Rating: 5
Summary:You have to engineer for a stated goal and Estes has done it here. This is a school yard rocket that will impress. It's easy to build and maintain. It has the added attraction that you can loft the odd beetle or stink bug that the kids find.
Overall Rating: 5