Big Betty is a fairly large 3FNC model rocket, using B and C motors. It is straightforward to construct and a snap to prepare for flight. With its enormous fins and blunt, rounded nose cone, Big Betty has a peculiar look. It looks either dated or classic, depending on whether you're a BAR or not. Estes' Big Bertha, Big Betty's obvious inspiration, is about 35 years old. For the Freudians among us, Big Betty is a cry for help.
Big Betty is a very simple model - it could quite easily be a first model, and I would certainly recommended as such. The instructions are sufficiently simple for a non-modeler. The pieces all fit together just fine - the die-cut fins were identical, and there were no ill-fitting parts.
I had two problems with my kit, which had been ordered from Hobbylinc.com. The body tube had a slight crease to it, and the engine hook wasn't springy - once bent outward to fit an engine into place, it has to be bent back into place. I was able to minimize the visual impact of the crease by putting my launch lug on top of it.
My daughter and I painted our Big Betty with Dutch Boy Instant Chrome. The paint was shiny and nice, but it picked up fingerprints very easily. The kit only comes with one underwhelming "Big Betty" decal. We grabbed a few decals from rocket kits I bought fifteen years ago. Those decals, I learned, became VERY delicate. They flaked apart, requiring a bit of jig-saw puzzle work to have them look OK. After putting the decals on, we sprayed the rocket with Krylon Crystal Clear. Unfortunately, the lovely Chrome turned into Ugly Mottled Grey. The nosecone, which I didn't clear-coat, is still shiny.
Construction Rating: 3 out of 5
My daughter and I flew Big Betty (we've named it the Silver Patriot, owing to the decals and paint-job) three times on Saturday. Preparation of the rocket was easy enough for my daughter, age 7, to do by herself. The 14" parachute fits into the 1.6" body tube very easily. We used four sheets of early-'80s vintage Estes wadding.
The first flight was on an Estes B6-2. The rocket flew straight up, about 200 feet or so. It's big and slow, so it's easy to follow, though the grey we ended up with could be lost against an overcast sky. Ejection was before apogee, and the descent was just the right rate - it suffered no damage, though it landed on some metal bleachers.
The second flight was on a C6-3. I would guess it went up 500-600 feet, slow enough to follow. Ejection was again, before apogee. The softball players in the next field were impressed with the flight, particularly when I caught it on the way down. The third flight was on a C6-5. Ejection seemed to be just past apogee. The parachute didn't open completely, and the rocket descended fast, in a corkscrew fashion. The rocket landed in a muddy field, and suffered no damage. Unfortunately, my daughter ran towards the rocket with a bit too much gusto, and slid into that same mud. Both rocket and daughter washed up nicely when we got home.
The Big Betty uses the "Quest method" shock-cord which has a very thin Kevlar cord tied to the engine mount. The Kevlar is long enough to stick out of the rocket tube an inch or two, where it is then tied to an 18" piece of round elastic, which is then tied to the nosecone and parachute. I am concerned about the Kevlar, because it is very narrow, and the body tube is already showing indentations at the front. Zippering seems likely if the delay is further off than I've already had.
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
I really like the Big Betty. More importantly, my 7-year-old does, too. It's big, easy to build, easy to prep, easy to track, and unlikely to be lost. I spent less than $8.00 for this rocket, which I think is a really good deal, even if the engine hook is lame. I am assuming that the creased body tube was a fluke. If I get another rocket from Quest or Hobbylinc which is damaged, I'll amend this review.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 for being a solid kit at a bargain price.
While nearly identical to the Estes Big Bertha, the Quest Big Betty has still managed to carve out a niche in the entry level market with her upgraded recovery system and lower price. While she is a pretty close copy, she does feature three fins instead of the Bertha's four, making construction marginally simpler while keeping performance right in line with her sister kit. The parts list: ...
Background: This spring I ran a build session for faculty kids at the school where I teach. I ended up using the Quest Bright Hawk for the 7-9 year olds and the Quest Big Betty for the 10-12 year olds. After the build session, I began thinking about the types of rockets that would make great first builds for a budding rocketeer. I wanted to select rockets to compare that had the ...