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

Contributed by Karl Kalbaugh

Construction Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_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

Brief:
Hi-Flyer is a skill level 1 LPR made by Estes. Its main selling point is its potential apogee at 1700 feet.

Construction:
Three balsa deltoid fins attach to a BT-20 and NC20 combination. Motor retention is achieved by an external engine clip. The clip retention ring is also external. The fins have a small slot cut into the root to accommodate this ring. A sized engine block slips into the body tube. Recovery system is an elastic shock cord and vinyl orange streamer.

As a skill level one kit, this rocket was very easy to build. The external clip was odd and as far as I know doesn't exist on other rockets of this class.

I used Aves Apoxy Sculpt to fillet the fins. This did add weight and may have affected flight characteristics adversely.

Finishing:
I finished this rocket in a red rust and black, which in hind sight was a mistake. I did not use the "Hi-Flyer" self adhesive decal. I did add my son's initials to the fins using vinyl lettering then gave the rocket a light coat of clear enamel.

Construction Rating: 3 out of 5

Flight:
Any Estes 18mm rocket motor is recommended for Hi-Flyer. First flight was on a B6-4. Wadding was used with a standard Estes igniter.

This flight CATOed. It corkscrewed in a wide arc immediately off the pad and hit the ground. Ejection happened at O altitude.

The second flight was on a B6-4. Again, the rocket also corkscrewed off the pad and flew downrange quite far and we lost sight of the model.

It took about a 1/2 hour to find the rocket, thanks to the rust paint job. The only distinguishing color was the orange streamer. We would not have found it otherwise.

Recovery:
Flight recovery for flight #2 was unseen, but the streamer was still crumpled and not fully deployed, due to the vinyl material Estes made the streamer out of. The rocket only sustained some scuffing on one fin. It is still flyable (although still probably has its stability issues).

Flight Rating: 2 out of 5

Summary:
I can't give this kit an enthusiastic endorsement, mostly because of other reviews on this site suggest that this kit may be inherently unstable. I was attracted to this kit because of its advertised performance (flights to 1700 feet on a C6-5) and its price. As is, I plan to do a third flight on a C6-5 on a large field and then retire this rocket. A big con for this kit is the streamer deployment. My comment to Estes would be to abandon the vinyl (or rubbery plastic) streamer because they do not fully unfurl and perhaps do not supply enough drag on recovery.

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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