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In pictures: El Reg hooks up with rain-lashed Spanish rocketeers

Lightning lights lightning visit to annual shindig

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Take one muddy airfield, persistent rain and a cluster of brave souls huddled under pop-up gazebos and you've got the perfect recipe for a rocketry shindig.

"You've brought the weather from your country, then," quipped one member of the Spanish tentacle of the Tripoli Rocketry Association as I rolled up on Sunday morning to a swamp outside the village of Alcolea de Cinca, in the province of Huesca, Aragon, for a lightning visit to the group's annual "Spanish Rocketry Meeting". This is the entrance that greeted us at the airfield:

The muddy entrance to the launch site

Indeed, while it was agreeable to learn that Blighty isn't the only country where even thinking of holding an outdoor event will prompt the heavens to open, a quick scan of the ominous dark horizon prompted concerns that the figurative "lightning visit" might end literally...

The threatening skies above the launch site

The assembled rocketeers seemed less concerned, having already braved two days of truly inclement weather. Considering the conditions, there was a good showing for the event...

A general view of the rocketeers prepping their kit

...and I was warmly welcomed by José Luis Cortijos, head honcho of "SpainRocketry", as the Tripoli branch is known locally:

Jose Luis Cortijos

Naturally, there were plenty of other Spaniards in attendance, but the Italians had also turned out in force, as had the French:

The French rocket contingency pose for a group shot

Persusing the rocket power on display, I regretted not having the Register's Vulture 2 spaceplane to hand to demonstrate that, yes, we really were planning to launch a 3D-printed rocket-powered aircraft. Here's a selection of Euro rockets that were on display:

A selection of rockets

Another rocket

An impressive display of rockets

And they included a two-stage rocket before assembly:

A two-stage rocket before assembly

There were plenty of questions regarding our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, and discussion as to how exactly we intended to get a rocket motor to light at altitude.

As regular readers know, the answer is plenty of garden-shed boffinry, and speaking of which, this magnificent water contraption is certainly an inspiration:

A water rocket on its launch platform

Sadly, I didn't have time to watch this H2O rocket blast off, as the prospect of a very long drive back to the Special Project Bureau's mountaintop headquarters loomed. Here's a less aqueous vehicle being prepared for launch...

Three rocketeers mount their rocket on the launch rail

...and while the lighting conditions weren't conducive to snapping any kind of lift-off, I did manage to grab a couple (click on the pics for embiggenment):

Launch of a rocket seen from behind the launch control tent

Another launch seen from behind the launch control tent

Just before bidding adios to the muddy corner of a foreign field, I noticed something quite unexpected - a winged Peugeot hot hatch:

A Peugeot appears to sprouts wings

Sadly for those of us who've waited our entire lives for the bloody flying car we were promised way back when, we will have dream on.

In this case, the wings belonged to an Aeroprakt 22L2 belonging to site owner Aerocinca, which impressively landed on the soggy dirt strip without requiring subsequent extraction by 4x4 and tow rope:

An Aeroprakt 22L2

SpainRocketry's next gig is in May next year, when hopefully the weather will be kinder and the long-awaited flying car a reality. If so, we'll be touching down in our new coche aéreo bearing the Vulture 2... ®

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