Just in time for the new year, Peter Barrett posted a video on our Facebook page of his Zagi 400 launching with an E9-P rocket.
Peter, a retired financial officer in London, has been flying RC aircraft for more than 20 years. His interest in RC aircraft began as a child with TV shows such as “Airwolf” and “Blue Thunder.” The show, “Battlestar Galactica” and the movie, “Star Wars” sparked his interest in space and rockets as well.
“I was always building models of planes and helicopters, and dreamed of becoming a pilot,” he said in an email to us at Zagi.
As a child, asthma kept him grounded, but that didn’t stop him from learning and building RC aircraft. He first built airplanes and helicopters out of Legos before graduating to aircraft kits.
He saved his money and built his first RC helicopter—a Concept 30 DX helicopter and has added to his “fleet” from there. He taught himself how to fly and combined flying with his interest in photography. He installed a 110 film camera on the helicopter skids and taking aerial photographs on his first kit.
“I now fly electric models and still have around 20 various models ranging from gliders, scale planes, quadcopters, racing wings and EDF jets,” he said. “A few years later, I went to a large model show and saw a demonstration of Estes model rockets.”
He purchased a starter set the following week.
“From that first launch, I was hooked,” he said. Since then, he’s added smaller rockets to his RC helicopter and has even launched the rockets while airborne.
Peter also is a member of HART (Hornchurch Airfield Rocket Team), which is a group that meets to launch rockets together. The group has since become an international one. They teach children about rockets and organize large model displays and workshops.
“We have also done a number of TV shows, including a live launches on BBC1’s Red Nose Day, The Royal Christmas Lectures and Techno Games, and helped behind the scenes on several others,” he said.
Peter is currently building a Level 3 High Power Rocket, which he says will be around 12 feet long when finished.
Between his two passions, it seemed inevitable that they would cross over. When his electric motor died on his Zagi one day back in 2008, he saw an opportunity.
“I realized the motor was the same diameter as a rocket engine. So, I stripped out the motor and ESC and fitted a rocket motor mount. After several tests, I found it flew great on E9-P motors and reaches around 400 feet with then around a minute of gliding. It has also flown on 2 and 3 stage motors to get to higher altitudes and launched on more powerful motors for faster take offs,” he said.
He’s learned to launch the rocket Zagi at a low angle to gain air speed with those motors. On the video, “Zagi Onboard Flight 002,” he flew the wing after launching it with the rocket. The wing has reached between 60 and 70 mph on the D and E class motors and around 120 mph on an F class motor. “(That) ended quickly when I pulled up too hard whilst under full power from the rocket motor and the Zagi’s wings folded and snapped,” he said.
Peter has flown his Zagi wing at several model clubs and large model shows in London in addition to participating with HART. Currently, the rocket-powered Zagi was recently retired.
“I now have a bigger delta wing rocket glider which I fly regularly at the clubs,” he said. “Hopefully, sometime this year I will be buying a new electric Zagi and fitting FPV gear to it.”