Well, I rode over there from my home in Northern Va.
A lot of people were there for the launch, I dont know how many but perhaps in the thousands. I have been to county fairs with smalller attendance.
The weather was in the 80s with barely a breeze. There were clouds but at very high altitudes. Apparently this was perfect rocket launching weather.
I showed up at about 10:30 and we were able to walk right up to the rocket which was located in the middle of a very large far field.
The organisers gave a long speach about all the people and companies that worked on the rocket, than they told us to go back to our vehicles that were parked about a mile away along the main road that borders the south side of the farm.
They broadcasted progress about getting the rocket ready on an FM frequency. I walked around a bit - didnt see any other stroms but did see a number of motorcycles. Many people who came in their cars set up tents and chairs right by them - it was kinda of a tailgate party thing. I listened to the updates and at about 12:45 they announced that they were first going to shoot off a much smaller sounding rocket to check the upper winds and try to determine where the big sucker was gonna land. The small sounding rocket was launched and we saw it go from the pad and then go directly above us where it popped a shoot at about 4K feet , then drift slowly to the east of us at it floated down.
Then they decided on a 1:00pm launch, just a few minutes away. They did a count down from 10 and when it went - WHOOOOOOOOOAAAA! Like i said I have never been to one of these things but that was AMAIZING!!!! The sound of the engines was awsome. In my earlieir days I was lucky enough to ride aboard several aircarft carriers as a computer tech-rep for a US NAVY contractor and I saw some amaizing takeoffs from the flight deck ... but this ... this was different and much more awsome.
I didn't take pictures of the launch itself as I am no a great photog and I am sure they will post better pictures and movies on this site soon:
I just stood in the crowd and watched with my binocs. The thing went up fast with an amaizing rocket sound and at it looked like it was directly above us at - I dont know 3-4 K feet when the engine stopped. We just saw it drifting slightly above us, then I thought maybe the shoot wasnt going to open and we would have to all scatter. But then I heard a loud sound like a stick of dynamite and then we saw the thing break into several pieces and seperate. Large orange and white parachutes opened up and carried the giant pieces clear of us and farther to the south then the sounding rocket. It eventually landed in another large farm field on the other side of the road to the south east of us.
And that was that - thrilling.
This was quite a big event I was told the local new was there, you may see something in the national news later.