One of the things I love about model rocketry is that even when you're in familiar territory, the unexpected can happen and there are always new things to learn and deal with.
I recently launched my Estes Mini Comanche 3, configured with all three stages. It's kind of obvious from this picture that it didn't go quite as planned.
The problem is that the second stage failed to ignite. The first booster ignited, the rocket flew about 40 or 50 feet up, then gracefully arced straight down for a perfect lawn dart landing.
One of the only good things about this is that I was left with a situation that allowed for full investigation. Nothing bugs me more than a failed launch that results in a lost rocket (or bits of it) that make it hard to piece together what happened.
Not that I can fully explain it in this case. I of course verified that the correct motors were installed, in the correct order, and not backwards. It just looks to me like the first booster (an A4-0T) burned through and failed to ignite the second stage (another A403T). What seems really odd is that there are no burn markings at all on stage two. It's like the first booster never burned all the way up - though it did.
Of course I will try again. The other good thing was the the only damage was to the long skinny body tube of the main rocket. This was easily cut off and I've replaced it with a new section, so I'm ready to go.