I did 12 launches Saturday. Had a great time and I promise to cut back a bit in the future and to help on setting up and breaking down.
But, anyways, on my second to last flight, I thought my AltTwo would be safe in my Centuri Phoenix Bird payload section, so I didn't attach it to anything. When the ejection charge went off, it blew the nose cone off the payload section, releasing my altimeter for free fall (I guess the recorded descent rate only applies to the nose cone, 26 MPH). I found the nose cone and started to do a tight spiral search around it. Found the altimeter within seconds about 5 feet away.
Lesson learned, always attach to something!! I could have easily attached to the nose cone, making the AltTwo much easier to find.
As for the 40+ year-old Phoenix Bird, the coupler attaching the two body tubes is hollow and open on each end. I will plug one end, if not both, which should keep the nose cone from popping off during ejection.
I put a small piece of scotch tape on the nosecone/payload bay joint. This usually helps keep the nosecone on the rocket.
Making sure the altimeter is secure is a good idea as well. Occasionally I will loosely pad it in the payload section with Estes paper wadding to keep the altimeter from rattling around.