Alabama Captures 2024 National ARC Championship

Tharptown High School from Russellville, Alabama, won first place and earned the title of National Champion at the world’s largest rocketry competition, the American Rocketry Challenge, at The Plains, Virginia. Tharptown bested a record-breaking 922 teams that entered the competition at the start of the year and the top 100 teams competing at National Finals on Sunday, May 19, designing, building, and launching a model rocket with greater precision than any other team in the country.

Tharptown High School students will take home $20,000 and will represent the United States in the International Rocketry Challenge at the Farnborough Air Show, outside London, in July. Muscle Shoals High School came in fifth and won $8500. Huntsville’s John Paul II High School did not make the cut to the second round.

“We all work together as a team and come together to give input,” said Kylee Beard, Tharptown High School’s team captain. “We have one senior on our team, one sophomore, and the rest of us are juniors, so we’re looking forward to success in the years ahead.”

Tharptown High School has become a rocketry powerhouse, sending a team to the National Finals six times since the program started in 2018. Tharptown High School has now placed in the top 10 four times, including a second-place finish last year and tenth in 2022. The team is mentored by Andrew Heath, who was the team captain of the Russellville City Schools team that won the International Rocketry Challenge in 2015. Tharptown’s win marks the second Alabama and Russellville National ARC Championship.

The team’s victory follows months of preparation designing, building, and testing a rocket capable of meeting rigorous mission parameters set by the contest’s sponsors – the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), National Association of Rocketry, and more than 20 industry partners. To qualify for the finals, each team designed, built, and launched a model rocket that safely carried one large hen egg to an altitude of 820 feet, stays airborne for between 43 and 46 seconds, and returns the rocket to the ground safely. At the National Finals, a Friday night coin flip determined that competing teams had to launch the rockets to 850 feet with a flight duration of 43-46 seconds in the first round of competition. The top 24 teams conducted a second launch that was required to reach 800 feet with a flight duration of 43-46 seconds. For the first time in ARC history Saturday was rained out and the launch was held the next day.

Now in its 22nd year, the American Rocketry Challenge has inspired nearly 95,000 middle and high school students to date to explore education and careers in STEM fields. “Twenty-one years ago, I walked on the same field as these competitors, preparing my home-built rocket for flight,” said NASA Astronaut Woody Hoburg present for the launch. “These competitions are catalysts for innovation, challenging young explorers to collaborate and get their hands dirty building a real flight vehicle. Congratulations to all the National Finalists for their ingenuity, hard work, and perseverance. These skills will serve students for years to come, as they embark on their careers and create technologies to solve the world’s biggest challenges.”

 

ARC 2024 Alabama Team Final Results

Place   Team      City     State           Flight 1 Flight 2 Total

1    Tharptown High School   Russellville  AL     3      1   4

2    Spring Grove  School    Spring Grove  PA     5    2  7

3    AIAA Orange County  Team 1    Irvine  CA     7.32      6.72      14.04

4    Festus High School         Festus      MO    9     13          22

5    Muscle Shoals Team 1  Muscle Shoals AL   8.28   15.32  23.6

27   St. John Paul II      Huntsville                  AL     23

38   Russellville High School   Russellville                AL     34.4

55   Lawrence County High School Moulton       AL     51.64

70   Muscle Shoals Team 2   Muscle Shoals            AL     73.56

98   Thompson High School    Alabaster        AL     DNF

Seven Teams from Alabama ARC to Finals

Five ARC teams from north Alabama including one from Huntsville made the best scores in the country and are going to the finals. The schools are:

Team Number School or Organization City
24- 0811 Thompson High School Alabaster
24- 0515 St. John Paul II Huntsville
24- 0410 Lawrence County High School Moulton
24- 0140 Muscle Shoals High School Team 1 Muscle Shoals
24- 0418 Muscle Shoals High School Team 2 Muscle Shoals
24- 0688 Tharptown High School Russellville
24- 0473 Russellville High School Russellville

Last year Tharptown High School from Russellville was second nationally with John Paul II High School of Huntsville third. This year they’re both going back along with Lawrence County High School that was also in the top hundred of 2023.

The finalists will compete on May 18 for the title of National Champion at The Plains, Virginia. In addition to the $100,000 prize pool, finalists will compete for the title of National Champion of the American Rocketry Challenge, which includes an all-expenses-paid trip to London for the International Rocketry Challenge in July.

To qualify for the National Finals participating teams designed, built, and launched model rockets that could safely carry a payload of one raw egg with a target flight duration of 43-46 seconds and an altitude of 820 feet. Cutoff score for top 100 was 32.12.

Total registered from the state for 2024 were 38 teams from 24 schools; 11 schools had multiple teams. We salute these teams and their work in rocketry.

Thompson High School Alabaster
Phillips High School Bear Creek
Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama Birmingham
Cullman Area Technology Academy Cullman
Central High School Florence
Rogers High School Florence
Hackleburg High School Hackleburg
Haleyville City Schools Haleyville
Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering Huntsville
St. John Paul II Catholic High School Huntsville
Lincoln High School Lincoln
Bob Jones High School Madison
Alabama School of Mathematics and Science Mobile
Lawrence County High School Moulton
Muscle Shoals High School Muscle Shoals
Phil Campbell High School Phil Campbell
Russellville High School Russellville
Tharptown High School Russellville
Sylvania High School Sylvania
West Morgan High School Trinity
West Morgan Middle School Trinity
Hewitt Trussville High School Trussville
Wetumpka High School Wetumpka
Winfield City High School Winfield

 

“L” L Rockets

The L is for fifty large rockets that roared aloft at NASA’s Student Launch Program April 13 in the culmination of a year of long work by the student teams. The weather was beautiful with a clear calm sky allowing the easy flight and recovery of big birds on big motors. With the manifest exceeding last year’s number of 48 rockets the range crew of HARA members and NAR dignataries had a long day (from 6am to 5pm.) All flights were made safely and most were very impressive. Results of the competition will be announced in another month.

mARCh MADNESS

The end of March means the end is coming of qualification attempts for the American Rocketry Challenge. Many teams were scrambling on the sunny days to get their eggloft flights scored and submitted. Here are some scenes of local action.

The March 23 launch is scrubbed!

Fellow rocketeers

It is with a deep uhhhggg that we are once again having to cancel our launch on the 23rd.  Heavy rains into the am are forecasted which will make our field a muddy mess and flooded.  High winds 15-30mph gusts are also expected on Saturday.   If anyone knows of an alternate field and its land owner let us know.  We are always on the lookout for a secondary field.
Doug Aguilar
HARA President

Launch is scrubbed for March 9!

Unfortunately rain is predicted all day Friday and Saturday morning at our launch site and we are forced to scrub the launch. However, we have a scheduled another launch attempt for Saturday March 23. Hopefully we can get clear skies in 2 weeks.

Everyone Knows It’s Windy

After monthly launch cancellations from rain, cold, and rain again the wind was not going to deter HARA from getting out to the field February 24 on a mild sunny day. The brisk 10-15 mph breeze was challenging but flyable with a lot of fun, successful flights. The crowd was only a fair number attending and the range was done by early afternoon. The biggest motor flown of the day was the ‘L’ from UAH and then all the letters of the alphabet on down with everyone else. The next launch is scheduled for March 9 and may be the last of the season.

Photos by Drew Brackett, Patrick Morrison, Keith Nyman, and Greg Zsidisin.

More photos on the HARA facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064693116419

Launch is scrubbed for February 10.

Unfortunately rain is predicted all day (Saturday, February 10) at our launch site and we are forced to scrub the launch. However, we have a scheduled another launch attempt for Saturday February 24. Hopefully we can get clear skies in 2 weeks.

Year End News

Polar Bear Launch

A few HARA members braved the cold to start the new year flying rockets on January 1. Greg, Blake, Patrick, Vince and all the Aguilars convened at the Pegasus field for some low power fun. Even as a casual launch there were several interesting flights either on ascent or recovery.

HARA’s Holiday Party

Thanks to Doug and family for hosting a festive get together. The food was great with a house full of rocketeer celebrants. Bill Cooke was Santa Claus bearing wonderful gifts.

Inclement Date

The monthly HARA launch for December was rained out. The next scheduled launch at Woodville is January 13.

ARC Registration Ends with Participation Up

At the close of registration 12/1 there were over 900 teams signed up nationally for the American Rocketry Challenge, the most in the program’s 22 year history. Alabama had 34 teams listed which was less than the 38 last year, but the Huntsville area number had grown to eleven from the 2023 eight teams.

Game on for this year-

Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering (2 teams)

Civil Air Patrol – Redstone Squadron (SER-AL-119)

Columbia High School (2 teams)

Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama

St. John Paul II (4 teams)

Bob Jones High School

Note St. John Paul II came in third nationally last year.

Their official local qualification flights must be done by April 8 (solar eclipse day) to get flight scores that will earn one of the 100 spots at the National Finals on May 18 and a chance at the program’s $100,000 in prize money.

Veteran’s Day Launch

HARA’s November launch was a full day with 74 flights. An overcast sky hung over the range to discourage reaching for high altitudes but many flyers reached for and got their HPR certification. The day was treated by at least a half dozen rocketeers from the Birmingham Rocket Boys section who pilgrimmed up to fly. Families and student teams also enjoyed the mild temps and light winds with their flighs. Besides the big rockets there were scale models, odd rocs, gliders and gadgets. Pictures by Nick Boone, Debra Cook, Vince Huegele and Patrick Morrison. See more pictures at the HARA facebook page and the BRB page.https://www.facebook.com/BRB665

12 L1 Cert Flights    1 L2 Cert Flight

Class Motor

No. Flown

1/2A

2

A

3

B

0

C

11

D

10

E

3

F

8

G

4

H

19

I

9

J

3

K

2