Archive for Vince Huegele

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-

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.

12 L1 Cert Flights    1 L2 Cert Flight

Class Motor

No. Flown


























HARA Launches for Blue Origin


The employees of Huntsville’s Blue Origin Engine Production facility had a family space day with HARA launching their rockets. It was a prodigious honor to provide the launch services for a local professional rocket company, or rather, their children. Blue Origin made the field arrangements at Research Park, got the motors and kits for their kids to build at home with their parents and then brought them out for HARA to launch on the club’s range equipment. The kits were mostly Wizards and Alphas on “A” motors so a single rack pad handled all the flights. About 60 rockets were launched by the seven club members supporting the event, including some of our own spooky Halloween models because it was late October and that’s when those fly. The warmer than average temps and light wind made the afternoon flying great. Although Jeff Bezos was reportedly in Huntsville that week he did not stay for the HARA launch. From the favorable family response this event may be held again next year. For more pictures go to the HARA facebook page

Honoring George

In a Graveside Memorial Service Saturday, September 30, 2023 At the Forest Hills Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama, legendary U.S. Team Spacemodeling Champion and NAR Birmingham Rocket Boys Club Member; George Gassaway, was finally laid to rest with his parents as he requested.
Vince Huegele, and his wife Sharal, from Huntsville, Alabama attended George’s Memorial. Vince opened the Service with an inspiring New Testament Bible reading and words of reflection about George and how he was impacted by his life. Rocket Boys Club Member and Minister, Carol Witherspoon, also gave her reflections about George and his mother Margaret, and how George had become like family to her. Carol closed by praying an inspiring prayer and then turned the service over to me for the eulogy. As an Ordained Minister I was able to fulfill George’s request when he asked me in 2008 to officiate his mother’s Memorial Service, and to eulogize her.
In my eulogy of George I spoke of those last days I spent with him back in January of this year when he visited us. After helping him empty his storage unit of all of his rocket stuff, and loading it into his uhaul trailer to take back to his home in Minnesota, we had some quality time together. The Saturday before he left he attended our monthly Birmingham Rocket Boys Club rocket launch. George had been a member of our club for several years and had served as Vice President at one time. Little did I know then that it would be the last time that George would ever fly with us or that it would be George’s last rocket flight ever.
In honor of George, Birmingham Rocket Boys Officer, Rick Peek, assisted me in laying a wreath on his parents grave as I gave the committal of his cremains.
I want to say thanks to the Birmingham Rocket Boys for purchasing the wreath for George, and for assisting me to perform this service, and to Ed LaCroix and Keith Vinyard for securing George’s cremains so we could give him a proper Christian burial, and lay him to rest.  Rest in Peace George my Brother and Friend until when we one day meet again……Ron Witherspoon

Workshop Set for 23-24 Rocketry Challenge

NAR Website Excellence Award Sustained

The winners of the 2023 NAR Section Website Excellence Awards were announced in July and HARA’s website came in Third Place. This was up from last year in finishing 4th. The judging was conducted by volunteer NAR members and this website ranked third out of over 120 websites that were judged. There are currently 240 NAR sections. See details at

HARA’s website won first place in 2014.

Congratulations to all that contribute!

UAH wins 2023 NASA Student Launch Competition

The local rocket team from UAH outscored dozens of other schools to win the NASA University Student Launch Initiative (USLI.) Multiyear champion Vanderbilt was third. The results were announced a month after the April launch day. To be number one UAH consistently scored well in the sub categories: first in payload design, second in safety, third in vehicle design, altitude and outreach. The UAH team were regular flyers at HARA launches this year testing their rocket and certifying their team members. Congratulations!


Alabama Rolls in TARC Finals Capturing Silver and Bronze

The state was made proud May 20 at the world’s largest student rocketry competition as Alabama teams from Russellville and Huntsville came in second and third out of 100 teams from across the country competing at the American Rocketry Challenge. More than 4,500 students from nearly 800 teams in 45 states entered the 2023 competition which held the finals at The Plains, Va. The Hardin Valley Academy Team from Knoxville, Tenn. was crowned National Champion. They will get $20,000 for the team, $1,000 for the school and a trip to the International Rocketry Challenge at the Paris Air Show in June. Tharpstown in 2nd Place will receive $15,000 for the team, $1,000 for the school and 3rd place John Paul II will get $12,500 for the team, $1,000 for the school.

The Tharptown team is shown in pink shirts, John Paul II in blue shirts.

Competing teams had to launch the rockets to 875 feet with a flight duration of 43-46 seconds in the first round of competition. The top 42 teams conducted a second launch that was required to reach exactly 825 feet with a flight duration of 41-44 seconds. All nine Alabama teams present at the finals made the cut to move forward to the second round. California was the next most having seven teams advance out of the 15 attending from their state. They did have a group from Orange County come in fourth.

This was Huntsville’s best TARC year since 2013 when John Paul II was fourth and Liberty Middle was eighth nationally. Bob Jones was third in 2010. Tharptown finished tenth last year.

The John Paul II team mentor is Duane Meyer, who also is the reigning HARA Geezer TARC champion.

Here are the teams, places and scores.

Place School City State Flight 1 Flight 2 Score

1 Hardin Valley Academy Team 1 Knoxville TN 11.4 2 13.4

2 Tharptown High School Russellville AL 13.8 1 14.8

3 John Paul II High School Team 2 Huntsville AL 17 6.92 23.92

16 Hackleburg High School Hackleburg Alabama 30.76 28 58.76

23 Lawrence County High School Moulton Alabama 39 36.36 75.36

34 Haleyville City Schools Haleyville Alabama 49.24 65.52 114.76

35 Winfield City High School Winfield Alabama 29.72 102.72 132.44

36 West Morgan High School Trinity Alabama 26 222.32 248.32

37 John Paul II High School Team 1 Huntsville Alabama 37.12 946.92 984.04

38 Bob Jones High School Madison Alabama 9.44 DQ 9.44


As participants launched for points, a TARC alumnus was circling above them in space. NASA astronaut Warren “Woody” Hoburg competed in the National Finals of the inaugural American Rocketry Challenge in 2003. Twenty years later, in March 2023, Hoburg blasted off to space as the Pilot of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). His journey to space began with a model rocket.

Not Our First Rocket Rodeo

The program that started with HARA launching three school rockets in 2001 has continued to a celebration of 48 launches this April 2023. Although 27 flights occurred last year in Huntsville, the rocket fair, normal RSO inspection schedules and group assemblies of NASA’s Student Launch were back for the first time since covid 19. The weather turned out perfect 4/15 for student teams to launch a rocket with the NASA challenge of taking panoramic video on landing mimicking a probe reaching another planet. The ensemble of high school and college teams flew J, K and L motors to altitudes not over a mile above Bragg farm on a range operated by NAR.