We get calls about many things related to rocketry. This latest “interesting idea” was a proposal from Levi’s jeans that wanted to do a retro ‘Rocket Boys’ type promotional layout for their vintage line of jeans, shirts, coats, etc. They were looking for models, props and locations for a period photo shoot about the beginning of the Space Race in the 1950s in Huntsville, Alabama. The pitch was; “The main story opens with people staring at the October sky in 1957 trying to see Sputnik. We will then focus on a group of young high school kids (wearing Levi’s) with a passion for building rockets. They will be taught about rockets by teachers in a rocket club and build and launch model rockets.” The photographer found several scenes of old classrooms, labs and garage workshops in which to stage shots. We had plenty of vintage rockets for props and did a launch for them. It’s a bit strange to be able to readily provide authentic fifty year old model rocket equipment, but the recreation was very realistic. It may be the first professionally staged scenes that are digitally imaged of early rocket club launches.
The pictures will be compiled into a book that’s distributed to their prime retailers to be released next spring. We’ll post some of them here then. Shown here are a few of the “looking into the sky for the rocket” scenes being taken by a fashion cameraman who’s about to learn about Alabama fire ants.
When I began planning my trip to NSL 2018 I watched the New York host town of Geneseo on the weather channel map get so much record snow that I wondered if it would all be melted by Memorial Day weekend. It was. The quaint village looked a lot like Manchester, TN, a comfortable verdant community with a field large enough to have a warbird landing strip.
It was nice to get a large launch fix particularly since there is none to be had with HARA this summer. It’s also great to go to a launch and not have set up and run the range. The MARS club had done all that and was well organized.
I was only there on Saturday but for all of the 10 am -5 pm day and made six flights with four rockets, all on Aerotech E15’s provided by Chris’s Rockets. Chris and I were the only Alabama representatives. In my traveling arrangements I could not accommodate any HPR, but I did take some fun birds. Marvin the Martian in the Michael’s birdhouse did not fly so straight this time but had the chute out before the RSO could blow the horn. The Phoenix had a bit of tip off for a scale ‘acquire and seek’ flight profile but flew much truer on the second flight. My Quest Minotaur looked impressive on the pad (#5 in the photo) and going up. I flew my Estes Silver Comet twice with a Jolly Logic chute release and was saved many steps in walking to recover it.
The NSL boasted it boosted over a thousand flights that weekend and the deserves credit for the success. I saw several big rockets go up and my favorite was the N3300R in the upscale Big Bertha shown in the photo while the owner is interviewed for ‘the rocket show’.
There was a situation presented at this launch that merits comment. The NSL did not have quarter inch launch rods; they only offered rails for mid power and above. If you showed up with rockets with a quarter inch lug, you were told to put on rail buttons. The claim is that rails are safer and don’t whip like rods do. Fair enough; they are a preferred practice. But it is not fair to dismiss models built over the last thirty years with lugs as suddenly unsafe and not accommodate them. There’s a lot of Aerotech, LOC and PML kits and rockets built with those parts that need not be retrofitted with rail buttons. I hope that ranges will continue to have a pad that can take a ¼” rod because there are still a lot of rockets that will need them.
The Russellville High School team #3, the “Lions”, captured third place nationally in the TARC finals May 12, 2018. Six Alabama teams qualified for the finals from the 25 original teams registered in the state ranging from Ardmore to Winfield. In the Virginia field where the championship is determined all the Alabama teams made the cut into the top 38 out of a hundred with very impressive first round scores. Huntsville’s St. John Paul II was only 6 feet off the 800 mark with others at 816, 811, 810 and 799. But the second round moved the target altitude to 825 feet, which really spread the field and revealed the best flyers. The top ten TARC winners found a way to go higher and the rest were stuck under 800 feet. Russellville got to 835 and their total score of 26 was just barely behind second place Festus, Missouri at 25.76 (who were first in 2017) and the overall winner Creekview, Georgia at 21.2 (who won in 2014). Scores escalated into the thirties and forties after fourth place. The Russellville Lions team members are Malachi Fleming, MaKayla Gann, Mia Gann, Zakery Colburn, and Emma Reed and are shown above receiving their trophy from NAR and AIA at the award ceremony and in the photo below during their qualification flights. Congratulations to these young people and all the teams for a fine display of rocket science and for making the state proud.
Final 2018 Standings Of Alabama TARC Teams
3 Russellville City Schools (Team 3)
22 Russellville City Schools (Team 1)
25 Russellville City Schools (Team 2)
33 Tharptown High School
34 St. John Paul II Catholic High School
35 Lincoln High School
Our rocket club has served the community many times this year in the form of launch demonstrations and building sessions. The schools are immensely grateful and the students love it. Here are a few scenes from Horizon Elementary this month that fired 24 models.
The Jenkins family had a great day flying with Madison Cross Roads back in April. How many young Goddards have we inspired? We hope it could be a bunch.
Of course a weekend full of rockets is cool, but this year’s two day launchfest had unseasonable low temperatures keeping flyers very comfortable for June. The previous week saw the passage of tropical entity Cindy dumping rain all over Tennessee and threatening the schedule, but Saturday was clear enough to set up the range on the soggy sod.
There is an annual event that draws sport rocketeers from all over to come fly their best rockets. You are invited to come to that event and be one of those rocketeers.
THE SOUTHERN THUNDER REGIONAL ROCKET LAUNCH
June 24-25, 2017, Manchester, TN
Meet some of the masters of the craft, shop for great deals and see amazing rockets. It’s a celebration of rocketry in low, medium and high power. Come out for a day or two, bring rockets to fly or just be there to watch, but don’t miss the flying circus that is Southern Thunder.
Russellville, Alabama will again be at the TARC finals, this time represented by a team from Russellville First United Methodist Church, shown here receiving an award from Lee Brownell at the UNA Regional Launch. The FUMC team was the only one in north Alabama to make the cut of the top hundred and be invited to the championship in Manassas, VA. The Russellville City School Lions team was ranked 106th in the alternates with the RCS Bears team listed at 120th. Sheffield HS’s team one was 108th with Liberty Middle School of Madison ranked 115th and Buckhorn Middle school of New Market was 117th. Two teams from Lincoln, Alabama will also represent the state in the TARC national event. Alabama had more teams in the 100-120 range than any other state. Read more
HARA was well represented at NARCON this year by three members, Art, Bill and Vince. For a nicely detailed report see http://billsrockets.blogspot.com/2017/02/bills-narcon-adventure.html
Here are some additional pictures of the weekend which ended with a tour of the Udvar-Hazy Museum.
Carl Curling shows results in his “Painting and Finishing” talk.
Bart Merkley demonstrates laminating fiberglass onto a cardboard tube to add strength.
Some display items were brought to the motel.
It was an eventful year of rocketry with HARA. Here are a few photos to remember how it was.
The TARC Regional in March hosted by UNA attracted many teams.