Where to start? When I was a kid in the late 1970’s, my older brother and I flew Estes rockets. He did a rocketry project for 4-H, and I remember his Estes Andromeda rocket as being incredibly beautiful. I considered the ultimate rockets at the time to be the Estes Der Red Max and the Estes Goblin. I remember flying the Centuri X-24 rocket and we both had small Estes Honest John rockets, very difficult for us youngsters to build correctly! I still have our old range box and a few of the old HoJo BT-20 airframes in various states of disrepair.
Our launching activities were cringe-worthy by today’s standards – dangerous ignition methods, illegal payloads, few successful recoveries because of a very small field, etc. Like most of us, I drifted away from the sport as a teen.
Fast forward to about 1998. A friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to a rocket launch in Muncie, IN (I lived in Richmond, IN at the time). This turned out to be NAR’s National Sport Launch that year! I said “sure” and witnessed mid- and high-power rocketry for the first time – incredible! I had instantly found a new hobby.
My first composite rocket motor launch was in 2002, and Aerotech Warthog on an E15W motor at a friend’s house. My Level 1 certification flight was in 2004, a PML Tethys on an H128W motor at a Tripoli Michiana launch in Three Oaks, MI. My Level 2 flight was just a year later at the same field using the same rocket, this time with a J420R motor. I stepped up to Level 3 in 2011, certifying on a Performance Hobbies Intimidator 4 flying on an M1500G at Midwest Power in Princeton, IL.
Since then, my biggest rocketry adventures have been working on the full scale Patriot missile ("P" motor powered) club project and flying rockets in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada at the BALLS launches, twice (so far!).