A nice story about our hobby

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Well-Known Member
Aug 19, 2009
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I found this nice story on RMR and thought I'd post it here.


OK, here's post that has nothing to do with rocket politics. Like my
tag? This post is a bit long, if you want to skip to the most
unbelievable part of this story, skip to near the end. I marked the

Years ago I introduced my assistant Patty to model rocketry. She had
been a bit of a science geek growing up - like me. The usual telescopes,
chemistry sets, etc. but she never knew about model rockets. She started
working for us when she was 17. I'm the old guy - been flying rockets
since before she was born. My buddy Rick and I were talking rockets one
day and Patty expressed an interest so we told her all about it, and
eventually got her some rocket stuff for Christmas.

Our first flying session was a sunny February afternoon (Patty was a bit
excited about all this rocket stuff by then). Most of the snow was gone
but some parts of the field were very slushy. We're in Michigan, by the
way. There were lots of puddles around the edge of the field but it has
a bit of a hill in the center that we could launch from.

Patty had one of those starter kits in the cardboard box that looked
like a small briefcase, a Misquito, another small rocket I don't
remember the name of (a wizard?), and a beautifully finished Patriot
Missile she had bought for herself. I was proud of the job she did on
that Patriot. It looked flawless.

Rick had his just completed Phoenix (dang, that thing looked cool with
all of it's decals) and a 3-stage Mean Machine he designed and built.

I had my Sprint, a scaled-up D-powered Gyrocopter, and my just completed
but unpainted F-14. I like to fly them once before doing all that
painting and decaling.

We brought Patty's 12 year old brother to play retriever (kid had more
energy that that battery bunny).

As we were setting up we attracted the attention of a boy that lived
across the street from the field and he asked if could join us. Of
course we said yes and we explained the safety issues, and warned him to
be careful around the launchers because of the wires strung along the

First launch, the visitor forgets everything we've told him and runs
right through the flight line into my brand new, never before used,
bigfoot launch pad. Scratch one pad.

My sprint makes an incredible flight, looked like it was on rails all
the way up. And that C6-7 put it WAYYY up there. Unfortunately it landed
right into the middle of the only swamp (all of about 30 feet by 30
feet)in the county which happens to be at one corner of the field. Right
in the middle, the exact geometric center (we checked it), surrounded by
water, mud and these gnarly mini-tree with inch long thorns. Scratch one

Rick launched his Phoenix for it's first flight ever. Very nice flight
until that tree ate it. On yeah, right at the top, 70 feet off the
ground. One little teeny tiny branch just snagged a shroud line. Kiss
that baby good bye. (I swear I saw a tear in Rick's eye). Months later
it was still up there. Finally came down when enough rain had soaked
through it.

My Gyroc-D made it's usually amazing flight but popped out all six
hinges for the flaps when it landed. I think the cold did something to
the glue. Three rockets down for the "experts".

Next my Tomcat on a C6-3. On one of those bad C6-3's that were released
that year. One of those C6-3 that blows up when your rocket is all of 3
inches up the launch rail. My Tomcat ended up in more parts than it
started with! There wasn't even one reusable bit left. Well maybe a
rubber band but that was it. Four down.

Next, Rick's three stage Mean Machine, D12-0, D12-0, D12-5. We all
backed way up for this one. We wanted a good view of the launch (yeah,
that's it). Amazing, absolutely amazing, first stage separation at about
40 feet (bit scary that), second stage maybe 150 feet, and then that 6
foot tall black rocket really took off. I had never seen anything like
it. Chute popped right at apogee and she landed about 10 feet from the
pads. Almost made up for losing the pad, the Phoenix, and the Tomcat. So
we launched her again. She folded part way up. "Aw crap!" That's five.

If you've read this far and I hope you have you realize I haven't
mentioned Patty. That's because she was having one of those days when
nothing goes wrong. Every flight perfect. Every igniter worked, every
engine fired right up, every recovery flawless.

The one time her Patriot might have landed in a puddle her bother dove
for it at a full run. He missed the rocket but the rocket missed the
puddle. Unfortunately he didn't. Miss the puddle that is. He didn't miss
that puddle, the two or three after it, and all the little piles of
slush in between. He must have traveled 25 feet. Face first. I swear
that boy had a wake coming off him like a speedboat. I was laughing
hysterically til Patty reminded me he had to ride home in MY car. Five
rockets gone and a 90 pound 12 year-old with 40 pounds of slush on him
riding in my car. "Crap!"


Here's the most incredible bit - Patty launched and recovered her
mosquito 7 times! Seven! Up til that day all I've ever seen them do is
enter that space warp at the end of the launch rod that always appears
when you launch one of them. She even painted a Roman Numeral VII on it
afterwards to celebrate. She still has it to this day.

One bright note (well, for Rick and I anyway). Patty was kind of
gloating as we were walking back to car. She thought is was a
*wonderful* day. She wouldn't stop. She was laying it on pretty thick.
All those bad things that happened to us and she had a perfect day. "We
need to do this again." "How long for you two to build some more
rockets?" "Maybe you should bring more than two or three, it's a long
ride out here you know." "Need any help?"

We told her she was pissing off the rocket gods. She just laughed harder
and continued her one-woman comedy routine. Until. Until she stepped
over this big puddle about ten feet from car and her cardboard briefcase
thingy popped open and dumped ALL of her gear into the puddle (dang, I'm
laughing like crazy just writing this). Every single bit of it. Did you
all know you can really injure yourself laughing too hard when you're
bent over picking someone's rocket stuff out of a slush puddle? I think
I punctured my spleen. I was having dizzy spells. Heck, my side hurts
now just writing this.

Seven times!

Then kersplash!


I love rockets!
Carl Ebbinghaus
I did not know a post that is not about politics, or a post with out flaming or bashing, could be posted on RMR?

Very nice story though :). Launched her Mosquito 7 times!!!

I lost mine on the first flight.
I've got tears in my eyes from laughing about the part with the kid hitting the puddle... 25 feet on his face with a wake... Oh that is a great visual! Leo, you need to invite that guy into this forum, he would be perfect!!! Thanks for putting that up!!!
the greatest thing about that story is -with all the good, bad and ugly - it is the kind of day that makes rocketry a great hobby. Thanks for sharing this with all of us!