Interesting Look - NAR Sections

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AKPilot

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John, from NAR, gave me a call recently and asked if I could update our Section's contact information. It was kinda interesting to go to the Section listing and pull up the U.S. map and see things graphically.

However, I can't help but notice the large density of clubs towards the east side of the U.S. and notice that the farter west you go, the number of clubs decreases.

Any thoughts on why that is? Regulations, oversight, lack of interest, lack of exposure?
 
Well, it could be because it stinks the farter west you go..:roll::p

It is a tad unusual..I would have thought the big clusters would be on both coasts and less dense in towards the 'heartland'..I agree with Kevin with regards to population density, that's why I find it a tad unusual that the west coast is so lightly represented..
 
As far as population density, I could almost see that except that the large cities in the west and the state of California is lightly representented, as well as several other capital cities out west.
 
California is regulated to the hills.

Just out of curiosity, having grown up there in the Bay Area, what happened since I left in the early '80s?

I've heard some mention it before, but how restrictive has it become?
 
I'll bet it might have a little to do with the increasing population density making open spaces more scarce. There are lots of rocket-sized parks in MO. And when you get out in smaller towns, there are usually hundreds of acres of lightly-traveled land.

If I was back in my teenage stomping grounds I wouldn't join a club. My buddy's parents had 45 acres (30 of it field) to launch on. It was bordered by 500 acres of mixed field and woods. 30 minutes West of St. Louis.

N
 
Keep in mind the size of many of these clubs, too. In the East, where flying fields tend to be smaller and less plentiful, rocket clubs tend to be more modest in size. A large number of clubs doesn't necessarily translate into a large number of rocketeers. Many of these clubs may have less than a dozen members in them.

I always had the impression that Texas had the largest percentage of sport rocketeers per capita than any other place on the planet, with California and Colorado coming in strong right behind it.

MarkII
 
Any thoughts on why that is? Regulations, oversight, lack of interest, lack of exposure?
I suspect that interest in rocketry is substantially higher in areas where there is a significant aerospace industry or aerospace research facility presence. In these places the evidence of aeronautics and rocketry is very real and tangible and there is a high awareness of it. It creates an atmosphere that promotes and sustains a recreational interest in all types of flying. In areas where these industries are absent, the field is much more remote and it is seldom discussed. In northeastern New York, for instance, there is virtually no aerospace industry presence. One never encounters anyone who works in the industry, there are never any news reports or profiles of it in the media and unless you reside near an airport you seldom see any aircraft from a distance of less than 20,000 to 40,000 feet. Growing up there and living in the area, you learn that aerospace work is done by other people in some other place far away, and it just isn't part of your world. It is rarely if ever even mentioned as a possible career choice. In my area, aerospace work is about on a par with pearl diving as a viable, tangible source of employment; the odds are about equal for meeting someone from either field. Therefore it doesn't come as much of a surprise that interest in recreational aeronautics, including sport rocketry, is quite scant in the area. In parts of the country where there is much more of an industry presence, I would imagine that the opposite is true.

MarkII
 
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I suspect that interest in rocketry is substantially higher in areas where there is a significant aerospace industry or aerospace research facility presence.


Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case at all. Even locally, I know of only two aerospace employees that are active in the hobby. Also, if you like at where the top aerospace giants (i.e. Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, Raytheon, etc.) are located geographically, the theory doesn't necessarily hold true.
 
John, from NAR, gave me a call recently and asked if I could update our Section's contact information. It was kinda interesting to go to the Section listing and pull up the U.S. map and see things graphically.

However, I can't help but notice the large density of clubs towards the east side of the U.S. and notice that the farter west you go, the number of clubs decreases.

Any thoughts on why that is? Regulations, oversight, lack of interest, lack of exposure?


Multiple factors.

1) In CA, as the housing developments moved into the hills, there were more fires that affected houses, so they have been enforcing the regulations that have existed for DECADES rather than 'looking the other way'.

2) #1 results in fewer launch sites since the average consumer does not have a permit and even small start-up clubs can have a problem figuring out how to get a permit and also the required property owner permission. Our club has a document to help them (and it has helped a lot of teachers and at least one large R/C club that wanted to fly R/C rocket gliders).

https://home.earthlink.net/~mebowitz/siteaid.pdf

3) In CA, the avarage person does not volunteer to help run a group like they do "back East". This applies to scout groups as well as rocket clubs or any other club. Many just show up and want the local club to do everything for them. Some show up with their starter set still sealed in the box - they've never even read the instructions. Good clubs help them as much as possible, but some regular club members can get annoyed that the beginners take up valuable time and energy. You must find a good balance to keep everyone happy.

4) Many clubs in CA, because of the lack of safe and legal launch sites, will become fairly large.


So, if we want more clubs, we need more NAR members, and we need all of those NAR members educated on how to go about securing a safe and legal launch site. And we need to help them do so, as necessary.
 
Multiple factors.

1) In CA, as the housing developments moved into the hills, there were more fires that affected houses, so they have been enforcing the regulations that have existed for DECADES rather than 'looking the other way'.

Unfortunately, IIRC, some of those may have been the result of the improper use or "illegal" launching of rockets, thus leading to stronger enforcement.

3) In CA, the avarage person does not volunteer to help run a group like they do "back East". This applies to scout groups as well as rocket clubs or any other club. Many just show up and want the local club to do everything for them. Some show up with their starter set still sealed in the box - they've never even read the instructions. Good clubs help them as much as possible, but some regular club members can get annoyed that the beginners take up valuable time and energy. You must find a good balance to keep everyone happy.

I have witnessed this first hand at our club launches, people just showing up having not a clue as to what is going on. This leads to Fred becoming "long-winded" (no offense) in explaining what is the proper and legal way to launch. But, I will say that he and Martin have been dedicated to continue doing this for I think about 30 years or more and for this I thank you.


4) Many clubs in CA, because of the lack of safe and legal launch sites, will become fairly large.

Is SCRA considered large?


So, if we want more clubs, we need more NAR members, and we need all of those NAR members educated on how to go about securing a safe and legal launch site. And we need to help them do so, as necessary.

Thank you again.
 
A large number of clubs doesn't necessarily translate into a large number of rocketeers. Many of these clubs may have less than a dozen members in them.

MarkII

But that also depends on the definition of a member. Our club's roster lists approx. 50 members but only 9 or less are NAR members. We consider the club to have 50 members, NAR says it's 9. Technically both are correct.

Verna
www.vernarockets.com
 
Troy

NAR was founded in 1958, and some would claim that the "golden age" of model rocketry was the 60's. The affluence in the 60's was in the suburban areas surrounding the larger population areas, where the baby boomers were in school. This is where the first wave of model rocket folks called home. The 60's was the decade of the space race, and in the suburbs there were new homes, new schools that were teaching a lot of science, and youth picked up new hobbies including model rocketry.

In the 70's the space race was over, NASA was struggling for a mission, but some of the hobby rocket folks wanted more than model rockets. Many of these folks lived in the Midwest, West and South where there was lots of farms and other open space. NAR did not espouse larger rockets and rocket motors, and these folks eventually became Tripoli members in the late-80's. NAR did not jump on the HPR bandwagon till the early 90's, so folks flying bigger rockets in these areas gravitated towards TRA which came into formal existence in 1986. Since the late 90's there is little difference between NAR and TRA and in many areas rocket clubs have dual affiliations to take advantage of both NAR's model rocketry competitions and TRA's Research activities.

Rocket clubs usually need several dozen members to survive long term so they will tend to gravitate near population areas. In the Midwest, West and South, the population areas tend to be surrounded by large open agricultural areas, and my guess is that TRA has a larger number of clubs in these areas than NAR clubs which traditionally are found in the more populous industrialized parts of the country.

Bob
 
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The most significant factor is disposable income, not just population density. The rural, wide-open spaces might be nice for rocketry, but the per-capita income is far lower than a major metro area.

Being near aerospace activity doesn't have much to do with it. Here in Las Cruces NM, we're next door to White Sands Missile Range, but our club is tiny.

The locations of NAR Sections in the East has a lot to do with established old clubs and a few dedicated members with interest in NAR contests. Sections come and go elsewhere as interest fades. The average modroc consumer launches a few times independent of a group, and seldom stays in the hobby.

For HPR, launching as a group is almost a necessity. The distribution of Tripoli prefectures is quite different from NAR sections. The income level is still a factor, but availability of a large launch site is just as important.

-John
 
Id love to look at a map with TRA and NAR clubs overlayed to see what things look like. I feel there would be more TRA towards the west due to larger fields and TRA is geared towards HPR and EX more so than the NAR.

Ben
 
far more interesting to see the distribution of members/sections by NAR/TRA organization than the Verizon/AT&T coverage maps. Can you see me now?
 
Model (LPR) rocketry is not an expensive hobby. It has some appeal for people from less affluent regions for that very reason.

The definition of a "large" vs. a "small" rocketry club can vary from person to person, and is influenced by one's experience with such clubs. When I said that many clubs are very small, I was referring to total memberships, not to total numbers of NAR members.

When I talked about the effect of having aerospace industry (or research entities, which I also mentioned) in the area, I didn't mean that workers in that industry or in those institutions themselves would form any clubs, only that there would be more of an awareness of aeronautic flight in the local population in general, which would ultimately, but very indirectly, lead to higher interest in things like model rocketry, in comparison to areas that are similar in composition but which have no aerospace industry or research presence. Can anyone identify a large (30+ members) active rocketry club (I don't care if it is sanctioned by NAR, TRA or is independent) that is located in a region that completely lacks ANY aerospace industry OR research facility? If you are a member of one in such an area, please tell me your secret for finding potential members who, when you present anywhere from one to a dozen demonstrations of it, could actually give a rip about launching rockets even for a moment.

MarkII
 
This conversation piqued my curiosity, and being a nerd (ie, a rocketeer) I did some analysis based on the distribution of chapters by state and some census figures. I'll post it tomorrow or Saturday when I have some more time to format the results to make sense, but the short version is this: the distribution of NAR sections tracks pretty well with the population of states. I looked at the percent difference between the number of sections in a state vs. the projected number of sections in a state (if all NAR sections were distributed equally by population) and most states had less than 50% difference from their projected values. There were a few that varied substantially more in the + and - directions. Interestingly, California was the state with the highest negative variance (meaning that it is "lacking" a high percentage of its projected sections than any other state). More details soon...

(In the meantime, does anyone know if NAR keeps a list of how many members each section has? Or does anyone happen to have a list of how many NAR members on in each state?)

And I still need to do this for TRA...
 
Here is an interesting article discussing cartograms as a way to represent the population density in maps.
https://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/

If you use this approach to illustrate the location of NAR sections, it will likely look more evenly distributed.

The examples use the presidential election results of 2008. I hope this is not too political for the forum. :duck:

Reinhard
 
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