Rocketry Clubs in Cornwall/Devon?

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Steve789

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Hi, I'm exploring the idea of taking up rocketry as a new hobby/obsession and was wondering if there are any clubs in my area. I live near Falmouth, Cornwall so to find any clubs that meet in my area would be great however I suspect I'm going to need to travel quite a distance to find a club. I've had a quick look on the UKRA website and haven't found any clubs in the south west area.

All I'm looking for at the moment is an organised launch to attend to get an idea of what the hobby entails and have a chat. Is it the case that rocketry is such a niche hobby that there aren't any clubs in the south west area?

Also I notice the UKRA doesn't have an online forum. Is this the most active rocketry forum for the UK?
 

amell

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Hi, I'm exploring the idea of taking up rocketry as a new hobby/obsession and was wondering if there are any clubs in my area. I live near Falmouth, Cornwall so to find any clubs that meet in my area would be great however I suspect I'm going to need to travel quite a distance to find a club. I've had a quick look on the UKRA website and haven't found any clubs in the south west area.

Also I notice the UKRA doesn't have an online forum. Is this the most active rocketry forum for the UK?
Hi Steve,

Your closest club will be FOG Rocketry, they meet near Redwick, Gwent. www.fogrocketry.org.uk - I'm not aware of any clubs in Cornwall/Devon, and I don't think there have been for many years at least. It is a little surprising really. If you manage to find like minded individuals in the area then why not form a new Rocketry club. UKRA would be happy to help you with any necessary steps.

The UKRA online forum can be found at the Facebook group "United Kingdom Rocketry Association" - We found that in the main, people preferred to discuss their projects there rather than on the website. Its pretty active, and contains most UK rocketeers. There is no shortage of advice when questions are asked.

Regards

Andy
UKRA Membership Sec.
 

Steve789

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Thanks for the reply Andy. I thought I might have to travel to another county but over a 6 hour round trip to Wales was more than I was expecting! I guess I'll have to rethink my plan to casually popping along to a local club gathering. Seems a shame when I think there must be plenty of good locations in Cornwall and Devon for rocketry.
 

ziminar

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I'm in the same boat Steve. I've just taken this up as well and live up by Bristol. It's a bit closer to FOG than you but I still don't really fancy 3-4 hour drive each way for a "local" club. At the moment I'm planning on just doing a lot on my own and once I get some experience with small rockets start going to the UKRA events to have a go at flying some bigger stuff :) It does seem a real shame though that rocketry in the UK seems to have died in some respects. There only seems to be a very small number of shops selling supplies so everything has to be bought online :( Even going by UKRA's site, there's only 10 clubs nationwide?? Alot of the websites for those 10 haven't had anything posted on them in years either :S
 

Space Oddity

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My experience is similar to yours though I only have a 4 hour round trip to attend my closest club.
With regard to suppliers, I've learned from experience that there are effectively four of them in the UK, three of which offer a generally excellent service with deliveries within a week. Most recently I ordered some parts from the Model Rocket shop on a Sunday and received them on Tuesday.
They all operate on line and there is a delivery charge. So I've found it best to order in bulk and build up some stock. Sometimes the clubs have vendors on site at their flying days - worth checking out.

Regarding club web sites, I also share your experience. In some cases devoid of any activity and more a record of the past rather than an attractive advert for new members. I discovered earlier this year that some conduct their communication almost exclusively on Facebook. Not for me I'm afraid but there to use for those that choose.
Recent communication with UKRA has improved a lot over the past few months and although their main channel of communication has also moved to Facebook, they do respond to queries and questions posted on their main site.

I've been a UKRA and club member for just one year. I had planned to attend many of their flying days but for many of the factors above was unable to. Next year I plan to save up my flights and complete them at just a couple of events. Even at just a 4 hour round trip it's still a whole day out so cram as much as possible into one day and make it worthwhile.

In conclusion, I've found rocketry in the UK expensive, logistically difficult and uncommunicative. I don't think it's dying yet but certainly in need of some intensive care and publicity.
On the plus side, once you manage to get face to face or in direct contact with people you'll find a great bunch of enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and very supportive individuals. At that point you might say to yourself, "Now I've arrived, this is easy. Why was the journey here so difficult". When I have the answer to that question I'll let you know.
It is worth persevering.

All the best,

SO.
 
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Tim51

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My experience is similar to yours though I only have a 4 hour round trip to attend my closest club.
With regard to suppliers, I've learned from experience that there are effectively four of them in the UK, three of which offer a generally excellent service with deliveries within a week. Most recently I ordered some parts from the Model Rocket shop on a Sunday and received them on Tuesday.
They all operate on line and there is a delivery charge. So I've found it best to order in bulk and build up some stock. Sometimes the clubs have vendors on site at their flying days - worth checking out.

Regarding club web sites, I also share your experience. In some cases devoid of any activity and more a record of the past rather than an attractive advert for new members. I discovered earlier this year that some conduct their communication almost exclusively on Facebook. Not for me I'm afraid but there to use for those that choose.
Recent communication with UKRA has improved a lot over the past few months and although their main channel of communication has also moved to Facebook, they do respond to queries and questions posted on their main site.

I've been a UKRA and club member for just one year. I had planned to attend many of their flying days but for many of the factors above was unable to. Next year I plan to save up my flights and complete them at just a couple of events. Even at just a 4 hour round trip it's still a whole day out so cram as much as possible into one day and make it worthwhile.

In conclusion, I've found rocketry in the UK expensive, logistically difficult and uncommunicative. I don't think it's dying yet but certainly in need of some intensive care and publicity.
On the plus side, once you manage to get face to face or in direct contact with people you'll find a great bunch of enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and very supportive individuals. At that point you might say to yourself, "Now I've arrived, this is easy. Why was the journey here so difficult". When I have the answer to that question I'll let you know.
It is worth persevering.

All the best,

SO.

Having been a UKRA member since Jan 2014 I recognise much of what you're saying - I spent the first few months wondering why no one, whether at club level or national level responded to any emails (I don't do Facebook, but thought in any case an email more formal / 'professional')). But, again, once I started making the substantial trek to events I was struck by the friendly enthusiasm and helpfulness of UKRA and club members in person. The contrast with the seeming indifference earlier could not have been greater. Like you I've been left wondering why this should be the case. I'm not trying to be some sort of rocketry sociologist here, but two points have occurred to me:

1) Infrastructure: the lack of any employed administrative staff at club or national level (for obvious reasons) means the considerable administrative burdens at club or national level are done voluntarily. Rocketeers who admirably put themselves forward for national or local organisational roles are effectively adding another job to the pressures they already have in their working lives. Like most of the modern workforce, most of us are already working in professions that are already overloaded with pressures for deadlines and prompt responses. Even if it's not a deliberate thing, I can therefore totally understand if those involved to some extent want to escape from that, and march to their own drum as it were, when doing rocketry.

2) A more general issue about the nature of the hobby - although most rocketeers talk about goals rather than deadlines, as we all know, it is one of those activities you have to do properly or not at all. Quite a few hobbies are built more around the social life they provide rather than the actual activity. It seems to me that rocketry is in some ways the opposite to that. So with rocketry there's an alternating pattern of intense individual work on the one hand, then the social interactions of the launch day on the other, (which of course are focussed on prepping and padding up in an isolated area, doing launches then packing up and going home). Other hobbies benefit by the social bonding that occurs in the bar or on the coach trip, or during the walk home from the sports centre - for rocketry it's not that easy.

I also definitely don't think that rocketry in the UK is dying, or anywhere near it, and I agree it's worth persevering. I think it's more a case of a small dedicated community that is punching above its weight organisationally and (to mix the metaphor) wrestling with the demands of ambitious goals.


--
UKRA #1895 L1
 

Tim51

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Just another thought, building on SO's point about saving up projects for one or two events, and Steve789's original query - Cornwall / Devon would certainly be a great area for an annual event similar to SARA's International Rocket Week. Would that be feasible logistically for UKRA without a host club close by, I wonder.?
 

Space Oddity

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Tim,

A couple of comments, firstly with respect to an annual event. A great idea but let me share something strictly between you and me. I say that because I'm about to completely contradict myself on the importance of membership growth.

My grandson and I attended Big EARS in 2014 and a second EARS event in April this year. We never intended to fly at Big EARS but had a few rockets to fly at the April event. At the event we only flew two of them. Mainly because of the good attendance and having to wait our turn. Eventually, time ran out and we left for home.
We managed to get to the October event. Very few people there. In contrast we managed to fly half a dozen times, it could have been more. The support we had was fantastic. I learnt a great deal, my grandson much more.
The lesson learned for me was that if you want an event to fly lots, pick one that is likely to be poorly attended. A very self interested comment I know, and "off the record" of course.

Back to "on the record" I do believe that attracting young people to hobby is key, also publicising the hobby both locally and nationally.
Schools, colleges, local demonstrations, may provide such interest. It has to be credible and sustainable however. There's no point in inspiring interest if it can't be maintained.
UK Industry must be supportive. Forgive my bluntness but I don't think it can supply the current demand let alone an increase in new member demand. Would they be prepared to pay for a planned campaign of "advertorials" in support of UKRA articles in relevant publications? By relevant I mean BMFA News and other UK flying publications that I see on supermarket shelves (to begin with). Product discount deals for UKRA and selected club members?
Publicise and appeal to parents anxious to educate and take their children away from Facebook.
Introduce challenge by way of competition and as you say, do it at a national event with national recognition. Make competitions achievable for all levels of rocketry experience.
Aerospace industry involvement, they are currently crying out for a good apprenticeship business cases. They have to backed by credibility and again, sustainability.
Change the UKRA qualification and certification rules to allow more beginners to be involved with qualified mentors.
Most importantly, get us overworked enthusiasts involved (at this point, don't ask me how, I don't know). But clearly we can't expect a few volunteers from UKRA and the clubs to do it all. To become involved however, we do need clear, informed and budgeted direction. That would be the part to play for those that control the hobby.

I recognise what you say about time and professional commitment, I am a "slave" to it as much as anyone else. Maybe however we could all contribute in numbers, in a very small way to something that could grow in a very large way. From a minor hobby into a sport?

A couple of final questions to UKRA and the clubs. What is the UKRA and club national membership number and do they publish annual accounts? A good starting point to indicate what is and what isn't possible.
I'm up for playing a small part in change. But I'd like to know that there is value and support from authorities, enthusiasts and industry to what we are "buying into".

Comments welcomed.

All the best SO.
 
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Space Oddity

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A quick and light hearted PS to my previous post, I've noticed that the UK rocketry section of this forum has overtaken the Canadian section in the number of threads. By posting this we have equalled them in the number of posts!

Forgive me if I sound nationalistic, I'm certainly not that. But I do have the impression that UK enthusiasm is not dead and may be ready for imaginative regeneration?

SO.
 

Tim51

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Tim,

A couple of comments, firstly with respect to an annual event. A great idea but let me share something strictly between you and me. I say that because I'm about to completely contradict myself on the importance of membership growth.

My grandson and I attended Big EARS in 2014 and a second EARS event in April this year. We never intended to fly at Big EARS but had a few rockets to fly at the April event. At the event we only flew two of them. Mainly because of the good attendance and having to wait our turn. Eventually, time ran out and we left for home.
We managed to get to the October event. Very few people there. In contrast we managed to fly half a dozen times, it could have been more. The support we had was fantastic. I learnt a great deal, my grandson much more.
The lesson learned for me was that if you want an event to fly lots, pick one that is likely to be poorly attended. A very self interested comment I know, and "off the record" of course.

Back to "on the record" I do believe that attracting young people to hobby is key, also publicising the hobby both locally and nationally.
Schools, colleges, local demonstrations, may provide such interest. It has to be credible and sustainable however. There's no point in inspiring interest if it can't be maintained.
UK Industry must be supportive. Forgive my bluntness but I don't think it can supply the current demand let alone an increase in new member demand. Would they be prepared to pay for a planned campaign of "advertorials" in support of UKRA articles in relevant publications? By relevant I mean BMFA News and other UK flying publications that I see on supermarket shelves (to begin with). Product discount deals for UKRA and selected club members?
Publicise and appeal to parents anxious to educate and take their children away from Facebook.
Introduce challenge by way of competition and as you say, do it at a national event with national recognition. Make competitions achievable for all levels of rocketry experience.
Aerospace industry involvement, they are currently crying out for a good apprenticeship business cases. They have to backed by credibility and again, sustainability.
Change the UKRA qualification and certification rules to allow more beginners to be involved with qualified mentors.
Most importantly, get us overworked enthusiasts involved (at this point, don't ask me how, I don't know). But clearly we can't expect a few volunteers from UKRA and the clubs to do it all. To become involved however, we do need clear, informed and budgeted direction. That would be the part to play for those that control the hobby.

I recognise what you say about time and professional commitment, I am a "slave" to it as much as anyone else. Maybe however we could all contribute in numbers, in a very small way to something that could grow in a very large way. From a minor hobby into a sport?

A couple of final questions to UKRA and the clubs. What is the UKRA and club national membership number and do they publish annual accounts? A good starting point to indicate what is and what isn't possible.
I'm up for playing a small part in change. But I'd like to know that there is value and support from authorities, enthusiasts and industry to what we are "buying into".

Comments welcomed.

All the best SO.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts - certainly a lot to mull over and think about - I suppose the way forward for you to formalise your ideas would be to table a motion for the UKRA AGM, to solicit thoughts and discussion amongst members (if you have not already done so).

On a slightly different but related tangent - at EARS this weekend (1/11) there was a sizeable team of young researchers and PhD candidates from Cambridge University, testing out a second stage airframe. Some had already made the trek to BALLS in Nevada, and were planning going back for more. Again, perhaps it's on a slightly different tack to your points, but it struck me then that UK rocketry probably needs a BALLS type event - ie, a high end, 'vanguard' meet that pushes the envelope and inspires the rest of us, and looks serious to the industry that you mention. Eligibility for BALLS starts at Level 2 of course - so in mooting this I'm automatically excluding myself (for the present at least) - but their 'go big or go home' ethos inspires team efforts, collaboration, ingenuity and record setting. That, it would appear to me, galvanises the rocketry community and makes what they're doing relevant to society at large. Of course, a large desert is something we don't have here, but there are moors, army firing ranges and such.
 
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Steveclay

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I know this is an old thread but I too live in Falmouth Cornwall. I have access to predannack airfield which is a satellite to RNAS Culdrose. As a member of the Culdrose model flying club (BMFA affiliated) we are allowed to launch LPR rockets. If you are are still around/ active PM for a chat.
Steve
 

Tim51

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I know this is an old thread but I too live in Falmouth Cornwall. I have access to predannack airfield which is a satellite to RNAS Culdrose. As a member of the Culdrose model flying club (BMFA affiliated) we are allowed to launch LPR rockets. If you are are still around/ active PM for a chat.
Steve
I'm not local but I'm pretty sure there would be interest in LPR flying via UKRA.
 

PhilC

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If the club is a BMFA affiliate, and you're a BMFA member, then you're insured for rocketry.

I'd let Culdrose know if you're launching rockets inside their MATZ as they're a different type of hazard to RC aircraft; they go higher and can't be landed in an emergency.

Looking at earlier posts, not much has changed on the club scene but schools' rocketry has seen a resurgence. UKRoC has restructured with industry backing and relaunched. Pre-covid it was pulling in 100 teams a year across all four nations and growing at about 15% per year. If you do start a club then this might be a way to attract local schools and youth groups.

Let us know how you get on.
 
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