Tic Toc TARC


Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
Reaction score
It's getting down to the wire, with just a day left before the scores have to be FAXed into Audrey's machine at the AIA... but, we made it, no thanks to NASCAR's schedule, some typical Texas springtime weather, and Mr. Murphy.

Finished up our qualification flights for all three Northwest HS teams this morning... a 20.36, a 31.56, and 65.38 . That's the short story.... for those with time to kill, read on.

Northwest High School is kinda unique in Texas... we're the only high school that has an automatic exception (meaning that the Texas Education Agency doesn't count it against us if we don't hold school that day) for days when NASCAR gets rained out on Sundays in April. See, we're just a couple of miles southwest of the Texas Motor Speedway, the Great American Speedway where right now, the Dickies 500 Sprint Cup race is going round-and-round-and-round. When the race gets rained out on a Sunday, NASCAR wants to go ahead and try and run it the next day - Monday.

Our school complex (the admin building, a disciplinary school, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school) sit on several hundred acres at the junction of two major state highways. They are the only way into the school complex, as a matter of fact. And, if NASCAR's race is happening on a Monday, it prevents the school buses from making the routes for all of the munchkins in the afternoon.

Then, too, a bit southeast of the school is the little strip of concrete known as Alliance Airport. Today, it looked like the approach to Kennedy, LAX, or DFW - at one time this morning the controllers were literally handling one arrival every two minutes. Everything from FA-18's for the flyover, to Lears, Gulfstreams, more than one American widebody coming into their maintenance facility, a Fedex heavy or two coming into the Fedex terminal, more bizjets and everything down to a couple of Bonanzas with everyone coming to the race. With the winds from the south, yesterday and today, the approach is putting planes on 16-LEFT, which passes the aircraft just a short distance (and I mean less than a mile) to the west of where we were flying our rockets.

Needless to say, extreme vigilance was necessary - if we could even HEAR an aircraft or helicopter anywhere, then we held... and listening to Alliance tower on VHF would give us an idea of when the traffic was headed our way.

Normally, Alliance processes about 50 traffic ops a day. Why the increase? Did I mention that today was the Sprint Cup race at TMS?

But, we made it.. and we did it safely. Our NAR mentors, Jack and Suzi Sprauge (did I mention how much we appreciate you guys?) had filed the FAA notifications. And, we had to get up to the school complex at 0800, an hour before school normally starts, ON A WEEKEND!!!!, to beat the TMS traffic. We flew both yesterday and today! Argghh!

It was soooo cool to watch the progress this year - one of our teams had previously done their qualification flights - that team had two very competitive rockets - and watching a young team captain make the decision that the other guy's rocket had the best chance of getting them to Virginia, even though his own rocket could probably have done the trick as well, made me proud to see the guys think of the team instead of just their own feelings.

Jack and Suzi had arranged for us to go up to Denton to fly on the home field of a team from Denton High School earlier in the week - the Denton team was a bit short on their shock cord so one of our guys immediately offered them some extra Kevlar... and the Denton team returned the favor the next evening, when they came down to our field. One of our guys had lawn-darted and was going to have to re-build the motor mount on his rocket (his eggs survived a 700 foot free fall, though - I think he just passed my engineering course for the year!). The Denton team had an extra set of centering rings and offered them to our guys without hesitation. That's what sportsmanship is all about, and again I was so proud to be their sponsor.

Today, one of the teams flying this morning was made up of three young ladies - one of which had a real bad experience while doing the TARC competition three years ago. Then, her rocket drifted into a baseball field where, evidentially the players took offense, and after destroying her rocket threw it into a waste bin. It was so cool to watch her parents reaction to a very successful flight and, most likely, a score that will get them to Virginia next month.

So, now I FAX the scoresheets in to Washington, and we wait. And wait. And wait.

I THINK we've got at least one and maybe two teams that will be going to the Nationals. I'm not hopeful a 65 will make it for the third team. But, even in that there's a bright spot - out of all the kids making up our teams, 12 in all... only two are seniors and not counting our one foreign exchange student who returns to Germany in the summer, we'll have 3/4 of our members coming back for next school year. And THEN, you can just bet, we'll have three teams headed to the nationals!

If you have the opportunity to participate with a TARC team, either as the sponsor, if you're a teacher or youth leader or such, or as a mentor, and you haven't done so yet - do yourself a favor and get involved with these kids.

Hmmm... the air show this year is at Farnsborough, isn't it????? :)


Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
Reaction score
Woodstock, IL
Thanks for the story. The experience you describe is the essence of what TARC is all about, from the local NAR member support to the parts and field sharing among teams.

Take a bow, sir. You and your kids deserve one!