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Fishhead

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The kid two doors up launched an Estes Scout. From his back yard in our subdivision. It landed a couple of hundred yards away, on asphalt, with a broken fin, but it did the job. Every kid in the neighborhood had a rocket by the next day.
 

Gramparocket

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7th grade rocket club at school. The science teacher had an Estes Saturn5 hanging above the door in science lab. If I remember right it had a 5 motor cluster of 24mm, too cool.!
 

Ez2cDave

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I grew up in South Florida, during the Space Race. In 1967 ( I was 6 ), my Dad bought an Estes Alpha kit and built it for me . . . I was "hooked". By the 5th or 6th rocket, I was building my own ( with supervision ). It was a great time in history and I wouldn't trade it, for anything !

Dave F.
 

Jeff Lassahn

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When I was in gradeschool there were one day summer classes that kids could take. We did one where you make a camera out of a cardboard box and develop the film yourself, but I didn't become a photographer. We did another one where everyone built and launched model rockets. That one I kept doing.

When I went to college I stopped doing rockets.

Then last year I was working from home, events were being canceled, I was really bored, and I watched the SpaceX crew launch. And I thought "hey, rockets..."
 

Sandy H.

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My mom taught elementary school in GA and I 'had' to go to a 'school event' since I was too young to stay at home by myself. I'd guess 6, but I really don't remember.

I do remember the 'school event' was some 'old guy' talking a lot to a group of 5th graders while we sat on wooden bleachers in a common area, likely behind the community library, as that's where I always had to go to 'school events'.

I was bored out of my mind, self-conscious being around all the older kids and this 'old guy' just wouldn't shut up. After 1*10^27 minutes (that is my estimation of time from memory, I had no idea what an exponent was at 6 years old), he said 3-2-1 and the world changed. Being a young kid, you don't hide your emotions very well, so more people were looking at me than the rocket once he hit the button. This happened a few more times and I was completely attentive and proper, just like sitting in the front row at church - no fidgeting at all.

When it was over I remember my mom making me walk up and say thank-you to the 'old guy' who did the demonstration. He asked if I wanted my own rocket and I remember having a literal jaw drop, looking at my mom with the look that any kid can make 'really, can I have it???'. I got an Estes Mosquito in a bag. I *think* it was $0.49 on the bag, but maybe it was an absurd amount like $0.79 or even $0.99 - it would have been 1980-ish and knowing rocketeers, he might have bought it in 1970. . .

Anyway, I asked if I could have one for my brother too, as he might like them and he gave me a second one. My brother is 10 years older than me, so he already had gone through the 1st model rocketry phase by the time I was born.

Of course, I don't have the original mosquito any more, but after losing the first one (one of the most insane losses of my life at that point) my brother bought us both 2 more Mosquitos at the hobby shop and we each have them both (un-launched) today.

For our first launch, dad found a steel dowel, drilled a hole in a 4x4 that matched, screwed it to a scrap plywood base and we used a 9V battery touching wires to the lamp cord to 'make it go.' I think dad made my brother stain and seal the 'launchpad', but we used it for years. Dad even upgraded it to a 3/16" rod for the Mean Machine my brother and I both saved for.

So that's my story. I became a space nerd, aerospace engineer and still enjoy rocketry today, probably a 3x BAR. I think my brother is a 2x BAR. I really never thought about that event more than one or two times in my life, but that would be when it started. I have no clue who that 'old guy' was but I bet he was probably 30-40, give or take. I have done 13 launches as the 'old guy' so far and I assure you kids who are interested leave with something to build in their hands, no matter what. The ones who don't care, don't get much, though. . .

Thanks for asking a question that makes me remember such a cool time in my life. I lost dad in October, but mom and my brother are still doing great, so I'll share the memory with them the next time we talk. I know both will remember.

The attached pic is the second mosquito my brother built. He has mine, painted in silver. I bet his fins are way better than mine were!!!! I'll have to ask.

Sandy.
 

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BEC

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Who have I missed that I should read before I expire?
If you haven’t read The Martian by Andy Weir (and/or listened to one of the two audiobook versions) you should. He may wind up on that illustrious list of yours one day.

For the original question: Amazingly, I don’t recall a particular triggering event that got me into rockets, but it was some time in late 1967 or early 1968. I do know I got into them fairly heavily mainly by mail order from Estes, which wasn’t that far from where I lived in the four-corners area of NM. The nearest hobby shop was a 30 mile drive from home.

The first model was probably a Streak (I don’t actually remember), but I branched out from there into original designs (more about my first one of those here: https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/building-to-last.163973/post-2131983) and even took a project all the way to the New Mexico State Science Fair as a seventh grader in the spring of 1969.

When I went to college both the model airplanes and the rockets soon went by the wayside. I got back into airplanes right out of college and soon got involved in electric power. This was back when it was hard to do - very early 1980s. I didn’t get back to rockets until 2009, but they’ve pretty much taken over my hobby life since.
 

msjohnso

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In September 1966, I found the Estes catalog (the first color version) on the shelf at the back of the science classroom. Got hooked, especially when I found out that my science teacher's nephew was already flying rockets.
 

ghostfather

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Back in grade school, mid to late 60's, the 6th graders got to fly rockets as part of a science project. I couldn't wait until I was in 6th grade....

The school was split into two long wings with classrooms, one for grades 1-3, the other for grades 4-6, and the principal's office, kitchen and gymnasium somewhere in the middle, with fire doors separating the wings. But when you opened the interior fire doors, you had one very long hallway, from the 1st grade, across the mid-section, all the way to the 6th grade.
Every year, they would tension a wire all the way along both hallways, and pads/cushions at one end down by the first grade. Then they would have all the classes line the hallways, sitting on the floor, and launch an Estes model rocket (probably a mosquito, something small, as I remember) all the way from the 6th grade end to the 1st grade end. Of course, the whole school had to do the countdown, then whooooooossssh.....and a thud as it hit the cushions. And everyone cheered.

The sixth graders also flew several rockets out in the field beyond the playground, but us lower life forms weren't allowed to watch those.

Learn young, do old
 
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Back_at_it

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Which time ?

The first time around I was about 7 or 8 yrs old. My dad had flown rockets when he was a kid and thought it was something I might like. I started with a Challenger 1 launch set and went from there. I stayed in the hobby until I was about 16 or so. Somewhere around 11 yrs old I started getting into RC Cars so that hobby slowly took over rockets.

I returned to rockets in my early twenties because I was growing tired of RC Cars. Back in the day, electric cars were slow and batteries only lasted 4 minutes. Nitro was a PITA to deal with so I gave up and came back to rockets. I stayed with rocketry until my early 30's when work, family and a bunch of other stuff forced me to shelve my hobbies for a while.

My latest return was about 3 yrs ago and happened because of my girlfriend. We were in a hobby store looking at RC Cars and she found the rocket section and thought it was something her nieces would enjoy. We bought a launch set, a couple of extra rockets, motors, wadding etc. and I I started building with the nieces. Obviously this lead me to go home and dig out all my old rockets and begin the restoration and building. I've been with it ever since.
 

berlinetta

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Ever since I was real young, I loved NASA and the space shuttle. I found out that my dad had model rockets and wed go to the school and fly them. It wasn't til I was 15 that I had the opportunity through scouts and the space exploration merit badge, to build and fly my first rocket, an Estes Gnome. After that, I was truly hooked. Now, I have two daughters, my wife, and my 5 year old grandson all interested in it. So going to launches are going to become more fun for me.
 

RobertH3

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Houston - 1976...My friend Kevin and I rode our bikes to the hobby shop. Kevin had more money so he got an Alpha III, and I got "Javelin and Super Flea" combo for 3.00 or so, I think. They were less expensive (lol) than other hobby stuff. Heaven help RC airplanes.
So, then came begging for a launcher and pad. I got the launch controller and we made a pad by banging 1/8" piano wire into a 2 x 12. Whoosh, it was done. I flew rockets until I was 16 or so when I got a car. Then a couple BAR's for my kids and now for me.

I did read lots of SF and science/space books, fairly common thread there.

Cheers / Robert
 

cfoster3448

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I started when I was probably 7-9 years old (in ~1976), in elementary school, and there was this kid who had an Estes catalog, and as I was looking over his shoulder to see the catalog, he saw that I was interested, and showed me what it was all about, and I was instantly "hooked" as well. I built model rockets from approx 1976 to 1982, then high school hit, and it was a whole different world. I stopped making them at around 1983-1984 (I graduated HS in 1985), met my first wife, had a kid, blah blah blah - you know the story... Recently I have started again (some 40+ years later) especially during the Covid crap and social distancing, etc. Things have changed in the last 40+ years - kevlar shock cords!! Newer bigger BP engines. The ability to print your own vinyl/waterslide decals. ROCKSIM (or OpenRocket) was something that scientists used at NASA running on a mainframe, and you had to have a college degree in mathematics to know how to "use" it. (I just made that last statement up, but it is an example of how things were 40+ years ago as opposed to now).
 

rklapp

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Houston - 1976...My friend Kevin and I rode our bikes to the hobby shop. Kevin had more money so he got an Alpha III, and I got "Javelin and Super Flea" combo for 3.00 or so, I think. They were less expensive (lol) than other hobby stuff. Heaven help RC airplanes.
So, then came begging for a launcher and pad. I got the launch controller and we made a pad by banging 1/8" piano wire into a 2 x 12. Whoosh, it was done. I flew rockets until I was 16 or so when I got a car. Then a couple BAR's for my kids and now for me.

I did read lots of SF and science/space books, fairly common thread there.

Cheers / Robert
At the park, I gave a kid my clone Missile Toe. He was so excited, he didn’t want to launch it for fear of losing it. I apologized to the dad saying he’ll have to buy the kit from the LHS. I imagine the kid was bagging his dad everyday.
 

R. S. Galileo

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As a kid I had a cousin who was four years older than me, and I idolized him. He never had his IQ tested, but he was definitely Mensa material. He would do things like build tvs and radios from spare parts, and talk to people all over the world in Morse on his ham radio. He would always drop these hobbies soon after starting them. He would get bored, I guess. Anyway, I stayed with him for a couple of weeks while he was launching rockets, and got hooked. I remember him carving a small nose cone and fins and glueing them directly onto an engine - with a launch lug, of course. He launched it from his back yard and we actually found it, minus the nose cone. He had used a regular engine, not a booster stage.
So even through the years when I wasn't actively building or launching, I still considered rockets my hobby. Now that I have some more time in my life, I'm going to actually try to work on a pretty big pile of rockets I've been collecting all this time.
 
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John Kemker

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Grew up in Houston. (Bellaire, specifically.) Used to hang out at the hobby shop in downtown Bellaire and they had model rockets. Pestered Mom and Dad to let me buy a model rocket. Christmas 1971, I received an Estes WAC Corporal from Santa. This Christmas will be my 50th year in the hobby.
 

les

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Started in the 60's during the Space Race....
I believe my first rocket was mail order from an ad in Boy's Life or some other magazine/comic. I can't remember what it was - probably an Alpha.
Spent several years and built a few dozen rockets, including a Wac Corporal, V2, Cherokee D (with the Mighty D engine), Mars Lander, Trident, Saturn 5, Gemini Titan, and many others. Fell out of it in High School. While in college, our house got sold and my rocket stuff "evaporated". Then back in 98 my daughter got involved in a science program where they built a rocket and my son also did a rocket through scouts. I remembered my fun from a child and we bought several more kits. I got re-hooked (bad), but they lost interest. Since then I've built a couple of hundred rockets - to my wife's displeasure...... ;)
 

bronicabill

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My start was a weird one; happened back around 1970. My 4th grade science teacher brought her husband's R/C airplane to school for a show-and-tell, and being someone who ADORED all things that fly since approximately 4-years old, I went home that evening and built a "replica" out of corrugated cardboard, coloring it in the correct colors with magic markers. I took it to class the next day to show her, and she was so impressed that she presented me with my first Estes rocket, the Astron Falcon boost-glider about a week later! From that point on I was hooked!
 

arconhi

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My mom taught elementary school in GA and I 'had' to go to a 'school event' since I was too young to stay at home by myself. I'd guess 6, but I really don't remember.

I do remember the 'school event' was some 'old guy' talking a lot to a group of 5th graders while we sat on wooden bleachers in a common area, likely behind the community library, as that's where I always had to go to 'school events'.

I was bored out of my mind, self-conscious being around all the older kids and this 'old guy' just wouldn't shut up. After 1*10^27 minutes (that is my estimation of time from memory, I had no idea what an exponent was at 6 years old), he said 3-2-1 and the world changed. Being a young kid, you don't hide your emotions very well, so more people were looking at me than the rocket once he hit the button. This happened a few more times and I was completely attentive and proper, just like sitting in the front row at church - no fidgeting at all.

When it was over I remember my mom making me walk up and say thank-you to the 'old guy' who did the demonstration. He asked if I wanted my own rocket and I remember having a literal jaw drop, looking at my mom with the look that any kid can make 'really, can I have it???'. I got an Estes Mosquito in a bag. I *think* it was $0.49 on the bag, but maybe it was an absurd amount like $0.79 or even $0.99 - it would have been 1980-ish and knowing rocketeers, he might have bought it in 1970. . .

Anyway, I asked if I could have one for my brother too, as he might like them and he gave me a second one. My brother is 10 years older than me, so he already had gone through the 1st model rocketry phase by the time I was born.

Of course, I don't have the original mosquito any more, but after losing the first one (one of the most insane losses of my life at that point) my brother bought us both 2 more Mosquitos at the hobby shop and we each have them both (un-launched) today.

For our first launch, dad found a steel dowel, drilled a hole in a 4x4 that matched, screwed it to a scrap plywood base and we used a 9V battery touching wires to the lamp cord to 'make it go.' I think dad made my brother stain and seal the 'launchpad', but we used it for years. Dad even upgraded it to a 3/16" rod for the Mean Machine my brother and I both saved for.

So that's my story. I became a space nerd, aerospace engineer and still enjoy rocketry today, probably a 3x BAR. I think my brother is a 2x BAR. I really never thought about that event more than one or two times in my life, but that would be when it started. I have no clue who that 'old guy' was but I bet he was probably 30-40, give or take. I have done 13 launches as the 'old guy' so far and I assure you kids who are interested leave with something to build in their hands, no matter what. The ones who don't care, don't get much, though. . .

Thanks for asking a question that makes me remember such a cool time in my life. I lost dad in October, but mom and my brother are still doing great, so I'll share the memory with them the next time we talk. I know both will remember.

The attached pic is the second mosquito my brother built. He has mine, painted in silver. I bet his fins are way better than mine were!!!! I'll have to ask.

Sandy.
A nice story you wrote. My Condolences on your Father.
 

arconhi

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Grew up in Houston. (Bellaire, specifically.) Used to hang out at the hobby shop in downtown Bellaire and they had model rockets. Pestered Mom and Dad to let me buy a model rocket. Christmas 1971, I received an Estes WAC Corporal from Santa. This Christmas will be my 50th year in the hobby.
Im on my 50th too. I had the WAC also back then.
 

arconhi

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My start was a weird one; happened back around 1970. My 4th grade science teacher brought her husband's R/C airplane to school for a show-and-tell, and being someone who ADORED all things that fly since approximately 4-years old, I went home that evening and built a "replica" out of corrugated cardboard, coloring it in the correct colors with magic markers. I took it to class the next day to show her, and she was so impressed that she presented me with my first Estes rocket, the Astron Falcon boost-glider about a week later! From that point on I was hooked!
Around that time we built a scratch Wing glider rocket. It went up about 30 feet , made a turn and landed 200 feet away with the motor still burning in a dry weedy field. Had to get the Fire Department to put out the fire that burnt about a 150 foot circle of tall weeds.
5....4....3....2...1....Thunderbirds are Go!!!
 

arconhi

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Our backyard stopped at the High School Athletic field fence. In 1971, a Centuri MX-774 Model rocket with the yellow and black checker board chute was laying in our yard. Find out the Schools Science teacher was flying rockets with the Science Club. We returned it to them and watched a few more of their rockets go up. I was hooked and went to our towns Drug store who was selling rockets and bought a Centuri Astro 1 and an Iris kit.
 

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prfesser

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First time: 5th grade. The rich kid in class brought in some rocket, the class went out to the baseball field. Whoosh...but I was hooked as soon as I found out that KIDS could buy rockets that would fly! Didn't get an allowance but all babysitting and other odd-job money went to rockets. Watched as the 9th-grade rocket club set up a 4-stage on the pad. "That's gonna do something stupid." "Nah, we put two nose weights in and a whole sheet of balsa for each first-stage fin." I wish I'd thought of the term 'skywriting' because that's pretty much all that anyone saw when the button was pushed. Told ya so...

Sometime either shortly before or shortly after 9th grade I discovered cars. And girls. Not quite in that order. Rocketry faded away...

Second time: Saw the advert in Popular Science-Or-Mechanics. GIANT rockets, the one in the advert was taller than either of the guys standing there, if you can believe that. ;) I think it was PML's ad but am not sure. Anyway, I was hooked a second time, sent for HPR magazine, found there was going to be a launch about 3.5 hours away. Came away with what would be converted into a L1 rocket. Never looked back. No regerts.

Best regrads,
Terry
 

Blast it Tom!

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My mom taught elementary school in GA and I 'had' to go to a 'school event' since I was too young to stay at home by myself. I'd guess 6, but I really don't remember.

I do remember the 'school event' was some 'old guy' talking a lot to a group of 5th graders while we sat on wooden bleachers in a common area, likely behind the community library, as that's where I always had to go to 'school events'.

I was bored out of my mind, self-conscious being around all the older kids and this 'old guy' just wouldn't shut up. After 1*10^27 minutes (that is my estimation of time from memory, I had no idea what an exponent was at 6 years old), he said 3-2-1 and the world changed. Being a young kid, you don't hide your emotions very well, so more people were looking at me than the rocket once he hit the button. This happened a few more times and I was completely attentive and proper, just like sitting in the front row at church - no fidgeting at all.

When it was over I remember my mom making me walk up and say thank-you to the 'old guy' who did the demonstration. He asked if I wanted my own rocket and I remember having a literal jaw drop, looking at my mom with the look that any kid can make 'really, can I have it???'. I got an Estes Mosquito in a bag. I *think* it was $0.49 on the bag, but maybe it was an absurd amount like $0.79 or even $0.99 - it would have been 1980-ish and knowing rocketeers, he might have bought it in 1970. . .

Anyway, I asked if I could have one for my brother too, as he might like them and he gave me a second one. My brother is 10 years older than me, so he already had gone through the 1st model rocketry phase by the time I was born.

Of course, I don't have the original mosquito any more, but after losing the first one (one of the most insane losses of my life at that point) my brother bought us both 2 more Mosquitos at the hobby shop and we each have them both (un-launched) today.

For our first launch, dad found a steel dowel, drilled a hole in a 4x4 that matched, screwed it to a scrap plywood base and we used a 9V battery touching wires to the lamp cord to 'make it go.' I think dad made my brother stain and seal the 'launchpad', but we used it for years. Dad even upgraded it to a 3/16" rod for the Mean Machine my brother and I both saved for.

So that's my story. I became a space nerd, aerospace engineer and still enjoy rocketry today, probably a 3x BAR. I think my brother is a 2x BAR. I really never thought about that event more than one or two times in my life, but that would be when it started. I have no clue who that 'old guy' was but I bet he was probably 30-40, give or take. I have done 13 launches as the 'old guy' so far and I assure you kids who are interested leave with something to build in their hands, no matter what. The ones who don't care, don't get much, though. . .

Thanks for asking a question that makes me remember such a cool time in my life. I lost dad in October, but mom and my brother are still doing great, so I'll share the memory with them the next time we talk. I know both will remember.

The attached pic is the second mosquito my brother built. He has mine, painted in silver. I bet his fins are way better than mine were!!!! I'll have to ask.

Sandy.
That one made my day, but deepest condolences on the loss of your dad. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!
 
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