What is your rocketry "origin story"?

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dbrent

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Here is a link to my long winded origin story I did as part of my YouTube channel introduction:
My Origin Story ( starts at 5:46 - First part is channel introduction )
 

GlenP

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Fond memory of my older brother’s Big Bertha launch in the post above.

I got my own Centuri Viking later at a Cub Scout day camp, and then found an ad for a sales program in Boys Life where you earn a prize for selling greeting cards, or having your mom buy them from you. I got a Centuri Big Shot launch set as my prize and started mail ordering from the catalogs and spending all my paper route money on them.
 

JonathanOtt

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Mid/late 70's...I was 10 years old or so. My neighbor kid had some rockets and I (being a kid) traded a "Jaws" skateboard for an Alpha kit.
 

georgegassaway

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I posted mine in a similar thread in 2008, pasted below:

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"I had a stumbling start. In North Carolina, in 1967 or so, knowing nothing, I found model rockets in a hobby shop. I got a Centuri Lil Herc, one pack of A engines, a launch rod, and a pack of fuse. Did not bother to glue the fins on. Set it up in the front yard, and lit the fuse. It went tumbling unstably up the street... and that was it. The end.

A couple of years later, having moved to Alabama, I saw some kids flying model rockets locally, but they got theirs by mail order, and I hated mail order.

The turning point was that my school had a copy of Stines Handbook of Model Rocketry. I read it fully and came to understand why fins were important, and all the other things about what makes a model rocket fly and operate properly.

But still I did not go out and seek model rockets at a hobby shop or try to get a catalog. What made the final difference was when in February or March 1970, I found MPC model rockets in K-Mart. Thats when I got hooked, by the timing that I was already primed with the knowledge from Stines Handbook, and now had an easy source for the models and engines.

Also, it did not hurt one bit that the MPC kits had plastic fins, and some with one-piece plastic fin units, so that solved my previous fin problem!

But even then I had a false start. I used an MPC Moon Go (one piece fin unit), and tried to launch it, electrically, It misfired. So, I rigged up another ignitor, but used Scotch tape to hold the ignitor in. Well, the ignitor did not light the engine, but it did light the Scotch tape. The flame from the Scotch tape spread to one of the plastic fins, and then when that plastic fin caught fire it caught the rest of the back of the rocket on fire. It did not stop burning until I threw a big rock at it to knock it over.

So, my first successful rocket was not until my third rocket, which I think was a Viper (another MPC kit).

(I posted these inks below in 2008 but they are dead now)

BTW - history of MPC:
https://www.skyhighhobbies.com/history.htm

Two catalog pages showing the Viper and Moon-Go:

https://www.skyhighhobbies.com/MPC Catalog_spread_3_web.jpg

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2022 addition: Below is an image of the Moon Go kit box. And below that, a brochure of other MPC kits including the Viper. If the fins look familiar, Quest ended up with the molds for various noses and fin units that the MPC kits introduced (Estes & Centuri did not have plastic fin units until after MPC did it. Alpha-III could almost be called "MPC-style Alpha")
nFsVmSK.jpg
Br9JR4L.jpg
 
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hball55

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As a forty year old, a coworker mentioned to a few of us that he was going out and launching an Estes rocket with his son later in the week. Three of us went out and bought starter kits and joined him. We all had a good time and I soon began searching out rockets online. I was the only one out of five that took it further, starting with mid-power Aerotech kits. Started launching with SARG in ‘96 at its Consumnes River College site. Later, went to a few TCC launches outside Fresno and then started launching with LUNAR at Roberson Park. Did my level 1 at a LUNAR launch, forget what rocket it was, probably a PML kit. Did my level 2 at TCC with a 4” Scotglass Nike Smoke and a J350 motor; that was in ‘98. Been to Blackrock several times, the first DairyAire with TCC, Springfest in 2000, NARAM 42 in Utah, and NYPower in 2001.
 

Antares JS

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A community college in the St. Louis area was doing a week-long evening course on model rocketry for kids in June 1997. Already being big into astronomy and space travel, I asked my parents to sign me up. We built Alphas and launched them at the end of the week. I had the time of my life doing that. My tenth birthday was a month later and my parents kindly loaded me up with my own launch equipment and a few more kits.
 

Dipstick

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I think I was born with it... always wanted to build and fly right from early crafting days with paper towel roll and styrofoam.

First kit was an Estes Ninja at age 8 or 9. Did a lot of scratch building as a kid because it was cheaper. Collected bottles and cans on miles long bike rides to buy engines...good old days.
 

teepot

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I got started in '64 or '65 when I was 8 and 9. Went with some kids to a park and watched some rockets being launched. The space program was in full swing. We moved to the country in '66. I had acres and acres to fly on. Flew to about '74. Then college, work, marriage, divorce, a move, the Air Force and then one day I had a wife and 2 kids. Started flying rockets again about '81 for the kids. Then England and Las Vegas. Moved to Pahrump in 2005. I suddenly and hundreds of acres to fly on. So restarted with Estes rockets. I kept buying bigger models. Then I saw a high power video on You Tube. Then the kits got bigger again. Then scratch building. Now I have somewhere around 170 rockets I've built in the last 4 years.
 

Rob Caswell

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Age 12. 1972. Got into it via one of my Jr. High Industrial Arts teachers who offered rocketry as an after school program. First rocket was an Alpha III that came with the starter set - the one with the old style launch controller that you'd hook up to an external battery.

Stayed with it 'til about '76, then BAR'd in 1988-1995. BAR 2.0 started almost exactly a year ago.
 

Funkworks

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Got one in the 80s but got bored walking after it.
Only a few years ago I found out about APCP and Mid-to High power.
Built up skill up until I could build Estes' Sat V.
Not much time to fly lately.
My workshop is now packed with boxes, possibly for another year. 😭;)
I just have other things going on lately but looking forward to get back to it.
 
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jqavins

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OK, here's mine from the same thread. But that story is incomplete.

After I became turned on to model rocketry in general, I received a Big Bertha kit for Chanukah, and proceeded to totally eff it up. Disgruntled, I didn't try again until I discovered RockSim in my forties. I fiddled with some designs and finally decided to cease that form or mental masturbation and get off my ass and build something.

I call myself a BAR who was stillborn the first time.
 
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I posted this on a similar thread a few years ago...

I got interested in model rocketry as a kid, around 8 years old or so, when I discovered a copy of Stine's Handbook at the local library. I must have checked that book out many times over the course of the next year or so, because I remember my mom rolling her eyes at me every time she saw me bringing it to the check out counter! When I was 9, we took a trip to Florida, and knowing that we would be near Kennedy Space Center, my mom bought for me the National Geographic film For All Mankind, about the Apollo program. For me, that was what clinched the deal. In Florida, we spent a day at KSC, saw a shuttle launch, as well as a Atlas II and a Delta II launch, and I remember being in awe of everything. That was summer 1992. When we got back home to Washington State, I started reading everything I could on spaceflight, and as a result, also started reading books on aviation. In the spring of 1993, my mom told my sister and I we were moving to Florida that fall, and we would be living on Merritt Island, home to the Space Center! Following another summer trip to Florida that summer, and witness a couple more launches, my mom finally relented and let me buy a model rocket. I was 10 years old when in August of 1993, she asked my oldest sister's husband (who was a middle school science teacher) take me to a hobby shop and help me pick out a rocket and everything I would need to fly it. Over the course of that weekend, he helped me build my first rocket, an Estes Thunderhawk (Kit No 2002). I flew it maybe four times with him before it was time to pack up our house and move to Florida in late September 1993. Once In Florida, I continued to build estes kits for the next two years or so, building a fleet of maybe 10 rockets, before I gradually lost interest in the hobby.

My passion for space flight and aviation never went away, though. I won a scholarship to Space Camp in 1995, and still read every book I could find on the subject, as well as on aircraft. Fast forward to 1998, and my mom bought me a Christmas gift of an introductory flight lesson when I was 15. When I was 16, I started actively flying once I had a job, and flew at least two or three hours a month, slowly building my time. When I was 17, I got a job working at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center. By chance, my first month on the job was the 20th anniversary of STS-1, and the day of the official NASA ceremony, I was one of the employees asked to work the event. I happened to be answering questions about one of the exhibits for an attendee when the director of the tour guides happened to overhear me. She pulled me aside and offered me a job working for her on the spot. All of the reading and research I had done for years paid off: I was the youngest tour guide on staff at the time, and the only one without an education degree, any work experience in the aerospace industry, or a college student studying a related field, which was a requirement for the job at the time. Then came September 11, and I lost my job due to the center being closed for security reasons, and as a result, couldn't afford to fly and finish my pilot's license. That when I remembered that at the Patrick AFB airshow that spring, the local NAR section did a display of high power rockets, and even flew a couple. I was hooked. I got back into rocketry, and bought a PML Tomahawk. I flew it on an failed L1 attempt in August 2002 at the Spacecoast Rocketry Association (I think that was their name!), and failed when the rocket drifted beyond a canal, and I couldnt recover it. Shortly after, I moved back to Washington State, and joined the local club, WAC, and certified L1 for the first time in Orting, WA in April 2003 on a BSD Sprint. I then built a PML Blank Brant X for a L2 attempt, and failed miserably when a coupler failed (I didnt use enough epoxy) on the flight. Being a poor college student, and with the BATFE issues at the time, I got out of the hobby for the next 13 years, but stayed on our local email lists, commenting on various threads once in a blue moon.

In November 2016, after a rough year personally, I decided that I was in a place where I could afford to get back at it, and purchased a Binder Excel, and a few mid power rockets. I started back flying at the local FAR101 launches locally that year, and then recerted L1 at Fire in the Sky in May 2017. Since then, I certed L2 later that year, and have truly enjoyed being back in the hobby. I started working towards my L3, and built a heavily modified LOC Sandhawk kit for that purpose. Flying it, however, has been indefinitely placed on hold due to the nature of my job, as I work on the road 20 days a month.

Oh, and that interest in aviation? its still there! I never did go back and get my pilot's license, but I did go to school and got my FAA Airframe and Powerplant mechanic's license. I have spent the past 18 years working for a couple of airlines, and spent 10 of those years with Boeing. I currently work as a flight mechanic for Kalitta Air on the 747, traveling all over the world (mainly cargo runs to china) and love my job, even though it keeps me from rocketry. And that interest in reading all I can get on the topic? I have a vast library of books on aviation and spaceflight in my home office, and I am a freelance aviation historian specializing in the aerospace industry of the former Soviet Union and CIS states.

My 10 days off for January this year happened to coincide with my local club's monthly FAR 101 launch, and I took advantage of the great weather and was able to take my 3 year old daughter out for her first launch... I am hoping to take her to many, many more! I also was finally able to track down and purchase a unbuilt kit of the Estes Thunderhawk, my first rocket from 29 years ago. I look forward to building it and hopefully flying it at least once or twice with my young daughter!
IMG_4612.JPG
 
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boatgeek

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I have a dual origin story. Episode 1 starts in grade school. At our school, 3rd or 4th graders built and flew rockets as part of a class project. I built one and flew it, but my rocket's coupler was a bit too tight and it lawn darted rather than deploying the chute. I don't know if it was when my older brother went through that program or when I did, but we also built a rocket or two at home. I have a snapshot memory of one of those rockets descending under chute far away, just about to land in some bushes, never to be seen again. Our enthusiasm was dampened after those two incidents.

Fast forward to 2010 or so for Episode 2. I was heavily involved in school board stuff on the parent side, and a high school rocket club from the district who was participating in SLI happened to be recognized at one of the board meetings I was at. They brought their big (4", 8' long, K power) rocket in and passed it around. Later on, I joked with my older kid that they should go to that school so they could join the rocketry club.

Fast forward another couple of years, and my kid decided to go to that high school. Totally out of the blue, my kid was eating lunch by themself and someone popped out of the rocketry club meeting and said, "Hey, we have extra birthday cake in here, do you want to join us?" So they did. I went to a couple of launches, then with another parent started getting involved in helping the club organize and do after-school builds and weekend launches. Since I was getting involved, I figured that I should know something about what I'm talking about, so I scratch-built an L1 rocket.

And I've been at it ever since, through both of my kids graduating from that school and now on as an empty-nester. Pretty much every Sunday morning during the school year is a high school rocketry club build or launch.
 

GlenP

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Fond memory of my older brother’s Big Bertha launch in the post above.

I got my own Centuri Viking later at a Cub Scout day camp, and then found an ad for a sales program in Boys Life where you earn a prize for selling greeting cards, or having your mom buy them from you. I got a Centuri Big Shot launch set as my prize and started mail ordering from the catalogs and spending all my paper route money on them.

PS - my next big purchase was the Centuri Designer's Kit, it came with The Centuri Model Rocket Designer's Manual and a Fin Pattern Pack, and lots of parts. A couple of the rockets I built that I could remember, I rebuilt recently with a little more careful decorations using new printable ink-jet waterslide decals. My originals were decorated in magic markers, but something similar to these.

DSC_8397.jpg
 

Re-Bar Ricky

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I started in 10th grade in high school (1986). I was in the AFJROTC program, and they announced the formation of a rocket club so we could earn our Model Rocketry badge. I started with the Estes Maverick (#1904) and used it for my qualification launches and recoveries. After that I built the Marauder (#1922), Ranger (#1955), AstroCam 110 (#1327), Mean Machine (#1295), and the SR-71 (#1942).

After high school, I entered the army and didn't get back into it until about 1994. Got out of it and picked it back up again in about 2008 (hence my name, Re-Bar Ricky since it's my 3rd time into it). I built alot of rockets but never launched many of them until I started visiting our local launch club in Austin, Texas. I've launched the last couple of months and have had good success except for one cool rocket lost to the tree gods. I still building mostly LPR kits with a couple of them bordering on mid-power. I think I've built over 25 kits over the past 2-3 months (minus paint) and I'm letting glue dry on one right now while I type this. I'm waiting on an Estes Mars Longship to start on soon.
 
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