Whenever I look at articles like
this one of the 1967 model rocketry nationals (NARAM-9) showing people from 40+ years
ago, I always wonder what they are doing today. Kids that were 16 in 1967 are 60 today!
Many of the adults, if they are still living, are in their 80s. Are they still flying
model rockets? Are they in good health? Has life been good to them? Time can be a cruel
master, or it can also be a benevolent guardian. But, at the time nobody was thinking
about where they would be or what they would be doing in the year 2011; their only concern
was the competition at hand and having a good time.
Note the number of Ph.Ds in the crowd! Back in the day, model rocketry was a big part
of preparing young men (and a few young women) for a career in astronautics.
In 1967, model rocket kits were selling for a couple bucks apiece, and the high-end
models like the Saturn 1b and the Mercury-Redstone sold for close to $10. If you try
to buy one of those models on eBay today, you will have to shell out, in some cases,
Every once in a while I'll get a surprising letter from somebody that found himself/herself
or somebody he/she knows in one of the old articles that I publish on the Airplanes
and Rockets website. I always ask for permission to reprint all or parts of the
letters on the associated page. This time, it was
Mr. Doug Ball, who, with NAR membership
number 9338, has been involved with model rocketry for quite a while. Doug is now an
engineer at Boeing. Read his letter that answers the question I posed above.
"Kirt, on your website you ask about where some of those young rocket modelers are
40+ years later. Well, in that article written by
G. Harry Stine, there is a picture
of a young man named Charles Duelfer. 'Charlie' was on the cover of Time Magazine - he
was the author of the Iraqi weapons report that basically said they did not have WMD's.
Jay Apt, a founder of the Pittsburgh Spring Model Rocket Convention, went on to become
an astronaut and fly 4 shuttle missions. He is also an astrophysicist. Matt
Steele is an executive at ATK. He builds big ones for real.
Craig Streett and
Robert Biedron are
renowned researchers at NASA Langley.
George Pantalos is a developer of
artificial hearts at the University of Louisville,
John Langford founded Aurora Flight
Sciences - a very successful aerospace company today.
Jerry Gregorek celebrated his 80th
birthday this year - officially retired four years ago from teaching aeronautical engineering
at Ohio State but still teaches their senior design class.
Chuck Hall is now a professor
of aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University. The young lady in the article,
is now my wife. Connie went on to become a very successful ballerina, owning her own
school in Mesa, Arizona for 22 years. Her sister, Ellie, is an accomplished
equestrian instructor and national judge. Connie's husband, Doug, is now the chief of
aerodynamics for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
The hobby, and those adults back then who recognized its educational value, gave many
of us the most amazing, rewarding and exciting careers one could ever imagine. To them,
and especially to Harry, we owe a debt of gratitude. And so we try to stay true to Harry's
motto 'Pay Forward.' It is our turn to mentor and encourage the next generations of aerospace
engineers who will take us not just from continent to continent, but back to the moon
and then the stars. It's as inevitable as the tides. "
Milestone in Mankato: Ninth Rocketry Nats
In mid-August the nation's finest rocketeers assembled for NARAM-9. An eyewitness
G. Harry Stine
photography by the author
The Ninth National Model Rocket Cham-pionships (NARAM-9) sanctioned by the NAR at
Mankato State College, Mankato, Minn. was one for the books - technical-ly, competitively,
Contest Director Dr. Ellsworth B. Beetch, Professor of Chemistry at Mankato State,
got the full support of the college and used the NAR Zenith Section to provide range
equipment and manage-ment manpower. NAR Contest Board Chairman Al Kirchner selected the
74 invited contestants from all over the United States. Old-timer Manning Butterworth
was in charge of the range set-up on the Mankato Airport; the rangehead was right at
the intersection of the two active runways of the field. This might have caused some
problems, since the field was not closed to air traffic, had it not been for the constant
vigilance of Chief Safety Officer John Belkewitch and his eagle-eyed assistants. Leader
Member Jack Higgins deftly handled scale judging while NASAman Bob Atwood took care of
R&D judging. Pinky Guill ran the data reduction quickie-boards, working from tracking
data supplied by Dr. William Perendy and his tracking crews.
The meet got under way on Tuesday, August 15th, with the first model - a Parachute
Duration - launched by NASA Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly. A certain amount of wind and
a lack of good thermals denied good record-breaking Parachute Duration performance. In
general, the PD models showed no new technological achievement, but there is a tendency
to go to large-diameter bodies to hold the large chutes easier, and the winning chute
models did not have very large canopies. Pat Artis, however, had a beautiful 30-inch
chute made from rip-stop nylon that can be used without wadding and is practically indestructible.
Engineers from Scheldahl watched this event with great interest; they make big chutes
for the big stuff. Winning times were not high.
Charles Gordon of Laurel, won Junior Division with 3: 57. Leader Division blue ribbon
went to Victor Ceicys of Parma, Ohio with 7:39, while Senior Division was copped by Gerry
M. Grekorek, from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Ohio State University.
In Swift Class Boost-glider Duration, most of the birds were designed well. Tech transfer
between BIG and hand-launched gliders was evident with some hi-point airfoils being used
and vortex tips on a couple of designs. The Juniors and Leaders turned in better performances
than the Seniors. Sam Atwood, Annapolis, Md. won Junior with 3:02 and Raymond Forbes,
Ft. Riley, Kans., turned in a winning 3:26 for Leader Division. The husband-wife team
of Jim and Judy Barrowman (he's a rocketsonde expert from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
won Senior Division with 1: 26.
Wednesday, August 16th, was hot and sunny. PeeWee Payload got off with a roar. Some
people had Payload birds that would really perform, but they were so hot that the trackers
couldn't stay with them. Had these hot birds not suffered "track lost," we would have
had higher winning altitudes than we did. The boys that won had large, slow-moving birds
that could be tracked. For the first time, the event was pretty well mixed between the
use of Estes engines and the new Flight Systems engine; 630 feet brought the Junior blue
ribbon to Mike Poss of Huntington Beach, Calif. Joe Persio, Cheshire, Conn. was tracked
to 540 feet for Leader Division first place. Your reporter took first place in Senior
Division flying Talley Guill's Dubnica Payloader design (Count Down, September 1967)
single-staged with a B3-5 engine; it went to 750 feet, which is right in the ball park
of performance for this design.
In mid-August the nation's finest rocketeers
assembled for NARAM-9.
New NAR President Dr. Ellsworth Beetch and son
Konr preparing a Swift Class boost glider. (Plans for similar model, Aug. '67 A.M.)
Dr. William Perendy with highly successful device
used at 1967 NARAM-9 for calculating the peak altitude of a model flight.
The spot landing event in the rain turned out
to be fun anyway. Measurement crew checks landing distance of a flight.
"But sir, it flew O.K. last week!" Rocket C.P.-method
expert Jim Barrowman checks Talley Guill's plastic Mercury-Redstone.
1967 Junior Champion Charles Dueller checks the
igniter in his scale I.R.I.S. bird amid the competition.
"Well chaps, time for another important mission.
But I dare say they are all important, eh what?" In the crisp morning air near the aerodrome
at Manquateaux, faithful ground crewman Mike Poss stands by to assist the takeoff of
Mr. Countdown himself.
The beauty of scale! Al Kirchner with his "Little
Joe II" comparing models with Estes' "Saturn Ib" held by Jaroslav Broz.
Orville H. Carlisle, NAR's first, and #1, member,
preparing to launch one of his original 1957 model rockets. Is he flying in a mythical
old-timer's event for antique models? Flies well.
Separate target poles for spot landing event
results in launch rails being cocked at all angles. Which way to duck the birds?
Connie Stine preparing her I.Q.S.Y. Tomahawk
for its Aerospace Systems flight. She was the only girl entrant at NARAM-9.
Vern Estes with "Saturn IB" from his new kit.
Model uses cluster of four engines.
Class 1 Scale Altitude was dominated by simple, well-proven scale models. Johnny Drake,
New Canaan, Conn. hit 730 feet with an I.Q.S.Y.-Tomahawk (Count Down, October 1967) built
with an Estes BT-20 tube. A Tomahawk also brought second place in Junior Division to
Connie Stine, the only girl contestant at NARAM-9. In Leader Division, Old Champ Talley
Guill flew a beautiful IRIS (with booster) to 465 feet to win with a total of 1319 points.
His father, A. W. "Pinky" Guill, took first in Senior Division with an Astrobee-1500.
A certain amount of trouble was experienced by contestants who had not thoroughly
read the rules or done sufficient research on their scale models. NAR rules say that
the top stage of a multi-staged vehicle cannot be flown in scale events without operable
lower stages unless it can be proven by the contestant that he modeled an upper stage
that actually flew by itself without a booster. Again, I will say it, and can speak with
some authority as a consultant on launch vehicles for the Smithsonian: (a) no WAC-Corporal
ever flew without its Tiny Tim booster; it was designed to fly with this booster; (b)
according to Atlantic Research Corporation, no IRIS ever flew without its booster, and
it was designed to fly with a booster; (c) only one Aerobee ever flew without its booster;
Aerobee A-10, an RTV-N-8 model, took off unexpectedly from the launch tower on the U.S.S.
Norton Sound on March 17, 1949 as a result of a leaky valve, leaving its booster behind
in the tower. And the booster must be operable; it cannot be a dummy that has been deliberately
intended to be destroyed on the launch rail by the jet of the sustainer.
On Thursday, the Aerospace Systems event was flown for the last time. In the new rule
book now in effect, it has been changed completely into the Space Sys-tems event. Charley
Duelfer, Stamford, Conn. hit the jackpot in Junior Division after trying hard at four
previous NARAMs; he won with his breech-launched ARCAS model. In Leader Division, it
was Talley Guill and his old, reliable Convair MX-774. Yours Truly took the Senior Division
with an I.Q.S.Y.-Tomahawk powered by an FSI D-1.15-6.
Some beautiful scale models completely worthy of the title showed up for the Scale
event. Steve Glines of New Canaan, Conn. took his first NARAM trophy with his Astrobee-1500
model. Again, Talley Guill's MX-774 took a winner's trophy in Leader Division; after
building that bird for 5 years, Talley's getting very good with it. The same can be said
for his father's Astrobee-1500 which took Senior first place. Some of the other notable
scale birds were Jim Barrowman's excellent Nike-Tomahawk (Jim works on that bird at NASA
Goddard), Johnny Drake's Shotput, Greg Scinto's big IRIS (with booster), and Dick Sternbach's
Plastic Scale became "plastic model" event this year with the elimination of requirements
to prove scale qualities. It did not degrade the event in any way. It is tough to find
a non-flying plastic model kit that can be converted into a good flying model, but the
boys are doing a good job at it. True, there were some flops, which is to be expected.
But the ones that went were great and showed meticulous craftsmanship that might be the
envy of the International Plastic Model Society. In Junior Division, it was Johnny Drake
of New Canaan, Conn. with his NASA X-15, a most difficult bird to get to fly properly.
And it was an X-15 from the Revell kit that won Senior Division for the new NAR President
Dr. Ellsworth Beetch and his son Konr; Al Beetch, being a professor of chemistry, knew
just exactly what kind of paint to use on polystyrene plastics, and his X-15 had a perfect
mirror finish. In this event, there were plenty of Hawk Jupiter-C kits modified for flight,
a combination Hawk Jupiter-C and Revell Mercury capsule to produce a Mercury-Redstone
by Talley Guill, numerous Revell Atlas-B's, an Aurora Regulus-II, and some Revell Thor's.
The lure of this event seems to lie in several areas: finding the kit in the first place,
modifying it to fly, and getting it to fly.
The Research and Development event this year was, to me, somewhat disappointing in
the Junior and Leader age divisions. Most of the research and development might have
been interesting and educational, but it wasn't practical. For example: (a) retro-rockets
for soft landings may be interesting, but they would cause fire marshals to shudder;
(b) water injection to improve performance requires so much additional weight that it
offsets any possible performance gains; and (c) front-engined finless rockets were thoroughly
investigated and discarded by Dr. Goddard and the old American Rocket Society back in
the 1930's. However, in the Senior Division, some excellent work was in evidence that
shows the beginnings of a trend predicted in "Count Down" some time ago: the aerospace
professionals who have taken up model rocketry as a hobby are starting to apply professional
techniques to the hobby in a way that the young rocketeers can understand and use. Doug
Malewicki extended the graphs and charts of his Estes TR-10 to include the Flight Systems
and Centuri engines. Dr. William Perendy came up with a new and improved tracking theodolite.
Both Jim Barrowman and myself entered simplified methods of calculating the center of
pressure of a model rocket. Gerry Gregorek of Ohio State used his department's computer
to work on drag calculations of models, drag reduction, and altitude determination. Bernard
Biales, of course, has been a BIG fan for years and has done a lot of work in that area.
A number of excellent demonstration flights on Thursday should be mentioned because
they are indicative of the progress in model rocketry. Leroy Piester of Centuri boosted
aloft some of his models powered by the Mini-Max Class E and Class F engines ... and
they move out! Vern Estes launched his new super-scale Saturn 1b powered by a cluster
of four engines and recovered by two chutes on the booster and a single separate chute
on the Apollo capsule; this bird flew beautifully twice and looks like the real thing
when it goes up ... but it is not for beginners! Irv Wait of Rocket Development Corporation
flew some models powered by his new Enerjet Class E engine with its variable time delay
assembly (you can choose the time delay you want before flight) ; the Enerjets use a
modern composite solid propellant with a specific impulse of 182 and leave no visible
jet or smoke trail . . . just WHOOM! Irv also flew a real rocketsonde, the RDC "Honeybee"
which he is making for the Air Force; it is a big model rocket powered by an Enerjet
with 99 Newton-seconds total impulse and carrying 0.75 pounds of payload to about one
kilometer altitude with full parachute recovery.
The most spectacular flight of the demonstration was pulled off by George Roos of
Flight Systems who launched his OSO kit model with an FSI Type F18-0 booster and an FSI
Type F1.3-18 sustainer - a short-duration high-thrust booster coupled to a stop-stage
sustainer that burns for 10 seconds; the bird went out of sight with the top stage still
under thrust, the trackers locked up at 90-degrees elevation, and the bird must have
hit over 8,000 feet. These large engines are very powerful, very expensive, and meant
only for the advanced model rocketeer who has plenty of room to fly in, but they are
needed because they provide the means to do the kind of advanced work the older model
rocketeers want to do.
Friday, August 18th, the final day of NARAM-9, dawned cold and rainy ... real Dubnica
weather. And Jaroslav Broz from Prague, our Czechoslovakian guest courtesy Vern Estes,
remarked on this. But the moment the rain stopped at about 9:30, the Spot Landing event
got under way. Juniors, Leaders, and Seniors had different target poles, which made the
adjustable launch rails look like a mass of crossed swords as contestants strove to compensate
for wind and target location. Bernard Biales of Madison, Wis. dropped his bird in to
beat all the Seniors, and Scott Upton, 18, of St. Louis stood near the Leader pole beckoning
his spot lander in to win, nearly becoming a member of the Royal Order of Pole Hangers.
In the Junior Division, it was Thomas Glass, 14, of Baltimore who got the closest to
By the time Hawk Boost-glider Duration rolled around, the wind was still blowing and
the overcast hung above our heads. This more powerful class of B/G is somewhat of a challenge
to modelers, and there were a number of "strip tease" flights wherein the stress of launch
caused the wings to part company with the model. However, Bernie Biales got off a good
winning Senior Division flight of 1:59 using an elliptical-winged B/G with very low wing
loading and large area, proving that windy weather does not automatically require gliders
of high wing loading. There were a number of "red barons," so-called because sometimes
a strip pod fails to separate and the model comes spiraling in with the streamer fluttering
out behind, looking like a trail of fiery smoke issuing from behind a vanquished Sopwith
Camel. Ray Stamford, 19, of Rock Island, Ill. took the Leader Division while Kevin Stumpe,
15, of St. Ansgar, Iowa, walked away with Junior.
And that about wrapped up the meet except for some demonstration flights. Dr. Al Beetch
had run off a full-scale NARAM on an active airport with planes operating on all
sides of us at all times. The FAA men from Minneapolis had visited us early in
the meet and satisfied themselves that we were doing a safe job. We'd also had
visits from representatives of the National Safety Council, an organization that
had, up until then, looked askance at model rocketry. They were there because
the day before the meet opened, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in New York reversed their decade-old policy
of discouraging all forms of non-professional rocketry to recognize and endorse model
rocketry, a tremendous breakthrough.
Our guests on the range during the final day included Leister Graffis, President of
Bendix Field Engineering Company who had flown from Baltimore to see the meet and present
the Bendix Trophies for excellence to the national champs. Also on hand was R. V. Mrozinski
of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.
For the first time we held an awards luncheon; Jim Kukowski MC'ed. As he started to
hand out awards, all doors to the room suddenly had intense, dapper men standing beside
them ... the Secret Service. And Dr, Beetch walked in with Vice President Humphrey!
The Vice President, as Chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, was
visibly impressed by the model rockets on display in the room, and he graced us all with
a short speech. "The world needs talent, your kind of talent," he told the young rocketeers.
He went on to remark that they were all making an important contribution to their educations
through model rocketry and urged them to get a college education. He then personally
handed out the Bendix Trophies, assisted by Bendix President Graffis.
After trying five years, Charles Duelfer, 16, of Stamford, Conn. won the coveted Junior
National Championship. The runner-up was William Bloch of Pittsburgh. J. Tally Guill,
18, of New Canaan, Conn. became Leader National Champion for the third year in a row
(and this was preceded by the 1964 Junior National Championship and participation in
the First Internationals at Dubnica) with Joseph Persio, 18, of Che-shire, Conn. as runner-up.
Yours Truly became Senior National Champion in a closely-run race with Karl Feldman of
South Bergen, N. J. And Fairchester Section, Stamford, Conn. took the Champ Section pennant
for the 4th year in a row!
The Trustees Outstanding Service Award went to Dr. William B. Rich, NAR's hard-working
Treasurer and former Secretary-Treasurer, who really deserves it. The Sportsmanship Award
went by acclamation to Al Kirchner, Jr., last year's Junior Na-tional Champion, who gave
up competition this year in order to handle NARAM-9 contest paperwork and represent his
father who is Chairman of the Contest Board.
Junior competition has always been rough because of the predominance of Junior members
in NAR, and Leader division competition is getting that way as more and more model rocketeers
who have gone to college keep up their model rocketry. There's a great cadre of Senior
competitors now - Pinky Guill, John Belkwitch, Doug Malewicki, Jim Barrowman, Bob Atwood,
Al Beetch, Bernie Biales, Les Butterworth, Karl Feldman, Gerry Gregorek, and Tommy Thompson.
In addition to being top modelers, most of these men now sit on the new NAR Board of
Trustees, giving us the most active Board we've ever had.
NARAM-9 is now a fond memory.
Here is more coverage of the event in the June 1969 edition of
Posted August 27, 2011