There was lots of model rocketry news for Harry Stein (aka "Old Rocketeer") to report in the August 1962 edition of American Modeler. Centuri Engineering was considered a new company that was going to provide competition for Estes. The Class A model rocket altitude record had just been established at 950 feet (1,027' in 2013) - by a 15-year-old boy. There is an amazing photo of a 3-stage rocket model on a scale launch tower that is hard to tell from the real thing. The fourth National Association of Rocketry Annual Meet (NARAM-4) had just been held; this year will be NARAM-56!
by Harry (Old Rocketeer) Stine
Records Rising; USAF To Pick Model Rocket Team
Nice, hey? TV puppeteer Don Sahlin built and photographed this beautiful three-staged model on its launcher, clustered engines ready to go. Umbilical tower strictly for show. Looks almost real, doesn't it?
Record Stuff. National model rocket records are funny things. Sometimes they're unbelievable. They can indicate how the hobby is progressing. And it seems that you don't have to be an old grey-beard like me to establish one. Just when I get to thinking that a particular record is about ultimate in performance, somebody sets a new one so much better that l'd think my own birds must be flying with a brick tied to them.
For over a year, the NAR Class A Altitude record stood at 782 feet. Along comes Dennis Guill, 15 years old, of New Canaan, Conn. with a hot new bird. During a contest at White Plains, N. Y. Dennis sends his beastie to 950 feet. "It should have done better," he said. In model rocketry for less than a year, this guy has real potential, so look out for him at future national NAR meets! He's already built a model carrying a wee camera that takes photos in flight and flown a Class F model to 2,000 ft.
Besides Altitude. As you read this, the NAR model rocket contest season should be in full swing around the land, everybody getting sunburned tonsils trying to ace-out the other guy on contest points. Some people who haven't got the Word yet have wondered what sort of a model rocket contest you can hold other than flat-out altitude. True, altitude is pretty good competition. In fact, there are 10 straight-up sky-busting events in the NAR sporting code. There are at this time engines in four different ranges of total impulse ... and it is total impulse that cuts the mustard in altitude, not thrust. (Care to see the calculations on this?) But this leaves 15 other events for such things as scale models, drag racing, payload carrying, flight duration, spot landing, and etc. There are almost as many different contest events in model rocketry as in model aviation!
Commercial Notes. Boost-gliders continue to be the hot new item in model rocketry. A new manufacturer has brought out another kit of this type. "Aero-Bat," by Centuri Engineering Company of Phoenix, is a delta-wing job like the real Dyna-Soar. Nice kit, good parts, good instruction; not too easy to put together however, it flies well with Centuri, Estes, or Model Missiles engines. All free-flight bugs, attention: No rocket boost-glider looks like it can possibly fly, much less have a good flat glide. Surprise, surprise! Boost-gliders fly fast, but; their sink rate is usually about the same as or better than a hand-launched glider!
The new model rocket outfit, Centuri, is headed up by Leroy Piester, a young industrial engineer and a reformed amateur rocketeer. Leroy saw the light when he came to NARAM-3 in Denver, and he is now among the most active model rocketeers. He also is senior advisor to the Phoenix NAR Section, so he's got a good way to prove out his new Centuri kits and engines! Must be nice to be in a club with a manufacturer. Think of all that free stuff for "development."
The Phoenix NAR group, by the way, has its range located outside of Phoenix in Moon Valley. Appropriate.
Hot Rumors Circulating. Rumblings of a new scale model kit, a two-stage kit, and new engine types. Scuttlebutt has it that new engines will provide several pounds of thrust for a couple of seconds. Build a boost-glider around one of these, and you can put an R/C set-up in to control it during glide! Rudder-only should be enough, and the new engines should be able to lift an Otarion receiver plus escapement. What a deal! Let her VTO during powered phase, then R/C during glide to keep her from going over the hill.
Don Sahlin, NAR member and professional puppeteer of Hollywood and New York, is doing some model rocket work for TV (witness the fine photo of his 3-stager with Saturn-style clustered engines). Don reports TV movie-moguls using model rockets for special effects. They can build up a model of the Galactic Overlord's space ship, launch it while photographing it in slow motion, and save beaucoup dough. They fly the models on indoor sound stages, Don sez, and just let those beautiful models prang against the ceiling. If I bring my net and catch them, Don, can I keep them?
USAF Rocketeers. By the time you read this, Air Force model rocketeers will be at it during the USAF Model Rocketry and Airplane Contest, Lackland AFB, Texas. Red Thompson, Dave Bell, John Barnes, Dave Barr, and Carl Klauck will probably tangle again. Red tells me that he's been working hard ever since cleaning up at last year's NARAM-3. But other flyboy rocketeers have come along and I wouldn't be surprised to see George Upright take high points at Lackland. USAF will choose their model rocket team at Lackland to go to NARAM-4 in hopes of making the Air Force supreme in the air ... in space ... and in model rocketry.
Short Shots. If you are having trouble finding the right kind of small electrical clips for igniter end of firing leads, try a simple paper clip. This is a genuine Old Rocketeer invention. Solder the leads to paper clips, wedge igniter ends in paper clips, and you are in business.
Another handy-dandy hint: To keep dope from shrinking and warping thin fins, add 10 drops of castor oil per ounce of dope. Thanks for this one to Allen Jones of Lexington, Kentucky.
Speaking of enthusiasts... Brent Norlem has practically converted the whole town of Lompoc, California to model rocketry. Lompoc, right next to the Pacific Missile Range, has become the model rocketry capital of the West Coast with two NAR Sections and support from PMR people. Brent has pioneered the use of our hobby as a supplement for school courses in science. Says he now has thirty rather well-educated students who owe their success to the interest stimulated by model rocketry, plus another forty who have benefited greatly.
Brent is somewhat of a phenomenon, a science teacher who understands and teaches science ... and makes his students love it. The Lompoc boys have done a number of interesting things, launching from water, flying various payloads, etc. They are so darned busy flying that I have trouble getting exact details out of them - by the time I learn what they've done, they are doing something else that is new. Brent follows the philosophy: Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
NAR submitted its U. S. Model Rocket Sporting Code through AMA to the FAI in Paris hoping to have international model rocket rules sanctioned. This may be a long and involved process. But aerospace sports progress, and NAA and FAI have done well keeping up with advances. We have enough trouble staying up with model rockets, every year seems to see a new type of a new event. How about having to stay on top of space flight, aviation, parachuting, soaring, ballooning, and all the rest?
Us rocketeers hope that something gets stirring in FAI on model rocketry, now that the hobby has established itself in the USA. Only comment I have is that I got a case of "alphabet soup" trying to keep up with it all: NAA, FAI, AMA, NAR, C.I.A.M., C.A.S.I., and probably XYZ too!
Good friends, if you want to get the hot skinny on model rocketry, drop me a post card care of Ye Kindly Olde Editor of this magazine. Note: a post card with your name and address written or printed legibly thereon. With the amount of mail that comes pouring in, it takes a couple of hours just to open envelopes alone. A simple card is so much easier! I may not be able to answer each of you personally, but I read every word you write and appreciate hearing from you. We can make this column into anything you want, so tell me what you want, too.
Everett on Rockets. Dick Everett, mentor of the "Western Modeling" column, has a tough job in store for him. He's gonna tell a bunch of aeromodelers all about model rocketry, and in Japan to boot. I sympathize with Dick, considering that I would sweat if I had to tell a group of model rocketeers all about U-Control stunt in about twenty minutes time.
Posted June 7, 2014