Today's mail consisted of the usual junk ads and bills, with one exception - a large envelope with Ed Mitton's return address in Colorado. Ed has been in rocketry as long as I, and he was a NAR contest rocketeer while I was still futzing around in the Estes Aerospace Club. I keep track of his very nice rocket blog, Blast from the Past, enjoying the build threads and flight reports. Needless to say, I was very curious about the contents of this envelope and wasted no time opening it. Here's what I found inside:
|Letter and NARAM 11 flight card (Click to enlarge).|
A flight card from NARAM-11? Holy cats! I could not think of a better present for an old rocketeer like me, with a passion for the history of our hobby. If you look at the flight card, you see that it was designed to allow for the recording of information pertaining to all events flown at that NARAM, including scale. You will also notice that there are sections for recording the tracking information for the altitude flights - azimuths and elevations given by rocketeers manning trackers similar to theodolites. Using some trig formulas and tables of sines and cosines, the altitudes were computed (see here for the old Estes technical report on altitude tracking); if they agreed to within a certain percentage (10% in this case), "the track closed" and the flight's score was valid. A "track not closed" meant no score and a reflight - a real bummer to most rocketeers. Many rocketeers put colored powdered chalk or equivalent in their models so that the trackers could fix on the bright colored cloud produced at ejection. It helped, but the model got covered in the powdered chalk - kinda messy, to say the least. So you can understand why there were many pre-contest prayers for the trackers to have keen eyesight and be familiar with the equipment.
|Charles Russell and Bill Roe (right) at NARAM-11, which was held at the U.S. |
Air Force Academy in Colorado (Click to enlarge).
This flight card is a very cool glimpse into 1969 contest rocketry, about a year after I started in the hobby. After scanning the card and letter, I placed them back in the plastic bag and put it in my stash of rocket memorabilia. Thanks very much, Ed - your gift made my Tuesday!