Saturday, October 17, 2020

Outreach day for HARA...

Today was a reasonably busy day for members of my club. It started bright and early at 9 AM, when Vince and Allen gave presentations on rocketry fundamentals to mentors and mentees of the 100 Black Men of Greater Huntsville. There were about 20 present in this virtual Zoom meeting, and I must say Vince and Allen did fantastic jobs - they managed to make boring math and concepts quite interesting. Vince used his Halloween rockets to illustrate some basic stability concepts, whereas Allen invoked personal experience and some basic problems to help the kids understand things like thrust to weight ratio and how total impulse factors into rocket altitude. Those attending appreciated the talks, and I'm pretty sure they all learned a thing or two. Good way to start the day.

Then Allen showed up at my place around 11:15 to load rockets and gear for our next event. We had agreed a few weeks ago to help a group of local scouts learn rocket basics by conducting a build and launch session down at St. Johns Episcopal Church. I raided my stash to provide 23 Estes Generic rockets and a Blast Off Flight Pack containing 24 A8-3 motors, igniters, and wadding. As the scouts would need to first build the rockets they would fly, I also scrounged up a few bottles of Aileen's Tacky Glue, rulers, pencils, scissors, and hobby knives. Last to be loaded was my new launch rack and controller, which can launch up to 5 rockets - this would be its inaugural launch, and I was pretty excited about putting this equipment to use.

Hard at work building Generics (Click to enlarge).

We arrived at the Church around noon, where we met Vince and Art. I had originally thought that me and Allen could handle this event by ourselves (after all, it was only 20 scouts), but we soon found out that Art and Vince's help was more than optional - it was required. The Generic builds progressed somewhat chaotically - we really needed more glue, pencils and scissors - but thanks to my club mates, some capable scout leaders and attentive parents, the job got done without any major problems. The big lesson learned for me was to have a bottle of glue and tool set for every two rockets, not every four like I did today. Too many kids were waiting on glue and pencils, which slowed things down.

Vince helps cubs load their rockets (Click to enlarge).

The pads were set up on a small field immediately south of the church, and it was less than ideal - there was a creek on the west side, a major road on the east, and high voltage power lines running diagonally across it. We chose a location that would hopefully maximize the chances of getting the rockets away from the hazards, and advised the scouts that maybe they should utilize "nose blow" recovery, rather than go with a parachute that could easily have the rocket drift into a bad spot. Most heeded this advice, though there were a few that opted to use a chute.

A Generic lifts off (Click to enlarge).Up, up, and away! (Click to enlarge)

18 Generics took to the air on A8-3 motors, and we got 18 back. There were only a couple of igniter problems, and even the rockets that had parachutes stayed on the field and avoided the power lines. Needless to say, we had quite a few happy scouts and I also was pretty pleased, as my new launch gear performed very well. We closed out the launch by flying Vince's Target Halloween bowl saucer on a C6, after which we packed up. Art, Allen and I caught a late lunch at Red Robin, where we engaged in a wee bit of rocket talk before returning to our residences.

Always nice to be appreciated!

Good talks, perfect weather, and a little rocket fun with the scouts - all in all, a nice outreach day for HARA!


  1. Appears a good time was had by every one. Wish I had been there. Always good to see young people get interested, learn and have fun at the same time.

  2. You shoulda' told me. I maybe coulda' been there to help. It was a beautiful day, although there was a bit of wind in the morning.