CHRIS PEARSON


Chris helping the Gold Medal Scale Modeler
prep his winning flight.

Chris got started in model rocketry at the age of 14 in 1968 after seeing an Estes catalog in eighth grade. He joined the junior high school rocket club and became president of the club in ninth grade.

He joined the NAR in 1968 and later joined the Cleveland Natural History Museum rocket club, a local NAR section in 1969.

He became active in NAR competition in 1970 and went to his first rocket meet, the Midwest Model Rocket Regional, where he set a world record in Swift (B motor) Boost Glide.

He joined the newly formed North Royalton Rocket Society, another NAR section, in 1971 and competed on a national level that year with fellow rocketeer, John Fleischer, placing fifth in the Team Division at NARAM-13. A short hiatus from the hobby started shortly after that because of college.

He joined the newly formed Suburban Northern Ohio Association of Rocketry (SNOAR) in 1975, after the demise of the North Royalton section, along with many former members of that club. He became editor of the clubs newsletter, SNOAR News in 1978.

He competed on a national level with fellow club members Mike Nowak and Matt Steele for the 1978 contest year and won the National Team Championship at NARAM-20. He then retired from competition rocketry. SNOAR News won one of many Honorable Mentions that year. It was at NARAM-20, after meeting Gary Rosenfield, that Chris first stated that “The future of model rocketry lies in high-power.”

He started flying high-power rockets in 1976, mostly with clusters of D12's and FSI E and F motors. And later began flying the first commercially available uncertified composite motors in 1978 with the introduction of Pro-Jet, SSRS and Plasmajet motors. He became one of the first dealers for Composite Dynamics, SSRS, Ace Rockets kits and later, Aerotech.

He was the editor of SNOAR News when it was awarded the LAC Newsletter Trophy at NARAM-22, in 1980. SNOAR as a section went on to win the Reserve Section Championship that year. At this NARAM, Chris was “called out on the carpet” by then National Contest Director Mark Bundick for flying uncertified and illegal G motors at a NAR sanctioned launch. The famous phrase “Who flew the G?” came out of this confrontation.

During the ‘70’s, he participated in the Estes Build-Up program where he constructed models for local hobby shops and distributors. He along with other SNOAR members conducted Estes demo launches for hobby shops and department stores. He was the Estes representative at all the KentCon Spacemodeling Conventions held from 1979-81. Chris constructed Estes demonstration flight models for a number of NARAM’s and constructed models featured in several Estes catalogs and the European Centuri catalog.

After hearing about the rocketry activities being held out west, he attended the annual Smoke Creek, NV high power rocket launch in the spring of 1981, which was sponsored by the Reaction Research Institute. While at Smoke Creek, he overheard another rocketeer at the launch utter the famous words “large and dangerous rocket ships”. After returning from the launch, he started working on organizing a Midwest high-power launch for the following year.

He organized and sponsored the first Large and Dangerous Rocket Ships launch, a two day high power event in August 1982. This was the first rocket launch to file for a FAA waiver. The next four LDRS launches were held on this same field near Medina, Ohio. The newly formed national Tripoli Rocketry Association had its first membership drive at LDRS-4, where Chris became a member. After LDRS-5, the launch was sponsored by national Tripoli and flown from different sites all over the country. The launch continues on today.

It was after the first LDRS that Chris, along with another early high-power rocketeer Curt Hughes, began experimenting with building their own composite G motors. This was done because of the difficulty in getting any kind composite motors on a reliable basis. A number of motors were designed and successfully test fired, but none were ever flown. Experimentation ceased after the availability of commercial motors became better.

He founded North Coast Rocketry (NCR) in 1983, which was the first “full-service” high power rocketry company in 1983, selling high-power kits, parts, motors, adhesives and recovery systems. NCR became the first high-power rocket company that was not a motor manufacturer to sell Class B motors from Vulcan Systems, and for a while was the largest Aerotech dealer in the US. It was during this time that Chris coined the term “born-again rocketeer” (or BAR). A number of the rocketry technical reports he authored for NCR were later adopted by the NAR for their technical report series. He operated the company out of his house until it was moved to Salt Lake City in 1992. After some disagreements with his partners, he separated himself from the company in 1994. Estes later licensed much of the NCR product line, and several of the kits that Chris designed were downsized into their model rocket line-up.

After LDRS-3, the NAR started investigating the possibility of incorporating high-power rocketry into their organization. Chris, along with other SNOAR members participated in both NAR HPR Blue-Ribbon Commissions and NCR donated testing materials.

In 1985 he attended the Sixth Annual World Model Rocketry Championships held in Bulgaria, flying high-power demonstration flights using NCR kits with composite North Coaster motors. He also assisted the Polish team capture Gold Medals for Scale by lending them a NCR composite E motor for the second flight of their Saturn 1B.

Chris was awarded a Lifetime membership in the Tripoli Rocketry Association in 1987 while at LDRS-6 for his contributions to high-power rocketry.

In 1990, he was awarded the NAR’s Howard Galloway Award for his contributions to model rocketry. He is still currently a NAR member.

He began flying hybrid rockets with the introduction of the first Hypertek nitrous oxide hybrid rocket motors. He did both his Level 2 & 3 certification flights using Hypertek powered rockets.

In 1996, he was named to the Lifetime Membership Committee of the Tripoli Rocketry Association along with Tom Blazanin, the founder of national Tripoli. While on this committee, he started the Presidential Award to be awarded for outstanding individual achievements in rocketry.

After the sale of LOC/Precision to its current owner, Barry Lynch, Chris became a “occasional part-time” employee of LOC, traveling to hobby shows and launches with Barry, helping out at the LOC plant and helping developing the Hyperloc hybrid kit line.

In the late ‘90’s, he joined the Tri-City Skybusters (now just “Skybusters”), a local NAR section formed after the demise of SNOAR in 1992. A number of other former SNOAR members also joined the club.

In 2003, at the prompting of Ken Good, Tripoli’s president, he founded the Northern Ohio Tripoli Rocketry Association (NOTRA) and became its President/Prefect. NOTRA affiliated itself with the Skybusters to share launching equipment and launch fields. He, along with fellow NOTRA member Martin Dorociak, became “hybrid gurus” promoting hybrid rocket flying and giving hybrid launcher support at several other local launches.

He attended Balls-16 at Blackrock, NV in 2007 and became an instant convert to Experimental (later called “Research”) Rocketry. At Balls, he rephrased his 1978 statement, saying that “The future of high-power rocketry lies in EX.” After returning from the launch he began making plans to build composite rocket motors again. In 2008, after attending motor making workshops near Columbus, OH and Pittsburgh, PA, he successfully built and test-fired several 38 and 54mm motors. Later that year, while at Balls-17, he flew his smaller Level 3 prototype successfully with his first 75mm full L motor. In 2009, at Balls 18, Chris flew the same rocket for his successful Level 3 certification flight. Shortly thereafter he was nominated for membership on the TAP committee.

In 2008 he was named as head of the TRA Publications Committee, responsible for magazine print ads, advertising, and various membership services.

At the present time Chris resides in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and retired from the Eastern Campus of Cuyahoga Community College where he had worked for 37 years. He is currently planning his second career as an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. After more than 46 years in the hobby, he still actively builds and flies rocket.