My love of model rocketry began in a fifth grade science class demonstration by a class mates older brother. He came to my school and launched some Estes model rockets using A and B motors. This was the time in history when the United States and the USSR were in a space race and every manned rocket launch by NASA was watched by many students in their classroom. Watching TV in the classroom was a very cool thing back then! I remember watching a man first step onto the moon live on TV. These events started a life long interest in rockets and space.
As a kid, I spent a lot of my allowance and money from odd jobs at the local hobby shop on rocket kits and motors only to wind up have many of them hanging in the trees around the neighborhood. I flew rockets up into my high school years but interest waned when the biggest motor that I knew existed was a D12. As I got older, cars, girls and later a wife and children got in the way for a while, but I continued to have a strong interest in the US space program. I was walking through a hobby shop in 1992 and stumbled upon an issue of High Power Rocketry magazine along with a box of closeout G motors and the rocketry fire was relit. I joined Tripoli and began to attend regional launches. In 1995 I launched a 125 pound, 16” diameter rocket in Virginia which at the time was one of the largest launched in the eastern US. However, now being a single parent, once again life distracted me from rocketry for a while but I knew I would someday fly again.
That opportunity came in 2007 when I stumbled onto a semi-truck load of rocket components in a warehouse. I purchased them and later sold them to a rocket kit manufacturer which allowed me to fund my 40 year-long dream. That was to build and fly a 1/10 th scale model of the iconic Saturn V rocket the rocket that put men on the moon. The plan was to
fly it as a 40th anniversary tribute to Apollo 11 lunar landing. It took me about 1½ years to build the rocket. And with much help from a lot of people companies and contributors, six months to fund the project and overcome various hurdles. The completed rocket flew on April 25, 2009, in an absolutely flawless flight, setting a new world record for the largest, heaviest and most powerful amateur rocket ever flown. When completed the Saturn V rocket stood 36 feet tall and had a lift-off weight of 1650 lbs. The rocket flew to 4400 feet in altitude and landed upright ½ mile from where it was launched. After the flight the rocket was donated to US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Al. In 2019 it completed a world tour celebrating the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. It currently resides back in Huntsville and will soon be taking a tour of the US.
I now enjoy making Research rocket motors and flying them. I also work with aerospace engineering students from several universities who participate in the USLI and IREC competitions.