Where no one has gone before

Grow the Hobby, Day 4

As a kid, my favorite models were model rockets.  I loved the sci-fi models, and hung them all around my bedroom.  But they did more than gather dust - I could take them down and actually fly them!  They still eventually would all end up broken, but I have a lot of found memories.  I looked up some old Estes catalogs for some of the models I had.

I used to come home after school every day and watch Star Trek at 4 pm on Channel 2 (from Denver).  I loved that show, so when I saw they had FLYING rockets for it, I had to get them.

The Enterprise was mainly plastic.  The one thing they did so it would 'fly' was to have a cutout in the lower saucer - this was for a long rocket tube.

You would add the tube to fly the rocket

It thus fit on a pad and the parachute fit in the tube.

It flew like a wounded turkey.  But when you look at it, is has no arerodynamics at all.  I didn't take it out much.

The Klingon Battle Cruiser, on the other hand, required no extra parts and actually flew pretty well.

But I wasn't content with just two - I would pick up any sci-fi type rocket.

The Mars Snooper II actually flew pretty well, though it did not hang well as it was best displayed vertically.

The USS Atlantis was designed to look like it was from Star Trek.  The Invader was a bad guy alien rocket and the Interceptor was closer to a normal plane.  The Andromeda was HUGE - but it flew like a much smaller sport rocket - really surprising.

Starlab was one of my favorites - it actually hung upside down (I liked the little shuttle that fit in the engine mount), but was easy to hang because of the two large fins.

I had no interest in military rockets, or in fact most of the realistic ones.  But they kept coming out with new good and bad guys, and I kept buying and building and flying them.

They did other licensed rockets as well.  The Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica was one of my favorites and one of the best ones to fly.  (I never did get a Cylon, and had but didn't really like the Laser Torpedo).

Of course I had to have an X-Wing from Star Wars as well.

The T.I.E. Fighter was like the USS Enterprise - it required a special rocket tube you had to install to fly it.  One of the weirdest was the R2D2 flying rocket (this about 20 years before they revealed that the little robot could actually fly).

This was a mostly plastic kit, and had clear fins screwed onto the bottom of the legs for stability when flying.

On thing I do remember was working on this one summer afternoon.  I was in my room with the door closed working on it - using testors plastic cement (they only had the nasty original red tubes back then, none of the low odor stuff now).  We didn't have air conditioning, nor did I have a window open.  I was there for a while, when suddenly the entire room did a full barrel roll.

I grabbed the bed to keep from falling off until everything stopped spinning - and decided I needed to take a break and go for a walk to get some fresh air.  (Yes, I can hear the smart-ass in the back of the room snickering, thinking "so THATS what's wrong with him - brain damage!).

I built the Mars Lander - and even made a special display base (as you couldn't really hang it - it was a lander after all). 

I also tried the Saturn V - it was one of the trickiest kits (you had to build the escape rocket on the nose from individual balsa sticks).  I never had the guts to try and fly it.

I was a Boy Scout as well, and for my very first merit badge I tackled "Model Design and Building" - and designed and built my own (smaller) Saturn V rocket.  It was especially interesting learning how to make the cone sections.

I did even try the Astrocam 110  - which took 110 film cartridges to take areal pictures.  (Yes kids, we used to take pictures using a thing called film - and had to wait for them to be developed and printed to see how they looked).

I never managed to get a picture of anything when I tried flying it - a few VERY blurry shots that you could tell were the ground (because they weren't blue), the rest just of the sky.  It worked by having a spring loaded shutter with a string on it.  When you put the nosecone (with the camera) in the body tube, you pulled and locked the shutter and the string kept it from clicking, being held in place by the nosecone fitting in the body.  When the recovery charge went off, popping the nosecone out (along with protective wadding and the parachute), the string was released and the shutter would snap, taking a picture. 

I built and flew rockets up until around high school.  I remember going to the mall (120 miles away) after an orthodontist appointment and buying a bunch of engines, then forgetting them in the arcade (and when I went back to get them, they weren't there any longer (of course)).

My friends and I had a lot of fun flying rockets - since I lived next to the college campus there were several open spaces perfect for it.  I did lose three different rockets that landed on the roof of the campus library though.  We would often attract a lot of younger kids around when we were flying the rockets - they loved to chase them - though many times a kid would grab the parachute (instead of the rocket body) and end up breaking the rocket when it still hit (or got stepped on by a running child :-) ).

But overall, it was really the first models that you could do something with the OTHER than just allow them to gather dust until they got broken (you could fly them until they got stepped on or otherwise got broken :-) ).

Because it is all fun and games . . .