Early Model Rocket Timeline

For the past 3 years I have been collecting information about the early history of model rocketry. I am a firm beleiver that this infomation should not be lost to potential future generations of Model Rocketers. I feel by placing it here in RMR along with several others online sources, it will survive digitally into the future.

This current lsiting is incomplete. It is NOT meant to be the last word on our history. As I gather more data I will add the new and additional information. I hope all of you will enjoy this. If anybody has any additional timeline points they know or think would be of interest on this timeline, please email me offline.

Terry Dean aka shockie B)

Historical Model Rocketry Timeline...Version 2 9/2005

5-6/52 G.Harry Stine graduates from Colorado College in Colorado,Springs,CO with a B.A. In Physics

1953 Robert(Bob) Carlisle (NAVAL Reserve pilot) approaches his brother Orv with the idea of a model rocket for use in his lectures on the history of aviation presentation.

8/30/54 Orv H. Carlisle applies for Toy Rocket Patent #2,841,084

1955 G.Harry Stine goes to work at White Sands

5/6 1956 Lee(Leroy) Piester future owner of Centuri Enginnering graduates from high school.

1/57 G.Harry Stine receives 1st letter from Orv.H. Carlisle after Carlise read 2/57 G.Harry Stine article titled, "Conquest of Space",in Mechanix Illustrated.

2/57 G.Harry Stine article appears in Mechanix Illustrated

2/57 G.Harry Stine Receives Orv Carlisle Rock-A-Chute package in the mail.

3-5/57 G.Harry Stine and Orv H. Carlisle INDEPENDENTLY develop electrical ignition systems for Model Rockets. Also during this time frame, Orv H. Carlise and G.Harry Stine jointly(?) develops first multi-staged model rocket, called the Parabee.

SUMMER 1957 G.Hary Stine and Orv H. Carlisle meet for the first time.

SUMMER 1957 G.Harry Stine and Orv H. Carlisle get BOE approval for model rockets motors as ICC Class C Toy Propellant Devices.

9/57 Dope Can notice about Model Rockets appears in AM magazine

10/57 Sputnik 1 is Launched

10/57 Mechanix Illustrated Article about 1st Model Rockets called Rock-A-Chutes published; titled, " Shoot Your Own", by G.Harry Stine. The article begins: " Amateur Rocketeers who have been waiting for a chance to shoot their own rockets skyward may be just a step away from lighting the fuse"

10/57 Model Missile,Inc is formed by G.Harry Stine,and Orv H. Carlise.

10/57 G.Harry Stine with the help of Orv H. Carlisle get Lawrence and Herbert Brown (Father/Son) of Brown Manufacturing (Zenith Fireworks)to make the Rock-a-chute Model rocket motors.

11/57 The Model Missile Assn was formed by G. Harry Stine (predecessor to NAR) The Model Missile Association was incorporated on November 5, 1957 with original signers Orville H. Carlisle, G. Harry Stine,and Barbara K. Stine. [That's the date on the notarized articles.] The filing date was November 7, 1957. The three signers were designated as the founding trustees of the Association.

11/57 Sputnik 2 was launched

EARLY 1958 "Handling the Amateur Rocketry Problem" by the NFPA FOUNDER is published

1/58 1st meeting of the MMA takes place in the Hammond Organ Studio on ColoradoBlvd.; Denver, CO; 150 people attended and 100 people signed on as charter members. Werner Von Braun was both an ARS member and a NAR member (# 18) ( As G.Harry Stine also was an ARS member)

1/58 "Skip" and Richard.D Keller, G.Harry Stine's Father and Brother-in-laws invest in Model Missiles,Inc

2/58 First issue of Model Rocketeer published.

4/58 First MMI "Aerobee-Hi" Model Rocket Kit 001 becomes available

4/58 American Modeler magazine article about model rockets By G.Harry Stine, titled, "The Do-It-Yourself Rocketters". The Cover states: Safety's the Watchword with the Model Misile Association: The Do-It=Yourself Rocketeers." Has some extensive anti-AR propaganda in article.

5/58 American Modeler magazine article by G.Harry Stine about MMI Model Missiles Inc the worlds first Model Rocket company titled, "Manufacturing Model MIssiles Sounds As Difficult As Turning Out Real "Birds"."

7/1/58 Orv H. Carlisle receives patent # 2,841.084 on "Toy Rocket"

7/58 Vernon Estes walks into MMI offices and announces he can make model rocket motors "better and cheaper."

7/58 Vernon Estes starts work on creating "MABEL-1".

9/58 Positive review of Rock-A-Chutes in AM magazine by Cal Smith titled, " Smith & Smith try Aerobee-HI"

10/58 MMA becomes NAR->On October 25, 1958 an amendment to the articles of incorporation was filed with the state of Colorado to change the name of the association to the National Association of Rocketry, define the Board of Trustees as a body not to exceed thirteen members, and to define Junior, Senior, and Honorary membership classes.

11/58 The ARS report/study is done based on the NFPA Report data from early

1958. The propaganda war against Amateur Rocketry begins in full force.

12/58 Another positive article about Model Rocketry by G.Harry Stine titled, "Colorado's Little Canaveral".

1958 Reaction Motors,Inc merges with Thiokol Chemical

1/59 Vern Estes' "MABEL-1" spits out 1st Model Rocket Motor for MMI

1/59 Model Rocket article titled, " Jupiter-C" appears in Flying Models magazine, authored by Eugene Thomas.

1/59 ARS passes the following Motion: "The American Rocket Society reaffirms its strong stand in opposition to any amateur experimentation whatsoever with rocket propellants or rocket propellant materials of any kind."

Early 1959: the ARS report "Amateur Rocketry; A Delineation of the Problem , a Policy Statement and a Program for Action by the American Rocket Society" is published.

2/59 G.Harry Stine, MMI and model rockets are discussed in Congressional Record by James. G. Fulton , rep. from PA.

5/16/59 Ist NAR Model Rocket Competition held Hogback Range Green Mountain Denver,CO

July 24, 1959 Vernon Estes applied for "Toy Model Rocket" patent #


July 30, 1959 G.Harry Stine loses control of MMI at a board meeting to Richard D. Keller.

8/59 issue of AM magazine publishes article entitled, "Rocket College for Model Makers", an amateur rocket seminar series hosted by Capt. Bertrand R. Brinley, held in NY and Washington,DC.

EARLY 1960 Estes Industries,Inc is formed and 1st Estes Industries catalog is published

July 1960 G.Harry Stine moves to New Canaan, Connecticut in with only a minority shareholders interest in the company.

8/60 NARAM-2 held in Colorado Springs,CO

1961 Centuri Enginneering starts up.

6/7 1961 Estes Industries moves from Denver,CO to Penrose,CO
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Good work!

I noticed a few typos (especially "B." Harry Stine), and there are a few holes that could be filled:

What is or was the ARS?

When Stine lost control of MMI, what happened to the other founders? And when he moved to New Canaan with only a minority interest in the company, presumably you mean MMI and not that he wound up with a minority interest in Estes?

Were any of the other pioneers involved when Estes was formed?

Reply to
Joe Pfeiffer


The American Rocket Society was formed in April 1931 as the American Interplanetary Society by by David Lasser, G. Edward Pendray, Fletcher Pratt, and nine others, for the "promotion of interest in and experimentation toward interplanetary expeditions and travel.". The ARS launched a series of small experimental rockets in the 1930's. This was the "first" amateur rocket society in the USA. They changed their name to the ARS in April 1934. Four members of the Society were Lovell Lawrence, Jr., John Shesta, James Hart Wyld and Hugh Franklin Pierce. These four were among the core of the Society's Experimental Committee, and they went on. to found the first commercial rocket engine company in the history of the United States., Reaction Motors,Inc in 12/41. RMI merged with Thiokol in 1958 and became known as the Reaction Mortors Division (RMD). Today Thiokol is known as ATK

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.On February 1, 1963, the American Rocket Society and the Institute of Aerospace Sciences merged to become the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
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The IAS was formed in 1932 with Orville Wright as its first honarary member. THe ARS was a contemporay to the German VfR Verein fur Raumschiffahrt.

es, I meant that G.Harry Stine went to Conneticut with a minority interest in MMI. I do not know the answers to your other questions. MMI was "absorbed" to some degree ( ie they were bought out of excess and surplus stock at bargain basement prices) by Early 1960 when Estes Industries was formed by Vernon Estes. as MMI folded in late 59/early 60. Why did MMI go out of business? I don't know the answer to that..What was the reason for the Stine/Keller business struggle? I don't know that.

shockie B)

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That is fascinating! Great post!


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Many of the first parts that Vern and Gleda sold in the first few years were some of those excess MMI parts, particularly the vinyl/rubber nose cone and what was eventually called the BT-40 tube. Some of the other parts they sold were standard fireworks pieces, such as the plastic fin units, which -- last time I checked a fireworks store in 1999 -- were still available.

While Gleda made the BT-30 parallel wound tubes herself, Vern said they didn't make any of the BT-40 tubes, so that must've been a pretty big inventory they bought from MMI for them to last nearly seven years, as they were still listed in the '66 Estes catalog.

Roy nar12605

Reply to
Roy Green

Wow! Good stuff, Terry! Thanks for sharing...

James ______________________ James Duffy snipped-for-privacy@mac.com

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You should publish this on line somewhere.

Reply to
Darren J Longhorn

darren: I will as soon as I get additional info on this time period 57-61... It takes time to track down magazines and people from almost 50 years ago.

shockie B)

Reply to

I'm sure!

Reply to
Darren J Longhorn

Is this right? He receives a letter from the article before it appears?

Reply to
Bruce Canino

As you well know, magazines appear on the newstands before their 'publication date'. The assumption one draws from this is that the 2/57 issue of Mechanix Illustrated carried the article, and that it was released in 1/57 (or even 12/56, based on some of the magazines I've seen). Thus, it would not be unusual for a reader to read and respond to an article in the 'calendar month' prior to the publication date.

An alternative answer is that there was involvement of a time machine, but...

David Erbas-White

Reply to
David Erbas-White

Magazines regularly hit the stands or mailboxes a montth or more before their cover date.

except for HPR :-)

Reply to
Bob Kaplow

I'd be willing to bet "2/57" refers to the magazine issue date, and it was probably mailed out a month before that.

Reply to

replying to shockwaveriderz, david wrote: hello. Richard Keller is my grandfather. Would you like me to have him review some of the timelines and report any changes if need be?

Reply to

replying to shockwaveriderz, david wrote: hello. Richard Keller is my grandfather. Would you like me to have him review some of the timelines and report any changes if need be?

Reply to


Yes I would.

I had a telephone conversation with Richard Keller back somewhere in the mid to late 2000's... when he had a recording studio down in the Missouri Ozarks (Branson? I do believe if my memory serves me correctly.

He told me about the mistake of sending those long slim 001A MMI boxes through the USPS (containing a single piece launch rod) and how at least half came back bend in all sorts of shapes. This cost MMI a lot of time and money in terms of refunds and re-sending of inventory.

He also told me about trying to design a launch rod , 1st a telescoping one like a radio antenna, before they settle on a 2 piece rod.....

He also mentioned some things about the final business meeting between him, GHS and another or two investors. This I would like to know more about for sure.

He also gave me some information about him and GHS in college at Colorado College about GHS and him did radio shows and were roommates. I'd like to here more about that.

If he can remember when and where he moved MMI after GHS left. It's my understanding it ended up in either his or his Dad's basement foe a while.

Also any interactions he may have had with Orv Carlisle after he became MMi and GHS had left would be interesting. I know there for awhile Richard B. Goldsmith was selling MMI rockets as kits and as RTF, Ready-to_fly pre-built versions. along with Rock-A-chute motors. I guess these were Estes re-branded as Brown Manufacturing had been replaced by Estes by then.

IF you see this please respond.

Terry Dean shockwaveriders at hotmail dot com

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Terry Dean

replying to david, shockwaveriderz wrote: In stead of "Skip" and Richard Keller , that should be Kauth

Reply to

replying to david, shockwaveriderz wrote: In stead of "Skip" and Richard Keller , that should be Kauth

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