Is the model rocketry hobby dying?

When my brother and I were elementary school student, I remember my older brother attended a local summer school class, Basic Rocketry. (The summer school also
offered an "Intermediate" and "Advanced" class.) I don't remember what the class covered, but the students were able to build and launch a Skill-level-1 model-rocket. My brother said it was quite fun, and after his class was over he and I went to the local elementary school to launch his rocket a few more times. (He lost interest mainly because the engines cost money, and his words were "each launch burns money!")
Now, 20 years later, I went back to the local Hobby Shack (here in Orange County, California), the staff told me they don't stock model rocketry equipment anymore, due to local regulations and restrictions (basically, you'd have to drive 20+ min to the closest designated launch field.) All local public areas (schools, parks, etc.) no longer allow model rocketry of any kind (not that I blame them...the Orange County "parks" are so small, anyone from the mid-West would just laugh at what us Californians call "parks"!)
Come to think of it, I think they've also banned remote control models of any kind (air or ground.)
Living in an urban area, I accept certain tradeoffs have to be made in the name of safety. But reading this newsgroup, it seems like lots of areas in the US are closing their grounds to model rocketry, even areas that are less densely populated. Is model rocketry being slowly choked to death?
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Kalifornia must be really bad if you can use an R/Ccar in a park. NJ sux but at least no one has hassled me for launching rocketd
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I can't speak for California, but I see rocketry growing all over the place. Even with the restrictions that are being placed on high power rocketry (another whole discussion), I even see growth in that area.
I doubt that model rocketry is as big as it was in the hey-day of the space program, but it has started to come back. In the North East (and other areas too), I see strong support of rocketry in schools (all levels), youth groups and the like.
Even in California I have to beleive that if you review the rules, abide by them, then you can build and fly model rockets. While your list of rules and restrictions may be stiffer than the rest of the country, it certainly isn't *banned*.
jim http://fliskits.com /
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jflis wrote:

Wishful thinking IMHO. I realize that you are a manufacture/dealer and your wallet is directly affected by what public interest there is in model rocketry. I see the hobby diminishing and almost non-existant with people under 18 ... and those people matter most because they would be the ones to introduce model <anything> to their children. Goto a Kaybees, Toys-R-Us, Walmart, even your TYPICAL neighborhood hobby shop and notice the small offering or lack there of model rockets.
Note: When I say non-existant, yes there are thousands of young people who flew a model rocket last Saturday. I am looking at the BIG picture. You need a certain PERCENTAGE of the group to engage in the activity to make it prophitable to you and to continue the activity in their old age and pass it onto their children. The percentage of young people engaging in the hobby/sport of model rocketry is 'back ground noise', i.e. it falls into the error percentage when calculating the mean percentage.
If you want to make money with a business, open a console game shop where you can buy/sell computer games for XBOX, and PS2. I am considering this very venture later next year ... the video game industry is over $20,000,000,000.00 anually and growing ... I see video games on TV, Cable, Satellite, and even Cell Phones and PDAs ... sure you make up a few hundred rocket kits and sell them to now mostly over 45 people. You goto launches and you see mainly guys 45+ and maybe a handfull of under 18 year olds ... go back and LOOK at the photos of launches from the 60s/70s and notice the ratio of kids to adults doing rocketry, and look at photos of a typical NAR meet today ... mirror image.
And I don't think model rocket sales in the United States even reaches anywhere NEAR 100 million ... I really doubt it ... more like 1 - 5 million tops and even that is stretching things.

It isn't. Model rocketry was a pop icon of the era when the United States and Soviet Union were competing on the internation stage for prestiege in space. Model rocketry in the early days, late 1940s - 1960s was a learning aide for thousands of budding engineers and research scientists, but not anymore. A couple years ago I called Vern Estes, yes I have his office number in Penrose, and he openenly stated, "that model rockets were once a learning aide, but now they are just toys".
Its coming back with older men who are now showing more grey hair and bald spots then every before. 13 year olds are not flocking to www.buy-your-rockets-here.com and submitting CC numbers for rocket orders. Most of your and others' clients are mostly middled aged or older. I said MOST, not all.
Now if Pres. Bush's plan to place man back on the Moon then Mars goes through in the next 5-15 years, then this will pique public interest once more and YES more people across all age groups will have an interest in space and rockets.

In SOME CA counties, model rockets are BANNED. Period. Now can you goto a field and fly ... sure. Cops are not going to send out the dogs to get the "EVIL" rocketeer, but a concered/misguided citizen can "shoo off" a model rocketeer and be legal in doing so. As for R/C planes; gas powered planes get banned due mostly for the noise they create. Electrics are growing in popularity because of this and frankly now offer the same excitement for the buck as gas.
I know that in Concord and Layfette California, model rockets have been banned after one landed on a roof of a $750,000 home and burned it down to the ground.
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This should be in the FAQ.
About $40m.
Jerry
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Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
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Jerry Irvine wrote:

jerry, Is that what your "debt load" is up to these days?
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By NAR and TRA themselves and the primary vendors themselves.

In dollar terms it is bigger. In unit terms it is a bit smaller. In mindshare terms it is much smaller.

Nope.
Research it.

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Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
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snipped-for-privacy@juno.com wrote:

While my (FlisKits) wallet is affected by public interest, that isn't what directs my opinion. It was my opinion of the value of rocketry and it viability that drove me to start a company. You see the hobby diminishing and almost non-existant. I do not. Opinions vary. As for Kaybees, Toys-R-Us and Walmart's offering small or no rocketry, how many "department" type stores offered a LOT of rocketry in the 60's and 70's. Not many as I recall (well, to be honest, *none*, as I recall) However, I (personally) never went into a hobby shop in the 60's/70's that didn't have rockets. Neither have I seen a hobby shop without rockets in the 90's/2000's (maybe I'm going to all the wrong hobby shops...)

It sounds like you have numbers. I would like to *know* what this percentage is, *and* what the "error percentage" is. In any event, I disagree (again, my own personal experience having taught rocketry to several thousands of students in the past 20 years and seein many under 18 folks flying at our local club (and other clubs i visit))

I can't argue with that. What makes you think my sole goal with a rocket company is to "make money"? I lost a 6 figure job after 25 years and decided I'd rather be happy and contributing to something I care about than be "wealthy". I make a living and thoroughly enjoy what I do. I think back on a line from a song a standup comic would sing "And I get paid for doing this..." :)
sure

THe majority of our customers are under 45 and about a third are under 18. Also, 100 kits wouldn't last us a week. A "few hundred" may get us to the end of the month, but not likely.
You goto launches and you see mainly guys 45+ and maybe a

Point. SO let's fix that.

Point, so let's fix that.

Vern also told me (yes, I have his number too...) that he sees "Estes" rockets as "toys", but not "all (model) rocketry".

Point. They (the 13 year olds) use their parents CC numbers.
Most of your and others' clients are mostly middled aged or

Incorrect. Less than 50% of our (FlisKits) customers are in the "over 40" bracket and we have a *lot* of customers.

MAJOR point :)

point.
Bottom line is, I have seen growth. Clearly you (and others) have not. Are we up to the numbers in the 60's? No way. Are we getting close? No way. But that doesn't mean there isn't growing interest.
Rather than highlight everything that may be wrong with the hobby and its followers, I wish more people would do *more* to aid its growth and vitality.
It's easy to tear down. I choose to build.
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jflis wrote:

And I HEARTILY commend (and thank) you for that!
David Erbas-White
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snip
Add to that, there are more small rocket companies now, i.e. Fliskits for example and that Estes is adding kits more often and seemingly headed in the right direction, I'd say they are responding to market demand.
Randy http://vernarockets.com /
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jflis wrote:

Jim,
Maybe you see growth because of your cool kits that the gray and balding BARs can order. :)
Kurt Savegnago
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Kurt wrote:

Oh Lordy! I certainly HOPE so :)
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It'll be a dead hobby when they pry my certification from my cold dead fingers.
As far as the yes it is/no it's not discussion. You say to-MAY-to, I say to-MAH-to. I dislike politics, interpersonal or otherwise, and I _really_ dislike authority (ie BATF/Homeland Junta/McCarthy-isque Patriot's Act) telling me what to do beyound common sense guidelines. Screw all that crap, leave it to the bean counters, nit-pickers, and anal retentives. I want to punch a hole in the sky with HPR for the technical challenge. As such that's what I intend to do. I also want to fly "just" model rockets 'cause they're a ball too. If it wasn't fun, for all the reasons I find the hobby fun, I wouldn't do it. If I want non-fun BS I have 2 ex-wives, the bills, and my job in abundance and don't need to volunteer for more. When you do it for fun you also try to get others involved. Right now I've 3 possible recruits waiting for a launch that coincides with their free time. That's also why I'll be a TARC mentor for as long as the program continues. If Bush invades the Moon and Mars to find out where all the WMD's are hid....er, gets us back into space proper....the hobby will see a resurgence as some of the Gameboy junkies and Trekkies stop looking down Troy's cleavage to look up at the sky again.
Meantime I'll keep doing what I'm doing in the aging, balding, greying contingient of the hobby.
Chuck
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It will grow again when cert as a gatekeeping function is eliminated.
ANY certified rocketeer shouold be able to certify any other rocketeer.
Further, certification should not be an access control tool, but a merit badge.
Jerry told you so.
Jerry

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Jerry Irvine wrote:

Who cares?
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Not you.
You do not fly rockets and furthermore you are one of the leaders in the reduction of participation.
You have succeeded in your goal. Congrats.
Better than a job, eh?
Jerry
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Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
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Jerry Irvine wrote:

DUH!
Specifically how?

Not yet.

I have a job. When are you getting one?

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Doing what?
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Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
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On Thu, 30 Jun 2005 17:32:35 GMT, Dave Grayvis

Ithink Ray is keeping track. 8-)
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I have to concur. I was part of the local NAR chapter back in the '70s. It folded due to lack of interest in organized rocketry (spell that lack of adult supervision), and it wasn't till a few years ago that a chapter opened up again. We also have 2 (or 3 if you count Ky) prefects for Tripoli.
Tripoli Minnesota is holding monthly launches where we fire 50-150 rockets. It's true that we have to go 60 miles north of the Twin Cities to our field, but that's so we can get our 10,000' ceiling for the big stuff. There are many schools that include model rocketry as extra curricular or electives.
I would also suggest that hobbies in general are waning. Many of the long time hobby stores have gone out of business in our area.
Save rocketry, stamp our video games!
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