After seeing the ad for the rocket challenge on Discover I had a thought...
If you were an average American with 2.5 children and a dog and absolutely
no knowledge of amateur rocketry, would seeing a three hour show about 65+
pound rockets being sent 10,000+ feet into the sky make you feel comfortable
about this hobby?
Perhaps the reality is that the very things that make this hobby attractive
to many of us make it unattractive to many others.
I am not trolling here, it's just that in terms of attracting new hobbyists,
this show may be just a little bit overwhelming.
Before the flaming begins, I am against neither the concept or the focus of
the show--my vcr is set.
All I am saying is try (try) to think about this from the point of view of
someone who has never been exposed to this, then suddenly sees something
that looks and sounds (to them) like a NASA project blasting off from a
just a thought, now bring the bitterness...
I AM an average American...(I'm a Vet)...with 2.5 children and a dog, and
prior to my first launch, had absolutely no knowledge of amateur rocketry.
I am afraid of the B.S. that the government is trying to FORCE down my
Other than the 'elected' and the 'Holier than Though' idiots in the upper
echelons of our government, anyone involved in our hobby knows that when
the RULES are followed, Amateur Rocketry is SAFER than the nonsense that
goes on during our annual 4th of July 'celebration'.
How many times since it's been available has the NAR or TRIPOLI's insurance
And why in the world is black powder, although MORE dangerous than AP,
easier to get...AND STORE...in larger quantities?!?!?!
Because the general public has NO idea how silly this hobby is. That's why.
When I say 'silly', that's exactly what I mean.
Take into consideration that the majority of us have started with nothing
more than a cardboard tube, and a lot have now 'graduated' to more technical
materials, ie carbon fiber, Kevlar, etc etc...just to do the same thing!!!
Build an ENTIRELY harmless 'tube', (or outhouse, or orange barrel, or
WHATEVER), just to launch it as high as possible, get it back, and DO IT
The fire danger is common sense, in that most would not even CONSIDER
launching without proper precautions or if conditions were severe. The
damage danger is also common sense, if the RULES are followed, even with a
catastrophic event, the chance of someone, or someone's property, getting
hurt/damaged are more slim than my drive to work every morning.
The thing I find the most interesting is that the same people that want to
'regulate' AP are the same people that can't even regulate their own
national spending, and yet vote themselves a blinkin' raise every year.
So, in MY opinion, yes, this needs to be shown to the general public. How
many of 'us' LOVE the 4th of July, not for the bang and spark, but just for
throwing something up in the air to defy gravity, or to see who can go
And if a person can then recover and re-use, what a thrill!!!!
I have to agree that from the previews I've seen, and not the entire show,
that maybe it's a little too extreme... but if we can show the general
population that what we do is SAFE, even with mistakes, problems, and
un-expected results, that MAYBE we can then get that same general population
to realize that we just wanna have fun!!!
So, with every average Joe that sees the result of our efforts, whether they
be safe-n-sane, or a total mishap and yet safe, that is one more person that
MIGHT be turned on to our hobby, and if not, at least understand that even
with the 'Tryin' to catch NASA' mentality that some of us seem to have, this
is NOTHING more than Big Boys with Big Toys, and that world peace is NOT in
peril from anything we do!
Ok, that's my two cents, now let's go launch rockets!!
To be honest, when I first found out what high power rockets were
capable of, my first thought was "cool!", followed quickly by "Okay,
what do I have to do to try this out?"
I've been involved ever since.
My wife even likes high power (she's L1), and my kids think some of the
big projects are cool.
Maybe my point of view is tainted. I think the shows are a good deal. I
was introduced to high power by the same show you were speaking of. I was
jumping up and down pointing at the TV and yelling to the wife "Did you SEE
that!!!" After flying Estes-class stuff since the 5th grade, it seemed too
good to be true.
They showed the big-ass Redstone that Tripoli Nebraska built. I was not
only astonished at the size of the thing, but guys from my home state had
built it! Wow! I didn't have a computer at the time, but high power
rocketry was one of the first things I looked up when I got one.
I think this series of shows on Discovery has the potential to bring in lots
of new blood, the last shows brought me in, and a few others I would
NAR 82797 L1
...not to mention that the descriptions of the three shows refer to "Mach
2", "16 pound bowling balls" (i.e. payload) launched from a rocket "built in
just a matter of hours", and "target based competitions". Sounds like a
great holiday gift for the fear-mongers. Maybe the BATFE doesn't need their
As for the point of view of someone who has never been exposed, I use the
reaction of non-rocketeers hearing about my Level 3 as a gauge. More often
than not, people are surprised that something so large, fast, and heavy is
allowed to fly -- especially to such high altitudes. Show them a picture of
the launch rail at 45 degrees (on its way to vertical, of course) and some
people go pale.
Personally, I think that the rocketry community would be best served by
dropping the argument that the technologies that we use are not suitable for
destructive purposes. Better to acknowledge the potential and focus on our
self-regulation and safety record.
Er... _any_ technology can be used for destructive purposes. I think you've let
the thundering roar of your level 3 go to your head... ;)
Your car has vastly greater energy resources.
1) Hobby rockets are not equivalent to military rockets, and do not come
anywhere near most military rocket requirements. The numbers are not
2) Hobby rockets are so much not a threat that the BATF and friends felt
it neccesary to LIE about their capabilities in order to try to get
their rules passed... and you want to give in to this outright
deception? When you begin relying on rocketry's safety record that's
when the BATF will begin lying about that as well.
What WOULD make me comfortable is seeing them do something like the
bowling ball loft. You might have a point if all that was shown were a
bunch a big rockets going off, especially military scale as John Q.
already relates rockets to weapons. But doing something with them; BB
loft, altitude records, TARC, etc, shows that the people doing it
understand the rockets and technology to the point of even attempting
something like a BB loft. It demonstrates that the technology is
established and "controllable" and the participants know what they are
doing, if you get my meaning.
No doubt, it will freak some people out; politicians, BATFE agents, etc.
But, I think, the majority will be curious and amazed; the typical
response of newbies to an HPR launch.
Oh my, I'm gonna be in so much trouble here, but I agree with NaCl.
Ok, now Kevin T. is going to probably come over to my house and beat me
for this, but....... By and large the people involved in rocketry tend to
be a certain type of person: curious, pretty smart, relatively well
employed, pretty well informed, and generally independent. By extension,
these people tend to hang out and work with people that are (for the most
part) like them.
That said, most of the population is not like that, they tend to be:
narrow minded, barely educated, informed only by the mass media and "Uncle
Charlie". They also think the government knows what is best for them and
mainly are standing with their hand out waiting for the government to put
something in it.
You have to admit, this latter group is going to be intimidated by this
show and if the next day the ATFE uses parts of it to say "See, we told you
so!" they will rise up and say "Amen brother, ban those guys!". It doesn't
have to make sense, this is the same group of people who still think O.J. is
Now, I'm pleased and excited that the program is going to be on.
Generally the people watching it are going to be people like us, as the
other group of people will be watching the "Simpson's" or something equally
banal instead of the "Discovery Channel". But, I still feel it could come
back to bite us if portions of it are used in conjunction with the ATFE
footage of actually hitting a target with a rocket. (You know they will
succeed: unlimited funds, forget the science, or any semblance of reality,
and eventually you will get that "Golden BB")
Ok, let the flames begin!
Kevin (wearing my nomex) Rich
Tripoli Lvl 2, FAA Senior Rigger, "Stumpy" Recovery Dude
How did you feel about tattooed bikers and cycle builders before Motorcycle
I know they came off more 'human' and 'artisan' in my mind after the
Let's wait for Sunday night and see how the web hits add up.
We gonna have a hit count pool?
Yes the public sees rockets and missiles as 1 of 2 things:
weapons of semi mass destruction(depending on what its warhead is) and space
this show hopefully will show a 3rd use: as a hobby/sport.....
I would have preferred the NAR creating this show for this pasts years TARC
event, or future TARC event, but then the NAR couldn't market its way out of
a wet paper bag......
Try to think of a society where we are not entitled to try.
"Those Wright Brothers are doin' sumthin' strange. It's not right and
it's not normal. There ought to be somebody watchin' 'em to make sure
they don't try sumthin' that I might not understand. I heerd it had
sumthin' to do with flyin' and that's just not right. Horses are fine
and I can even tolerate those aut-o-mobiles, but we don't need no
people droppin' out of the sky, fallin' on mah head or anything like
that! It's jest naht right. People oughtn't to be able to do anything
they please. We need laws to confine society to my limited views, so
that I can feel safe."
"Now iffin it wuz a buziness entity, rather than individuals, I might
understand. Buzinesses should be allowed to do anything they want.
That's what America's all about. But people, you gotta watch them,
they can't be trusted. Individual's rights and freedoms, can only lead
to trouble. I guarantee it!"
It would be unfortunate if our society has slipped to the point of
viewing the extraodinary as a threat, rather than an accomplishment.
Fear, out of ignorance (lack of knowledge on a given subject) is
Whether that sense of accomplishment is found in an Estes BT-50 sized
rocket (and there are people who are afraid of these as well) or a 65
lb. rocket should be left to the individual and not influenced by
people who don't understand.
If we live in a society where sufficient, adequate or good enough is
decided by the masses, we might simply define one type car, one sized
house, fixed income, you name it, is sufficient and progress comes to
a halt. Limited vision produces limited results.
Fox News and talk radio scare me more than anything.
How did people feel the first time they saw a tire fly into a grandstand full
of people at 200mph at a racetrack?
If it's done properly (as opposed to "Check out these lunatics and their insane
hobby!"), TV exposure can help bring the hobby into the mainstream. Just the
fact that it is on TV will make it seem less bizarre and more like a real
sport. Look at BattleBots -- before the TV show, that was an obscure hobby for
tech freaks and geeks in the eyes of Joe Average. Now they see Boy Scouts and
families doing it on TV and having fun, and suddenly it's mainstream.