Model rocketry is a fun, interesting, and educational hobby that has visited me at three different periods of my life. The first was when I was approximately 12 years old, in 1966. The hobby was relatively new then, and all rocket supplies had to be mail ordered - they were not yet carried by my local hobby stores. When a box arrived from Estes Industries, in Penrose, Colorado, it was like Christmas in July. After a few years passed, I moved away from my friend Scott who was also interested in rockets. That, and other teenage pursuits, drew my attention away from the hobby.
In 1986, long after college, my friend John pulled me back into the hobby. John is a true rocket scientist. I mean that he is a PhD in chemical engineering who works on various aspects of propulsion. The hobby had grown substantially since my first encounter. In particular, the choice of engines no longer included the relatively small A, B, C-sized engines. Engines had grown in size and thrust. It was now possible to launch model rockets that stood over 6 feet tall, and weighed in at over 10 pounds. The engines that would take such a rocket up a few thousand feet were powerful and expensive, and made every launch exciting. This time, John moved, then I moved. Gee, I'm getting the sense that tinkering with model rockets causes me to move - it happened the first two times!
Recently, rockets crossed generations as my friend Paul, who also did rockets as a kid, presented several kits to his children. This prompted me to go down to the basement and bring out several rockets that had been collecting dust for almost 15 years. Again, the hobby had changed and matured while I was off doing other things with my life. The high-end of the hobby had grown even larger, now including liquid hybrid fuel rockets. Electronics and microprocessors also made an impact. It was now possible to make accurate altitude and other flight-characteristic measurements. Payloads included cameras, telemetry, and even GPS (global positioning system) systems.
Still, the heart and soul of the hobby is building and then flying a rocket that might not survive it's first flight. Every launch takes a calculated risk that results in a thrill when everything goes off as planned. And even if the flight does not go as planned, there are valuable lessons to be learned for the next time, and usually a certain amount of ironic humor. I do want to say that I consider the hobby to be very safe, even though it might appear to be anything but. It's a great hobby for promoting science interest in children, although adult supervision is recommended.
When I started to search the Internet for information on model rockets, I was amazed at how much was available. It seems as if all of the commercial suppliers and many devoted hobbyists were just a click away. A list of interesting links is at the end of this page. Many of the pages represent a serious and dedicated committment to model rockets. My little contributions will never compete with those folks. There are a few areas, however, where we have discovered a little nugget of something that I will describe on a web page.
The Internet contains thousands of pages of excellent model rocket information. There is so much out there that I simply must believe that the average person who is attracted to the hobby must also be attracted to the Internet. Here are some of the links that I really enjoy.
Some of the personal web pages (first group of links) are good gateways to many other links.
Kite fliers are doing some amazing things with cameras and kites. They use the term KAP Kite Aerial Photograph. Search the web for KAP, and you will find lots of good information and pictures.