Family Outing: Model Rockets

Wholesome family fun
Wholesome family fun

3-2-1 Launch

My family and I enjoyed some great outdoor fun today. We attended a local model rocket club's monthly launch event in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Apart from the intense sun and heat, I fully recommend such an outing for your family.

We arrived on site about 10:20 am, twenty minutes after the scheduled start time. The event officials were finalizing their arrangements of launch pads (there were a total of 10) and safety zones. The event coordinator (my title for him) announced via PA system that the pads were ready for launches.

Within just a few minutes, several people submitted their rockets to the inspectors to determine that they were safe for launch. Each was assigned to a pad. When the participant had his or her rocket ready for liftoff, the coordinator announced the person's name along with the type of rocket and engine in use. After a countdown from 5, the rocket was sent skyward.

Most rockets used a parachute recovery system. After the rocket engine finished its thrust burn, the rocket coasted a bit as an internal fuse burned. A small explosive then blew open the rocket's nose cone, deploying a colored parachute which allowed the rocket to return unbroken. A few simpler rockets used a streamer recovery. The brightly colored streamers were easily tracked as the rocket fell to earth.

My family and I stayed for about two hours, during which there was no dull time. The longest space between launches during those two hours was about 4-5 minutes. A steady stream of both large and small rockets constantly grabbed our attention. We also had the added bonus of having a vintage WWI era biplane circle the field. I doubt that he was part of the event, but he added a fun bit of flavor to the day.

My two toddlers were excited all week about seeing rockets on Saturday, but their enthusiasm lasted about twenty minutes. For the remainder of the two hours, my wife and took turns trying to keep them engaged. Ages two and four were a bit young to truly appreciate the event. When the heat, which reached about 85 degrees under a cloudless sky, became unbearable for my kids, we headed home. All in all a fun day.

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