I got started in model rocketry when I was about 8-9 years old. My Dad bought the rocket and engines from
an Estes adv in the back of Popular science. We made a launch pad from a block of wood and a brazing rod. The launcher was
a converted timing light. It worked pretty good.
I wasn't really sure I would like this hobby my dad picked for me, but was willing to give it a try. The
main reason I wanted to try it was because we owned a ski-doo, but my dad wouldn't let me drive. I could only ride behind
him or in a saucer towed behind it. Dad said we would take the rocket out into the middle of Houghton Lake (about a 30 sq
mile frozen lake) and fire it there. No trees and lots of room. He also said because there were no trees or anything
to run into, I could drive the Ski-doo to recover the rocket. Suddenly this hobby sounded a whole lot more interesting!! Maybe
this is why I eventually liked to fly as high as I could. Longer trips on the snowmobile. It didn't take long before my favorite
rocket was the Comanche III
. With 3 stages and being only an inch in diameter, this bad boy was the highest flying rocket I knew of at the time. 2800
feet straight up. About a half mile and then recovery. Just to make sure that I got a loong turn on the snowmobile, I
put a parachute instead of the streamer that came with the kit. What my Dad didn't know, would hurt him.
By my mid-teens I was starting to get away from model rockets and didn't return until I was about 30. Oh
I did fly now and then in between, but only because I was bored and/or wanted to relive my youth. One day I was really bored
and wondering what I could do to improve my life. (I was headed for alot of trouble at that point of my life) On the local
news, there was a mention of a rocket club launching at the old Ford test track, not far from my house. I decided to jump
on my HD "glide". and take a putt over there. WOW, did I enjoy it! These guys were launching "G" motors and told me about
bigger ones. They explained they couldn't fly bigger "H" and larger motors because you needed a FAA waiver. Also at that time
didn't allow anything bigger. (This was a NAR group) They told me about a new group called Tripoli
that started a year or two before. They said that Tripoli allowed these bigger motors to be flown but that the closest
launches were several states away. Mostly in the west, out in the desert. I knew I would soon be hooked again.
I went to the next meeting of G.L.A.R., the local club that held that launch, so I could get some more info.
After joining GLAR (Great Lakes Association of Rocketry) I started to become friends with several of the members. Within a
very short time I was flying again and had joined both the NAR and Tripoli. My TRA # was 599. Now TRA #'s are in the 10,000's.
Two of the members in this Nar club, were also Tripoli members, Gerry Kolb and Frank Uroda. There was
another member that belonged to Tripoli too, but I can't recall the name. The 4 of us decided we needed to start a local Tripoli
chapter (tripoli calls them prefectures) and find a field to fly bigger stuff in. You may recognize the names Gerry Kolb and
Frank Uroda as being the original owners of PML. Public Missiles hadn't been conceived as of yet, but was just around
the corner. Anyway, we contacted Tripoli and procceeded to start a local prefecture. We called it Michigan Team 1.
Around the same time a high power, waivered launch was announced in an Illinois town called Danville.
No, this wasn't the first Danville launch. Well, not by that name anyway. It was called Central Blast. And man was it ever.
My first high power launch! The field was about 10 miles away from the host hotel. This was the same hotel that hosted the
first several years of the Danville launches. The Redwood Inn.
I was hyped. I purchased a LOC/Precision kit called the Wolverine for my cert flight. The Wolverine hasn't
been made in years. It was shortened and called the Mini Magg. I think the reason Ron from LOC did this was to have a large
kit that could still fly on G motors. The Wolverine was about twice as long and needed more power.
These early high power launches were nothing like the ones today. Alot less formal, fewer people and the
engine sizes were much smaller. The big flights that weekend were a couple of J motors and one L flight. All the rest were
F through I motors. At the time we weren't complaining. This was so much cooler then the smaller model rockets. These big
motors were LOUD! They sounded like the sky was ripping apart. I was diffenitely hooked!