By Paul Gray

    This was the
highlight of my summer. The 40th National Association of
Rocketry Annual Meet (NARAM-40) was held at the AMA
National Flying Site in Muncie, Indiana from August 8-14.
It took my dad and I nearly two days to get there and
back. But as I found, it was very well worth the drive.
We got there about a day early, long before many other
people began to arrive. We took advantage of the extra
day by working on some of our competition models inside
of the hotel room. We checked out our sport models as
well, since there was going to be a lot of sport flying
on Saturday and Sunday.

    On opening day, we
headed out to the field very early in the morning But
since the range had not yet been set up, there was at
least an hour and a half delay before sport operations
got started. But once things got going there were many
exciting flights indeed. The weather most of week was
very humid, cloudy, and hazy. There was at least some sun
that broke through the clouds, so visibility was not as
big of a problem as it may have seemed. We could at least
see our sport rockets in the air, which was all that
counted, Recovery was not much of a problem since the
field was 1,000 acres big. (All mowed grass!!)

    The first rocket
that I flew was my repaired and refinished AeroTech
Initiator. It was flown on an F40 motor. I decided to fly
this rocket because of its long history. It was my first
mid-power rocket, my first rocket flown without the need
of recovery wadding, my first rocket with a nylon
parachute, and the first rocket of mine to be sanded down
and refinished after taking some damage due to a long
delay on one of its flights. So it was making history
again, it was my first rocket ever flown at a
NARAM.  In all, I flew about eight total sport
rockets with only one coming home needing repair. My Big
Bertha had a very unusual failure where the parachute
melted together, and the rocket came down hard and fast.
Recovery wadding was a problem because it seemed to have
expanded in the moisture. Therefore, it was important to
be more careful about using the right amount of wadding
and loading it in the rockets properly.

    I had many good
sport flights, and so did my dad. He flew his Extended
Alpha on a C6. Luckily, he recovered it after I had lost
sight of it (he makes me help him watch his rockets since
I have young eyes). He also flew his Mini Shuttle and his
Sizzler. His Sizzler flight was rather interesting Its
boost on a CS-3 got it up to about 400 feet where the
shock cord separated. Since it is a rear eject model, the
motor mount came down safely on its parachute while the
main rocket body lawn darted about ten feet away from the
launch pad It buried the nose cone in the ground, but
surprisingly, the main rocket body was not

    I lost one rocket,
my Estes Alpha. I flew it on a B6. It gained some real
high altitude just as the wind picked up. Then it caught
one of the biggest thermals I have ever seen, and it
drifted off into a corn field I couldn’t recover it, the
corn was too tall. It wasn’t the first rocket that the
corn ate, and it won’t be the last. Other people had
great flights as well. Other interesting rockets
appeared. but never flew. I was taking a look at a fleet
that one guy had brought along which consisted of rockets
that fly on L and M motors. One of his M motor rockets
had an interesting finish which my dad and I thought was
very appropriate; It was covered with dollar bills.
Really! The largest rocket flown was a L3 certification
flight on a Kosdon M1130. Very interesting to watch
indeed! It had a CPR system, but it still landed pretty
close to the power lines. There was one rocket that we
saw in the power lines that greeted us every day when we
drove into the launch site.

    Monday was the first
day of competition, and a very important event of ours.
This was going to be my first time flying any type of
rocketry competition ever. And so, l expected to get
creamed since I was competing against the best 14-18 year
olds in the nation including Rachel Brower, Kristi Smith,
Troy and MaN Leveron, Ryan Coleman, and many other good
competitors. “I/4A” Parachute Duration was a very
important event for us since we had test flown models and
had proven our ability to do well in this event. My dad
already had previous competition experience (he took
first in the eggloft duration event at the last contest
our club had). My rocket was an Apogee Centrix. I stuffed
in a 12″ thin chrome mylar parachute from Aerospace
Specialty Products. My dad’s rocket was the same. On both
of my flights, the parachute deployed, but did not fully
open. But, they qualified the flights since the parachute
did provide enough drag in order to have a safe recovery.
And, the rocket got so high, that both times were above
40 seconds. I was in second place, but then Rachel Brower
had a second flight that had a longer duration than my
second flight in which she put me down to third. I
finished third, Kristi Smith got first, and Troy Leveron
placed fourth. My dad’s first flight was a great one. The
parachute opened completely and wind carried it almost
off the field I ran a very long way to chase it. But, the
timers only saw it for a minute and six seconds, which
didn’t please my father very much. It didn’t please me
either, after running that far to recover it. My dad
wasn’t as successful the second time. The shock cord
seperated at ejection disqualifying the

    The next day, we
flew “B” Altitude. But I should say that Tuesday had the
worst weather of the week The clouds were very low in the
morning but eventually raised up as it got later towards
the afternoon. But my dad’s flight was early in the
morning He flew his Estes Wizard and it went into a cloud
He lost sight of it, but it eventually ended up in the
return box. I decided to wait until the weather cleared,
and then I got out my Apogee Centrix and put it in low
orbit on a B2. But, I couldn’t fit enough tracking powder
in it, so they couldn’t see it, resulting in no track My
dad let his Centrix rip as well, but he had the same
problem I had So we got qualified flights with our backup
models. My backup rocket was my Apogee Blue Streak which
I flew on a standard Estes B6 Out of two flights, my
highest track was 268 meters which finished me in fourth
place. My dad got two qualified flights with his Wizard
the best at 302 meters.

    Wednesday wasn’t my
day. This was the day for the “B” Helicopter Duration
event. The only rocket I had for this event was a Micro
Rota-Roc I flew it on a B2 and the timers as well as
myself lost sight of it. But, it ended up in the return
box on Friday. However, it was damaged I didn’t see it,
but from examining the damage, I think it lawn darted My
dad had better luck since he had a larger model that was
more visible. It was am Apogee Heli-roc. But his first
flight was with the same model as mime. The timers
couldn’t see it but I saw that it lawn darted The second
flight was a modified Heli-roc on a B25 which flew for
134 seconds. Overall he placed 10th in this

    Thursday was a very
busy day. We each had to make three flights for “B”
Streamer Duration, and I had to make two flights for “A”
Boost Glider. I did my two “A” Boost Glider flights
first. I flew my Edmonds Deltie on an Apogee A2. The
first flight was outstanding, flying for 78 seconds. I
was im first place, but I had a red baron the second
flight. But, to my surprise, I still finished 4th. I
finished 5th in “B” Streamer, making two qualified
flights out of three possible. I DQed the first flight
because my streamer shreded. My dad had a Wizard which
flew for a 114 seconds, but it was disqualified because
it spit the motor. His second flight did a 180 second
max. The model for this flight was a 13mm diameter
Centrix flown on a B2. The same model flew out of the
timers! sight on the third flight, so he got his Wizard
back out which disqualified because the streamer didn’t
deploy properly.

    Friday, the last day, ended with the
Sport Scale event. It was the best weather of the week.
My rocket for this event was am IQSY Tomahawk built from
an AeroTech kit. I earned 655 static points. Mine was the
highest scoring IQSY Tomahawk of all that were entered
which really surprised me. Peter Alway, the “B” Division
judge, didn’t exactly like IQSY Tomahawks very much
Before mme flew, I heard him say “Oh yeah, this is the
nice IQSY Tomahawk, which made me feel good The flight
was on an F40 which took it to aroumd 2100 feet. It was a
most impressive flight. There wasn’t very much wind so l
recovered it about 150 yards away from the launch pad. I
only lost five points after it was discovered that part
of the paint had been chipped off of the nose cone. I bad
a total of 750 points putting me in third place. There
were some other fun things going on during the Sport
Scale event. Rachel Brower had returned with the Vostok
that she flew in Arizona the previous NARAM. The rocket
lawn darted twice. But, she repaired it both times, and
got a qualified flight the 3rd time. She got first place,
and the “B” division National Championship.

    NARAM was one of the
most fun events I have ever been to! We’re already making
plans to attend next year’s NARAM in Pennsylvania. We
hope to get it here in Colorado in the year 2000. If you
ever have the opportunity to go to NARAM, by all means,
go! It will be one of the greatest experiences of your
life, even if you don’t compete!