Milestone in Mankato: Ninth Rocketry Nats
January 1968 American Aircraft Modeler
I look at articles like this one of the 1967 model rocketry nationals
(NARAM-9) showing people from 40+ years ago, I always wonder what
they are doing today. Kids that were 16 in 1967 are 60 today! Many
of the adults, if they are still living, are in their 80s. Are they
still flying model rockets? Are they in good health? Has life been
good to them? Time can be a cruel master, or it can also be a benevolent
guardian. But, at the time nobody was thinking about where they
would be or what they would be doing in the year 2011; their only
concern was the competition at hand and having a good time.
Note the number of Ph.Ds in the crowd! Back in the day, model
rocketry was a big part of preparing young men (and a few young
women) for a career in astronautics.
In 1967, model rocket
kits were selling for a couple bucks apiece, and the high-end models
like the Saturn 1b and the Mercury-Redstone sold for close to $10.
If you try to buy one of those models on eBay today, you will have
to shell out, in some cases, $200-300.
Every once in a while I'll get a surprising letter from
somebody that found himself/herself or somebody he/she knows
in one of the old articles that I publish on the Airplanes
website. I always ask for permission to reprint
all or parts of the letters on the associated page. This time,
it was Mr. Doug Ball, who, with NAR membership number 9338,
has been involved with model rocketry for quite a while. Doug
is now an engineer at Boeing. Read his letter that answers the
question I posed above.
"Kirt, on your website you ask
about where some of those young rocket modelers are 40+ years
later. Well, in that article written by G. Harry Stine, there
is a picture of a young man named Charles Duelfer. "Charlie"
was on the cover of Time Magazine - he was the author of the
Iraqi weapons report that basically said they did not have WMD's.
Jay Apt, a founder of the Pittsburgh Spring Model Rocket Convention,
went on to become an astronaut and fly 4 shuttle missions.
He is also an astrophysicist. Matt Steele is an executive
at ATK. He builds big ones for real. Craig Streett
and Robert Biedron are reknowned researchers at NASA Langley.
George Pantalos is a developer of artificial hearts at the University
of Louisville, John Langford founded Aurora Flight Sciences
- a very successful aerospace company today. Jerry Gregorek
celebrated his 80th birthday this year - officially retired
four years ago from teaching aeronautical engineering at Ohio
State but still teaches their senior design class. Chuck Hall
is now a professor of aerospace engineering at North Carolina
State University. The young lady in the article,
, is now
my wife. Connie went on to become a very successful ballerina,
owning her own school in Mesa, Arizona for 22 years. Her sister,
Ellie, is an accomplished equestrian instructor and national
judge. Connie's husband, Doug, is now the chief of aerodynamics
for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The hobby, and
those adults back then who recognized it's educational value,
gave many of us the most amazing, rewarding and exciting careers
one could ever imagine. To them, and especially to Harry, we
owe a debt of gratitude. And so we try to stay true to Harry's
motto "Pay Forward". It is our turn to mentor and encourage
the next generations of aerospace engineers who will take us
not just from continent to continent, but back to the moon and
then the stars. It's as inevitable as the tides. "
Milestone in Mankato:
In mid-August the nation's finest rocketeers assembled for
NARAM-9. An eyewitness account
Ninth Rocketry Nats
G. Harry Stine
photography by the author
THE Ninth National Model Rocket
Championships (NARAM-9) sanctioned by the NAR at Mankato State
College, Mankato, Minn. was one for the books - technically, competitively,
Contest Director Dr. Ellsworth B. Beetch,
Professor of Chemistry at Mankato State, got the full support of
the college and used the NAR Zenith Section to provide range equipment
and management manpower. NAR Contest Board Chairman Al Kirchner
selected the 74 invited contestants from all over the United States.
Old-timer Manning Butterworth was in charge of the range set-up
on the Mankato Airport; the rangehead was right at the intersection
of the two active runways of the field. This might have caused some
problems, since the field was not closed to air traffic, had it
not been for the constant vigilance of Chief Safety Officer John
Belkewitch and his eagle-eyed assistants. Leader Member Jack Higgins
deftly handled scale judging while NASAman Bob Atwood took care
of R&D judging. Pinky Guill ran the data reduction quickie-boards,
working from tracking data supplied by Dr. William Perendy and his
The meet got under way on Tuesday, August
15th, with the first model - a Parachute Duration - launched by
NASA Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly. A certain amount of wind and
a lack of good thermals denied good record-breaking Parachute Duration
performance. In general, the PD models showed no new technological
achievement, but there is a tendency to go to large-diameter bodies
to hold the large chutes easier, and the winning chute models did
not have very large canopies. Pat Artis, however, had a beautiful
30-inch chute made from rip-stop nylon that can be used without
wadding and is practically indestructible. Engineers from Scheldahl
watched this event with great interest; they make big chutes for
the big stuff. Winning times were not high.
of Laurel, won Junior Division with 3: 57. Leader Division blue
ribbon went to Victor Ceicys of Parma, Ohio with 7:39, while Senior
Division was copped by Gerry M. Grekorek, from the Department of
Aeronautics and Astronautics at Ohio State University.
In Swift Class Boost-glider Duration, most of the birds were designed
well. Tech transfer between BIG and handlaunched gliders was evident
with some hi-point airfoils being used and vortex tips on a couple
of designs. The Juniors and Leaders turned in better performances
than the Seniors. Sam Atwood, Annapolis, Md. won Junior with 3:02
and Raymond Forbes, Ft. Riley, Kans., turned in a winning 3:26 for
Leader Division. The husband-wife team of Jim and Judy Barrowman
(he's a rocketsonde expert from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
won Senior Division with 1: 26.
In mid-August the nation's finest rocketeers assembled for NARAM-9.
New NAR President Dr. Ellsworth Beetch and son Konr preparing
a Swift Class boost glider. (Plans for similar model, Aug. '67
Dr. William Perendy with highly successful device used at 1967
NARAM-9 for calculating the peak altitude of a model flight.
The spot landing event in the rain turned out to be fun anyway.
Measurement crew checks landing distance of a flight.
"But sir, it flew O.K. last week!" Rocket C.P.-method expert
Jim Barrowman checks Talley Guill's plastic Mercury-Redstone.
1967 Junior Champion Charles Dueller checks the igniter in his
scale I.R.I.S. bird amid the competition.
"Well chaps, time for another important mission. But I dare
say they are all important, eh what?" In the crisp morning air
near the aerodrome at Manquateaux, faithful ground crewman Mike
Poss stands by to assist the takeoff of Mr. Countdown himself.
The beauty of scale! Al Kirchner with his "Little Joe II" comparing
models with Estes' "Saturn Ib" held by Jaroslav Broz.
Orville H. Carlisle, NAR's first, and #1, member, preparing
to launch one of his original 1957 model rockets. Is he flying
in a mythical old-timer's event for antique models? Flies well.
Separate target poles for spot landing event results in launch
rails being cocked at all angles. Which way to duck the birds?
Connie Stine preparing her I.Q.S.Y. Tomahawk for its Aerospace
Systems flight. She was the only girl entrant at NARAM-9.
Vern Estes with "Saturn Ib" from his new kit. Model uses cluster
of four engines.
Wednesday, August 16th,
was hot and sunny. PeeWee Payload got off with a roar. Some people
had Payload birds that would really perform, but they were so hot
that the trackers couldn't stay with them. Had these hot birds not
suffered "track lost," we would have had higher winning altitudes
than we did. The boys that won had large, slow-moving birds that
could be tracked. For the first time, the event was pretty well
mixed between the use of Estes engines and the new Flight Systems
engine; 630 feet brought the Junior blue ribbon to Mike Poss of
Huntington Beach, Calif. Joe Persio, Cheshire, Conn. was tracked
to 540 feet for Leader Division first place. Your reporter took
first place in Senior Division flying Talley Guill's Dubnica Payloader
design (Count Down, September 1967) single-staged with a B3-5 engine;
it went to 750 feet, which is right in the ball park of performance
for this design.
Class 1 Scale Altitude was dominated by
simple, well-proven scale models. Johnny Drake, New Canaan, Conn.
hit 730 feet with an I.Q.S.Y.-Tomahawk (Count Down, October 1967)
built with an Estes BT-20 tube. A Tomahawk also brought second place
in Junior Division to Connie Stine, the only girl contestant at
NARAM-9. In Leader Division, Old Champ Talley Guill flew a beautiful
IRIS (with booster) to 465 feet to win with a total of 1319 points.
His father, A. W. "Pinky" Guill, took first in Senior Division with
A certain amount of trouble was experienced
by contestants who had not thoroughly read the rules or done sufficient
research on their scale models. NAR rules say that the top stage
of a multistaged vehicle cannot be flown in scale events without
operable lower stages unless it can be proven by the contestant
that he modeled an upper stage that actually flew by itself without
a booster. Again, I will say it, and can speak with some authority
as a consultant on launch vehicles for the Smithsonian: (a) no WAC-Corporal
ever flew without its Tiny Tim booster; it was designed to fly with
this booster; (b) according to Atlantic Research Corporation, no
IRIS ever flew without its booster, and it was designed to fly with
a booster; (c) only one Aerobee ever flew without its booster; Aerobee
A-10, an RTV-N-8 model, took off unexpectedly from the launch tower
on the U.S.S. Norton Sound on March 17, 1949 as a result of a leaky
valve, leaving its booster behind in the tower. And the booster
must be operable; it cannot be a dummy that has been deliberately
intended to be destroyed on the launch rail by the jet of the sustainer.
On Thursday, the Aerospace Systems event was flown for the
last time. In the new rule book now in effect, it has been changed
completely into the Space Systems event. Charley Duelfer, Stamford,
Conn. hit the jackpot in Junior Division after trying hard at four
previous NARAMs; he won with his breech-launched ARCAS model. In
Leader Division, it was Talley Guill and his old, reliable Convair
MX-774. Yours Truly took the Senior Division with an I.Q.S.Y.Tomahawk
powered by an FSI D-1.15-6.
Some beautiful scale models
completely worthy of the title showed up for the Scale event. Steve
Glines of New Canaan, Conn. took his first NARAM trophy with his
Astrobee-1500 model. Again, Talley Guill's MX-774 took a winner's
trophy in Leader Division; after building that bird for 5 years,
Talley's getting very good with it. The same can be said for his
father's Astrobee-1500 which took Senior first place. Some of the
other notable scale birds were Jim Barrowman's excellent Nike-Tomahawk
(Jim works on that bird at NASA Goddard), Johnny Drake's Shotput,
Greg Scinto's big IRIS (with booster), and Dick Sternbach's Titan.
Plastic Scale became "plastic model" event this year with the
elimination of requirements to prove scale qualities. It did not
degrade the event in any way. It is tough to find a non-flying plastic
model kit that can be converted into a good flying model, but the
boys are doing a good job at it. True, there were some flops, which
is to be expected. But the ones that went were great and showed
meticulous craftsmanship that might be the envy of the International
Plastic Model Society. In Junior Division, it was Johnny Drake of
New Canaan, Conn. with his NASA X-15, a most difficult bird to get
to fly properly. And it was an X-15 from the Revell kit that won
Senior Division for the new NAR President Dr. Ellsworth Beetch and
his son Konr; Al Beetch, being a professor of chemistry, knew just
exactly what kind of paint to use on polystyrene plastics, and his
X-15 had a perfect mirror finish. In this event, there were plenty
of Hawk Jupiter-C kits modified for flight, a combination Hawk Jupiter-C
and Revell Mercury capsule to produce a Mercury-Redstone by Talley
Guill, numerous Revell Atlas-B's, an Aurora Regulus-II, and some
Revell Thor's. The lure of this event seems to lie in several areas:
finding the kit in the first place, modifying it to fly, and getting
it to fly.
The Research and Development event this year
was, to me, somewhat disappointing in the Junior and Leader age
divisions. Most of the research and development might have been
interesting and educational, but it wasn't practical. For example:
(a) retro-rockets for soft landings may be interesting, but they
would cause fire marshals to shudder; (b) water injection to improve
performance requires so much additional weight that it offsets any
possible performance gains; and (c) front-engined finless rockets
were thoroughly investigated and discarded by Dr. Goddard and the
old American Rocket Society back in the 1930's. However, in the
Senior Division, some excellent work was in evidence that shows
the beginnings of a trend predicted in "Count Down" some time ago:
the aerospace professionals who have taken up model rocketry as
a hobby are starting to apply professional techniques to the hobby
in a way that the young rocketeers can understand and use. Doug
Malewicki extended the graphs and charts of his Estes TR-10 to include
the Flight Systems and Centuri engines. Dr. William Perendy came
up with a new and improved tracking theodolite. Both Jim Barrowman
and myself entered simplified methods of calculating the center
of pressure of a model rocket. Gerry Gregorek of Ohio State used
his department's computer to work on drag calculations of models,
drag reduction, and altitude determination. Bernard Biales, of course,
has been a BIG fan for years and has done a lot of work in that
A number of excellent demonstration flights on Thursday
should be mentioned because they are indicative of the progress
in model rocketry. Leroy Piester of Centuri boosted aloft some of
his models powered by the Mini-Max Class E and Class F engines ...
and they move out! Vern Estes launched his new super-scale Saturn
1b powered by a cluster of four engines and recovered by two chutes
on the booster and a single separate chute on the Apollo capsule;
this bird flew beautifully twice and looks like the real thing when
it goes up ... but it is not for beginners! Irv Wait of Rocket Development
Corporation flew some models powered by his new Enerjet Class E
engine with its variable time delay assembly (you can choose the
time delay you want before flight) ; the Enerjets use a modern composite
solid propellant with a specific impulse of 182 and leave no visible
jet or smoke trail . . . just WHOOM! Irv also flew a real rocketsonde,
the RDC "Honeybee" which he is making for the Air Force; it is a
big model rocket powered by an Enerjet with 99 Newton-seconds total
impulse and carrying 0.75 pounds of payload to about one kilometer
altitude with full parachute recovery.
The most spectacular
flight of the demonstration was pulled off by George Roos of Flight
Systems who launched his OSO kit model with an FSI Type F18-0 booster
and an FSI Type F1.3-18 sustainer - a short-duration high-thrust
booster coupled to a stop-stage sustainer that burns for 10 seconds;
the bird went out of sight with the top stage still under thrust,
the trackers locked up at 90-degrees elevation, and the bird must
have hit over 8,000 feet. These large engines are very powerful,
very expensive, and meant only for the advanced model rocketeer
who has plenty of room to fly in, but they are needed because they
provide the means to do the kind of advanced work the older model
rocketeers want to do.
Friday, August 18th, the final day
of NARAM-9, dawned cold and rainy ... real Dubnica weather. And
Jaroslav Broz from Prague, our Czechoslovakian guest courtesy Vern
Estes, remarked on this. But the moment the rain stopped at about
9:30, the Spot Landing event got under way. Juniors, Leaders, and
Seniors had different target poles, which made the adjustable launch
rails look like a mass of crossed swords as contestants strove to
compensate for wind and target location. Bernard Biales of Madison,
Wis. dropped his bird in to beat all the Seniors, and Scott Upton,
18, of St. Louis stood near the Leader pole beckoning his spot lander
in to win, nearly becoming a member of the Royal Order of Pole Hangers.
In the Junior Division, it was Thomas Glass, 14, of Baltimore who
got the closest to the pole.
By the time Hawk Boost-glider
Duration rolled around, the wind was still blowing and the overcast
hung above our heads. This more powerful class of B/G is somewhat
of a challenge to modelers, and there were a number of "strip tease"
flights wherein the stress of launch caused the wings to part company
with the model. However, Bernie Biales got off a good winning Senior
Division flight of 1:59 using an elliptical-winged B/G with very
low wing loading and large area, proving that windy weather does
not automatically require gliders of high wing loading. There were
a number of "red barons," so-called because sometimes a strip pod
fails to separate and the model comes spiraling in with the streamer
fluttering out behind, looking like a trail of fiery smoke issuing
from behind a vanquished Sopwith Camel. Ray Stamford, 19, of Rock
Island, Ill. took the Leader Division while Kevin Stumpe, 15, of
St. Ansgar, Iowa, walked away with Junior.
about wrapped up the meet except for some demonstration flights.
Dr. Al Beetch had run off a full-scale NARAM on an active airport
with planes operating on all sides of us at all times. The FAA men
from Minneapolis had visited us early in the meet and satisfied
themselves that we were doing a safe job. We'd also had visits from
representatives of the National Safety Council, an organization
that had, up until then, looked askance at model rocketry. They
were there because the day before the meet opened, the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in New York reversed
their decade-old policy of discouraging all forms of non-professional
rocketry to recognize and endorse model rocketry, a tremendous breakthrough.
Our guests on the range during the final day included
Leister Graffis, President of Bendix Field Engineering Company who
had flown from Baltimore to see the meet and present the Bendix
Trophies for excellence to the national champs. Also on hand was
R. V. Mrozinski of the National Aeronautics and Space Council.
For the first time we held an awards luncheon; Jim
Kukowski MC'ed. As he started to hand out awards, all doors to the
room suddenly had intense, dapper men standing beside them ... the
Secret Service. And Dr, Beetch walked in with Vice President Humphrey!
The Vice President, as Chairman of the National Aeronautics
and Space Council, was visibly impressed by the model rockets on
display in the room, and he graced us all with a short speech. "The
world needs talent, your kind of talent," he told the young rocketeers.
He went on to remark that they were all making an important contribution
to their educations through model rocketry and urged them to get
a college education. He then personally handed out the Bendix Trophies,
assisted by Bendix President Graffis.
five years, Charles Duelfer, 16, of Stamford, Conn. won the coveted
Junior National Championship. The runner-up was William Bloch of
Pittsburgh. J. Tally Guill, 18, of New Canaan, Conn. became Leader
National Champion for the third year in a row (and this was preceded
by the 1964 Junior National Championship and participation in the
First Internationals at Dubnica) with Joseph Persio, 18, of Cheshire,
Conn. as runner-up. Yours Truly became Senior National Champion
in a closely-run race with Karl Feldman of South Bergen, N. J. And
Fairchester Section, Stamford, Conn. took the Champ Section pennant
for the 4th year in a row!
Trustees Outstanding Service Award went to Dr. William B. Rich,
NAR's hardworking Treasurer and former Secretary-Treasurer, who
really deserves it. The Sportsmanship Award went by acclamation
to Al Kirchner, Jr., last year's Junior National Champion, who
gave up competition this year in order to handle NARAM-9 contest
paperwork and represent his father who is Chairman of the Contest
Junior competition has always been rough because
of the predominance of Junior members in NAR, and Leader division
competition is getting that way as more and more model rocketeers
who have gone to college keep up their model rocketry. There's a
great cadre of Senior competitors now - Pinky Guill, John Belkwitch,
Doug Malewicki, Jim Barrowman, Bob Atwood, Al Beetch, Bernie Biales,
Les Butterworth, Karl Feldman, Gerry Gregorek, and Tommy Thompson.
In addition to being top modelers, most of these men now sit on
the new NAR Board of Trustees, giving us the most active Board we've
NARAM-9 is now a fond memory.
Here is more
coverage of the event in the June 1969 edition of
Posted August 27, 2011
Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain
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through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which
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