By Bruce

    If you asked anyone
about attending a national model rocketry contest in the
middle of a Nevada dry lake bed in August, they’ll
probably think you were crazy. Still, several of
Colorado’s most dedicated competitors accepted the
challenge, and headed west.

    Dave Nauer, Ed
Schneider, and Warren Layfield left early Saturday,
August 1st, and I began the trip a few hours behind (I
was still building that morning!) to attend NARAM 34 in
Las Vegas. Todd Schneider and his mom left a few days
earlier, as they intended to fit a vacation into the busy
schedule. The drive was about 750 miles, and through
about 13-15 hours of widely varied terrain, and several
long, isolated stretches between towns. It’s hard to
believe that you’re half way there and still in

    Most of us arrived
at the Gold Coast Hotel Sunday afternoon, and spent some
time moving our equipment into the rooms. The only way
into the hotel was through the gambling casino, and that
area was always crowded. We spent part of the evening
checking out the manufacturers’ room, and meeting some of
the other attendees. Mike Hellmund and Mary Roberts
arrived by plane, to represent ESTES Industries, and show
off some of their upcoming products.

    Dave had volunteered
to perform RSO duties during the contest, and I
volunteered to be a scale judge. Todd took on timing and
tracking duties, and Warren spent most of his time
helping the range officials where he could. Ed relaxed,
and watched, and helped Todd prepare for the events. I
felt that with all the effort he put in to the hobby, he
should be involved in the competition, as he’d do quite

    I spent most of the
evening finishing up some models for the next day’s
events. In fact, I threw together a “B” Streamer model
around midnight. I almost decided to skip the event, as I
knew we had to get up at 5:00 AM each morning to get out
to the launch site by the 7:00 AM starting

NARAM 34 Site
Prep Tent
    Monday’s events were
“A” multi-round Parachute Duration, and “B” Streamer
Duration. The launch site could be seen for several miles
away as we approached it, and the site itself was an
impressive sight! We were in the middle of Eldorado Dry
Lake, and the surface was absolutely flat for miles in
each direction. It was hot already as we arrived, and
would no doubt get hotter as the day went on. Several
large tents had been set up earlier for the National
Sport Launch held Saturday and Sunday, but high winds the
night before had damaged the main tent, twisting 2 inch
pipe into pretzels. We made due with what remained, to
avoid the heat, and began the first day of

    Todd had his first
of many fine days in “B” Division, with three perfect “A”
P/D flights for a first place finish, and then a second
place in “B” Streamer. Dave started out poorly with DQ’s
on two of his “A” P/D flights, and more problems in the
streamer event. I had one good flight out of three in the
parachute event, and what I thought were two mediocre
streamer flights. I was shocked to find later that I had
taken first in “C” division in the “B” Streamer

    Monday night’s
events included the Manufacturers Forum and the
Manufacturers Trade Show, where many of the rocketry
vendor presented and displayed their current and future

Eldorado Dry Lake     Entries for
the Scale, R & D, and plastic model conversion were
required to be turned in Monday evening. Tuesday was not
a very good day for me. My “F”  Helicopter, which
had flown perfectly back in Colorado, decided not to
cooperate. I made the mistake of uttering the
catastrophic phrase “Yes, I’ve flown it before”. Moments
later, just as it left the rod under the low thrust of
its F-14 Blackjack engine, one blade shredded, causing
the model to do several giant loops above the crowd
before bouncing off the tent and landing among the

    Both Dave and Todd had good flights
of their helicopters, and Dave took second place and Todd
was third in the event. Once again I had problems in the
“D” Flexi-wing event, as both of my flights were
unstable. And again, Todd secured a first place with two
fine fights, while Dave concluded with a third place

    Estes demonstrated
their prototype giant Saturn 1B model, although the first
flight made a bigger impact than desired. The first
flight lifted off beautifully on an experimental engine,
but a failed ejection charge caused the model to
streamline in, shortening it considerably. Needing to
demonstrate a successful flight, they produced a second
Saturn 1B, and this time had a perfect flight. The NAR
Annual meeting was held Tuesday night, and consisted of
the NAR officials presenting the “State of the NAR”, and
what we could expect in the future, plus elections of new
board members.

    Wednesday was
“glider” day, as the events were 1/4A Rocket Glider, 1/2A
Boost Glider, and G Rocket Glider (“A” and “B” Divisions
flew “C” Rocket Glider instead). Dave had problems this
day, as he DQ’d both “1/4” A R/G attempts. I had two good
flights for a total of 53 seconds, and took second place,
just three seconds behind first place. Todd also took a
second place in this event. My first “1/2A” Boost Glider
flight shredded a wing on liftoff, but after some quick
repairs, I had a nice second flight However, it was not
enough to place in the event. Dave didn’t place either,
but Todd took a fourth place for his efforts. An early
storm was coming in, so the “G” Rocket Glider event was
postponed until Thursday.

    An auction was held
this evening, with many fine items available. Dave and I
donated two NARCON ’92 shirts and two patches to the
event, and Gordon McGregor, who came to watch and sell
some old kits, donated some of the vintage models to the
auction. The big item was a 1964 Estes catalog which went
for the amazing price of $90.00 to Bob Sanford, and then
autographed by Vern Estes who was in attendance.

    After the Auction, a
NAR Town Meeting was held, where the members had the
opportunity to pose questions to the board members. It
was a highly charged meeting, filled with many complaints
and criticism. I spent the evening judging the Super
Scale entries, and this turned out to be a tedious

Super-roc Preparation     Thursday
was another poor day for me. This was “altitude day”,
with both “C” Eggloft and “F” Super-Roc events being
held. The “G” Rocket Gliders were flown, and my entry
decided to go horizontal at liftoff and crashed quite a
way downrange.

I felt I would do well in “C” Eggloft, but my first flight
resulted in a cracked egg. The second one was great but
one tracker didn’t get a track. I was allowed to retry the
flight, but my final attempt ejected the engine, and the
impact destroyed the model. Dave did very well,
taking first in the event, but Todd’s flights didn’t
result in a place this time. Warren also flew in this
event, but didn’t place.

    Todd did well in the
“E” Super-Roc event, taking a second place, but Dave
didn’t finish in the trophies. I didn’t have a chance to
try mine as another storm was brewing, and also the RSO
told me that my entry was “too dangerous”, and wouldn’t
be allowed to fly.

Super-roc, Ed and Todd
    Thursday evening had
the R&D presentations, everyone who entered gave a
short talk on their project Todd’s project was on
Super-Roc Design techniques, and Dave did a presentation
on computer software he designed to benefit the hobby. I
did mine on my Retro-Rocket designs. Dave took first in
this event, while I was second. Todd took third in his
division. The scale and plastic models were available for
display this evening, before their flights the next

    Friday was the last
day for competition, and the Scale and PMC events were
scheduled. Dave had nice flights on both of his entries
(each was a Jupiter-C model), and took second in the
Super Scale event. I flew my retro-rocket as a demo
flight by request of the R&D judges, and it flew
perfectly. My PMC model (an “A-12”, the CIA version of
the SR71 Blackbird), lifted off smoothly on its twin
engines, then made several tight maneuvers before
deploying both parachutes. I was very pleased with the
flight, as many felt the configuration would not fly.
Dave called the flight “marginal”, but it earned me a
first place in the event. Todd had a nice flight of his
scale Saturn V, and took first in the event. He had
recovery problems with his F104 PMC entry, and was DQ’ed
on both attempts.

George Gassaway's LJ II Bruce and SR-71 PMC

    Friday evening was the Awards Banquet
The meal was excellent, and a drawing was held with many
nice prizes. The trophies were awarded, and there were a
few surprises since most of the results were not posted
due to computer difficulties. The biggest surprise for us
was Dave winning the “C” Division National Championship
trophy! Dave was in shock as the huge award was presented
to him. (Later, Dave was informed that an error in the
point standings moved him down to second place
nationally). Todd also did well overall as he received a
fourth place nationally.

    Overall, our Colorado contingent did
quite well, as I won a total of four trophies, Todd had 9
event trophies and one overall trophy, and Dave had five
event trophies and a reserve national championship!
Congratulations, Dave!!

    We drove all the way back on
Saturday, taking about 15 hours. I had to stop for a
while in Utah to replace a fouled spark plug, and Dave
had some vapor lock problems (with his car), but we
survived the trip.

    I’m already looking forward to next
year’s contest NARAM 35, and this time I’ll start
building early! But then, I said the same thing last
year, too!