By Kevin Kuczek

    NARAM this year was
held in hot and humid Houston, Texas. Surprisingly, it
wasn’t as hot and humid as when they last held NARAM at
this location. In fact, even the roaches and fire ants
were nonexistent! I had most of my models built before I
left, which was good because building models was the last
thing I wanted to do after being up until 4:00 AM, and
then getting up at 8:00 AM to chase rockets that
sometimes floated miles from the launch site. Keep in
mind that this schedule went on for four days straight. I
felt like it was exam week!

    I did pretty well,
taking a trophy in every event I entered. Really great
models were not needed to win. Consistency meant
everything with low cloud ceilings and prevailing winds
that took your birds directly into the NASA complex. In
fact, the range was shut down two times when NASA
objected to models landing in restricted

    The duration events
included “1/2A” Parachute Duration,
“A” Helicopter Duration, “C” Rocket Glider Duration,
and “F” Streamer Duration. Times recorded on the flight
cards were pretty misleading though, since most models
due to the high winds could only be seen for the first
couple minutes of flight. Unfortunately with the return
rule, one flight had to be returned.

    So, having ultra
high performance models at this contest usually didn’t
pay off. My duration models were light but not fragile
and maybe not as light as I could have made them. My
motto has always been to go all out and hope to get one
flight back or tracked. No one can predict what the
weather will be like. If I had all the time in the world,
I’d probably build a couple of bricks to fly, in case of
high winds.

    The altitude events
included “D” Altitude and “E” Dual Eggloft Altitude. I
placed second in “D” Altitude and first in “E” Dual
Eggloft Altitude. Tracking the egglofter flights was not
a problem for the trackers. In C division there were only
three qualified flights and two of them were mine. Thus
to place, all you had to do was qualify.

    Flying “D” Altitude
was another story. Most modelers chose Apogee 18 mm
D3-7’s and most punched the low cloud base and didn’t get
tracked. My first flight did just that. I stayed with my
motto though and flew a backup model I built the night
before on a D3-7. I launched right into a small blue
patch of sky and got tracked.

    Coming into NARAM, I
was number 2 in the nation and 2,000 points behind the
leader. After NARAM, I was 4,000 points ahead of the
previous leader, and took the “C” Division National