By Bruce

    The 33rd National
Association of Rocketry Annual Meet was an experience.
Because this year’s event was being held in Elgin,
Illinois, not far from where my brother lives, the idea
of participating seemed workable. After a lot of coaxing
by Mike Hellmund, and the foreboding choice of the
LDRS-10 site, I was finally committed to this

    This was the first
event of this type that I participated in, and after
attending LDRS 5 through 9, I was anticipating a change.
Mike and I had been planning for this for several months,
although it looked for a while that things may fall
apart. Kevin Kuczek had planned on going, but decided to
skip this year. Mike had to use most of his precious
vacation time for an untimely personal matter, and at
first it appeared he would also back out of the contest
Somehow, he managed to find enough free time to attend
the last three days of the event, otherwise I may have
canceled my plans to attend, also.

    Our plan was to
enter the contest as a team, and early on we decided on
the name “Peripheral Visionaries”. We talked Kevin into
assisting us In preparing for the event, and he became
our third team member, flying by proxy, sort of. Without
his expertise, our efforts would has been far less than
what we had accomplished.

    One event that
really held my interest since it’s announcement was the
radio controlled rocket glider event (RC/RG), although
afterwards I felt that I should have skipped the event,
and concentrated on some ofthe easier contests. I spent
most my free time the three previous months designing and
building my model, and very few on any others. Our
original plan was to enter all of the events, but as the
time grew shorter, we knew we would have to skip a couple
of the more time consuming contests.

    Kevin and I spent a
lot of time trying to develop techniques for lightweight
fiberglass tubes, and in fact had only created two
useable tubes the night before I left. Kevin and Mike
were still building models the next few days for Mike to
take with him on the plane.

    I had decided early
on to drive to the contest, and had left around noon on a
miserable Saturday morning, as a steady downpour made me
feel almost grateful to be getting away for a while. My
trip out was mostly uneventful, although my 11 year old
Toyota with 120,000 miles on it decided to come down with
a case of vapor lock after the first 300 miles. I had
just resumed my journey after stopping for lunch and a
fill up when the problem began. I made it to the next
exit off of Interstate 80, and pulled into the nearest
gas station. I met a very helpful resident who said he
used to work at the station, and was apparently just
visiting his friends there, and I explained my problem to
him. He was sure my problem was due to vapor lock caused
by the 10% Ethanol gas that I had just bought and the hot
weather. By the time I understood what he was trying to
tell me, my car and the weather had cooled off enough to
allow me continue without incident. Thereafter, I made
sure I used only regular unleaded gas in my

    Around 11:00 PM I
decided to find a motel for the night, and after my
second fill up, I began looking for a place to stay. This
turned out to be a bigger problem than I expected. There
was a number of Best Western motels along the highway,
but these and any others were already full. I decided to
keep heading east until I found one with a vacancy, as I
didn’t see any other options. Finally, I found a “Travel
Lodge” In West Des Moines, Iowa at about 1:00

    I had traveled
nearly 700 miles on Saturday, so the remaining 300 miles
was easy. I arrived Sunday afternoon at my brother’s
place, and had a few hours to visit before heading up to
the Elgin Holiday Inn to register for the event and
attend the flyers meeting. I finally caught up with Ed
and Todd Schneider, who also drove out, and had stopped
at the Flight Systems, Incorporated, facilities on the
way. They had an interesting visit with the owner of the
company, andpicked up a few FSI products during their
stay. The flyers meeting wasn’t particularly interesting,
as only about half of the contestants attended, and the
biggest issue was a lack of parking space at the launch

NARAM 33 site Contest Flying

    I arrived at the
launch site Monday morning. At first the field appeared
adequate for the event, but as the day wore on, It was
apparent that my first impression was in error. We would
be flying “1/2A” Streamer Duration and “A” Parachute
Duration events, and I decided to wait for a while and
observe a few flights before attempting my own. I was
hoping the low cloud cover and steady winds would subside
soon. Todd had attempted one of the earlier “D” Streamer
model flights, and as I tried to help him recover the
model, I had my first encounter with the treacherous
foliage found throughout the recovery area. To the west
of the launch pads was a railroad track running about 20
feet above the ground, and was bordered by very large
thorny bushes on each side. Todd’s model landed right in
the middle of one of these bushes which gave us a good
fight before relinquishing the rocket. I returned with
more scratches than I cared to count, but as the meet
went on, this turned out to be the least of our recovery

    Seeing that the
weather would onlybe turning worse, I readied our first
streamer model for flight. This time, Ed was on top of
the tracks to attempt to recover the rocket, as I knew
this would be a long duration flight. Kevin had put
together a couple of very nice streamer models, and
losing them was a distinct possibility. The first flight
was perfect as the model drifted out of sight and never
did appear to come down. Unfortunately, the low cloud
cover and hazy skies made tracking difficult Our time was
only about 2 minutes. This was typical of a majority of
the flights, and luck was a big factor not only in
recovery, but in getting good times, also. Since one
model must be returned, I decided to reduce the steamer
size for the next flight. I did recover the model, but
had a time of only about a minute. The combined times
weren’t good enough to place in the event, but at least I
was beginning to feel comfortable as part of the
competition. Todd had a good second flight and took first
in his division in this event.

    I had some problem
in the parachute duration event as my first flight
ejected the engine, a disqualification, and the second
had a parachute deployment problem. Todd has a couple of
good flights, and ended up in second place. I gained a
new appreciation for test flying before a contest. I felt
somewhat disappointed, wondering what Mike had talked me
into, and wishing he was there already, sharing in the

    The annual business
meeting was held Monday evening. The highlights were the
NAR board member elections and the announcement by Pat
Miller of next year’s NARCON in Colorado Springs In May

The Short Weeds     Tuesday’s
events consisted of “C” Helicopter Duration and “A”
Rocket Glider. The weather was a carbon copy of Mondays,
and I decided to try the helicopter event first. I began
with Kevin’s version of a Rose-a-Roc design, expecting
this model to sail out of sight. My expectations proved
to be correct as the model flew perfectly, and vanished
over the trees in the west. Unfortunately, our time was
only 110 seconds, as the model disappeared into the mist
long before it came down. I attempted the second flight
with a model I designed. It had flown once before on a B
engine, and had less than a minute time. I fully expected
to return this model as required for a qualified flight.
To my dismay however, the rocket nearly matched the
previous flight, spinning out of sight before landing
beyond the tracks into or beyond a field of 12 foot
weeds. I saw no hope of recovering the mode, and while we
had a 79 second second flight, I thought we were out of
the event. Later, however we heard that Kevin’s model was
returned in time to qualify, so our points would be
counted, but when we tried to get the model back, no one
knew where is was. Todd didn’t fair as well as he did the
day before, as his first helicopter flight DQ’d and the
second one was lost over in the same area as

    The “A” Rocket
Glider Duration contest was also a major disappointment,
again with an untested model. While the model glided
nicely, it performed a giant loop during the boost phase,
and was very low during the glide phase. My attempts to
correct the problem only resulted in a bigger loop. On
bath flights, the model nearly flew through the range
official’s tent, and I was concerned about a DQ for
flying a dangerous model. However, the officials were
extremely lenient during the contest, and both flights
qualified. Neither time was good enough to be
competitive. Todd had problems with his entry in this
event Hs spent the last evening building the model, but
broke the rocket while trimming the glider, and the field
repairs didn’t hold up to the launch loads, resulting in
a spectacular shredding of the model.

    Well, Mike finally
arrived Tuesday night, and wasn’t real pleased with our
results so far. I knew however, that his viewpoint would
be improved as soon as hs saw the launch site. The
manufacturers forum was held that evening.
Representatives from many of the rocketry companies,
including Estes, AeroTech, North Coast, and a new company
called MicroBrick were on hand to answer questions and
promote their products. Most had some new items to
announce, but in spite of Mike’s heckling (almost to the
point of embarrassment), Mary Roberts covered inquiries
on Estes’ plans by neither confirming or denying
anything. One item of interest was North Coast’s radio
controlled glider patterned after a space shuttle, was
made from styrofoam and should sell for around

    Wednesday was not a
good day, as the rain came early. Mike and I had just
about finished prepping our “B” Eggloft Altitude model
when the range was shut down due to rain. We decided that
this was a good time for lunch, but when we returned,
everyone had left. We felt that canceling the events for
the day was a premature decision, as the rain had
subsided by that time.

    So, while I spent
the rest of the day finishing my radio controlled rocket
glider, Mike scouted out the manufacturers’ offerings and
generally menaced anyone he could find to converse with.
Since we lost most of a day of flying, the decision was
made to allow only one flight each for the “A” payload
and “B” Eggloft flights the next day, and move the 120
second precision duration event to Friday. The R&D
presentations were held Wednesday evening, although only
Ed and Todd felt compelled to attend. I was locking for a
good night’s sleep, as I had been averaging about 5 hours
a night since 1 arrived.

    Thursday started out
with a rain shower. but it subsided shortly after we
arrived, turning out to be a fairly nice day. Today, Mike
would gain some firsthand experience searching through
the Illinois Jungle. We began with our “B” egglofter, and
the flight was a very good one, with an altitude of 106
meters. For a while, it looked like the model was lost in
the high weeds, but I just happened to walk by it,
finding it hanging from the side ot a bush. The egg
survived intact, and we thought our score would be enough
for a trophy, but as the event progressed, our altitude
was exceeded several times. Ed flew his egglofter, but
his 40 meter altitude was not enough to place well in the
stiff “C” division competition. This was the only event
he competed in, but hopefully he’ll enter more next year.
Todd had more problems as he DQ’d on his Eggloft attempt.
We flew our “A” payloader next, and because we had only
one flight to qualify, we decided to fly it without the
piston launch accessory Kevin included in the design. We
felt we had an optimum model, and wanted to eliminate any
possible problem during the flight. The model performed
flawlessly, as ws obtained a 116 altitude, and were tied
for first place for a short time. Two other models beat
our score, as we ended up tied for second as a team and
tied for third overall. For some reason, the “C” Division
competitors were combined with the Team Division.
Obviously, someone was too cheap to award separate
trophies for the two groups, and members of both
expressed some negative feelings about this scheme. This
was done last year also, and was not supposed to have
been repeated. Hopefully, this policy will not reoccur
next year. Todd had another DQ in this event, but ended
his streak of troubles in the next event.

    Todd had a couple of
nice flights in “B” Boost Glider to earn him a second
place. Mike and I eventually trimmed and launched our “B”
Boost Glider. The first flight begun perfectly, as the
model floated in gentle circles above the launch site.
Suddenly, the glider began stalling wildly, and was
nearly lost In the waist high field next to the launch
site. Apparently, the clay weight we used to trim the
model fell off during the flight, and caused the problem.
Our second flight wasn’t very good, as our trimming
wasn’t as desirable as the first flight, and our score in
the event was somewhat of a letdown.

Bruce's RC/RG     Finally, the
radio controlled rocket glider event was underway, and I
had some doubts concerning our entry. We never had a
chance for a good test flight, and I had never flown an
R/C glider before. I tried to build the model to
practically fly itself, and all I hoped for was a
qualifying flight. The weather was turning bad as we
prepped the flight, and at liftoff the wind suddenly
picked up. The model took off very nicely, and deployed
its folding wings as expected. The high winds then
proceeded to push the model directly in the opposite
direction of the landing spot. Any attempt to turn the
model only resulted in a loss of altitude, and it finally
collided with a tree and hung suspended about 30 feet

    My brother climbed
up to retrieve the model, and I was surprised to see that
no significant damage was done. The wind wasn’t letting
up, so we decided not to attempt another flight Still, I
was pleased with the results. The flight wasn’t as good
as we hoped, but better than we expected. We ended up
fifth out of six as a team in the event, as another
competitor’s model got up to about 25 feet high and then
buried itself into the ground next to the

    Thursday evening’s auction was
uplifting, as a lot of interesting items were sold, some
at outrageous prices. An old Estes Mark kit that Jay Apt
carried on his Space Shuttle flight went for about $100.
I bought a Scud and a Klingon kit, and a pile of old
Estes catalogs. Mike got some old Estes range box
stickers, decals and assorted items. Todd bought a couple
of kits, and Ed bought a range box. I donated an old
“C.R.A.S.H.” shirt to the auction, and it went for $25,
along with some MPC engines. All of the money raised went
to a fund for new launch equipment for future NAR

    Friday had only half
the day scheduled for launches since the flights in these
event were not expected to travel very far, I felt my
excursions through the perilous vegetation were about
over, however Mike had other ideas. Our attempts at the
day’s events were less than spectacular, although Todd
took second In Precision Duration and third in spot

    Mike flew his Estes
Black Brant with an E30 motor for Precision Duration. It
was a great flight, but only stayed up for 70 seconds or
so, far from the required two minutes. We thought it was
lost in the high weeds, and Mike was ready to leave the
model behind, as he wore shorts that day and didn’t want
to brave the wilderness. I volunteered for the dangerous
duty, and once again I got lucky and walked right up to

    I built an Estes
Scout III the night before for spot landing, and Mike and
I argued about the best engine to use. He wanted to use
an A8-3, while I felt a C6-7 would do the job. We
compromised on a B4-4, but this tuned out to be a poor
choice, as the model landed farther from the spot than we
started. Once again I was plodding through the weeds to
recover it, and it turned out that it didn’t even land
there; it was right next to the road into the launch
area. We still had opposing opinions on what engine we
should have used!

    We watched a few
flights of the Peanut Scale models. Todd took a second
place with a nice Little Joe II model. I left early to
put new brake pads on my car, and Mike attended the Jay
Apt slide show in the afternoon. He thought it was an
impressivePeanut Scale Saturn I presentation, with a lot of
fine photographs from the Space Shuttle.

    The Awards banquet was held that
evening, and although the food was good, the rest of the
evening wasn’t very enjoyable. Since we tied for third in
the “A” Payload event, only one trophy was available, and
we will have to wait for ours to be mailed to us. Not
only did nearly everyone at our table collect a number of
trophies, Mike, Ed, and I were shut out of the drawing
prizes. Todd, however, won a rocket kit and fifty dollars
in the drawing. He also collected $65 worth of Estes gift
certificates with his 6 trophies for his efforts.

     My return trip was uneventful for
the most part. Overall, I enjoyed NARAM 33, in spite of
our poor showing. Mark Bundick and the rest of the
contest officials did an outstanding job organizing and
running the contest, even allowing for the terrible field
and conditions. The contestants showed a high level of
sportsmanship, particularly in returning other flyers’

    I met a lot of people that I had only
read about, including Pat Miller, Vern Estes, Bob
Sanford, Matt Steele, Jay Apt, and George Gassaway, and I
was surprised that people recognized me from my work on
our club newsletter. This was a great learning
experience, and am actually looking forward to NARAM 34
in Las Vegas! The most important advice I can pass on to
those planning to go next year is to start building your
models NOW!!