#279 -280. We Built a Rocket & Blasted It Into Space.

3-2-1, BLAST OFF!
3-2-1, BLAST OFF!

It’s pretty silly writing about the events of a beautiful fall day while us Minnesotans are in the midst of a snowstorm. But that’s what I’m doing & I don’t care! It’s a reminder of how crazy-fast autumn flies by.

Rocket Day is one of the best events of the year.

Every September, my Uncle Whitey & Aunt Colleen invite a hundred people to their place to hang out, make apple cider, share hotdish and bars (duh, that’s how we roll in the midwest) and launch model rockets. It’s a blast, no pun intended.

Okay, pun intended.

A regular Go Fork Yourself podcast listener (that’s my show with Andrew Zimmern, btw) owns a model rocket company and sent me this kick-ass WAC Corporal rocket kit. The husband and I decided to build it.

If you’re anything like me, when you hear model rocket “kit,” you think, I dunno, IKEA. Snap a few pieces together and BOOM. Rocket!

Hahahahahahaha…. I guess that’s not how this works.

Model rockets: Lots of assembly required!
Model rockets: Lots of assembly required!

We needed a drill. And superglue. And epoxy. And sandpaper and latex gloves and loads of patience.

Half of this couple was really excited to build a rocket.

Can you guess who?

If you guessed the engineer, you win the prize!
If you guessed the engineer, you win the prize!

I, on the other hand, was all butterflies (#279).

These rocket things take quite some time to assemble (we worked on it three separate nights), require all sorts of tools and ingredients I don’t understand. It’s also the exact type of situation where Josh and I would get into some stupid argument. And then at the end, we have to launch this sucker in front of 100 people and it might explode in the air (#280). All that work down the tubes!

Of course, facing these fears is exactly what Hey Eleanor is all about.

I put on my gloves and started epoxying the crap out of our rocket.

I'm in the zone. I suspect the wine helped.
I’m in the zone. I suspect the wine helped.

Though there were a few tense moments and I may have superglued my fingers together at one point, we built the rocket mostly unscathed.

We didn’t have time to paint our rocket (apologies to model rocket purists!), but were okay with that. It would’ve taken another hour or two and we weren’t even sure it would fly.

Here’s Josh & I are with our Apollo WIP. (That’s “Work In Progress.”)

Fingers crossed!
Fingers crossed!

Josh & I set ‘er up on the launch pad. Of course you have to wear a helmet whilst launching your rocket. It makes everything substantially more fun.

We braced ourselves as a hundred of our friends and family counted down from 10.

There she goes!
There she goes!
Waiting for the parachute to open... a nerve-wracking moment.
Waiting for the parachute to open… a nerve-wracking moment.

Miraculously, our rocket not only launched successfully, but after the parachute opened (whew!), it landed right back at our feet. Hugely satisfying & exhilarating!

My cousin Jocelyn & me. She's responsible for a lot of these awesome pics. 
My cousin Jocelyn & me. She’s responsible for a lot of these awesome pics.
Patsy doesn't really get rocket day. She just comes for the food.
Patsy doesn’t really get rocket day. She just comes for the food.

After watching a dozen or so launches, Josh and I decided to fly ours again. We followed the exact same steps.

However, this time we used a slightly larger engine.

We put on the helmets.

We counted down from 10.

We pressed the launch button.

We watched as our rocket blasted into space.

We screamed as the equivalent of an over-sized lawn dart plummet toward earth from thousands of feet above.

We ran for cover.

Splat!

I guess whoever stuffed the parachute back into the rocket hadn’t done a great job (I swear it wasn’t me. Okay, it was me). And maybe we should’ve used a little more epoxy on the fins.

The aftermath:

Our post-flight rocket.
Our post-flight rocket.
Think this can be fixer or are we hosed?
Think this can be fixer or are we hosed?

Even though our rocket basically exploded, the experience was so much more rewarding and fun because we’d built the rocket ourselves. Usually, I’m content to just bring food to Rocket Day, but now I’m not sure I’ll ever go without my own rocket.

I have to give a shout-out to the real hit of Rocket Day 2014:

Josh brought a drone. And a GoPro.

Josh and his toys, complete with a biffy in the background.
Josh and his toys, complete with a biffy in the background.

I’ll skim over the part of the story where Josh went to the hobby store to buy a parachute for our rocket ($2) and came home with a drone ($400). Not exactly in line with our current budgeting, but at least the video he shot was pretty darn cool. You can watch it here:

Big thanks to Whitey & Colleen for another successful Rocket Day. I’ll work on my parachute-stuffing skills for next year.

* * *

PS This is not Uncle Whitey’s first Hey Eleanor appearance. There was the time he took me ice fishing, which was also the same day he convinced me to swallow a live minnow. He’s great!

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Comments (4)

  • Mary Gamache 3 years ago Reply

    The drone footage is so awesome–tell Josh that I think it was worth the $400!

    molly mogren katt 3 years ago Reply

    Whitey said the same thing! I think Josh wins this round… the video was pretty darn great.

  • Sarge in Charge 3 years ago Reply

    Dying over these:

    Usually, I’m content to just bring food to Rocket Day, but now I’m not sure I’ll ever go without my own rocket.

    I’ll skim over the part of the story where Josh went to the hobby store to buy a parachute for our rocket ($2) and came home with a drone ($400).

    Oh… of course! Well done, you two.

  • Andy Jackson 3 years ago Reply

    Looks like that fin came out pretty clean…. should be repairable (let me know if you need another fin)…

    And between now and next Rocket Day you should be able to paint that sucker! 😉

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