Events

March 29, 2012

Desert Heat 2012 launches hundreds of model rockets in Tucson

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by David S. Ricker
Photo by David S. Ricker
The Arizona Rocketry Team sets up 'The Crayon' for spectators to view. The Arizona Rocketry Team built the 13-foot green rocket to be used by the Southern Arizona Rocketry Association for community outreach.

Hundreds of model rockets were launched this past weekend during Desert Heat 2012, a two-day event sponsored by the Southern Arizona Rocketry Association (SARA).

While SARA sponsors monthly launch activities for members and spectators at the Tucson International Modelplex Park Association (TIMPA) complex, Desert Heat 2012 was the 8th Annual Winter Launch Event. “This is our eighth annual desert heat, two-day launch,” said Sean Keane, SARA president. “SARA was formed in 1994 and moved to this facility in 1997.”

Crowds for Desert Heat 2012 were strong this past Saturday and Sunday as families came out to watch and even rent rockets for their own flights. “There are a lot of people who come out who have never heard about rocketry,” Keane said. “We have a lot of kids and adults who fly model rockets.”

The Just family of Tucson flew one of the more noticeable rockets, a 15-footer powered by five different motors. It was Tom Just’s son, Aubrey, who first got him interested in rockets about seven years ago. “I got him [Art Just] to buy it for me,” Aubrey said, nodding in the direction of his grandfather, Art.

Tom and Art admitted that once they got hooked on rockets while working with Aubrey they learned the value of collaboration, especially across generations. “We’ve always been a little competitive, my father and I, my son and I,” Tom said. “The big projects are a collaboration between all of us.”

Another Tucson resident, Jay Dennis, is a 17-year veteran of rocketry.  He said he also became involved in the hobby thanks to his son.

“My son came home when he was in the fourth grade and told me about this guy who flew a rocket on the playground and he wanted me to come out and see him,” Dennis recalled.

Dennis was impressed and decided that rocketry would be beneficial to his relationship with his son. “It looked like a good way to teach math and science without teaching math and science without it seeming like I was teaching math and science,” he said. “It seemed to have worked because he’s now a doctoral candidate in aerospace engineering.”

Dennis is part of the Arizona Rocketry Team which built a 13-foot, green rocket they call “The Crayon.” The rocket will be used by SARA for community outreach. “It is designed to be kid friendly,” he explained.

Eric Burch started working with model rockets as a youngster and he was surrounded by a crowd of kids as he prepared for launches this past weekend. “I started when I was their age,” he said.

As happens in life, Burch took a break from rockets before he got back into the hobby as an adult. “They call us ‘born again rocketeers,'” he quipped. “I’ve been doing it now for going on nine years.”

Burch suggested that rocketry was a hobby for any age level and any financial means. “You can do it at whatever level you want to. You can do it with small rockets, big rockets,” he said.

While Burch has an 18-foot rocket, it stayed at home in favor of working with the young people the event attracted. “They want to have fun, but kids have to understand that math and science are fun,” he said.

For more information about SARA or future launches, visit http://sararocketry.org/.




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