Article: 1047
By David Randall, NAR 84939 L3, November 2009


I’m Dave Randall, and have joined the ranks of many born again rocketeers. Rocketry started for me in the mid-70’s flying at Vet’s Park in Bay City MI with my grandfather. My favorite rocket was the Estes X-15 and his favorite rocket was der Red Max. I think it had to do with his German heritage! Fast forward through the girlfriends, high school, college and on to married life. My wife and I spent a few years BC (before children) making models and flying rockets at 60 Acres. I loved my Estes Saturn V, especially underpowered slow liftoffs on a D12-5. We flew tons of models, and knew nothing of mid/high power rocketry until stumbling upon a lost rocket that was 7′ tall and used a 29mm motor. I was hooked!

My foray into high power rocketry was jump started with a few trips to Monroe and Aerotech 29/40-120 motor building mentorship from Michael Dennis. I purchased a BSD Sprint from Kris Hull, and flew that on an H123 for my Level 1 certification in 2005. I built an Excel Plus for my Level 2 certification, and completed my test and certification flight at XPRS in 2005. Venturing on through a variety of 29, 38, and 54mm motor based rockets, I continued to build skills in flying with electronics and use dual deployment whenever possible. I completed my Level 3 certification at Fire in the Sky 2008 with a Polecat Aerospace 10″ Thumper. (Update: Thumper deployed the apogee chute 1/2 back down at speed.  Quite a bit of damage.  Sigh)  Photos of each of my certification rockets are below.

I was  co-launch director for Fire in the Sky 2010 and attend most of the WAC meetings and several WAC launches throughout the year.  I do an annual trip to Black Rock, NV to fly high there.

And in closing, a few ‘stats’ about some of my rockets.

  • My favorite rocket? Scratch built Little Joe II
  • My ‘old faithful’ rocket? Performance Rocketry Competitor 3 (update: at BALLS 2010 – the Competitor 3 fell hard from 12,800′ in a flat spin.  One fin busted out, the others have cracked fillets.  Time to rebuild)
  • My ‘seen better days but still flies just fine” rocket? Estes Patriot upgraded to 24mm
  • My ‘biggest’ rocket? U4EA – 150lbs, 22′ tall, 12″ diameter
  • My personal altitude record? 10,999′ – Excel Plus Plus two stage 12,800′ on Competitor 3 at BALLS 2010 with a CTI L730