November 2008

Rocketeers in 1957

Rocketeers in 1957- Life Magazine

Life magazine working with Google released years of wonderful photographs online today. Of course the first thing I did was to take a look at the rocketry photos. Yes there are a few early photos of the rocketry hobby.

Here they are and

more (these are vinegar and soda type rockets)

Also there is a wonderful collection of missile and space related rockets. Definitely worth a look.

Life: missile and space related rockets

Early model rocketry

Early model rocketry

The advent of model rocketry in 1958 completely changed he landscape of the “space crazed” youth of the era. Visionaries such as Orville Carlisle, G.Harry Stine and Vernon Estes provided the youth with a safe alternative to the dangerous experimental rocketry that was practiced until then.
They were sometimes known as “basement bombers” and many injuries and deaths occured due to the lack of safety codes and a viable model rocket hobby. They made their own motors and motor casings, experimented with sometimes lethal combinations of chemicals. The youth of that era showed a remarkable interest in this new field of rocketry. There was a hunger and need for a safe alternative. This is where our 3 visionaries stepped up to the plate. Orville Carlisle invented and patented the first model rockets thus providing the reusable model we’ve come to love. G. Harry Stine was the consummate promoter of the new hobby and the connector between the 3 visionaries. Vernon Estes created the first motor making machine to mass produce rocket motors and started Estes, the company that would go on to fuel the dreams of many a young rocketeer. In 1957 the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) was formed and began to promote the importance of safety in the hobby. The Model Rocket Safety Code was written to form the safety guidelines of model rocketry.Since the organized beginning of model rocketry the hobby has been a safe and wondrous place for the youths and adults of the hobby. The hobby has morphed to encompass High Powered Rocketry which has implemented it’s own safety regulations. Always remember the safety rules are there for a reason. We never want to return to those dark early days when rocketry was a dangerous hobby.

1958 NY Times article snippet:

NY Times - 1958

NY Times - 1958

Prior to the beginning of hobby model rocketry the Army put out the public service announcement warning rocketeers of the perils of experimentation:

1958 article introducing the new hobby


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