When my parents split up my dad got an apartment in the next County over from where my mom was. It wasn’t too far to get to the closest school so we would usually drive there to play in the fields. Although I mostly have memories of riding our bikes around the parking lot, I also remember when we built model rockets and launched them there.
I realize the title could make it sound like a plastic model that gets glued together, painted, and placed on display. We did do some plastic models but we weren’t launching anything fancy like that.
I mean the model rockets that are cardboard tubes with a plastic nose and fins. Maybe someone who gets more into it and wants to make a more prototypical launch would use a different material but I was 5 so cardboard was fine for me.
My sisters and I each had a couple of tubes that we got to decorate however we wanted. I remember having a blue rocket with stars on it — because it was going to space, duh. It had a red nose cone. I don’t remember if I wanted it to be or if that’s just the card I got dealt. The same goes for the red fins.
To put it all together after the fins were glued on first a parachute is attached to the tube and then put into the nose cone. Next the nose cone is put into the tube. Then the engine, or engines if you use more than one, is put into the other end of the tube.
I’ve seen a few ways online that people have attached their rockets to the launch pads. We went with a high-tech solution by gluing straws to the outside of the tube that line up with a metal rod on the pad.
So we got all of our rockets built, except for the engines which went in after we were at the school, and took them to go launch.
For some reason the launch button fascinated me as a child. It was so simple but it blew my mind. There was a button which we held and a wire went from it to the launch pad. When you press the button it causes a spark that lights the engine.
And up it goes.
When the engine burns out, the last thing it does is put a small force out of the front of the rocket. This pushes the nose cone out, which in turn opens to release the parachute. Then we would run to see where it landed and bring it back to repack and relaunch.
One of the rockets we launched got caught by the wind and landed in a tree by one of the nearby houses. We went to their door and asked if we could climb their tree to get it. They seemed nice. I’m sure living next to a school you get used to things of a similar nature happening.
I looked into making some more rockets a few years ago. My sister-in-law was going through a divorce which left my niece and nephew in need of a positive male figure in their life. I thought it would be a fun thing to do on a weekend with them since they were living with us.
I actually had a few things in my mind as possible fun activities from when I was their age to try to form some good memories over everything they were going through. I ended up not buying the rockets because my sister-in-law soon found someone else who was able to take over as a positive male figure.
Maybe someday I’ll get into it again if I ever have kids of my own. People don’t always realize how much fun something so simple can be and how strong the memories of it will last for a child.