Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Blast From The Past

Here I am in January 1988 driving my late great Olds Cutlass Supreme:
My brother and I were headed to the Ft. Davis area of West Texas to fly BIG model rockets, having been certified competent and safe by the governing body the previous year in Colorado.

This was the biggest one I flew, at around 5 feet tall and 4" in diameter.
I used an H90 for the main motor, as seen in the photo.
A few seconds later, 4 Estes D12 motors on fuses "air-started" to give it an extra push, plus a lot of white smoke.
(For those of you who flew Estes motors as a kid, 2 x D = E, so an H = 16 D motors, plus the extra 4!)

Post-flight handful of stinky motors.

For rocket meets like this, we had to apply months in advance to the FAA for a waiver that allowed us to penetrate "their" airspace. In return, the air traffic controllers were supposed to keep all aircraft away from the area for the duration of the scheduled launch window.

While big for me at the time, my rocket wasn't anywhere near the size and power of some of the others--I didn't even hit a mile in altitude but other guys probably went over two. And believe me, if something that big and fast hit any kind of aircraft, or God Forbid got sucked into an engine...

Which makes it all the more surprising that on the 2nd afternoon, a couple of Apache helicopters came around and invaded "our" airspace!
After orbiting the valley we were flying in, they made a few low passes right over the launch area.
Guess what color they were painted?
Any markings to be seen?

Maybe all those conspiracy theorists you used to laugh at weren't so crazy after all?
All I know is what I saw with my own eyes.

Tonight I also scanned a photo of my father from 1957:
Climbing into a jet fighter was probably a high point of his time in the service, since he ended up flying (and instructing) in multi-piston-engine stuff not long afterwards.

We were both 26 years old at the time of these pictures.


Albatross said...

Your father looks so cool in that photo.

And I've seen black helicopters, too. Here in San Antonio, flying at night. Except I don't think they represent anything sinister. After all, Delta Force needs to do some training sometime, right?

Keith Alan K said...

Are black helicopters the new problem now? Back in the late '80s it was the pink and green ones