Small NAR Logo National Association of Rocketry 

The Electronic Rocketeer - Issue #100- September 2016

An official journal of the NAR  

NAR Membership

NAR membership: 6634


Since last year: +555


Since last month: +81*


*new record membership


Membership application


Check your NAR card and renew online; you don't have to wait for the reminder in the mail!   

2017 National Event Schedule
Feb 24-26, 2017
Chantilly, VA

May 27-29, 2017
Alamogordo, NM
Jul 29 - Aug 4, 2017
Muskegon, MI
Motor Cato?
If your rocket motor fails catastrophically, go to to report the event. The data from this site goes to NAR, TRA, and CAR and is used to help us analyze trends and identify emerging issues.
Facebook Page
For those of you that use Facebook, the NAR has a family-friendly and moderated page with over 4800 members that you may want to visit from time to time. 

This is an open group, and is for friendly discussions about building and flying Sport Rockets of all sizes. NAR policy debates should be reserved for venues reserved for NAR members, such as the NAR Sections Yahoo Group. 

Discussions not concerning sport rocketry should also be held elsewhere
Membership Cards 
Once you renew your membership, get a new certification, or change your address, you can expect your new membership card in two to three weeks.  
NAR Info Links

Message from the NAR President 
Fellow NAR Member,
There are many firsts to celebrate this month.  For those counting, this is the 100th eRocketeer.  We also hit a new milestone in memberships, we flew past 6600.  Fall seems to be busy with schools interested in TARC signing up members. Hopefully we can keep up the big growth and hit 6700 soon.  

Your NAR president made a trip to Nevada in September to help with ARLISS.  Let's just say, that is one heck of a launch site.  

Lastly, new picture for the month - my level 3 rocket, an ARLISS airframe; did not launch yet, stay tuned I will let everyone know when I make the flight. Feedback on the previous picture was that I looked too serious.  Hopefully this is a less serious look.  Will be launching at Black Rock next fall for the ARLISS program and hopefully certifying between now and then. 

The National Sport Launch has been announced, see below for more details.  I am looking forward to traveling to Alamogordo, NM.  The Rocketry Festival 2017 and NARAM 59 has been announced.

We are still looking for comments on a new proposal for contest flying.  

Remember, when you do call NAR Headquarters, be sure to thank Marie for all of the great service she gives you the members.
John N. Hochheimer
NAR President
NAR 74537 L2  
Here are my top 5 pad safety tips. 

1. Angle your launch rail or rod at 5 degrees away from the parking area or groups of people. 

2. Check for a live connection of the ignitor clips by touching the clips together prior to connecting to an igniter. If possible, for HPR motors connect to the ignitor before inserting the ignitor into the motor. 

3. Always use a blast deflector and clear the area of any flammable materials to prevent fires.

4. Make sure that everyone in the pad area is aware of their surroundings, especially when arming onboard electronics. 

5.  Check the pad to ensure a safe launch - is it firmly positioned, all bolts tight, and everything assembled correctly. 

Please send me your tips and I'll add to my list.  Remember, our hobby will remain safe if you do your part.

Chantilly, Virginia February 24-26, 2017 
The Northern Virginia Association of Rocketry invites you to the suburbs of our nation's capitol this February for a weekend packed with presentations and tours that will certainly interest rocketry enthusiasts. The weekend will feature presentation tracks on TARC rocketry, professional rocketry and spaceflight, model rocketry, and high power rocketry. There is a Research and Development competition with cash prizes ($1000 shared among the top 3 placing presentations) sponsored by Aurora Flight Sciences. Lee Piester will present the keynote talk at the banquet on the History of Centauri Engineering Company. There will be a NAR Board of Trustees Meeting and Town Hall Meeting for the association.  Registration is open; check out the website for more information.

National Sport Launch
May 27-29, 2017 Alamogordo, NM
Hosted by FLARE and SMRA, the National Sport Launch will take place in Alamogordo, NM - near the White Sands Missile Range, heart of the American Space program. If you are interested in Science, Space Science, Rocket Science, or Astronomy, you will not want to miss a visit to The Land of Enchantment. This airspace is coordinated with Holloman AFB. We can accommodate HPR Launches up to "N". For more information check out the website.
Rocketry Festival 2017 and NARAM 59
July 29-August 4, 2017 Grand Rapids, Michigan
Muskegon Michigan will be the place to be next summer for the NAR's annual rocket meet. The Rocketry Festival 2017 and NARAM 59 will feature sport and high power rocketry, qualification fly-off for the 2018 United States FAI team, the 59th National Association of Rocketry Annual Meet, the NAR Board of Trustees summer meeting, a banquet, and other fun activities.  Mark your calendar now to join us for part or all of the week's events. The website is under development, so check back often for updates.

TARC 2017 
 May 13, 2017 The Plains, Virginia
Just a reminder, the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) registration is open until December 2.  Details and registration materials are at the event website 
Entry is open to teams of three to ten 7th through 12th graders.  The top 100 teams nationally will get a chance to compete in the national Finals on May 13, for $100,000 in prizes for the top ten teams, and a trip to the Paris Air Show for the winner. 
The NAR partners with the Aerospace Industries Association to run this program, and we count on NAR members and sections nationwide to help their local schools learn about this program and then help student teams learn how to build and fly rockets safely.  If you would like to become a "mentor" volunteer to work with a TARC team in your area, we need your help: please contact the NAR's TARC Manager, Trip Barber (  

NAR Competition 
As I announced last month, there is a draft of new rules for NAR competition. Rocketry contests have a long, rich history in the NAR. As with many other hobbies and sports, one avenue of enjoyment for participants is to compete with others who have similar interests. Who isn't excited to see if their rocket can fly just a little bit higher than a colleagues. Ok, maybe not everyone, but it can be a fun aspect of the hobby. Or for example, maybe you just applied a building technique, borrowed from your experiences as a free flight glider builder, to a rocket glider you were designing. Now how does it perform against others? Maybe craftsmanship is your thing and you spend hours putting the smallest of details on your rocket so that it resembles everything about the real Little Joe. How does your scale model compare to others? 

While competing is not for everyone, it is enjoyed by many. Competition is what hooked me into becoming a member of the NAR and I still get some satisfaction in besting some of the old guard at their games.

The number of NAR members who are participating in our existing competition program is declining. The NAR Board of Trustees is working hard to find ways to reverse this trend.  These rule changes are one part of the strategy.

This post is meant to provide basic description of contest flying from my point of view (just one of many I am sure) and to, hopefully, help more to understand what the proposed changes in the contest rules are about. After reading this, it is my hope that you will have enough of an understanding of the overall structure of the proposed changes so that you will spend a few minutes reading and commenting on the new proposed rules. 

I would describe our traditional rocket contests as having 3 main types of events (again, my opinion). Research and development has been associated with NAR national contests for decades. The concept is pretty simple, you do a research project on something you find interesting and then write and possibly present a report on our study and results. This is basically scientific research and has brought about many important breakthroughs for our hobby. 

The second type of contest event is craftsmanship. This can take on many forms, such as true scale where everything about your model is a smaller version of the original prototype -- paint, dimensions, and all of those bits and pieces. Other craftsmanship events include modeling fantasy spacecraft, converting plastic models into rocket-like aircraft, and even steampunk modifications to rockets. The goal is to make the truest scale rendering of an actual spacecraft and/or use the best finishing skills on your rocket. Judging is typically done by comparing your model to documentation of the basis for your rocket's design. These two forms of competition will be explored in more detail in future editions.

The third form of contest flying is what I think of as "flying skills" contests. These skills can be described as "how high" can I get a rocket to fly or "how long" can I make it stay in the air. The proposed rules set out to redefine how we compete across the NAR for bragging rights in this flying skills category.  This post is my attempt to explain this last group, the flying skills, portion of contests.

Let me first set some boundaries for the type of contest flying that I will attempt to describe here. It is model rocket flying (yes, those smaller 1/4A to C motors). You get the picture, those little motors; this is important to normalize flying across the country where there is a big difference in flying field sizes. On the east coast, for example, we tend to have smaller fields where it is more difficult to fly long duration events or high altitude ones that higher impulse motors provide. As a side note, we have some HPR events that can be flown as contest events I will describe these in future newsletters. 

The proposed changes are designed to provide several key features for flyers:
  • A core group of events, from which a subset of annual events can be chosen to represent a slate for a contest year's championship series and for determining national champions. These events, a mixture of altitude and duration events, represent a group of events to give all of our members a close to equal chance of having a level playing field, regardless of where you live. Not perfect and certainly not the breadth of events that we previously had to use, but the best we can come up with to take into account the many locations across the US. Each year, we will have a slate of 6 events that make up the championship series.
  • Several ways you can compete throughout the year.
    1. You can pick one single event and fly your way to the top of the leader board in the single event. We are calling these flyers "event Specialists." Of course, you can fly in multiple events to become event specialist in more than one event.
    2. You can choose to fly all 6 events to become the overall best of those who also want to participate on all of the events. We are calling these flyers dedicated and they are choosing to work on becoming the National Champion for the year. 
    3. You can choose to come to the "annual rocketry festival and NARAM (national Association of Rocketry Annual Meet)" which is held every year. If you qualify, you can compete for national bragging rights as a national overall champion (across all of the events) or an event specialist champion for that year. Both of these contests require qualification as a member among the top flyers (top 10 or 10%, whichever is greater). 
  • You can fly throughout the year, at as many local contests that you are able to attend.  A local contest is sanctioned online by at least 2 members and provide you with up to 2 flights per local contest day. 
  • Your scores are submitted online and we have a leader board in waiting to populate with the rankings for each event. 
  • Your best score will be displayed on the leader board. Our hope is that you submit scores every time you fly contest flights and the leader board will help you to know where you stand among your peers. Throughout the year, whenever you have a flight that beats your previous score, you have a chance to move up in rankings.
  • You can fly against yourself if you choose
  • If you are in the top rankings, you will be invited to come compete against your peers for annual national championships (at the Annual Rocketry Festival and NARAM each summer)   
I know the devil is in the details, but this is my elevator speech about the new competition.  As I stated earlier, we are looking for feedback about this new structure.  Even if you have not competed in the past, please send use your thoughts.  

The new competition rule book (in a PF version) to replace the existing Pink Book of rules can be found at this website.

The page containing the new rules and a "Forum " through which NAR members will be able to input suggested changes to the draft rules. The Forum presents the rules in the order in which each section is presented in the draft rule book. So for example, if you wish to suggest a change to the rules regarding "Altitude Data," you would post your suggestion to Section 14: Altitude Data on the Forum webpage.

I am interested in constructive feedback on competition, especially from members who have not competed in the past or have been away for a while. Write me at