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Kids having a Blast

by Joe Hankock

As I am raising my two young kids, I am always looking for things to expose them to. Since I am a nerd of all things unusual and a fan of rockets, I decided I would see if there were any rocket clubs in the area. Sure enough, I found one not too far away in Daytona called the Northeast Florida Association of Rocketry (NEFAR).

These are not your typical model rockets you see in the store. These rockets measure approximately five to twelve feet tall, or even bigger! They certainly are no toy.

In the field of a large, open sod farm in Bunnell, Florida, under blue skies, gather a group of people with one mission: to fly their rockets as high and as fast as possible based on their engine size.

We arrived early to make sure we did not miss any action. As we drove up, we passed a telephone line with a large rocket hanging from it, with its parachute buffeting in the wind, almost like an old western film or a pirate movie. We knew we were in the right place.

As soon as we arrived, we saw our first launch from a large cluster of rockets far out in the field. It shot up like a patriot missile on a mission to defend its homeland from attack. ts smoke trail winded around and disappeared into a cloud. Soon, it appeared floating to earth with its giant parachute. As it floated closer to us, we were amazed at the actual size of it. The owner gleamed with pride, chasing it down to carry it back to basecamp to prepare for its next launch.

We set up our tent, put out our lawn chairs, put on our sunglasses, grabbed the minimal amount of food we brought, and nerded out.

There were all kinds of sizes of rockets: massive multistage rockets, tall single stage rockets, replica rockets, and short fat rockets with big engines. They set up the rockets at a very safe distance and were
extremely safety driven. There is a protocol for everything, making this a very safe event to attend. Even though the rockets were not close, they still put on one heck of a show. However as you tour the basecamps, you get to see just how big these rockets are. There are various engine types that put out different amounts of thrust. Therefore, when they launch, the blast, sound, smoke, and speed will look different depending on the set up. The people are very friendly and are more than
willing to get you addicted to their rocketry habit. It is a fun event to go see. Bring sunscreen, a pop up tent, more food than I brought, sunglasses, and get ready to be impressed.

Visit the website to see scheduled launch dates. NEFAR.net