Another hobby/passion of mine is High Power Rocketry. As a young boy and into high school, I built and flew model rockets. Many years later (2014) as an adult, my parents gave me a box of old rocketry stuff to get it out of their house. A few days later, I found some time to finish building an Estes Phoenix (appropriately), and my passion was reignited. By May of 2016, I had earned my Tripoli Rocketry Association Level 3 Certification. Today, I attend club launches with WOOSH, Tripoli Wisconsin, and QCRS. I often post and comment on The Rocketry Forum as CzTeacherMan. I'm a huge fan and supporter of Wildman Rocketry! I most often use OpenRocket as my rocket flight simulator of choice to help choose rocket/motor pairings that will suit my goals.
Since earning my L3, and with a new baby, I've slowed down a bit on rocketry due to budget constraints. However, I still love attending launches whenever possible to see my friends and help out wherever I can. The rocketry community is one of the best groups of people I've ever met, and I'm always thrilled to spend a day or two at the fields with the smell of black powder and Ammonium Perchlorate in the air. Our family has taken on rocketry as a family affair, often attending launches together as a way to get outside and spend time with one another.
Rocketry Volunteer Work
Despite my promise to myself to stay out of the organizational side of things, I accepted the position of Secretary for the Quad Cities Rocket Society in January of 2018 and left it in March of 2020. In that position, I helped to reinstate club by-laws, took over the duties of maintaining the QCRS.us website, and maintained a monthly newsletter.
Level 1 - 9/28/2014, Tripoli Wisconsin
Wildman Sport on CTI H163 White Thunder
I had planned on waiting until my first QCRS-Midwest Power launch to attempt my TRA Level 1 certification flight. However, the skies were so perfectly calm that day, and Tim Wildman Lehr was so persuasive, that I just had to go for it. He loaned me a tracker, sold me an H163, and we launched! It was a perfect flight; straight up into the gorgeous blue sky and it landed about 500 feet south of the launchpad. With my son to cheer me on, we had a great day and celebrated my success with a stop for ice cream on the way home.
Level 2 - 5/23/2015, QCRS, Mini-Midwest Power
Wildman 3" Darkstar CTI J400 Smoky Sam
After earning my Level 1 Certification, I wasted little time starting in on my Level 2. I purchased a 3" Wildman Darkstar kit after much discussion on TRF (The Rocketry Forum) and with some rocketry buddies. I built over the winter, and I found it to be very challenging. Achieving my Level 2 pushed the boundaries of my understanding. Building one section at a time, I learned all about different epoxy, bonding techniques, and multi-part High Power rockets. One of my favorite movies is "Donnie Darko," so with a quick several e-mails back and forth with StickerShock, I had a custom decal set and renamed my rocket the "Darko-Star." After months of studying and building, I arrived at Mini-Midwest Power 2015 with a single goal: to earn my L2. I took the test and passed with only a single error then set straight away to prepping for flight. With a little friendly help from QCRS Prefect Jason Griffin, I was ready to launch. With beautiful skies and my very understanding wife beside me, I launched and successfully earned my Level 2!
First Flight over 1 Mile & over Mach, Tripoli Wisconsin
9/25/2015 Wildman Punisher CTI J360 Skidmark
After achieving my TRA Level 2 certification, the next milestones I wanted to hurdle were to launch a rocket above a mile high and to launch a rocket that would travel past mach speed. After several calculations and simulations (and a quick check of my budget!), I decided that a CTI J360 Skidmark in my Wildman 3" Punisher would accomplish both! On September 25, 2015, I leapt over those hurdles with a gorgeous flight!
Level 3 - 5/15/2016, QCRS, Mini-Midwest Power
Wildman Gizmo XL-DD-V CTI M1540 Imax
When I first got back into Rocketry in 2014, I thought that Level 3 would happen maybe "in several years." Never did I anticipate the friends and the support that I would have in the rocketry community. Soon after my Level 2, a good friend, Adrian Butler, offered to let me build one of his spare kits that he had laying around for years. The deal was that I would build it so I could earn my Level 3, and he would get a rocket built! As a teacher with a baby on the way, I knew that if I was going to go for L3, it was then or never... Over winter break 2015-16, I build this monstrous, 5-finned beast and then waited till a warm day over spring break to paint it. I kept the paint simple and inexpensive, sticking with a black and white, very simple design and silver and gold StickerShock decals. The Wildman had a great special on 75/6400 hardware with a reload, so I had to pounce. Many hours of work later and many, many, many dollars later, I was able to get the Gizmo XL-DD-V in the air for a successful L3 flight!
June 4th, 2016 - Wildman 3" Punisher
CTI L640-Dual Thrust (54mm 6XL)
Altitude - 16,779 ft
Speed - 1,486mph (Mach 1.94)