A Message From the President

Hello fellow ROCketeers,

I wanted to take a second to thank the membership for recently re-electing me to the Board of Directors.  According to our election chairman, the turnout this year was fantastic.  This is a great testament to the strength of our club. I also want to thank my fellow Board Members for selecting me to serve next year as our President.  I am both humbled and grateful for the opportunity to continue serving ROC and the hobby that I love so dearly.

As you may or may not know, many things go on behind the scenes that make it possible to hold launches.  Your Board of Directors are mostly responsible to see that these on-going tasks are taken care of.  But there are others and without their hard work and dedication, our launches would not be possible.  There’s also launch day volunteers.  The folks who tow equipment trailers, who help with set-up/tear down, who sit in the hot sun at the registration table, that graciously volunteer a couple hours to LCO and Pad Manage and probably others that I can’t think of right now.  All the above are needed to run a safe launch.  We do these things because we love rocketry, it’s rewarding and it’s a great way to pay forward what ROC has meant to us.  Please take a moment to thank a volunteer, thank a Board Member and thank the folks who make all this happen. I promise you it will make their day.  If you feel you can contribute in any capacity, we’re glad to have you.  Just ask any of us how you can help. We’re happy to teach.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something about our vendors.  All of them drive many miles to support our club.  They selflessly devote their time and knowledge to help anyone who asks.  The expenses they incur from various permits and fees make it difficult to do business, yet they show up month after month.  The best way our club can show appreciation is to support them.  Give them your business and tell them how much you appreciate what they do.

ROC is stronger than ever. Our membership is growing.  We are probably the largest rocketry club in America, maybe the world.  ROC’s primary objective and purpose is to promote model and high-power rocketry as a hobby through the uniting of like-minded individuals.  It’s exactly this objective that makes our community special and unique.  I encourage each and every one of you to become engaged with your Club. Whether it’s volunteering a couple hours on launch day, helping someone prepare for their certification, contributing to Roc-chat conversations or even helping a child launch their very first rocket, you will have become an important part of the fabric of ROC.  Of course, if you just want to come out and fly rockets with us, that’s great too.  We are here for you.

I am proud to be your President and look forward to a safe and exciting year.  I am committed to this Club and will do everything in my power, with the help of the Board of Directors, to make our Club the best ever.  Please feel free to approach me at a launch and say hi.  I may be busy, but will always take the time to listen.


Mike Ostby

November 14, First Anniversary of a Tragedy

On the same weekend as ROCstock in November of 2015, a boy scout leader died from injuries sustained when he was hit by a model rocket. Mike Bentley was a long time scout leader, and a family man. He is survived by his wife and four sons.mike-bentley

He had lost track of the rocket, which came in ballistic and struck him in the face as he was looking for it.

It was not a high power rocket, but what we think of as “mid-power”. It was launched by another adult at the annual “Rocket Rave” event hosted by the local Boy Scouts of America council. Mike was one of the organizers of the event, and had done so for several years. The accident took place in Johnson Valley, about 25 miles east of the ROCstock launch site.

We at ROC were stunned by the news. So far as we can tell, this is the only fatality at an organized launch in the 60+ year history of model rocketry.

Even small rockets can have a great deal of kinetic energy, and if they strike anyone at high velocity can be very dangerous. Of course, the risk increases with the mass of the rocket, but even small rockets should be launched at an appropriate location, under safe conditions, and with precautions taken to minimize risk of injury. This is one of the central reasons ROC exists–to provide a safe launch environment.

Earlier in November, 2015, Tripoli Rocketry Association published some additional guidelines for conducting safe launches. The ROC board reviewed the new guidelines and since has incorporated them into our launch procedures. You may have noticed the way we man the RSO position has been made more formal, and we have more detailed “job descriptions” for the volunteers who help run the launch. You can find more information on this page: https://rocstock.org/range-duty-positions-and-procedures/

But all the rules and guidelines only help when they are actively applied. Among the changes we have instituted, and are still working to improve, include ensuring that rockets are angled downrange during launch, so a ballistic recovery will only hit empty lakebed. We have also clarified some of the roles and responsibilities of volunteers conducting a launch. Recently we have been using an additional “head-ups” horn at the LCO table to get everyone’s attention if a rocket is coming down over the safety zone or spectator areas.

We have also clarified that if rockets consistently fly over the safety zone or spectator areas, the launch is to be suspended until we can ensure safe flight paths.

If we can’t launch safely for any reason, the launch will be cancelled.

In addition to cooperating with all safety rules and instruction during a launch, it is especially important that everyone stay aware of rockets being launched and recovered, and if anyone yells “HEADS UP!” stop what you are doing an pay attention to the rocket that may be flying toward you!

Please join us in remembering Mike Bentley, and in doing what we can to make sure no one is injured at our launches!

More information about the accident last year:  http://www.sbsun.com/general-news/20151115/longtime-boy-scouts-leader-dies-in-johnson-valley-accident