ROC State of the Club Message


This summer Rocketry Organization of California has marked it’s 20th year of launches at Lucerne Dry Lake and supporting rocketry activity in southern California. We just hosted a successful ROCstock launch and some good smaller monthly launches as well. The ROC board of directors recently met to discuss the past, present and future of the club, and some of the challenges that lay ahead. This seemed like a good time for me to share with you, the members and friends of ROC, some thoughts about the status of the club and how we can keep it running well.

It was clear from our board retreat discussions that when it comes to some issues, there is a wide and divergent range of opinions. For example, some people’s ideal vision of ROC is of a large and diverse organization engaged in a wide range of public outreach and educational activities, reaching out to youngsters and newcomers as well as supporting the community of elite high power flyers. For others, it is more important to focus on doing fewer things better, and to concentrate on the needs of our core membership. Key to the future of the club’s long term health and continued growth will be to strike a proper balance between these sometimes conflicting ideals.

One area however, where there is not disagreement is in the matter of club involvement. It can’t be overemphasized by those of us that have been associated with the club for some time that ROC is not a service, it is a club. Although some of our “daily members” who pay their launch fees on a month-to-month basis may treat it as a “pay to play” service, that’s not how it works. ROC is a member-driven volunteer organization that lives and dies based on the willingness of its members to step up and participate.

Like any sizable organization, ROC benefits from the special talents and expertise of its members who bring their particular skills and talents to the table. But it’s not wise or fair to exclusively rely on those critical individuals to be able or willing to do those jobs always and forever. To remain healthy, ROC needs to cycle in new knowledge and enthusiasm to keep the flame burning. I have not personally always been involved in ROC’s governance, but after flying with the club for a few years and seeing the roles played by the founding and core members, I realized that I needed to contribute as well and as they say, “pay it forward”.

As many people no doubt also feel, I didn’t at first think I knew enough to contribute meaningfully. Of course, this was not true; not only could I contribute in areas that I did have some talents, but I also quickly learned new things that helped the club along the way. (I’m always quite amused when someone acts as though I’m some kind of expert by virtue of being the current ROC president; in fact I’m just as clueless as the next person, but I’m trying to act like I know what I’m doing!)

A common misconception is that in order to help ROC, you need to sacrifice your ability to enjoy our launches and fly your own rockets. In fact, all it takes is for each member to contribute just a little bit of time and most of our problems are solved. It might mean doing one small thing every month, or setting aside one month to contribute one larger task. It’s a little hard to list all the big and small ways in which we need members’ help, but I’ll take a shot at mentioning some of them in no particular order:

  • towing the club trailer to/from launches
  • running registration desk and taking money
  • communicating with government (FAA, BLM, CSFM etc.) concerning permits, compliance and activities
  • helping with club record keeping and calendar events/monthly responsibilities
  • bidding and organizing for national events
  • communicating with members via newsletters, social media, etc.
  • training our fellow members in the technology and art of rocketry
  • maintaining and repairing electrical and mechanical equipment
  • range setup and teardown
  • roaming range helper and safety assurance
  • crowd and parking control at large launches
  • RSO and LCO duties at launches

In just a few months, the terms of a few of our board members, including my own, will be expiring. I’ve served on the board for six years now, and although I’m not leaving ROC, I’m ready to pass the baton to the next group of ROC’s leaders. It has been fun, but the healthiest thing for ROC (and for me) will be to get some new ideas and leadership cycling through the board. I would like to personally appeal to each of you to consider running for one of the vacant board positions this fall. Look for an announcement coming out soon concerning the nomination and election procedure. Any of us on the board would be happy to answer your questions about the position, and offer our cheerful encouragement!

Greg Lyzenga
ROC President

ROC Launch Report – May 2014

On May 10, 2014, ROC held its regular monthly launch at Lucerne Dry Lake.  Despite somewhat blustery conditions, it was a well attended launch with quite a few good flights and certifications.  Altogether, a total of 97 flights were logged between about 8:30 am and 1:00 pm, with the following breakdown by impulse:
A – 16
B – 7
C – 15
D – 6
E – 9
F – 3
G – 14
H – 9
I – 15
J – 2
K – 1
For most of the morning, winds hovered a bit above 15 mph, which made for challenging recovery conditions.  It took a while for some of the flyers to get up their nerve, but eventually the rockets came out and started flying.  Professor Erik Spjut really broke the ice when he brought out his high altitude Hawk Mountain Transonic II, outfitted with a custom temperature logger payload and a bevy of other electronics.  Powered by an Aerotech K375NW dual thrust motor, it punched through the wind and soared impressively straight to over 12,600 feet.  He recovered it without problem just east of the highway for a good flight to kick off the high power activities.
There were quite a few red cards logged this launch… No, not for flagrant fouls, for certifications!  15 separate cert flights were made, 10 NAR L1, 3 Tripoli L1, one NAR L2 and one Tripoli L2.  Mike Brinker Flew his Madcow Super DX3 on a J357 Blue Streak for his L2, while Ben Chasnov went with the CTI J760 in his custom built and instrumented “Woodpecker” rocket.  A majority of these cert flights were students attending with school groups.  It’s great to see these new flyers climbing the rocketry certification ladder.  Though not a cert flight, Kyle LaBrecque, a senior from La Cañada high school put up an impressive I280  Dark Matter flight for his school project.  A lot of these flights were recovered east of the highway due to the winds, but there was great teamwork in evidence, with groups helping one another with recovery and everyone keeping in good cheer.
Among some of the other noteworthy flights, Two Guys and a Grille took time out from cooking to put up their Li’l Squat on an E16.  ROC regular Jared Shapiro flew his Starfish Prime on an I600.  Brianna Stumph flew a cool Estes Majestic two-stager on an F15 to F15 duo.  Jamie Sobieski tried his second L1 cert attempt of the day on an I150 Pro54 load, but was thwarted by a baffling CATO that cut his casing cleanly in half!  But with characteristic good humor, Jamie laughed it off and assured all that he’d be back for another try next month.
Of the several Harvey Mudd College flights, most of them included sophisticated electronic payloads, including such things as inertial measurement units, temperature and humidity sensors, strain gauges and more.  Millikan Middle School youth group brought out a number of good scratch-built TARC rockets for some great flights.  A lot of good looking G80 powered scratch built rockets came out of one of the visiting school groups.
The low power and mid power pads saw good activity as well, with a good showing from several groups and individuals.  Elizabeth Navarrete’s flight “Let it Go” on a C6-5 lived up to its name; the wind never bothered me anyway!  Emmet Martin’s first flight of an Estes Magician on an E9 went well.  Many of the most popular Estes kits were represented, with some creative paint jobs and names.
The range shutdown went smoothly, and things got packed up in the club’s svelte new mini-trailer before the afternoon winds picked up and the dust started to blow.  The new smaller trailer is easily towed by just about any vehicle with a 2″ hitch ball, so this should open up towing help to a much wider group of volunteers than in the past.  Kudos to board members Kurt Gugisberg and Mike Riss for outfitting the new trailer and getting it ready for the launch.  It is really slick!  Please contact us if you would like to help the club by volunteering to tow the equipment trailer one of these months!
With this month’s launch behind us, everyone is now looking forward to ROC-Stock, which will be the 20th anniversary event.  Look for announcements soon regarding this upcoming launch.  While the launch will run Friday-Sunday, you are invited to come out on Thursday to lend a hand with range setup and equipment testing and repair.  It will be a great way to give back to the club and help ensure that this ROC-Stock is one of the best ever.  We hope to see you there!

Good Vendor News

Hi ROC Members and Friends:
   I’m pleased to announce that Mike Gentile of Bay Area Rocketry ( has informed us that he has received his BLM vendor permit and starting with the upcoming May launch, will be an onsite vendor at ROC monthly launches, supplying high power motors and supplies.  This is great news for our club and will facilitate our ability to purchase and fly HPR motors.  Let’s welcome Mike and BAR to Lucerne!
And while we are at it, don’t forget to appreciate and patronize our other faithful vendors, Discount Rocketry for all your low- and mid-power rocketry needs, and Two Guys and a Grille, for all kinds of yummy food and ice cream!
See you all at the May launch!


Greg Lyzenga
ROC President – NAR #13295 / Tripoli #12088