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:

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:

Ballots Will Arrive Shortly

​ROC Executive, Life, and Board Members should be receiving election ballots this week.
We have six candidates running for five positions.
If you don’t receive your ballot by the end of the week, please use the contact form on the web page to let us know.
Ballots must be postmarked by November 5th. The return card is self-addressed and stamped, so you only need to mark it and mail it.
Results will be announced at the Annual Membership Meeting, which will be held on the lakebed Saturday, November 12.

Ballots are Being Prepared, and Will Be Mailed Shortly

Ballots for the ROC 2016 election are being prepared and will be mailed shortly. Please take a moment to ensure your mailing address on the member portal is up to date.

Each Executive, Life, and Board Member should receive a ballot. You will also receive information submitted by the candidates.

The ballot will be postage paid, so you simply mark up to five (5) of the six (6) candidates and drop it in the return mail.

We will also publish a notice when the ballots actually go out in the mail, so you can be looking for yours.

Results will be announced at the Annual Membership Meeting, which is held at November ROCstock. Visitors are welcome, of course.

Self-Nomination Deadline Extended.

The ROC board has extended the deadline for self-nomination for board positions through this weekend.

There are a number of members, and regular guests, who volunteer to help with the tasks needed to keep the club running. However, the board of directors generally are the ones who ensure things get done and the club operates as efficiently as it does.

Last year we didn’t hold formal elections because there were not enough members who self-nominated to fill the available positions. Vacancies were filled with appointments by the board. Those appointments were valid until the next (this) election.

We are in danger of having the same situation this year. At present we do not have enough nominees to fill the five positions that are up for election.

Self-Nominations are Now Open for the 2016 ROC Board of Directors Election

ROC Board Elections are coming up rapidly. Five seats are up for election this year. Three are the full three year term, and two are shorter terms as the current board members are filling previous vacancies. In the event of a vacancy, or lack of nominees, the board appoints members to fill the seat until the next election. The individual elected to that seat serves the remainder of that term.
The window for self-nominations is now open, and will run until September 1.
If you want to help with the month to month operation of ROC, consider nominating yourself for the board.
To submit a self-nomination, send a statement of why you would be an asset to the club if you serve as a director. Please include a recent photo of yourself.

Send them to:

Snail Mail:
David Erbas-White
P. O. Box 323
Lake Forest CA 92609-0323

Thank you to David Erbas-White for again volunteering to be the ROC Elections Chairperson.
Please remember that self-nominations must be sent to the email address above by September 1.

Only current Executive Members and Life Members are eligible to run for the board. Incumbents are eligible to run for re-election.