shoot ’em up, part II

November 7, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I photographed Derek Kewley, a member of the Columbia Rocket Club (CRC) preparing one of his rockets for the one-day story assignment in our Picture Story and Photographic Essay course. Ever since then, we’ve been waiting for a stretch of good weather that would allow the farmers to bring in their crop so that the rocketeers could access their launch field. Today, the big day had finally arrived.

At 10.45 am we headed out for the field near Sturgeon, where Mark Grant, the director of the club, was already preparing the launch pads. There were about ten to fifteen people out there, and a hell of a lot of rockets in all shapes and sizes. One guy even had rockets in coffee table and cubicle shapes. Anyway, long story short: It was amazing. Here’s what I got:


Derek Kewley closes the doors of his trailer full of rockets before heading out to the launch field.


Derek Kewley and Mark Grant carry another CRC member’s rocket and equipment to the launch pad. It’s a so-called hybrid rocket that is fuelled by propellants in two different states of matter. The stuff in the tank that Mark carries is nitrous oxide. The rocket went off with a gigantic roar, but unfortunately it broke apart in mid-flight and came down “ballistic” (the rocketeers’ way of saying that it crashed into the ground without a parachute…).


One of Derek’s rockets during launch. It reached an altitude of 2,194 ft.


Mark Grant, left, and Mark Brown, of Kansas City, watch Brown’s rocket climb after they launched it.


From left, Derek Kewley, his step-daughter’s friend Brooke and his step-daughter Brittany prepare a small rocket for launch. Like for me, this was Brooke’s first time at a rocket launch.


Final adjustments before the launch…


Derek’s wife Les, his step-daughter’s friend Brooke, and Derek watch a rocket fly.


Mark Grant helps Derek put a rocket on the guide rail of the launch pad.


And then it was time for the big one. Derek and another CRC member carry Derek’s Dragon Claw to the launch pad…


…slide it onto the guide rail…


…adjust it, and…


…BOOOOOOOMMMM!!!!!! I was laying about 30 feet away on the ground when this one went off, and frankly, it was impressive. I ruined my pants and shirts laying in the muddy field, but this shot was totally worth it.

Filed under: USA

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