> > I just read it tonight. I have to say I don't consider it "good press"
> > for Tripoli --
> Wow, you really surprise me! Is there anything that could be written that
> would please you? Sheeeesh!
For a start, something that made clear the distinction between
Model/High Power Rocketry and Amateur Rocketry. This is a distinction
that is completely lost on most people outside the hobby -- and the
author of that article (in cahoots with the editors of Scientific
American, who can't really be expected to know better, but could
reasonably have found out by way of checking the facts) did us all a
disservice by blurring that distinction.
Don't forget that model rocketry was created, some 40 years ago, to give
a safer alternative to people mixing their own propellant, stuffing it
into metal casings, and quite possibly blowing up themselves, one or two
close friends, and their parents' home.
> > it clearly implied that Tripoli Rocket Association, which
> > is dedicated to Model and High Power Rocketry, was a good source of
> > information about and assistance with _Amateur_ rocketry, even implying
> > that RRS and PRS members view Tripoli as a resource.
> It is a good resource. Why shouldn't they? If I am of a mind to
> launch an amateur rocket, then I can't see how talking to some Tripoli
> members about construction techniques could be a bad idea. Besides, you
> are really missing the point of the 0 article which was to bring rocketry
> to the attention of people that don't follow or know anything about our
> hobby. Do you think these people know the difference (or care) between
> a model rocket and an "amateur" rocket?
That Tripoli and/or its members are a good resource for HPR construction
techniques, I won't deny. HPR techniques, though, are no more
applicable for serious amateur efforts like the FINDS prize than modroc
techniques are applicable for a Level 2 certification bird.
Amateur rockets typically require metal or aerospace grade composite
airframes, must be built to take speeds of Mach 2 or more (one project I
read about last year was believed to have reached Mach 5!)
And I say again: obscuring the distinction between hobby rocketry and
Amateur rocketry is doing neither rocketry hobbyists (like you and me)
nor rocket amateurs any service. If the public doesn't know the
difference between one of Dave Crisalli's kerosene-LOX rockets and a
Level 2 or Level 3 HPR bird, we aren't gaining anything by standing up
on a soapbox and saying "Oh, yes, the rockets we fly at LDRS are just
like the one flown from Wallops by Korey Kline to 36 km altitude."
> > While that may in fact be the case (though I'm sure the last bit isn't),
> > TRA is violating its own by-laws (at least as far as anyone can tell,
> > based on the last published version), as well as the laws of at least
> > several of the states in which they or their prefectures sanction
> > launches, every time they authorize an "experimental" flight using an
> > amateur motor or an uncertified commercially made motor.
> What does or doesn't happen at a Tripoli launch has nothing to do what
> so ever with the article. The article in no way implied that an amateur
> rocket could be launched at a Tripoli launch.
Better read it again -- calling Tripoli a valuable resource for
amateurs, without saying anything more, will imply just that to the
> > Now, that's something that may not be obvious to the majority of
> > _Scientific American_ readers, but it's one of two things: inaccurate in
> > the extreme, or a pretty strong indictment of the way TRA does things.
> > I tend on the side of the latter interpretation.
> You are entitled to your opinion of course, be really Don, take a second
> look at that article as I did last night. As an insider, you see the
> potential problems and contradictions, but people have to start somewhere.
> There are a lot of amateur scientists out there that might be attracted
> to our hobby by this article and this is a good thing. When they do get
> into the hobby, they will learn the rules and laws as we have. As an
> opening statement, as the article was, it would be a mistake to try and
> cover boring details instead of smoke and fire.
> In short, remember the saying, "There's no such thing as bad publicity."
Oh really? I guess we can't ask Richard Nixon his opinion of that
statement -- he's dead.
We could ask Timothy McVeigh, though, or Ted Kaczynski. I think they
might disagree, and their respective lawyers surely would.
The Amateur Scientist articles are normally two to three times the
length of the one we're discussing -- there's plenty of room there to
discuss the construction of various kinds of non-professional rockets in
more detail than was given. Alternately, there was room to go into
amateur rocketry in more detail, without once making a confusing and
(IMO) misleading mention of Tripoli in the same breath.
Any publicity that links Tripoli to amateur rocketry, regardless of the
context, fosters the continued tendency for people to join Tripoli in
order to avoid flying within the parameters of hobby rocketry -- and
"outlaw biker rocketry" of that type bears the potential to end the HPR
hobby permanently in this country, to the detriment of us all.
There are times when even the Weaver of Skeins can make an awful tangle
of a perfectly simple tapestry. -- M. A. R. Barker, _The Man of Gold_
Donald Qualls, aka The Silent Observer NAR # 70141-SR Insured
Rocket Pages http://members.aol.com/silntobsvr/launches.htm
Opinions expressed are my own -- take them for what they're worth
and don't expect them to be perfect.