The National Association of Rocketry remains a growing, active, financially secure organization, supporting a tremendous variety of member interests: Jewel-like scale models, high power projects that have reached an altitude of 118,000 feet at a velocity of over Mach 2.5, scientific payloads, high-performance contest models, educational outreach, mentoring, odd rocs, recovery systems–we do all of this, and more, and we share our interests with people of all ages. Some of them catch the bug and join us right away; others come back years later, but pretty much all of them appreciate the launch itself. Meanwhile, as our membership grows and technology continues to mature, we get to fly projects and use products that are better than any that have come before. The golden age of our hobby is right now.
Nevertheless, our hobby faces challenges. Access to good launch sites, especially for high power rocketry, remains challenging in many areas of the country, and the perception of our hobby as inherently “unsafe” contributes to this, and to increased regulatory challenges we face locally and nationally.
Our answer must be to stay safe, to continue to prove that the perception is incorrect. If we follow our safety codes conscientiously, every launch, every flight, we contribute to the positive image of our hobby, and push the misperceptions aside. Don’t forget to have fun doing this, of course. Celebrate the creativity of your models, your flights, and your accomplishments, but make sure to appreciate those of other members as well. Every model, every flight, every flier has something to offer each of us.
Finally, please continue to pay forward. Just as your introduction to the hobby came through someone else, you can introduce the hobby to others. Just as you benefit from the volunteers working for the Association as Section officers, technical contributors, committee chairs, trustees, and officers, you can offer your time and expertise to benefit those around you, whether it be by voting in the Trustee election, helping at a launch, writing a Sport Rocketry article, or conducting an outreach activity.
This Spring I have been spending time with NAR volunteers helping on programs that take advantage of our expertise in the best possible way. April 11 was the finals of NASA’s Student Launch Program, in which dozens of highly-skilled high school, college and university teams launched sophisticated payloads on high power rockets assisted along the way by a great team of experienced NAR members. May 9 is the date of the thirteenth annual TARC finals at Great Meadow, Virginia, where over 100 NAR volunteers will help over 100 enthusiastic high-school teams vie for $60,000 in prize money and a trip to the Paris air show. These teams are finalists from nearly 700 teams from all around the country, who were helped by hundreds of you serving as mentors, observers, and helpers. The AIA and NASA partnering with us on these programs is an indication of the reputation our Association has earned for your expertise.
You are all responsible for this reputation, and your actions in pursuit of your interests contribute to it, every day. Thank you for sharing those interests with people of all ages. Thank you for your volunteer efforts on behalf of our Association all across the country. Thank you for keeping safety at the forefront of your thoughts whenever you fly. And thank you for your projects, your videos, your Facebook posts, and all the other ways you share your excitement about rocketry with the rest of us.
My fellow trustees and I will do our best to ensure that the Association continues to be financially stable and organizationally efficient, delivering services that you, the members, most value. For example, we have increased our insurance to $5 Million to assist in securing launch sites; we have increased our teacher grants and our student scholarships, and we are constantly adding features to our new web site. Feel free to contact us with any of your rocketry concerns—you can find our contact information on the NAR website at http://www.nar.org/about-nar/organization-contacts/.
Thank you for your support of the National Association of Rocketry!