Nearly 175 children and adults gathered to watch model rockets launch off the field of Rancho California Sports Park in Temecula on Monday night, June 24.
The event was put on by the Temecula Community Recreation Center as part of the family night events that take place on Mondays. Dawn Adamiak, recreation supervisor, said the goal of the event was to simply teach people about rocket safety.
Permission to launch the rockets was given by the city of Temecula and the fire department.
Richard Dierking, of the Temecula Rocket Group, was in charge of the rocket launching. Dierking follows the National Association of Rocketry’s (NAR) regulations. NAR is in charge of the safety of the hobby and safety code development.
A sport rocket is reusable, lightweight, electrically-ignited, and made with a non-explosive fuel rocket motor. All of the rockets were created by children at the Temecula library. Although Dierking helped them build the rockets, the children finished the rockets on their own at home with painting and decorating.
Dierking emphasized that the rockets should not be considered toys.
There were six model rockets ready to launch, and Dierking led the countdown for each. With every launch, the crowd cheered and clapped, some even commented that it was like being at Disneyland.
Each participant who created a rocket had a challenge: to protect the egg within the rocket.
“The kids have to think of ways of protecting the egg during the flight or recovery,” Dierking told the crowd of families.
The rockets each carried a non-hardboiled egg and a parachute. The egg was not allowed to crack when it hit the ground.
The rockets are always designed and built to be returned safely and gently to the ground, according to NAR. Rocketry is considered an educational hobby.
“In my experience rocketry is a really good encouragement for math and science,” Dierking said. “And also it’s a good way to get kids to build things. It’s one of the primary objectives. Building things and flying them is a challenge.”
Consumerism is becoming a big part of America, he said, this country doesn’t see enough building anymore.
“In my opinion, this helps kids start thinking about being more creative. Math and science is what we’re going to need for our future,” he said.
Knowing math and science is essential in this country so the United States can build their own helicopters instead of outsourcing to other countries, according to Dierking.
“It’s really important to me that we understand the hobby,” he said.
To launch the rockets, the range and the sky had to be clear. The rocket cannot be launched if there is a plane or a helicopter in the air.
“If I don’t see an aircraft, I want someone to call it out,” he said before launching the first rocket.
The onlookers were also advised not to catch the rockets when they came down from the sky, for safety precautions.
The rockets are not designed to explode and are not the same as fireworks, which are created for a visual effect. Fireworks are also fuse lit. This method is forbidden in the hobby of sport rocketry, according to NAR, and is considered dangerous. The purpose of sport rockets is to show flight principles and educational purposes, they are not supposed to blow up or spark.
“It’s important to learn about safety, no matter what sport,” Dierking said. “Can you imagine playing baseball without rules? It’s important for them to learn the rules, not just for rockets but there are rules for all hobbies.”